Detectives investigating the murder of a man in Islington in 1997 are offering a £25,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of his attacker – who they think stabbed another man just hours earlier.

Ricky Smith was 25 and had two young children when he was killed as he walked home after an evening out.

Officers have what they believe to be the DNA profile of the killer but they have not managed to match it.

On October 3, 1997, Ricky and his partner were walking on Highbury Park, nearing Hamilton Park, when a man approached and stabbed Ricky in the chest before fleeing.

Members of the public rushed to help but Ricky later died in hospital.

Hours earlier, Juan Marais was leaving Kensal Green tube station when a man approached and asked for the time before stabbing him twice and running away. Juan spent 15 days in intensive care with serious injuries but made a full recovery.

Detective Inspector Will Reynolds said it is likely the attacker fled the country.

“We are asking the public, especially those who are or were living in the area of Highbury or Kensal Green, to think about whether they knew of anyone who simply seemed to vanish in 1997," he said. "The suspect is a Black male who would have been aged between 25 and 35 at the time of the incident.”

Following the murder, officers found items believed to have been worn by the attacker in plastic bags in Conewood Street: a blue baseball cap, and a red and white Chicago Bulls jacket.

The knife, used in both attacks, was found in a back garden garden on the junction with Aubert Park and Aubert Road.

Ricky’s family said in a statement not a day goes by without them thinking about who Ricky would have become.

“Since that day in 1997 our lives have had a huge void – we have had to live without our son, brother and two children have grown up without their father," they said.

“Nothing will ever bring him back but we are desperate for answers and to find out who was responsible for turning our world upside down.”

Call 020 8785 8267 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.