AS they prepare to mark the third painful anniversary of the tragic death of Ryan Passey - relatives have confirmed they have begun civil action against the man who admitted stabbing him.

The popular footballer, who had played for Stourbridge FC's youth team and later Wrens Nest FC, was just 24 when he was stabbed to death in a single blow to the chest when a fight broke out in the old Chicago's nightspot in Stourbridge town centre on August 6, 2017.

Three years on the heartache remains for Ryan's devastated parents Adrian Passey and Gillian Taylor, and his step-dad Phil, who have been tirelessly fighting for justice for their son - whose killer was acquitted in what's been dubbed a 'perverse verdict' following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court in February 2018.

Kobe Murray, the Dudley man accused of ending Ryan's life, was found not guilty of both murder and manslaughter charges after telling the jury the fatal blow had been accidental.

The verdict sent shockwaves through the court and the justice system and Ryan's gutted friends and family have not been able to rest since.

They have been keeping Ryan's memory alive through a series of fundraising events and have hired a private detective and a barrister to help them in their campaign for justice.

And now - two-and-a-half years after that shock verdict - court papers have been served to begin civil proceedings against Murray.

Efforts also continue to call for a new Ryan's Law - to enable families of crime victims to appeal in cases of 'perverse acquittal' where a jury has found a defendant not guilty contrary to evidence presented in court.

The family's barrister Matthew Stanbury said: "As things stand the law does not allow for perverse verdicts to be overturned. It would be difficult or impossible to have such a process without the first step of juries providing reasons for their decisions.

"Such decisions are of enormous importance to those involved in the case and those affected by the case. They are also of importance and value to the wider public, and society at large, which has an interest in a fair and open justice.

"So far as criminal proceedings are concerned, juries stand alone in not providing reasons for their decisions. In the magistrates’ court a bench of magistrates, or a district judge, will provide a reasoned verdict. In the crown court, on the limited occasions when there is a trial without a jury, the judge will provide reasons for his or her decision.

"This anomaly prevents those affected by a jury’s decision from being able to understand it."

In addition to calling for a law change, the Justice for Ryan campaign has also won the support of Stourbridge's MP Suzanne Webb who, the family say, has been trying to help set up a meeting with the Ministry of Justice and to help raise the profile of their case.

Earlier this year before the Covid-19 outbreak - the family revealed how they had felt let down by the authorities tasked with bringing Kobe Murray to justice and said they had received no further support from West Midlands Police, the CPS and West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.

Jason Connon, of the Justice for Ryan campaign, said: "We are still extremely frustrated by the lack of cooperation.

"To be treated this way by a public body is disgraceful. Ryan’s family deserve better treatment than this."

Private investigator Russ Winfield, managing director of Liberton Investigations - who is working on behalf of the family, said: "Unbelievably, after three years the family have so many unanswered questions regarding Ryan’s death and the court result.

"This includes the thoroughness of the police investigation, the role and conduct of the CPS and the prosecution case overall. The family, with our support, have contacted the police, the police and crime commissioner Mr Jamieson and the CPS but so far, sadly, all responses have lacked any worthwhile detail.

"We hope that after the third anniversary those who are there to serve the public will start engaging with the family in a meaningful way in order that they can be reassured that all that could be done was done."

The anniversary of Ryan's death will be a day of quiet reflection for family and friends still heartbroken at the loss of the self-employed window cleaner whose passing continues to cast a shadow on the old Chicago's unit in The Ryemarket.

The unit is currently standing empty after the most recent venue Soda Lounge closed its doors just before the coronavirus lockdown - after just a few months of trading.

Ryemarket manager Kelley Dyas said: "The anniversary of that tragic night is something we will always remember, it is so heartbreaking we are so many years down the line and the family still have no justice."