THE family of popular footballer Ryan Passey have finally celebrated victory in their civil case against the man who stabbed him to death in a crowded Stourbridge nightspot.

Friends and family of 24-year-old Ryan had been pursuing legal action against Dudley man Kobe Murray since he was acquitted of both murder and manslaughter charges after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court in February 2018 in which he admitted that he had used a knife to "stab out" during a fight.

But today, after a hearing in Liverpool Civil and Family Court, the family has celebrated a 'landmark judgement' and Kobe Murray, now going by the name of Kareem Gayle, has been found responsible for killing Wren's Nest FC midfielder Ryan who died on August 6, 2017, after being stabbed in Chicago's in the Ryemarket.

Claiming Gayle wrongfully and unlawfully caused Ryan’s death, the family made an application under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, which offers the right to seek damages for a death caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default.

Gayle, who was 19 at the time of the incident, did not attend the hearing and offered no defence to the claim despite initially indicating he would defend it. Therefore a default judgement was made by the court.

Jason Connon, spokesman for the Justice for Ryan campaign, said: "We are pleased that the judge recognised that Gayle’s conduct was so serious that an award of aggravated damages was appropriate. This was to punish him for his despicable behaviour."

He said around £10,000 has been awarded to Ryan's family in damages, with Gayle hit with a £12,000 court costs bill, but he added: "It's never been about the money.

"No family should have to go through what we are currently going through in the pursuit of moral rightness and justice.

"Today’s ruling is one important step in our ongoing fight to achieve justice for Ryan, but no stone will be left unturned."

The family are also awaiting a review to take place by an independent police force into the murder investigation carried out by West Midlands Police and they continue to discuss the case with the CPS and Jason added: "We will never give up in our pursuit of justice for Ryan. We miss him every day. Until Kareem Gayle is put behind bars for taking our Ryan’s life away from his family and friends, we will never rest."

Ryan's heartbroken mum Gillian Taylor said she was "overwhelmed" after the conclusion of the civil case and she added: "The judge was marvellous, he was very sympathetic to our case and what we've been going through. I can't stop crying."