Police believe Ryan was chased on to the tracks and wanted to charge two individuals with murder, but the PPS said there wasn’t enough evidence.
The 14-year-old died when he was hit by a train on January 30, 2009 after he was chased from a Portrush bar.
The Coleraine schoolboy got his hand trapped on the line and made a frantic phone call to his father pleading for help. Minutes later he was struck by a train and died from multiple injuries.
Police believe he was chased on to the tracks and wanted to charge two individuals with murder, but the PPS said there wasn’t enough evidence.
Vinny hopes his radio series and podcast will expose the enduring suffering of Ryan’s family – mum Lisa, dad Ivan and sister Zara – and help in their quest for justice.
His probe uncovered several unanswered questions, including what happened to Ryan in the 15 minutes between leaving McLaughlin’s Bar and being struck by the train, and why one of the suspects was present at several of the witness interviews with the PSNI.
The presenter has also learned that Ryan had been assaulted earlier that day, as well as in the bar, and that another witness had told police of individuals at a party months later disclosing they’d burned their clothes following the teen’s death.
There are also questions over text messages referring to Ryan’s death on the train tracks before police had confirmed his identity.
“If there wasn’t a witness to see him on the tracks how did anyone know?” says Vinny.
“Every element of this is heart-breaking. To die in that way is such a horrible thing, especially a child, and then you realise there are more layers to it.”
He’s spoken at length to Ryan’s family who want to ensure the teenager isn’t forgotten.
“They want to make sure his memory stays alive, and that people are aware of what happened. This was a real person, a real child.
“Giving people an insight into the suffering of the family and who Ryan was makes it more real.
“Something like this does not get any easier, and this is their life.
“For Ivan to have had a phone call like that makes it very hard for him to move on.”
Sister Zara, just 13 at the time, also reveals that she was coming home on a bus from a teen disco when everyone around her started receiving messages about Ryan’s death, but didn’t know how to tell her.
“I can’t imagine as an adult being in that situation. It was like something from a movie with everyone else knowing the most horrible thing has happened in your life.”
The case is currently under investigation by Det Supt Eamon Corrigan, who didn’t head up the original inquiry. He spoke at length to the presenter.
A line of inquiry is the time gap between Ryan leaving the bar, where he was attending a family member’s birthday party, and being struck by the train.
“There is a 15-minute gap which police identified as an issue. The train line is just across the car park, you could run it in 30 seconds, so it would not have taken him very long to get there,” says Vinny.
“The family also told me of allegations there was a suspect in the house when police went to interview witnesses. The police at the time told them this was happening, that this is an issue they are coming up against when they go to potential witnesses’ houses and the suspect is there and refuses to leave, and they can’t force someone to leave a house. Det Supt Corrigan said he wasn’t aware of that.”
Vinny says the reluctance of witnesses to come forward also suggests that foul play was involved in Ryan’s death.
“The police talked to as many people as they could, but there were many people who didn’t talk to police. That might well be because they saw nothing, but there are accounts which suggest something did happen.
“If this was a tragic accident and there was nothing more to it why would there be secrecy?”
The presenter is hopeful that sharing Ryan’s story will provoke people to tell police what they know.
Vinny was the producer on the Nolan True Crime podcast Getting Away with Murder in 2019, about the 1973 killing of Marian Beattie near Aughnacloy which brought new witnesses forward to police.
“Hopefully this, and the passage of time will make people come forward.
“I’m hopeful there are people who can fill in those missing minutes. People were talking about what happened, but they weren’t talking to the police,” he says.
Assume Nothing: Death on the Tracks is available on BBC Sounds and continues on Radio Ulster on Saturday at 12pm.