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NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Cherry on 13.07.10 19:24

What a disgrace that it took five and a half years to come up with the verdict of unlawful killing and eight years for the investigation into Essex Police's handling of the case to be done. I hope all those who have been complicit in the coverup of this man's death will be brought to account. Another case where you were right Tony in your suspicions about this man's death and Essex Police.

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by ufercoffy on 13.07.10 19:29

Cops reopen cement mixer killing case again

EIGHT years after a man was found dead in a cement mixer, a new police probe is to be launched into the death.
Les Balkwell, 62, has battled for years to have his son Lee’s mysterious death fully reinvestigated and said he would never rest until he found out the truth.
Mr Balkwell has always believed his son, 33-year-old Lee, was tortured and murdered before being thrown in a cement mixer by members of an organised crime gang.
Officers from Essex Police carried out an investigation into Lee’s death at Baldwins Farm near South Ockendon in July 2002, but concluded it was an accident and no-one has ever been charged in connection with the death.
But after waiting five-and-a-half years, an inquest in 2008 saw a ten person jury decide Lee’s death was the result of an unlawful killing through gross negligence.
Now a joint inquiry by Kent and Essex joint organised crime directorate is to investigate the circumstances of Lee’s death.
The probe will be led by acting Det Chief Supt Lee Catling and will complete investigative work recommended by the West Midlands force, who reviewed Essex’s original investigation and presented their findings earlier this year.
In November 2009 it was announced that a review of the original investigation of Lee’s death would be carried out alongside and inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The grief-stricken father was handed the “damning” IPCC report last week and told he was not allowed to make the contents public.
Essex Police claim publishing the contents at this time could prejudice any charges that might be brought against any officers.
Mr Balkwell wants any new police action to be carried out independently of the Essex force. Donna Veasy, spokeswoman for Essex Police said: “A number of complaints against Essex Police officers involved in the investigation into the death have been received and are being investigated by the IPCC.
“Essex Police asked West Midlands Police to review their investigations into the death, which occurred in July 2002, and their report was presented in May 2010.
“For legal and operational reasons, the contents of the West Midlands Report will not be published for the time being, although a copy has been provided to the IPCC.
“The report recommends particular investigative actions to be taken, disclosure of which could be prejudiced by making the report public.”
++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I hope you don't mind me copying the article here TB, it's just that sometimes articles disappear from the internet.

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by littlepixie on 13.07.10 22:01

I am so glad there are people like you Tony that will speak up for people who cant speak up for themselves. My sisters friend was "suicided" a few years ago along with others in our area. Everyone kept their mouth shut out of fear. At his inquest there were so many unanswered questions, things missing that should have been there. Mothers, fathers and children think their relative chose to leave them. I am truly convinced that it suits the Police to "let things be" at times and that they will work with "Mr Bigs" when it suits them to do so.

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Balkwell - BBC reports

Post by Tony Bennett on 14.07.10 15:12

@littlepixie wrote:I am so glad there are people like you Tony that will speak up for people who can't speak up for themselves. My sister's friend was 'suicided' a few years ago along with others in our area. Everyone kept their mouth shut out of fear. At his inquest there were so many unanswered questions, things missing that should have been there. Mothers, fathers and children think their relative chose to leave them. I am truly convinced that it suits the Police to 'let things be' at times and that they will work with 'Mr Bigs' when it suits them to do so.
Actually, 'littlepixie', I stumbled on the world of police corruption by complete accident, the result of Terry Lubbock contacting me for help in January 2006 re what happened to his son at Michael Barrymore's home. It is a lot bigger problem than I realised, and I'm not sure there is an effective counter-movement. The IPCC pronounces time and again on police misconduct and corruption, but still it goes on and I think grows. The IPCC lacks teeth.

The problem about the 'Mr Bigs' is that it is neither in their interests nor the interests of the corrupt police officers they work with to rat on each other. There is an unholy conspiracy of silence between the two sets of criminals, one in uniform, the other not.

The BBC report on Lee Balkwell:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10618433
@Cherry wrote: What a disgrace that it took five and a half years to come up with the verdict of unlawful killing and eight years for the investigation into Essex Police's handling of the case to be done. I hope all those who have been complicit in the coverup of this man's death will be brought to account.
Unfortunately, it is notoriously difficult to bring corrupt police officers to account, it's hard to get evidence against them. There is a huge amount to come out about senior Essex Police Officers one day. A lot of their evil plans were hatched at a Freemasons Lodge in Southend on a Thursday afternoon, where these criminals in uniform would plot their devious games. One of these corrupt officers now works in a key position for the IPCC in London. If I were to reveal his name, Jill would get a solicitors' letter from the Police Federation within hours, telling her to remove it. I might post the name and details elsewhere though

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Cherry on 15.07.10 17:38

Tony are the IPCC aware that this officer who got a job with them is suspected as being corrupt?

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Cherry on 17.07.10 19:20

Romford Recorder





AN EXASPERATED father has accused police of using "smoke and mirrors" to once again dodge calls for a complete reinvestigation into his son's death.

Angry Les Balkwell hit out after learning yet another partial probe is to be launched into how Lee, 33, became crushed in a cement lorry.

Essex Police announced a newly-formed specialist crime squad will focus on opportunities missed by its detectives throughout three separate investigations into the incident on July 18, 2002.

But the force stood firm on refusals to publish the potentially bombshell findings of a review of its handling of the case by West Midlands Police.

And it refused to say exactly what the Serious Crime Directorate - a joint Essex-Kent unit - would be probing, only that "at this stage it is not proposed that the work will constitute a full re-investigation".

Les, 63, said: "We believe this is spin by Essex Police - it's all smoke and mirrors.

"The simplest way to deal with this is start from the beginning with a full reinvestigation. But Essex are frightened about what it will expose.

"I'm sure there will be far more twists in this case soon. The evidence is now stacking up - the more we look, the more we find that this was not an accident and the investigations were botched beyond belief.

"There is some evidence which has come to light which we can't divulge yet because we don't want to jeopardise future criminal investigations."

Les, of Abbs Cross Lane, Hornchurch, added: "We've seen the findings of an Independent Police Complaints Commision investigation and it's so damning about the police. We believe the West Midlands team could only have come to the same conclusion. If Essex has nothing to hide, why won't they publish."

Essex Police issued a statement, on Friday, which read: "Temporary Detective Chief Superintendent Lee Catling of the Kent and Essex Joint Serious and Organised Crime Directorate will lead a joint Essex and Kent police team to complete and conclude the investigative work recommended by the review conducted by West Midlands Police.

"This investigation will be overseen by ACC Alan Pughsley, head of the joint Serious Crime Directorate. Essex Police continues to keep an open mind on the cause of Lee Balkwell's death.

"A number of complaints against Essex Police officers involved in the investigation into the death have been received and are being investigated by the IPCC."

It said the West Midlands report will not be published for the time being due to "legal and operational reasons".

An inquest found Elm Park dad-of-one Lee death died on a cement works in Baldwins Farm, Dennises Lane, Upminster, due to unlawful killing through gross negligence. A Health & Safety probe was launched but suspended pending the conclusion of the police investigation.

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BALKWELL CASE Update

Post by Tony Bennett on 27.07.10 18:33

@Cherry wrote:Tony are the IPCC aware that this officer who got a job with them is suspected as being corrupt?
Yes. They are investigating this but I can't say much about how things are going.

UPDATE ON THE LEE BALKWELL CASE

I attended a meeting this afternoon at the HQ of the Independent Police Complaints Commission in London where Mr Les Balkwell and I met with the IPCC Commissioner for Essex, Rachel Cerfontyne, the Senior Investigator in the case, Amanda Rowe and her colleague. This was mainly to discuss recent developments and also to discuss progress in the IPCC's investigation of 138 separate allegations of misconduct against current or former Essex Police Officers, some of whom are or were in senior positions.

Just to refresh on where we are now:

18 July 2002 1.03am Lee Balkwell reported dead in a concrete mixer.

Three investigations and reviews by Essex all confirm the police's view that this was nothing more rthan 'a tragic accident'.

9 February 2008 - Well over 5 years since his death, a 10-person Coroner's Jury at Chelmsford unanimously finds that Lee Balkwell was unlawfully killed

May 2008 - IPCC begin investigating the case, having decided to launch their own inquiry because of the seriousness of the allegations involving 23 officers

December 2008 - IPCC serves Regulation 9 caution notices on 17 officers warning them they are being investigated for misconduct

29 June 2009 - Devastating report by IPCC Senior Investigator Amanda Rowe stating that the original investigation ws seriously flawed and recommending an outside police force urgenly begin a new investigation

December 2009 - Essex Police reject IPCC recommendation and instead appoint Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Mirfield of West Midlands POlice to carry out a 'review'

14 May 2010 - Mirfield presents his report to Essex Police. We are told that this was a 'meaty' report with many new lines of investigation recommended.

9 July 2010 - Essex Police announce that they will conduct a further review and follow a number of new lines of investigation and appoint Detective Chief Superintendent Alan Pughsley of a joint Essex and Kent Serious Crime Directorate to conduct this review. This is NOT therefore the independent investigation that Les balkwell has called for.

At today's meeting, these developments were discussed. IPCC investigations just like ordinary police investigations are strictly confidential and so there's very limited information I can give about today.

The one and only thing I am authorised to say is that Rachel Cerfontyne has advised Essex Police to disclose to Mr Balkwell and myself the content of Dave Mirfield's report in full but they have refused once again to accept the IPCC's recommendation.

The only other thing that I will add without giving anything away is that we left the meeting optimistic that we are getting closer and closer to the truth, or to use a metaphor that Les and I frequently use: 'We have taken a few more bricks out of that wall of silence'.

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Cherry on 27.07.10 19:50

That sounds positive, let's hope all those involved in the murder and subsequent cover up get exposed for what they have done. I bet there are a few worried Essex police officers around!

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Judge Mental on 28.07.10 10:11

This is a truly appalling case.

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PRESS RELEASE TONIGHT (28 August)

Post by Tony Bennett on 28.08.10 22:57

THE DEATH OF LEE BALKWELL - UPDATE - 28 August 2010, 8pm

4-hour meeting with ex anti-police corruption detective and now A.C.C. Alan Pughsley

KENT POLICE TO ACT ON 91 RECOMMENDATIONS

This is an update for our contacts who are kindly following this extraordinary case, and once again Les would like to thank all of you for all the help you have given in the past to help shed light on this very very murky matter.

UPDATE

Yesterday (Friday 27 August 2010) Les Balkwell attended a 4-hour meeting at North Kent Police H.Q., Northfleet.

Background

Accompanying him at the meeting was Tony Bennett, the retired Solicitor who been helping Les for the past three years, and whose dossier on the case led to the current top-level investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into police misconduct, during which 17 current or former Essex Police Officers have been served with Regulation 9 cautions.

The two met with Kent A.C.C. Alan Pughsley and the man who has become the new Senior Investigating Officer in the case, Lee Catling.

Les Balkwell and Tony Bennett had already been told by Essex Police Force Solicitor in a letter dated 8 July 2010 that Essex Police accepted all the recommendations made in a recent thorough review of the case by Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Mirfield of West Midlands Police. That review was commissioned by Essex Police following a damning interim report dated 29 June 2009 which referred to 'serious flaws' with the original investigation into Lee Balkwell's death.

News

ACC Pughsley disclosed to Mr Balkwell that Dave Mirfield of West Midlands Police had made no fewer than 91 separate recommendations for action.

He told us that Essex Police had commissioned Kent Police to carry out every single one of those recommendations.

ACC Pughsley was formerly a leading detective with the Police Anti-Corruption Team, CIB3, based in Putney, London. His role in tackling corrupt Police Officers was highlighted in the book 'Bent Coppers' by Graeme MacLagan.

Lee Catling, currently an Acting Detective Chief Superintendent with Essex Police, has been chosen to lead the enquiry and said several times during the 4-hour meeting: "We will leave no stone unturned to get to the truth about how Lee Balkwell died".

Mr Balkwell had criticised Essex's decision to commission the joint Essex and Kent Serious Crime Directorate to investigate Lee's death, believing that only a wholly indepedent enquiry by an outside force would be likely to get to the truth. The I.P.C.C. had recommended an outside force back in JUne 2009 and Essex has twice now refused to implement their recommendation. Their refusal to do as the I.P.C.C. recommended led to questions in Parliament by new Home Office Minister James Brokenshire earlier this year.

Assurances

Answering Mr Balkwell's criticisms, ACC Pughsley was able to give the following assurances:

1. Lee Catling's Team will be staffed by Kent Police Officers of his own choosing. No Essex Police Officers will be on the team.
2. Lee Catling's Investigation Team will be located in a sealed and undisclosed location.
3. Although ACC Catling is required under the Terms of Reference to report progress in the investigation to Essex ACC Andy Bliss and Essex Police Force Solicitor Adam Hunt - ACC PUghsley, as Chairman of the Gold Group, will be able to recommend that the investigation become fully independent if certain lines of enquiry suggest that this may be necessary.
4. New lines of enquiry are already under way.

Mr Balkwell's reaction

"I would much prefer that Essex, in view of its 8-year record of cover-up in this case, had nothing whatsoever to do with this investigation. However, the news that the new investigation will be headed up by one of the nation's most experienced anti-police corruption detectives gives me great hope, and I've been given a clear 'nod' that if they find clear evidence of police corruption in covering up how Lee died, then Essex will be cut out of the equation altogether. I am more optimistic that the truth about my son's death will eventually be known than at any time in the past 8 years".

Contacts

Les Balkwell
Mobile 07908 752522

Tony Bennett
01279 635789
Mobile 07835 716537

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by aiyoyo on 29.08.10 15:35

“For legal and operational reasons, the contents of the West Midlands Report will not be published for the time being, although a copy has been provided to the IPCC."

The trouble in nailing the corrupt police officers involved is too much time has elapsed rendering it very difficult to narrow down the culprits because records are either not filed as should be or not kept as should be.

No matter what those senior officer responsible for handling the case back then should all be hauled up for interrogation and held responsible for shoddy work, because it was after all them who put their signatures on final reports that deprived the victim of justice.

All this investigation of the crime, police force, review by ipcc, and request for several police force to re-review original investigation is wasting time and taxing resources heavily. Is this going to be pattern of more to come?

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Tony Bennett on 29.08.10 22:00

@aiyoyo wrote:“For legal and operational reasons, the contents of the West Midlands Report will not be published for the time being, although a copy has been provided to the IPCC."

The trouble in nailing the corrupt police officers involved is too much time has elapsed rendering it very difficult to narrow down the culprits because records are either not filed as should be or not kept as should be.

That's a good point, but keep in mind these points:
1. A young man appears to have been murdered, the truth has to come out, and hopefully the perpetrators jailed
2. It is yet possible that some of the police officers concerned may be charged with criminal offences. This is not just an investigation into police misconduct in the dim distant past.


No matter what those senior officers responsible for handling the case back theyshould all be hauled up for interrogation and held responsible for shoddy work, because it was after all them who put their signatures on final reports that deprived the victim of justice.

One of the problems in this investigation is that we already know that evidence has been 'lost', I am sure deliberately, and it appears that the 'policy files' in which senior investigators record their investigative decisions are virtually bereft of material. There is no audit trail of CCTV tapes that the police gave to Mr Balkwell's Solicitors only after they edited out some parts of the CCTV.

All this investigation of the crime, police force, review by IPCC, and request for several police force to re-review original investigation is wasting time and taxing resources heavily. Is this going to be pattern of more to come?

If senior coppers have been corrupt on this case, you can be certain that they will be determined, practised, devious and ruthless. Criminals - but in uniform - amongst the lowest of the low.

The whole matter has indeed cost millions so far:
* 8 years of Essex Police investigations
* a nine-day inquest
* The 3-year (so far) IPCC investigation
* The West Midlands Review last year
* The new Kent investigation


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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Mike on 29.08.10 22:10

@Tony Bennett wrote:If senior coppers have been corrupt on this case, you can be certain that they will be determined, practised, devious and ruthless. Criminals - but in uniform - amongst the lowest of the low.

If these practised, devious and ruthless criminals in uniform want to cover up crimes then how can anyone do anything about it? Surely the more ordinary folk fight them the more devious they get?

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Tony Bennett on 29.08.10 22:43

chris wrote:
@Tony Bennett wrote:If senior coppers have been corrupt on this case, you can be certain that they will be determined, practised, devious and ruthless. Criminals - but in uniform - amongst the lowest of the low.

If these practised, devious and ruthless criminals in uniform want to cover up crimes then how can anyone do anything about it? Surely the more ordinary folk fight them, the more devious they get?
That is precisely why we have specialist anti-police-corruption units - regrettable though it is that such units are necessary. Their existence points to how easily the police can act corruptly. They are powerful people these days with access to resources and intelligence. And very difficult to dismiss.

On the Balkwell case, you may have noted above that the Kent Police investigation into Lee Balkwell's death is headed by Alan Pughsley, who was once a leading detective in Unit CIB3. That's the main British police anti-police-corruption unit. That gives us some cause for hope.

On the subject of police corruption, look at how this honest, dedicated, enthusiastic officer was hounded out of Essex Police by his corrupt seniors:

Policeman was bullied
12:58pm Tuesday 19th September 2006

By Michael Clarke - Southend Echo

A former policeman was the victim of a sustained harassment campaign after reporting a senior colleague for misconduct, a High Court judge has ruled.

David Clark, from Westcliff, who retired on medical grounds after he was constantly bullied by senior officers, has spoken of his relief at winning his case.

Mr Clark, who had served both in Rayleigh and Hadleigh, had claimed the Chief Constable of Essex Police was vicariously liable for his injuries.

Mr Justice Tugendhat accepted he suffered "bullying, harassment, humiliation, intimidation, oppression and victimisation" at work after he made a complaint about a senior officer's handling of a case.

On top of the £18,000 general damages to cover pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, the former detective constable will receive damages to reflect loss of earnings, which could run into six figures.

Mr Clark, 50, who won many commendations during his career, told the Echo: "It's come as a huge relief. I left with depression and a pulse rate of 203, when it should have been 75. I'm about to have a heart operation that will hopefully make me back to normal.

"It was a nightmare. My locker was broken into, my desk searched, there was shouting, constant undermining and humiliation.There was a police car parked down my road morning and night observing my comings and goings."

The court heard Mr Clark left the force after 26 years in January 2002, after stopping work in October 1999, suffering from shingles and depression.

His troubles stemmed from his participation in Operation Orchid, an investigation into theft and handling stolen goods.

Mr Clark was appointed officer in charge in July 1997, but claimed he felt like a "marked man" after he complained the investigation had been seriously undermined by Det Sgt John Kreyling, who "de-arrested" a suspect Kreyling knew personally.

The suspect was later acquitted, along with several others.

Mr Clark's complaint of oppressive conduct through the force's grievance procedure was shelved and he was later posted to Hadleigh police station to perform beat duties.

The judge also found Det Chief Insp Graham Bird had been negligent in failing to protect Mr Clark.

Kreyling moved to Basildon police in 2002 before retiring from the force. Bird has also retired.

The judge said that Kreyling was "not capable of belief" and could not be regarded as a "candid witness".

Ruling in Mr Clark's favour, the judge said that he was a "careful and honest" witness.

Mr Clark told the Echo: "The police tried to cover it up. I hope other officers will not be deterred from coming forward and saying the right thing."

Lawyers for the chief constable denied liability and negligence, arguing Mr Clark's injury was not foreseeable and that he failed to take reasonable care for his own health.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: "In relation to this specific case, Essex Police is seeking leave to appeal the decision."


NOTE: Essex did not appeal and David Clark eventually settled for £96,000 compensation. No action was taken against the SENIOR officers who pursued a sustained campaign against him of what Judge Tugendhat referred to as 'bullying, harassment, humiliation, intimidation, oppression and victimisation' - T.B.

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Judge Mental on 29.08.10 23:30

chris wrote:
@Tony Bennett wrote:If senior coppers have been corrupt on this case, you can be certain that they will be determined, practised, devious and ruthless. Criminals - but in uniform - amongst the lowest of the low.

If these practised, devious and ruthless criminals in uniform want to cover up crimes then how can anyone do anything about it? Surely the more ordinary folk fight them the more devious they get?

Which is why we need to use the internet to inform these people that their own acivities are being monitored and any details will eventually be made available if it is in the public interest. The intelligence agencies are most fond of advising and reassuring the public that there are no hiding places for criminals. Perhaps the time has now come for them to openly prove that they do indeed monitor their own criminal colleagues with a view to bringing them to justice rather than colluding with them to make monetary and promotional gains.


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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Cherry on 30.08.10 18:58

Both the public who are aware of corrupt officers and fellow officers can report any suspect officers and dodgy police officers are being investigated all the time, some of them have been charged for all kinds of corruption and some are in prison so most definitely something can be done. Sometimes they all close ranks but it is always worth making official complaints if someone is aware of any dodgy officers as these complaints an mount up and be the spark that triggers an official investigation into an officers activities.

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Tony Bennett on 01.10.10 16:34

Here is a report from yesterday's 'Romford Recorder' on the Lee Balkwell case:

http://www.romfordrecorder.co.uk/news/what_happened_to_lee_balkwell_1_660470

Just as in certain other cases, progress is slow.

But then so is the process of peeling an onion, layer by layer.

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Tony Bennett on 15.10.10 22:09

10-minute YouTube film about the death of Lee Balkwell now posted (WARNING: Some graphic images):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0b7bpOQIXM

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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by littlepixie on 15.10.10 23:06

Tony was the drum on that mixer not working then (broken control rod) or are they saying it was broken when they tried to remove him. How can they say he was killed by the drum if it was incapable of turning?

Eta. Will have a look at Les's site.

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The police interview Simon Bromley

Post by Tony Bennett on 15.10.10 23:32

@littlepixie wrote:Tony was the drum on that mixer not working then (broken control rod) or are they saying it was broken when they tried to remove him. How can they say he was killed by the drum if it was incapable of turning?
This is not only a good question, it is one of a handful of crucial questions about this case.

The role of the 'broken connecting rod' is not only controversial but complex and convoluted to explain.

In common with other concrete mixers, they can be controlled with a set of controls in the cab, but also from a set of similar controls at the rear.

It is a key part of Les Balkwell's case that the cab controls were working the night Lee Balkwell died, but that the connecting rod was deliberately broken six days later (by two corrupt police officers). Why they might have done this is unfortunately hard to explain. What is agreed, however, unanimously, by a whole range of experts, is that connecting rods, made of the strongest possible steel, never break in normal wear and tear - and that therefore this connecting rod was deliberately broken. The forensic examination of the shear is absolutely conclusive on this point. The only issue is when it was broken and by whom.

There was only ever one interview under caution in this case - when Simon Bromley was interviewed by Detective Inspector Weald.

Here is a commentary on that interview that I wrote with Les Balkwell some three years ago. The actual tape-recorded interview was part of the evidence at the Inquest, which took place five-and-a-half years after Lee's death. An 10-person jury unanimously ruled that Lee had been killed unlawfully through gross negligence and/or manslaughter, after the Coroner had ruled that she would not allow the jury to bring in a homicide verdict.

The part of this account that deals with the connecting rod is in bold blue below. I am sorry, this is a case where one question tends to lead to another...and another...and so on:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The police ‘investigation’ begins

Detective Sergeant Jason Weald interviews Simon Bromley

It was to be 19 days - nearly 3 weeks - before Detective Sergeant Jason Weald sat down at Grays Police Station to interview Simon Bromley. By then, police would have had ample time to interview some of the key witnesses who attended the scene in those early hours. And of course, they should have done, had the early instructions of Detective Superintendent Gareth Wilson been followed. But as we know, they were not. Detective Superintendent Graham Bull had already countermanded them and ensured that no contemporaneous statements were taken. The principle of taking statements as early as practicable from all those at the scene of a crime was trampled on.

It was 3.02pm on 6 August 2002 when Det. Sgt. 2045 Jason Weald, accompanied by Det. Constable 1212 Andrew Ronald Jose, drew up their chairs and switch on the police tape recorder. With Bromley was his solicitor, a Mr Lowry-Mullins from Halland, Black, Gittings and Knott, known as Kevin Lowry. Det. Constable Jose took little active part in the interview.

The interview was ‘voluntary’ - Bromley was not under arrest. The interview had been pre-arranged by the police and, in effect, Bromley was told in advance that he had nothing whatsoever to worry about.

Lowry-Mullins, for the benefit of the tape, said: “My role is to advise and assist my client in relation to an offence for which he is about to be cautioned [that is, receive a caution about anything he might say in the interview] and for which he has not been arrested, having voluntarily attended. I have, after discussing the disclosure with yourself, discussed it with my client. My client is, er, willing to answer all questions that are put to him in relation to the, erm, investigation as it is at the moment - in relation to, er the involuntary manslaughter of Lee, erm, who tragically died…”

When the interview got going, Simon Bromley heard these words, which would have been like joyous music to his ears:

Weald: “You are being investigated for, if, we, if it’s right to say, an offence of involuntary manslaughter, then technically we are being correct. Erm, I would prefer to say that we are investigating what I consider to be a tragic accident”.

It was the perfect start, so far as Bromley was concerned, to a short interview that lasted barely 40 minutes.

Weald began with questions about the history of the vehicle and what training he had given to Lee and other employees about the use of the concrete mixer, which turned out to be none.

Thirteen minutes into the interview, Weald asked his first key question:

Weald: “When you are gunning out, what would be the normal way of doing it? Having to get inside the drum?”

Bromley made a significant statement in response: “What we normally do is get in through the back”.

Of course, it follows from that that they would also get out through the back of the drum. At the back of the drum is a large aperture and a ladder to help you descend to the ground. Without question, this would have been the way that Simon Bromley and Lee were getting in and out of the concrete mixer that night.

But Weald does not go on the attack and follow up by putting it to Bromley that this would be the normal way of getting in and out of the drum. Nor does he think to ask why on earth Lee would have suddenly climbed out of an inspection hatch.

Bromley does make a significant admission shortly afterwards in the interview. He told Weald:

“That’s what we normally do [climb in and out of the back of the drum], we never take, I never took the inspection hatches off before, we’ve never had one break down with as much gear as what that one had in it”.

Let us pause there for a moment. Bromley claims the inspection hatches were taken off because there was such a great volume of dried concrete. So why, then, we may ask, was the inspection hatch clearly closed when it runs down the lane and back at just after 9pm that night? If there was ‘so much dried concrete’, why not open the inspection hatch straightaway, if that were the answer?

But we say that opening the inspection hatches was not necessary in this or any other case. Dried cement would have been shovelled out of the back of the drum. I say the inspection hatches were probably taken off the drum only after my son had been attacked at just past midnight.

Then Bromley says: “We was working for an hour or two and wasn’t really getting anywhere, you know what I mean? So I said, well, if I can get them to take the inspection plates off, so…”

Weald asks Bromley to confirm what time the lorry came back to Baldwin’s Farm. It was, as we know, about 7.23pm.

Bromley continues: “We was getting in through the reception chute, we were both going in there”. Bromley’s claim is that ‘after an hour or two we took the inspection plates off’. But the inspection plates were still clearly on at 9.10pm when Bromley drives the concrete mixer up the lane to the bungalow.

Then Bromley comes to another key part of his account. He claims that he had started the engine up a number of times that evening to move the drum around a little to make it easier to Kango out. Here are his actual words:

Bromley: “The only time we ever started the engine up was obviously to move the - when we wanted to get round to a little bit what we…was a little bit awkward - if it was up in the air or something like, you know. Or whatever”.

The problem for Bromley here is that there is no trace of the engine being switched on and off, as he claims, on the tachograph. There is, of course, as we saw before, clear evidence in the form of two radiating straight lines, that the engine was switched off, probably by putting it into gear, at 12.58am and again at 1.01am. But there is absolutely no evidence of it being done at any other time that night.

Weald had not done his homework. He had probably not seen the video of the night’s events, nor had he analysed the tachograph. Had he done so, and had he spent sufficient time studying them and taking advice, his interview might well have been far more rigorous.

Seventeen minutes into the interview, Weald asked another leading question.

Weald: “Obviously Lee has become trapped at some stage. Can you recall exactly what was happening and why you think that might have happened?”

Here, verbatim, are the key points of Bromley’s reply:

Bromley: “I think he must have fell out the hatch as I started the motor…we were just shovelling [the concrete] out, shovelling it out the inspection hatches, that’s why it was sort of either side of the lorry there you know”.

Now let’s pause here and ask why Bromley says this. He says, seemingly with emphasis: “That’s why it was sort of either side of the lorry there you know”. We saw earlier that when the emergency services arrive, there were two neat piles of dried-out concrete on either side of the lorry, with a Kango drill neatly placed on top, ‘bladed’ into the pile of cement - that is, with the blade pointing downwards into the pile of concrete. That, we say, is absolutely consistent with the Bromleys having created those piles of concrete between killing my son at just after midnight and calling the ambulance at 1.03am.

Another obvious point raised by one witness was this: why, if Lee had been Kango-ing out using a Kango drill inside the drum and was just getting out of an inspection hatch or falling out of it, were the two Kango drills found neatly positioned on top of the two piles of concrete? There is a simple answer. They had planned and executed their cover-up very well on the whole, but had overlooked one important detail. It seems they had over-prepared the scene of the crime by not only arranging the two piles of concrete but also laying out both Kango drills on top of the piles.

Lee’s drill would still have to be inside the drum. He could hardly have placed it there if, as claimed by the Bromleys, he was stuck half-way in and half-way out of the inspection hatch, feet first. It was an obvious point. But another one that the police missed. In all probability, given Bull’s decision about the conduct of the case, they had already, by 6 August and possibly well before then, abandoned any notion of treating the events of that night as anything other than a ‘tragic accident’.

Of course, if Lee and Simon Bromley had been Kango-ing out of the inspection hatches, and had come out of the drum and left both of their Kangos drills neatly positioned atop the two piles of concrete, the obvious next question would be: - why did Lee need to go back into the drum? We don’t need to answer the question, though, since Bromley has explicitly said that he left Lee inside the drum.

Weald continues: “You have got out, I assume, what - to turn the engine on, then rotate the drum?” He fails to ask the obvious question of Bromley: how did you get out? - through the back or through an inspection hatch?

Bromley repeats his claim: “We wanted to rotate the drum so we could move it, you know, to get to a little bit that we, that was a bit awkward to get to, like, you know”. It is scarcely credible that Bromley would be wanting to do this at 1.00am after over 5 hours’ continuous ‘gunning out’.

Weald is puzzled by the need to keep inching the drum round. He asks: “Is it fair to say 360 degrees of the drum was covered in cement [he means concrete], all the way round?”

Bromley: “Erm, not all the way round. But like, sort of, you know”. What kind of answer is that? But Weald does not bother to pursue it.

Then Weald asks a good question: “It may seem like an obvious question, this, but why couldn’t you just drill the stuff without turning the drum?”

Bromley’s answer is somewhat unconvincing: “Well, we was just, because the Kangos are heavy, ain’t they? We just…”

Weald however is perfectly happy with that answer: “They’re heavy. That’s all right”.

Bromley capitalises: “If you ask anybody who’s in the game, who’s ever done it, we’re always working down rather than, you know, it’s hard enough in there as it is, you’re sweating buckets, the gear was…it was a warm day anyway and the stuff was creating, concrete does create heat as it goes off anyway, you know what I mean, so…”

Bromley repeats his claim that so far as getting out to start the engine and rotate the drum is concerned: “We’d done it, done it a few times”.

Weald follows this question up.

Weald: “What was the procedure you’d been using on the previous occasions? Was he still inside the drum when you were rotating it?”

Bromley’s answer: “Yeah, and me, he got out and started it while I was in there, just the motor started up - and walk round and just slowly with the drum, you can just slowly move, erm, with the controls, like, you know what I mean, just move it round to where we were starting, ‘that’ll do’, and you shout for me ‘that’ll do’ like, and then…”

There are at least three problems with this account.

First, as we’ve seen already, there is no tachograph evidence that the drum was being inched round during the evening.

Second, would someone really stay inside the drum, with the blades inside, whilst someone else ‘inched the drum round’? What if there was a sudden faster movement of the drum? (if that were possible). Or what if the person controlling the levers accidentally pulled one into ‘fast’ mode by mistake? It would be contrary to all known health and safety procedures for someone to remain in the drum. If necessary, someone could easily see from outside what the best position to carry on drilling out the dried concrete would be. But then the story of Lee being in the drum at all is a necessary part of the complicated web Bromley has had to weave to account for the extraordinary position in which my son’s body was found.

Third, there is no suggestion here that either of them would attempt to get out of the drum whilst it was - allegedly – just being ‘inched round’. Bromley has still failed to explain how on earth Lee could have been caught half way in and half-way out of an inspection hatch, just at the very moment - allegedly - that Bromley had switched on the motor at around 1.00am.

Weald now moves on to what happened when Bromley, allegedly, switched on the engine at around 1.00am.

Weald: “You’ve got to start the engine, because the drum won’t rotate without the engine running, ’cos it’s hydraulics? Were you turning the engine back off after?”

Bromley: “Yeah”.

Weald: “O.K., how were you doing that?”

Bromley: “Just turning it off, stopping it, like stopping the engine, just put the, by the stop button...I’ve got out, and I’ve gone to the cab and started the engine, erm, I just noticed that the motor started moving, like that (gestures)”.

Weald: “Which way? In a discharge direction, or?”

Bromley: “It moved that way (gestures), it moved clockwise, I think…Lee’s leg was in…that was obviously the way it was turning, do you know what I mean?”

Weald clarifies: “It discharges clockwise and mixes anti-clockwise, yeah, from the back?”

Bromley eventually concedes that when he switched on the engine, the drum ‘must have’ turned clockwise. He continues: “Well, as you said, it [the drum] literally just started moving, and I jumped out of the motor, like, and went round the side like that, and he’s all…I just see his legs hanging in there. I run round the other end [the back of the vehicle], I went to put me hand on to stop the vehicle, but because we had had it stopped for so long, we hadn’t got out and done that for a couple of hours”.

Then we have this from Bromley: “’Cos where we told sides off [he means the inspection hatches] and gunned them out, it wouldn’t stop, ’cos the air needs to be built up. So I run round the other side. But I think he was dead by then, you know what I mean, I was, I turned the motor back the other way like that, I went round, tried to pull him out, and that”.

Weald: “You tried to reverse the drum?”

Bromley: “He was well stuck in there”.

Weald: “Do you think he was dead at that stage?”

Bromley: “Oh I think so, yeah. I believe so”.

Weald: “So, it’s, it’s gone downwards [clockwise on to Lee’s body]. You think he’s what - half fallen out? - and then the body’s been taken, because that’s what I’m trying to work out. Has he fallen completely out or has…”

Bromley: “I, I, I, I, I…”

Weald: “Has he half fallen out?”

Bromley: “I didn’t actually see. That point, you know what I mean, as I say, by the time I got out to see what happened, he was already in there, like, you know, I didn’t actually see what had happened…”

Weald: “Was there any lighting set up?”

Bromley: “We did have a light there. What we was using in the back - a torch - and that as well, d’ya know what I mean, but, erm…”

Weald: “How did you stop the engine, again?”

Bromley: “Er, I got in and just stalled the motor in the end. Just put it into first [gear] and then, just, ‘boomp’ - just to stop it, like”.

Weald: “Is that how you would have stopped the engine?

Bromley: “No, no. At first when we was, we was doing it a bit more frequently, the air was built up, like, you know, just rev it up and, it’s not a problem, you know what I mean? - just stop it…You’ve gotta have the air built up in the cab before you just, before you can use the stop button [a button on the floor of the driver’s cab], like you know”.

Weald then points out to Bromley the position that when the vehicle was tested, the engineer who tested it couldn’t turn the engine off, using the black ‘stop’ pedal or switch on the floor of the cab.

Bromley replies that: “Stall the motor...that’s exactly what I did in the end, do you know what I mean?”

Weald now asked about reversing the drum. “So you’ve seen him trapped? You’ve reversed it, how, how far did you reverse the drum?”

Bromley: “Er, only just a little bit, half a turn”.

Now Weald asks what happened after the accident.

Weald: What did you do after that?”

Bromley: “Just ran into my Dad’s, got me Dad up and that, you know. He just said ‘Leave him, ’phone the police, that’s what he said”.

And Weald then leaves it there. He does not ask, for some reason, what Bromley was doing at 1.10am walking to his house with some kind of white object on his hand, and then returning up the lane two minutes later - without the said white object - having jumped over the wall or fence of his property and not having returned via the entrance to his bungalow. Weald doesn’t ask what the white object was. Or what he did with it. Or why he didn’t return to the house, but returned back down the lane.

Had this been a proper police investigation of a suspicious death, these questions would have been put to Bromley. The fact that they weren’t proves that by Day 19 of this so-called ‘investigation’, there no longer was an investigation. Detective Superintendent Graham Bull had obviously decided by then that the world would be led by Essex Police to think that this was ‘just a tragic accident’.

Given the police’s supposed role in preventing and detecting crime and convicting people responsible for committing crimes, especially of serious crimes like violent assault and murder, we have just one question. Why?


Weald goes on to say that the vehicle was inspected by experts and found to be in generally good condition. But then Weald says: “They did identify a number of faults with the vehicle, obviously, one of them, they said that the starter button wasn’t stopping the engine”.

Bromley: “Yeah, but we know why that was”. But nevertheless Bromley had claimed that he tried the foot pedal before deciding to stall the engine to stop the drum turning..

Weald then stumbles on to the issue of the controls in the drivers’ cab.

This is the exchange:

Weald: “The only thing that wasn’t working that they identified was - you have an actual mechanism inside the cab itself - dual controls”.

Bromley: “Dual, dual controls?”

Weald: “Yeah - to manoeuvre the drum”.

Bromley: “Yeah”.

Weald: “That wasn’t working”.

Bromley - clearly taken aback: “It wasn’t working?”

Weald: “No. Were you aware of that?”

Bromley: “No. No, I wasn’t aware of it”.

Weald: “Do you ever use the controls in the cab?”

Bromley: “Not that often we don’t use them, no. Normally they’re just - like you do it from outside, just back up to the hole, spew it straight on…As far as I’m, as far as I knew, they was all working”.

Weald: “But you weren’t aware they wasn’t working?”

Bromley: “No. No, it worked on the other lorry, I mean, I, that obviously, that was the one that Lee used to drive and he never said to me that it didn’t, it didn’t work”.

Weald returns to more questions about what actually happened.

Weald: “You’re, you’re aware that he’s got trapped in the drum? Would you have not considered using those controls in the cab, if you weren’t aware they weren’t working?”

It’s a good question, and Bromley is temporarily stumped by it.

Bromley: “I’m, say that again, sorry?”

Weald: “How have you stopped the drum from spinning, ’cos you’ve gone, you’ve gone and reversed it, haven’t you?”

Bromley: “Yeah”.

Weald: “But what did you do initially?”

Bromley “No, I went round the other side, I didn’t touch them [the controls in the cab]”.

Weald: “Why didn’t you try for the controls in the cab?”

Bromley: “I just, just jumped out the motor, and I was just - like that - you know...just the thing I done on the spur of the moment, you know what I mean, I couldn’t really tell you why I did it”.

Weald gives up: “O.K.”

Weald then moves on to asking what steps are being taken to prevent a recurrence of such an accident.


Bromley’s answer: “And me girlfriend, she’s sorting it out now what they, you know, what we need to do and that, and the best thing that, format, or whatever, or signs in they ard or whatever it is, you know, that can make it a safer job to do, and then we’ll do it. It’s as simple as that. Obviously it’s never gonna happen again at my place, you know what I mean, but…”

Weald returns momentarily to the sequence of events: “Something that you said to the officer at the time when they turned up was that you’d, the drum had spun faster than you’d expected on that occasion when the accident happened?”

Bromley: “Well. I didn’t expect it to move, didn’t expect it at all, really, but it did move, yeah, it moved quite quickly, yeah”.

Weald: “So what you were expecting, then, was to turn the engine on and then have to go to the back to…”

Bromley: “And just move it round steadily, like, you know”.

Weald: “Right, so is it possible that perhaps the handle had been left on in the rotating position?”

Bromley: “It’s possible, yeah”.

But as we have already seen, it was possible that the handle had been left in that position, but, if so, it would not mean that the drum would start rotating.

Now some more questions from Weald: “You’ve stopped the drum from spinning. How did you stop the drum?”

Bromley: “Yeah, that was when I run around, then stopped it”.

Weald: “Stalled the engine?”

Bromley: “Erm, no. I stopped the drum”.

Weald: “Stopped the drum, but the engine was still running?”

Bromley: “Still running”.

Weald: “And did you go to him first, or did you go to stop the engine?”

Bromley: “Er, when I stopped the drum, I went round to try, try and pull him out, like you know, before, before I stopped the engine”.

Weald: “O.K, and when that didn’t work, you then - what? - reversed the drum?

“Bromley: “Er, I think, no, I think I done that first while I was round there”.

Weald: “You reversed the drum? Aware that he was trapped in there?”

Bromley: “Yeah”.

Weald: “O.K. - and did that have any effect at all?”

Bromley: “No, no, I think he just stayed where he was”.

Weald: O.K. And then, obviously, when you’ve realised he’s trapped and, like, I take it you assumed he’s dead”.

Bromley: “Yeah. Well, when I picked him up to try and...he was just limp. You know what I mean?”

Weald: “And then you the switched the engine off?”

Bromley: “Yeah. I just got in the motor and stalled it”.

D.C. Jose intervenes: “At any time, do you hear Lee scream or shout or anything at all?”

Bromley’s answer is swift and decisive: “Nothing. Lee died instantly”.

D.C. Jose: “So there was no warning you, you at all that, that he, he’s obviously inside?”

Bromley: “I, I think he died, as I turned the key I think, within a second he was dead. A second and a bit, you know, it was just that quick”. Bromley seems very confident and sure about that.

Weald: “If it does ease your mind, I mean, the, the pathologist has said there would have been an instant death. The way he can determine that is because there was very little if any bleeding”.

Bromley then joins in with a strange response: “Yeah. There was no blood there”.

Was the blood elsewhere?

Weald summarises: “Upminster Concrete is your own company. You own it and run it by yourself. You had one employee, Lee Balkwell? - who tragically died on the 18th of July. The difficulty with this investigation is it’s almost a cross-over of a police investigation and a health and safety. We offered Victim Support service to you, would you require that?” [Victim Support is normally only available to the victims of a crime].

Bromley: “I do feel a little better about it now, you know. At first - but a couple of weeks gone by, it’s just hard to deal with, you know what I mean, I’ve still got his wife [partner] coming down here all the time and crying her eyes out, jumping back in the motor and going again. Every time I walk out me door, I’ve gotta look at the place where he died, you know what I mean? It is difficult.

Bromley’s solicitor now chips in a little reminder at the conclusion of the interview, to make sure the police don’t lose the point: “The drum for whatever reason has revolved when it shouldn’t have revolved - and that’s something nobody will k now”.

A defeatist comment from D.C. Jose follows: “We’re never gonna know, I don’t think”. What purpose, I might ask, does that comment serve, in the context of a professional police interview?

Without that possibility - if it is a possibility - of the drum starting ‘accidentally’, Bromley’s whole case falls to the ground.

Weald concludes: “We’re talking about involuntary manslaughter, there has to be some sort of criminal neglect there, or, or failing to do certain things that amount to a criminal act. A file will go in [to the CPS] and they’ll adjudicate on it”.

Weald then offers to spare Simon Bromley the bother, indeed he speaks of the ‘trauma’ of Lee’s former partner coming down to the spot where he died: “If it’s a case of, like you say, Lee’s wife is coming down, I can speak to her Family Liaison Officer who’s dealing with the family and say, look, he’d rather you didn’t keep coming down, it’s traumatic for him as well as you coming down”. One wonders if Weald has ever seen those poignant bunches of flowers that appear from time to time by the roadside to mark the spot where a close relative has died. Does he not appreciate that for some, it is an important part of coming to terms with a death to visit the spot where someone died? He could have said something to Bromley along those lines if he had chosen to. If Simon Bromley, in association with others, had killed my son, then he would no doubt be troubled, with what little conscience he had left, at seeing Lorraine, Lee’s partner, crying over the death of her partner and father of her young son. It doesn’t get much better than Essex Police offering you ‘victim support’ just 19 days after the event and then - into the bargain - trying to lean on Lorraine not to visit the spot where her partner died.

So thoughtful of Essex Police. Forget about a suspicious death and trying to bring those responsible to justice - which I always thought was the police’s job. It was just 41 minutes since the police tape recorder was started, when Weald announced to a no doubt relieved Simon Bromley that he had no more questions - and the tape was switched off.




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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Cherry on 17.10.10 11:33

Is DS Graham Bull one of those officers under investigation?

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Bull's Line Manager was Steve Reynolds

Post by Tony Bennett on 19.10.10 1:02

@Cherry wrote:Is DS Graham Bull one of those officers under investigation?
Yes. Most certainly.

He is the senior police officer who...

* Burnt most of Lee Balkwell's clothing the day after the incident

* Ordered that no statements were to be taken from those at the scene

* Ordered that no-one take statements from the fire and ambulance personnel who attended the scene

* Ignored about 50 separate indications that the account given by the Bromley family of that evening's events was untrue

* Brought in the now-discredited pathologist Dr Michael Heath to perform the post-mortem on Lee, the same pathologist who maintained against the evidence that Stuart Lubbock had died from drowning rather than from the serious anal injuriues he suffered and which Heath minimised

* Gave several totally improbable explanations for why Lee's body ended up in the position it did

* Wrapped up the case in 5 weeks by writing a report to the Essex Crown Prosecution Service saying: 'Tragic accident - no-one to blame - no further action needed'.

During this time Bull's Line Manager was the Essex Police Head of Crime Division, Steve Reynolds.

Reynolds was promoted out of Essex Police in 2005 to a post as Senior Investigator with the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

In that capacity he was one of the authors of the IPCC report on the notorious Jean Charles de Meneses killing at Stockwell Tube Station on 21 July 2005.


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Re: NEW! Balkwell case - Arrest of 5 people 14 Nov 2012 - plus all the details of the case over long and painful 10-year history

Post by Cherry on 19.10.10 17:30

thanks for the info Tony. thumbsup

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