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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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Exchange between me and 'Majic' tonight (29 Oct)

Post by Tony Bennett on 29.10.10 22:37

MAJIC TO ME

Mr Bennett.

I have had a most distressing communication from Lee's family and I have removed the article including the video from Chaos Raptors. The article caused create distress and pain to Lee's family including his wife and child that I had no knowledge of. I share Ms Balkwell's concerns about their son watching a video that graphically shows the circumstances of his father's death.

I have apologised profusely to her and Lee's family for hosting this video. May I ask you to please reconsider the content of the video that you have on You Tube and take into consideration Lee's son. I have to agree with Ms Balkwell and point out to you that the video scene of crime images serve no purpose other than to shock. The photos that you have when talking to Lee's father are more than enough in my opinion.

I do hope that you can appreciate the gravity of this appeal from Lee's family and make changes to the video. I would like your consent to publish this email on the website and your reply, only with your consent.

Rgds, andy

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


ME BACK TO MAJIC

REPLY:


Lee’s parents, sister and brother and other relatives have had to come to terms with Lee’s unexpected death for over 8 years now. For most of that time, Lee’s father Les Balkwell has been battling against vastly superior forces to establish the truth about how his son died.

I have been helping Les for about 3½ years, so obviously have a great advantage over you in knowing about the family, about the circumstances of his death, and of the cover-up there has been, which does, I assure you, involve senior Essex Police Officers as one day we will all most assuredly find out.

So let me just tell you that it is not ‘Ms Balkwell’ who has contacted you, and in fact Lee and the lady who wrote to you were not married. I will not give full names to you, but suffice it to say that the lady who contacted you is ‘L.M.’ and her father and brother are both ‘D.M.’ and her mother is also ‘L.M.’, let us leave it there.

At the time of Lee’s death, Lee and L.M. had a lovely 5-month-old boy. He is now nearly 9 years old.

The case is much discussed in the respective families, and of course in and around east London and south-west Essex where the case has been hugely reported by both paper and T.V. and radio media. I know that the 9-year-old boy is aware of at least some of the discussions about whether Lee died as the result of a tragic accident, as L.M. and her family and Essex Police maintain, or because he was killed, as Les Balkwell believes - and as the evidence is increasingly pointing towards. I am sure the 9-year-old boy has not actually seen the images of his father on the video. We also give the public due warning of some graphic material before they view the video. Nearly 1,000 people have watched it in its first two weeks.

I must take up one point with you. You are quite wrong to suggest that the images of Lee’s body are intended to shock. They are not. It is material to the whole discussion of the case as to how his body ended up in the very strange position it did, and those photos formed a key part of the inquest, held in 2008. Indeed there have already been responses to my e-mail address from people who have volunteered further information. Similar events of people coming forward with new information have followed other media exposure of this case.

You need to be aware that ever since Les Balkwell began his quest to find out what really happened to his son, ‘L.M’. and her family have done everything possible to try to convince the police and the public that Lee’s death was nothing more than a tragic accident. They continually react against media coverage, which more and more is pointing to the fact that this was murder, subsequently backed by a police cover-up.

In order to make you and others fully understand what is behind ‘L.M.’ contacting you and taking the stance she is doing I would (a) have to divulge highly confidential information which would compromise a number sources and (b) have to make direct accusations against certain members of the ‘M.’ family which would only inflame the situation if I mentioned them in this reply to you - and you then published them.

I feel sad for the 9-year-old boy who due to family circumstances is not able to see Lee’s parents due to the wholly different views of the matter taken by the respective families. I believe he has an understanding of the situation.

When he grows up, I believe he will not only come to terms with, but will appreciate, the efforts of Les Balkwell and others to find out what really happened that night - an event which deprived him of being brought up by his own father. He will no doubt be glad, if he gets the opportunity, to see those responsible for killing his father that night and those responsible for depriving him of bring brought up by his father, get the justice they deserve. Though in these days of people being let out 10 years after committing grievous murders, I am not sure they will get sufficient punishment. Lee Balkwell was a well-loved man in the area as ‘L.M.’ herself would gladly confirm, and that is in no small measure due to the character of his father Les Balkwell. All of us will gain in the end by knowing the truth about how he died - except of course those who know the truth and have been hiding it.

One final thought, on which I shall not elaborate any further. Before I finish with a summary time-line of the key events in this case, I need to tell you that ‘L.M.’ herself still has things to say which could solve this case and one day, sooner I hope than later, she will have the courage and the honesty to say those things to the investigating police officers. I appreciate that certain others may be making it difficult for her to say these things.

You may publish this, uncut please, and here, to finish, is the timeline:

Lee Balkwell was a 33-year-old man from an east London family who lost his life in mysterious circumstances the night of 17/18 July 2002, at Baldwins Farm, South Ockendon, Essex. In early 2007, his grieving father, Les Balkwell, contacted me, having heard about my work investigating another mysterious death, that of Stuart Lubbock, who was killed at the home of Michael Barrymore in 2001. He asked me to investigate how his son really died. I have been assisting him with his investigations for the past three years.

The two deaths have many features in common. Among the most crucial was that in both cases, the now-discredited Home Office pathologist Dr Michael John Heath was, by a process yet to be investigated, chosen by senior Essex Police Officers to carry out the post-mortems. The second feature is that in both cases, huge amounts of vital evidence were ‘lost’ or destroyed on the orders of senior Police Officers during that all-important first 48 hours, sometimes called the ‘Golden Period’, as it is the best time of all to invent a cover story and ‘lose’ vital evidence.

The police version has always been that Lee lost his life whilst inexplicably crawling out of a 14-inch-wide inspection hatch of a revolving mixer drum in pitch black at 1.00am, having, it was said, been drilling out hardening concrete in the drum for close on six hours. After a few months carrying out his own investigations, father Les Balkwell reached a very different conclusion: that his son had been murdered at around midnight and that his body had been placed in the cement mixer to make his death look like a ‘tragic accident’.

Hopefully the 10-minute film we’ve made, now on YouTube, will introduce you to some of the key issues in the case.

But by way of background, I’ll just summarise some of the extraordinary developments in the case between Lee’s death and today:

1. None of those at the scene of Lee’s death were interviewed for the first 19 days

2. None of those at the scene of Lee’s death were interviewed for the first 19 days

3. Then, one of those at the scene was questioned, but was told by Essex Police before the interview started that the police believed this to be a ‘tragic accident’

4. Within five weeks Senior Investigating Officer Graeme Bull had filed a report with the Crown Prosecution Service saying that all the evidence showed this was a ‘tragic accident’. CPS Senior Prosecutor Christopher McCann agreed, and the police began to prepare the case for an inquest, hoping for an ‘accidental death’ verdict

5. After Les Balkwell raised questions about what happened to his son’s clothing in early 2003, Essex Police Head of Crime Steve Reynolds tasked two senior officers, Simon Coxall and Peter Hood, with carrying out a review. The review meandered for three years with no inquest being arranged. Steve Reynolds was later promoted to a senior post with the Independent Police Complaints Commission

6. Les Balkwell complained to the Police Complaints Authority in 2003, but they appointed Peter Hood to ‘investigate’ the actions of police. Unsurprisingly, he cleared all his fellow officers, apart from mild rebukes handed out to three officers

7. After Les Balkwell published a website in July 2006 which gave evidence as to why his son was murdered, Essex Police swiftly brought in another senior reviewing officer, Keith Garnish. That was also ineffective

8. Two attempts to hold an inquest in 2007 failed, the first time because Essex Police appointed a corrupt Coroner’s Assistant who was discovered to be planning to ensure an ‘accidental dearth’ verdict at the inquest, the second because Essex Police failed to inform the Coroner until two days before the inquest that a key witness had been extradited to Germany five weeks previously and would therefore be unavailable for the inquest

9. An inquest jury of 10 in February 2008 unanimously held that Lee Balkwell was ‘unlawfully killed by gross negligence/manslaughter’. The Coroner had ruled that she would not allow the jury to bring in a homicide verdict, despite Les Balkwell’s barrister submitting that there was ‘overwhelming circumstantial evidence’ that Lee had been murdered

10. In June 2009 the Independent Police Complaints Commission, having investigated the case anew for a year, issued a confidential report which slammed Essex Police for ‘serious flaws’ (see the IPCC press release of August 2009). They recommended that Essex allow an independent police force to investigate the whole case afresh

11. The Essex Chief Constable, Jim Barker-McCardle, rejected the recommendation, instead asking West Midlands Police to carry out a ‘review’

12. The West Midlands Review by Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Mirfield made 91 separate recommendations, and is believed to have been even more critical of Essex Police than the IPCC

13. Jim McCardle refused a second time to allow an independent police force to re-investigate the case, instead instructing his own joint Essex & Kent Serious Crime Directorate to follow up new lines of enquiry. These lines of enquiry are now being pursued by a new team of detectives under Acting Chief Superintendent Lee Catling of Essex & Kent SCD.

When this case is finally solved, I fully expect we will find that a ‘ring’ of major drug-dealers - and the corrupt senior Essex Police officers on whom their livelihood depends - will have conspired to keep Lee’s family and the public from knowing the truth about how Lee Balkwell died.[/size]
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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 29.10.10 23:59

I am glad you have posted up the exchange of emails Tony. I have experience of a brother dying leaving a son and a girlfriend/partner and there were certain times when it was very difficult for my father when he and the surviving partner didnt agree on sensitive or legal matters relating to my brother.

My father was legally my brothers next of kin and although he never wanted to exert this there were difficult times when he reluctantly had to.

I believe, at the end of the day, when he is a man that little boy will want to know the whole truth about his fathers death. If the truth isnt found he may go looking for it himself one day.

Eta. My father only EVER exerted his next of kins status when it was in my deceased brothers interests to do so.
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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 Guest on 12.02.11 13:44

Upminster & Hornchurch MP: police ‘reluctant to co-operate’ in Balkwell death investigation



Sheena McKenzie, Reporter
Sunday, January 2, 2011
9:00 AM





THE father of a young man found dead in a cement-mixing lorry has demanded answers after an MP claimed police officers are “reluctant to co-operate” in an investigation into his death.


  • In a letter seen by the Recorder, Upminster and Hornchurch MP Angela Watkinson made the comments about Essex Police following a probe into the force’s investigation of the death of Lee Balkwell, 33.



Father-of-one Lee, of Elm Park, was found dead in the mechanics of a cement-mixing lorry on Baldwins Farm, Dennises Lane, Upminster, on July 18, 2002.
The mysterious case had been handled by Essex Police with Lee’s father Les maintaining his son was murdered, despite an inquest in 2008 finding he died of unlawful killing by gross negligence.
Last week the case took a dramatic new twist with MP Watkinson revealing some officers were reluctant to co-operate in an investigation headed by Kent and Essex Police.
MP Watkinson did not wish to comment further on her letter.
In a significant move, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) last September recommended an external force – Kent Police - be brought in to re-investigate Lee’s death.
Essex Police had snubbed the important recommendation, instead conceding only to let another force review their initial investigation.
Now it appears they’re reluctant to even co-operate in this investigation.
Angry Les told the Recorder: “The police are there to help solve crimes, not hinder them. Which is exactly what Essex Police is doing in their reluctance to co-operate.”
He added: “We have been assured that if Kent Police find any unlawful behaviour by Essex Police officers it will be investigated in the strongest terms. So my question is, why would any honest police officer be reluctant to co-operate in this investigation?
“As a result, we’ll be taking this up with the minister for crime prevention (and former Hornchurch MP) James Brokenshire through our MP Angela Watkinson.”
Les said: “Why isn’t Essex Police ordering its officers to co-operate with its own investigation?”
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “There is currently an investigation being conducted by the IPCC regarding complaints about the case and as such it would be inappropriate to comment while that continues.
“Officers are working through 91 recommendations made by West Midlands Police following the review of the investigation. This work is ongoing by staff from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.”
http://www.romfordrecorder.co.uk/news/upminster_hornchurch_mp_police_reluctant_to_co_operate_in_balkwell_death_investigation_1_764882

just goes to show how corrupt police officers can go to any lengths to hide a crime.
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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 Guest on 04.03.11 20:49

That is unbelievable and an insult imo.

I would say of course Essex Police should pay this bill.
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Update on Lee Balkwell death investigation

Post by Tony Bennett on 30.06.11 22:06

Tonight's [30 June 2011] Basildon Echo and Southend Echo:

Don't miss today's Echo for an exclusive report about police failings during an investigation into the death of a man found dead on a cement mixer.

During the inquiry into the death of Lee Balkwell on a south Essex industrial estate in 2002, evidence was destroyed before forensic tests, statements were not obtained from witnesses and there was poor interviewing of a suspect, according to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Full story in Thursday's Echo.

More coming soon...
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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 AskTheDogsSandra on 30.06.11 22:11

Why is more importance placed on protecting perps and witnesses than ensuring justice for the victim?
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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 30.06.11 22:15

@AskTheDogsSandra wrote:Why is more importance placed on protecting perps and witnesses than ensuring justice for the victim?
In many ways, we live in a wonderful country where we have many blessings not available to folk in many other countries, BUT we also have a lot of corrupt people in our land, and too many of these are near the top of our society
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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 AskTheDogsSandra on 30.06.11 22:20

@Tony Bennett wrote:
@AskTheDogsSandra wrote:Why is more importance placed on protecting perps and witnesses than ensuring justice for the victim?
In many ways, we live in a wonderful country where we have many blessings not available to folk in many other countries, BUT we also have a lot of corrupt people in our land, and too many of these are near the top of our society

Yes you only have to look at the Jersey case to see that. And now Madeleine is also at the receiving end of corruption.
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IPCC final report due out January 2012

Post by Tony Bennett on 10.12.11 9:55

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is expected to issue, next month (January 2012), their final report on their investigation into possible police misconduct concerning the investigation into death of Lee Balkwell:

http://www.romfordrecorder.co.uk/news/hornchurch_father_les_balkwell_ipcc_report_may_shed_light_on_son_s_death_1_1143552
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IPCC Report on Lee Balkwell death to be released Monday 30 January

Post by Tony Bennett on 27.01.12 17:53

IPCC full report on the case (150 pages) to be released Monday 30 January: Details of Les Balkwell's Press Call:

(Note, for those unfamiliar with the case, there is a short news item on Anglia News here from 2009 - view from 4 mins 25 seconds onwards):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttEZH4FRRuM

Also this BBC report:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13993871

Also this Basildon/Southend Echo report:

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/archive/2011/07/02/Thurrock+News+%28thurrock_news%29/9117194.Failings_in_probe_into_cement_mixer_death/

And this more recent one from the Echo:

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/local_news/southend/9451814.Police_chief_refused_to_take_part_in_misconduct_investigation/

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

PRESS CALL - Boreham, near Chelmsford, Essex
Monday 30 January, 1.00pm, refreshments available

IPCC is to publish its full, 147-page, report on the Lee Balkwell case on 30 January

LES BALKWELL, father of Lee Balkwell, invites you to a press call at:

The Lion Inn
BOREHAM
near Chelmsford
CM

At. 100.pm.

Directions: Off the A12, 2 miles east of Chelmsford.

Programme:

I intend to make a short statement of welcome and introduction in which I shall briefly set out the timeline of this matter which has taken 9.5 years to get to this stage. Les Balkwell is copoerating with what is now the FOURTH Police Review of the case. The current Review is being undertaken by Acting D.C.S. Catling of Kent Police.

On 29 June 2009, IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne signed off a robust report by Senior Investigator Amanda Rowe which slated the original Essex Police investigation as 'seriously flawed' and recommended that an outside force immediaetly begin a full-scale re-invesigation by an outside police force. Essex Police has for the past 2.5 years actively defied that recommendation.

Les Balkwell will then make a statement and both of us will then be happy to ask any questions about what has happened up till now and what Les's plans are now that we have got the IPCC's findings.

For those of you not familiar with us I am a retired solicitor and have been assisting Les Balkwell in his struggle for truth and justice for 5 years..

Tony Bennett, representantive of Les Balkwell

CONTACTS:

Les Balkwell: 01708 446850 Mobile 07902 752522
Tony Bennett: 01279 635789 Mobile: 07835 716537
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BBC TV EAST report this morning

Post by Tony Bennett on 30.01.12 9:11

BBC TV EAST 'INSIDE OUT' PROGRAMME TONIGHT (30 JANUARY) ON THE LEE BALKWELL CASE, 7.30pm (also available on iPlayer)


UPDATE ON THE LEE BALKWELL CASE

Lee Balkwell cement mixer death: Police probe 'flawed'
30 January 12 06:46

By Debbie Tubby, Julian Sturdy and Mark Bulstrode
BBC News

Police made crucial mistakes in a "seriously flawed" investigation into the death of a man found in the mechanism of a cement mixer lorry, a leaked report has revealed.

Lee Balkwell, 33, died from multiple injuries at a farm in Upminster, Essex, on 18 July 2002.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report found eight senior officers made 25 errors.

Mr Balkwell's father, Les, said the number of mistakes "beggars belief".

The IPCC, which investigated 92 complaints made by Mr Balkwell, found 18 were substantiated against at least one officer.

Investigation failures

The highly critical report, leaked to the BBC, found police failed to secure potential evidence, missed chances to interview witnesses and did not treat the death with an "open mind".

Routine lines of inquiry were not pursued and "key actions" expected in a "thorough and comprehensive investigation" were not carried out.

The probe was also brought to an "extremely swift conclusion", IPCC investigators said.

Police failed to check the background of potential suspects and a file presented to prosecutors contained a "paucity" of evidence.

In a foreword to the report, IPCC commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne wrote: "We found that Mr Balkwell's belief that the original investigation into Lee Balkwell's death was inadequate was well-founded.

"In our view, it was seriously flawed. From the outset, it was mired in assumption that what happened to Lee Balkwell was a tragic accident."

The IPCC upheld complaints against eight senior-ranked officers, including a detective inspector, three chief superintendents and a chief inspector.

Retired haulage firm boss Mr Balkwell, 65, from Hornchurch, Essex, said: "To say that this investigation was seriously flawed is understatement.

"It beggars belief that so many mistakes could have been made by so many senior officers."

Unlawful killing verdict

Mr Balkwell believes his son was murdered and that his death was "staged" to make it appear an accident.

He said he was satisfied with the report's findings but wanted a murder inquiry to be opened.

But the IPCC report said it had not found any evidence of a crime or anything to back up Mr Balkwell's claims of corruption.

Two police reviews into the investigation have taken place and, in February 2008, the case was referred to the IPCC.

Police are now reviewing the inquiry to decide whether it should be reopened.

An inquest in 2008 returned a verdict of unlawful killing through gross negligence.

Lee had been drilling set concrete from the drum of the cement mixer lorry on the evening before his death.

Post-mortem tests showed that the lorry driver died from injuries consistent with being drawn into moving parts of the mixer.

'Tragic accident'

David Bromley, who was at the Upminster Concrete Ltd site on the night of the death, rejected any claim an accident had been "staged".

He said there was no suggestion that either he or his son, Simon, who had been working with Lee, were involved in the death.

He described Lee as a "good worker" and a "big loss to us all".

"Everybody liked him," said Mr Bromley. "It was just a tragic accident. I keep saying. That's God's truth."

Tim Jackson, national deputy secretary of the Police Superintendents Association of England and Wales, said: "All officers of superintendent rank have fully co-operated and assisted with each investigation and those that had retired continued, without obligation, to do so.

"We are aware of some of the conclusions and criticisms contained within the IPCC report and if need be, those that are not accepted can be addressed in the appropriate forum in due course."

Essex Police said the force would comment when the report was officially published.


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



Lee Balkwell cement mixer death: Police probe 'flawed'

BBC News - 10 hours ago
Lee Balkwell, 33, died from multiple injuries at a farm in Upminster, Essex, on 18 July 2002. An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report ...
Cement mixer death probe 'flawed'The Press Association
Essex police slammed for flawed probe into deathEssex Enquirer
Police Respond To Cement Mixer Death CriticismBuild.co.uk
Echo
all 53 news articles »

BBC News

Report to list complaints against police in enquiry

Yellow Advertiser - 13 Jan 2012
PLEASED: Les Balkwell hopes the report will highlight failings of the Essex Police investigation into the death of his son, Lee. Picture by Martin Dalton A ...





Lee Balkwell cement mixer death: Police probe 'flawed'



BBC News - 2 hours ago

Lee Balkwell, 33, died from multiple injuries at a farm in Upminster, Essex, on 18 July 2002. An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report ...

Essex police slammed for flawed probe into death‎ Essex Enquirer
Monday's Echo: Essex Police failings after man's death‎ Echo

Lee Balkwell cement mixer death: Police probe 'flawed'


BBC News - ‎2 hours ago‎

Lee Balkwell, 33, died from multiple injuries at a farm in Upminster, Essex, on 18 July 2002. An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report found eight senior officers made 25 errors. Mr Balkwell's father, Les, said the number of mistakes ...


Essex police slammed for flawed probe into death



Essex Enquirer - ‎36 minutes ago‎

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has found that the initial Essex Police investigation into the death of Lee Balkwell was 'seriously flawed'. On 18 July 2002 Lee Balkwell (right),33, was found dead at Baldwin's Farm, near Upminster, ...


Father fights for justice for son

BBC News - ‎2 hours ago‎

By Mark Bulstrode BBC News Les Balkwell has never accepted the claim that his son died in a tragic industrial accident. Nearly 10 years on from the horrific death, Mr Balkwell remains as determined as ever to find answers. Lee Balkwell, 33, was found ...

Monday's Echo: Essex Police failings after man's death



Echo - ‎3 hours ago‎

Lee Balkwell's body was trapped in the vehicle at Baldwin's Farm, South Ockendon, in the early hours of July 18 2002. It was deemed an industrial accident by police. But the Independent Police Complaints Commission has blasted the initial 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 Tony Bennett on 30.01.12 17:36

JULIA MCLELLAN'S REPORT ON THE IPCC FINDINGS IN THE LEE BALKWELL CASE

MIXER DEATH INQUIRY VERDICT REVEALS THE FULL EXTENT OF NEGLIGENCE BY ESSEX POLICE FORCE

by Julia McLellan – 07860 303573 – Pictures by John McLellan (All officers named in the report)


“Seriously flawed” is the damning verdict given by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, to describe the original investigation by the Essex Police force into the death of lorry driver, Lee Balkwell, age 33 from Hornchurch, Essex in July 2002.

Finally today, (Monday 30th January 2012), nearly ten years after Lee’s death, this long awaited and highly critical report into Essex Police’s handling of the case has been published.

“More hours have gone into this IPCC investigation than any other we have conducted, or will conduct in the future.” said IPCC Senior Investigating Officer, Amanda Rowe.

The in-depth 147-page document highlights and supports many of Lee’s father, Mr Les Balkwell’s ongoing complaints about Essex Police’s handling of the case; In particular it upholds twenty-five of the most serious accusations.

Lee Balkwell’s body was found in the workings of a cement mixer and the official report has shown that from the onset Essex Police:-

· completely failed to secure potential evidence.

· did not properly interview potential witnesses.

· lacked the ability to treat the case with an ‘open mind’ and look at a more sinister cause for Lee’s death.

Indeed, Essex Police regarded the death as a tragic accident and in so doing, the report continues, ‘vital evidence was not presented. The failure of the investigation at the early stages has left evidential gaps that may never be filled.’

The IPCC became involved in looking at the handling of this case by the Essex force after receiving numerous complaints from the victim’s father, Les Balkwell, age 65.

Mr Balkwell has always believed the nature of his son’s injuries indicated that he had been tortured, killed and deliberately placed between the drum and chassis of the cement mixer located at Baldwins farm in Upminster, Essex where he worked in the early hours of 18th July 2002.

The family believe that Lee Balkwell fell foul of the gang members that he worked for in particular Simon Bromley who claimed Lee’s death was a tragic accident.

Father, Les Balkwell and other members of his family were devastated by their loss and expected Essex Police force to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding Lee’s death.

But early in the investigation, Mr Balkwell became very dissatisfied with Essex Police’s investigation and made a number of formal complaints, namely that Lee’s clothes were not forensically examined and were destroyed within a few hours of his death. The scene of the incident was not secured. Witnesses were not adequately questioned. Lee’s lorry was not forensically examined. Following these complaints a review was subsequently held in March 2003.

“I felt that Lee’s death was no tragic accident and that Essex Police were not looking into how Lee met his death.” said Mr Balkwell. “It was clear to me he couldn’t have got stuck in the machinery of the cement mixer because he would have to have been lifted up and placed there.”

This was the first of what, unbelievably, would go on to be SEVEN further reviews to date.

The Balkwell family remained unhappy and made further serious complaints, which led to another review being undertaken, this time by the Essex Police Professional Standards Department, between July 2006 and December 2009.

An inquest into Lee’s death in 2008 - some six years later - returned a verdict of unlawful killing through gross negligence/manslaughter. At this stage Essex Police were told to investigate the circumstances of Lee’s death.

“The investigation was appalling,” said Mr Balkwell. “They still failed to interview any potential suspects or carry out a full investigation.”

In February 2008, Essex Police finally referred his complaints to the IPCC.

The interim report by the IPCC in 2009 recommended that an independent police force should re-investigate the circumstances of Lee’s death.

At the same time, the West Midlands Police Force carried out their own review and went on to make 91 recommendations to Essex Police with regard to their handling of the case - some 66 more recommendations than in the Stephen Laurence IPCC review.

Despite the IPCC and West Midlands Police Force reviews recommending a re-investigation into Lee Balkwell’s death by an external force, Essex Police Force refused to do so. Instead, they agreed to a further EIGHTH review into the handling of the case which is currently being carried out by the new joint Kent & Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

This for the Balkwell family is prolonging their unbearable agony of the loss and those responsible being brought to justice.

There are some similarities in this case to the Stephen Laurence case, poor policing and a culture of trying to turn a ‘blind eye’ to the concerns of relatives of the deceased; only finally having to do so when a substantial report by the IPCC has forced them to look at their:-

· Failure to secure a crime scene, this was upheld by the IPCC.

· Failure to interview witnesses at the scene.

· Failure to secure essential evidence.

· Failure to determine it was not an accident.

· Failure to interview suspects, potential witnesses during later reviews.

· Failure to consider the criminal background in Lee Balkwell’s case, the interviews carried out by Essex Police officers fell “below the standard expected & lacking in both depth and clarity”.

· Mis-informing the family that forensic tests had been carried out when in fact they had not.

The IPCC did not, however, except that there had been ‘a deliberate cover up’ by Essex Police into Lee Balkwell’s death or that there was any evidence of any corruption by its officers. This is something that Les Balkwell had always believed to be the case.

Rachel Cerfontyne, Commissioner of the IPCC did comment: “In the light of Essex Police’s prolonged failure to fully address his concerns, it is perhaps understandable how and why Mr Balkwell reached such conclusions himself.”

The Commissioner commented that she was ‘deeply saddened that Mr Balkwell has had to go to such lengths to get valid demands properly addressed’, she went on to say ‘I would like to pay tribute to his endurance & tenacity’.

However it has been almost a decade, with a staggering eight reviews currently since Lee’s death, and like Stephen Laurence’s mother Doreen, his fight for justice for his son has cost him both financially and in family members’ health.

Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne recognized this by stating ‘I am also very aware of the cost to him and his family. The situation should never have been allowed to develop to this stage and as an inevitable consequence, has prolonged his agony’.

Mr Balkwell revealed he received a letter of apology from the Deputy Chief Constable of Essex Police, Derek Benson – hand delivered to Mr Balkwell’s house last Friday by two senior police officers.

The letter stated: ‘It is clear that there were failings in the investigation into the death of your son and the response by Essex Police to the concerns you have raised over a long period of time. I shall ensure that Essex Police takes the necessary learning from the IPCC report and I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for these failings.’

Today reading the findings of the IPCC report, Les Balkwell has finally received, for his 65th birthday, the acknowledgment that the original inquiry into his son’s death carried out in 2002 was indeed so badly mishandled nearly a decade ago.

“Essex Police have treated me and my family so disgracefully and with total contempt and have so far failed to bring Lee’s killers to justice,” said Mr Balkwell. “I can only hope that now they will reinvestigate the events that led up to my son’s death. After all, my family and I just want justice for Lee and closure on the whole matter.”


Later on Friday, Deputy Chief Constable of Essex Police, Derek Benson telephoned Mr Balkwell agreeing to meet him within the next few weeks to discuss the case and look at the next move forward.

IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne concluded her report by saying: ‘Tragically Mr Balkwell may never get the answers to all his questions, but I very much hope that the IPCC’s investigation together with the ongoing investigative tasks being undertaken by the Kent & Essex Serious Crime Directorate will provide at least some of the answers Mr Balkwell is seeking.’

She concluded: ‘It is a testament to his (Mr Balkwell’s) dedication that finally the full circumstances surrounding the death of Lee Balkwell are being examined.’

ENDS


1404 WORDS


IN MORE DETAIL:-

The IPCC report today upheld the following complaints against the Essex Police officers:-

1 Against Detective Superintendent Gareth Wilson, now Head of the Joint Essex-Kent Police Serious Crime Directorate, and the duty Chief Superintendent on the night Lee died:



  • Failed to identity appropriate witnesses and ensure they were interviewed.
13 Against Detective Chief Superintendent Graeme Bull, the Senior Investigating Officer during the initial investigation, which lasted just 19 days [NOTE: Bull was promoted to Commander of North Essex Police during the Inquest into Lee’s death]:


Failed to identity appropriate witnesses and ensuring they were interviewed.

Failed to re-interview Simon Bromley when there was clear cause to do so.

Failed to recover from the cement mixer a pair of trainers that may have belonged Lee Balkwell.

Failed to send for forensic examination a pair of trainers that may have belonged Lee Balkwell.

Failed to send the tachograph for examination. The tachograph later revealed a set of double ‘spikes’ at around 7.20pm/7.30pm when Lee Balkwell drove the lorry into the Bromley’s yard, 9.05pm/9.15pm when he drive it down the lane for a final washout, and at 12.59am and 1.03am. David Bromley, Simon Bromley’s father, called the ambulance at exactly 1.03am., The tachograph evidence wholly undermined Simon Bromley’s claim that the cement mixer was switched on at repeated intervals between 7.30pm and 1.00am to ‘inch’ the cement mixer drum round to make Kangoing out the drying concrete easier

Failed to consider any possibility of foul play.

Failed (for whatever reason) to seek information about the criminal records of members of the Balkwell family.

Failed to take account of the unusual position of the two Kango drills used on the night Lee died. They were both placed neatly in piles of rubble, suggesting that work had finished. If Lee had been attempting to climb out of an inspection hatch as claimed when he died, neither his Kango nor Simon Bromley’s would have been placed neatly outside. They would have been inside the drum, which is where Simon Bromley said the two men were, allegedly still gunning out concrete at past 1am.

Failed to obtain any telephone records from Lee Balkwell or others present at Baldwins Farm that night.

Failed to obtain any witness statements from ambulance crew who attended the in incident.

Failed to maintain the integrity of the 7-hour CCTV recording of a view from the Bromley’s’ bungalow, including failing to maintain an audit trail of the tape as required.

Failed to examine the mechanism and workings of the cement mixer, and failing to check whether or not the cab controls were working the night Lee died.

Failed to engage an expert to examine the mechanism and workings of the cement mixer.
2 Against Detective Sergeant Jason Weald, the lead Investigating Officer under D.C.S. Bull

Did not conduct a challenging interview under caution of Simon Bromley, and began his interview of him by telling him that the police ere treating Lee’s death as ‘a tragic accident’

Failed to identify all potential witnesses
1 Against Detective Sergeant Mark Hall (first Police Officer to arrive at the scene)

Failed to seize a blood-stained T-shirt from Simon Bromley when he first saw it at 1.50am, not seeing it until 1½ hours later at 3.20pm, and thus allowing Bromley to dispose of the shirt
1 Against Detective Chief Inspector Ian Stevenson (Line Manager to Detective Sergeant Jason Weald)

Failed to identity appropriate witnesses and ensuring they were interviewed.
The IPCC upheld 6 complaints in relation to the second Review (Feb 2003 - July 2006):

5 Against Detective Superintendent Simon Coxall, the Senior Investigator of the first Review (together with Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Hood), from February 2002 to July 2005

Failed to re-interview Simon Bromley when there was clear cause to do so.

Failed to send for forensic examination a pair of trainers, which may have belonged Lee Balkwell.

Failed to maintain the integrity of the 7-hour CCTV recording of a view from the Bromley’s’ bungalow, including failing to maintain an audit trail of the tape as required.

Failed to supply a full copy of the CCTV tape to Les Balkwell, instead, originally handing him an edited tape which had had an hour removed and which was not edited by Essex Police’s video department [NOTE: Later what was said to be a full recording was supplied]

Failed to take account of the unusual position of the two Kango drills used on the night Lee died [see also under Bull, above]
1 Against Detective Superintendent Terry Haines

Failed to supply a full copy of the CCTV tape to Les Balkwell, instead, originally handing him an edited tape which had had an hour removed and which was not edited by Essex Police’s video department [NOTE: Later what was said to be a full recording was supplied]
The IPCC upheld 1 complaint in relation to the second Review (Jul 2006 - Aug 2010):

1 Against Detective Superintendent Keith Garnish, Senior Investigator of the second Review (from July 2006 to August 2019)

Told Les Balkwell that a set of trainers found in the cement mixer had been forensically tested when they hadn’t been.
Here I link the 25 complaints upheld to the original numbers of Les Balkwell’s complaints

LIST OF COMPLAINTS UPHELD (11)

Complaint No.


33 Hall failed to seize bloodstained T-shirt. UPHELD (1)

56 Failing to identity appropriate witnesses and ensuring they were interviewed. UPHELD (2, 3, 4) against Wilson, Stevenson and Bull

53 UPHELD (6) Weald Interview of Bromley

52 UPHELD (7 and 8) Bull and Coxall failed to re-interview Simon

36 UPHELD (9) Bull failed to recover trainers

125 Bull & Coxall failed to maintain the integrity of the CCTV tape - UPHELD (20, 21)

78 Coxall & Haines failed to provide full copy of the CCTV to Mr Balkwell – UPHELD (22, 23)

121 UPHELD (12) against Bull Tachograph not examined

LIST OF COMPLAINTS PARTIALLY UPHELD (8)

Complaints were upheld against these officers, but because the same complaints were not upheld against other officers, the IPCC classify some of these as ‘partially substantiated’

Complaint No.


91 Failed to identify all potential witnesses. UPHELD (5) against Weald [unsubstantiated against Wilson]

108 All three SIOs failed to examine trainers UPHELD (10 and 11) re Bull and Coxall Against Garnish, unsubstantiated

81 Failed to notify re trainers UPHELD (13) against Garnish. Unsubstantiated re Coxall.

61 Bull. Haines Coxall failed to consider Bromley’s criminal background UPHELD (14) against Bull. Not upheld against Coxall and Haines.

120 Failed to consider foul play. Against Bull - UPHELD (15). Against Coxall - Unsubstantiated

124 UPHELD (16, 17) re Bull Coxall: Failed to investigate position of Kangos. Unsubstantiated against Hamilton.

38 Failing to obtain telephone records UPHELD (18) re Bull but not Coxall and Garnish

60 Failed to obtain statement from ambulance staff. UPHELD (19) against Bull but not against Coxall. Unsubstantiated against Haines.

97 Failed to examine mechanism and working of the cement mixer, were the cab controls working? UPHELD (24) against Bull. Unsubstantiated against Coxall and Garnish.

30 Failed to get expert evidence: UPHELD (25) against Bull. Unsubstantiated against Coxall and Garnish.
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Media Statement by Tony Bennett this morning

Post by Tony Bennett on 14.11.12 10:36

To all media and other contacts:

[Issued by Tony Bennett 10.00am 14 Nov 2012 - IMMEDIATE]

Detective Chief Superintendent Lee Catling of Kent Police, heading up Operation Nereus, has 'phoned me this morning with the following news:

THREE MEN and TWO WOMEN have been arrested on a combination of the following four charges:

1. Manslaughter
2. Gross negligence
3. Perverting the course of justice
4. Perjury

43-year-old man
66-year-old man
63-year-old woman
48-year-old woman
39-year-old man.

They are all being held at police stations in Kent.

Please check these details with Kent Police: 01622
101
Lee Catling 01634 884021 Mobile 07815 875660

The above are believed to be, in order:

Simon Bromley
David Bromley
Linda Bromley
Susan Lawrence (partner of Simon Bromley)
Scott Bromley.

Les Balkwell said that he has been waiting well over 10 years for news of arrests of those responsible for his son's death, and hopes and expects that all of those arrested will be charged, convicted, and suitably punished for their crimes.

He had been hoping that one or more individuals would be charged with his son's murder.

Lee Balkwell was reported dead or dying in a concrete mixer at 1.03am on 18 July 2002.

A 5-week investigation was concluded by Detective Chief Superintendent Graeme Bull which held that Lee's death was a 'tragic accident'. On 30 January 2012 the Independent Police Complaints Commission issued a report after a 4-year-long investigation which condemned the original investiagtion as 'seriously flawed'. It upheld 26 separate complaints of misconduct against 8 Essex Police Officers, most of them of senior rank.

The Kent Police re-investigation commenced in August 2010.

Prior to that, the case had been subject to three lengthy reviews:

1) by D.C.S. Simon Coxall and D.S. Peter Hood of Essex Police 2003-2006
2) by D.C.S. Keith Garnish of Essex Police 2006-2009
3) by former D.C.S. Mirfield of West Midlands Police 2009-2010.

Les Balkwell continues to insist that Essex Police Officers, from Day One, conspired to cover up the true cuircumstances of Lee's death. The I.P.C.C. however could not substantiate that allegation.

FURTHER DETAILS & CONTACTS:

Les Balkwell Mobile 07925 999607
01708 446850
Mobile 07908 752522

Tony Bennett (representative) Mobile 07835 716537

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