Search

Win a £100 Amazon voucher in this week’s Recorder

On sale July 3

Body of Lee Balkwell will be exhumed - died in Upminster farm 10 years ago

11:50 14 March 2013

Police will this month exhume the body of Lee Balkwell

Police will this month exhume the body of Lee Balkwell

Archant

The body of a man who died in a cement mixer more than 10 years ago is to be exhumed – in a dramatic new development in the police investigation.

Les said vital evidence may now be lostLes said vital evidence may now be lost

Dad-of-one Lee Balkwell, 33, was found trapped in the mixer on an Upminster farm in the early hours of July 18, 2002. His body will be exhumed later this month.

The original Essex Police probe concluded that his death had been an industrial accident and closed the case after just 19 days.

But Lee’s dad Les Balkwell has long suspected foul play and has been pushing for the reinvestigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

The 66-year-old said: “It has been a great shock for my wife, my son, my daughter and me. The exhumation of Lee is not something any of the family wants. But it is something we believe is necessary to get the truth. Unfortunately, nearly 11 years have passed since Lee died, which means a lot of evidence will have been lost.”

An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report, released in January 2012 after four years, found the original probe “seriously flawed”.

It is now hoped “articles” buried with Lee may provide fresh clues.

The exhumation will take place at Upminster Cemetery. It follows re-examination by Home Office pathologist Dr Ben Swift of the original post-mortem reports by disgraced pathologist Dr Michael Heath.

West Midlands Police, which reviewed the earlier investigation on the IPCC’s orders, recommended exhumation more than three years ago. Essex Police kept the suggestion secret.

Les, of Abbs Cross Lane, Hornchurch, said: “I am angry. There have been years of missed opportunities to get to the truth of what happened to my son.”

A spokesman for Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “Officers intend to carry out an exhumation of the body of Lee Balkwell as part of the ongoing search for the truth regarding his death.

“The investigation team will remain in close contact with the next-of-kin and family of Lee Balkwell during the preparation and planning of this process.”

An inquest into Lee’s death in 2008 ruled he had been unlawfully killed as a result of gross negligence manslaughter.

Five people were arrested in connection with the current investigation last November. They were released on bail until April.

0 comments

Latest News Stories

51 minutes ago
The Recorder, July 1 1955

This week in history – 60, 40 and 20 years ago.

09:00
Bean bag cinema

You’ve seen cinemas of the rooftop, drive-in and hot tub variety – now a Scout group has come up with a new way to watch your favourite film.

Yesterday, 15:00
Denise Speight, the founder of Veterans of War, chairman Paul Wood and volunteer Kathy Bowyer at the charity's shop in the Quadrant Arcade, Romford

With a Second World War veteran father and other loved ones having served, the Armed Forces have always been close to Denise Speight’s heart.

Yesterday, 14:00
The Havering Fire Cadets, who are looking for new members to start in September. The group is based at Harold Hill fire station. Picture: Sue Douglas

Learn about community safety and make new friends through an emergency services youth scheme.

Most read news

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Y6 pupils unpack the rice

A school challenged their pupils to become enterprising individuals as they took on the national 90kg Rice Challenge.

Good times with Greenall's!

Good times with Greenall’s, a Great British gin sponsors Great British racing.

Escape to the picturesque sights of Cornwall

Summer is finally here, and what is the number one holiday location in the UK during the warmer months? Cornwall, of course!

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder