Search

Father’s reaction after 10-year battle for full inquiry into Upminster death

PUBLISHED: 15:25 16 November 2012

Lee Balkwell died 10 years ago at a farm in Upminster

Lee Balkwell died 10 years ago at a farm in Upminster

Archant

»Five people have been arrested in connection with the death of a man crushed in a cement mixer at an Upminster farm 10 years ago.

Dad-of-one Lee Balkwell’s body was found wedged between the drum and chassis of the cement mixer at Baldwin’s Farm, Dennises Lane, in the early hours of July 18 2002.

The original investigation by detectives in Essex concluded that the 33-year-old’s death had been a tragic industrial accident and closed the case after just 19 days.

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

On Wednesday, a 43-year-old man, from Upminster, was arrested on suspicion of gross negligence, manslaughter, perverting the course of justice and perjury.

A 66-year-old man and two women, 63, and, 49, all from Upminster, and a man, 38, from Southend, were also arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and perjury.

Lee’s dad Les Balkwell told the Recorder: “I’m jubilant that something seems to be happening but also cautious. I have gone through 10 years of twists and turns and I will remain guarded until we actually know what is going on.”

Mr Balkwell, 65, has doggedly campaigned for a full inquiry into his son’s death over the years. This led to an inquiry into the handling of the case by the Independent Police Complaints Commission in 2008.

Its final report this year vindicated some of Mr Balkwell’s suspicions that the original investigation was so substandard as to be “seriously flawed”.

“In our view, it was seriously flawed from the outset,” the report said. “It was mired in assumption that what had happened to Lee Balkwell was a tragic industrial accident.

Investigation failures

“Officers failed to secure potential evidence, failed to interview potential witnesses and failed to treat the death with an open mind.

“The failure of the investigation at that early stage has left evidential gaps which may never be filled.”

The ombudsman earlier recommended that an outside police force be brought in to reinvestigate Lee’s death. But it was later agreed that the West Midlands force would review the original investigation.

It issued 91 recommendations to its Essex counterpart. This led to a new criminal inquiry, headed by Det Chief Supt Lee Catling, from the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate, in August 2010.

The five men and women have been released on police bail until mid-January.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest Romford News Stories

17:21

Police are appealing for the public’s help to find a missing teenager who frequents Romford Ilford and Chigwell.

Havering’s brilliant young people have been rightly recognised at last night’s fantastic Jack Petchey Awards.

A young entrepreneur who started his console repair and modifying business at just 16 years old, says he’s “the best” at what he does.

The borough’s engineering hopefuls look set to receive a huge boosts to their futures as plans for an £11m Havering College construction centre have been unveiled.

In the first in a series of monthly health specials, we look at north east London’s healthcare and discuss with local experts the biggest challenges it faces.

Yesterday, 15:43

Rainham MP Jon Cruddas has blasted a housing association’s “constant failure to provide quality services” after Orchard Village residents were left without running water for almost 24 hours.

Yesterday, 15:13

Tube drivers are to stage a 24-hour strike next month after voting in favour of industrial action in a dispute over working conditions.

Yesterday, 12:51

Search engine optimisation (SEO), a process to make sure customers find your business online, is a key tool in a small business’s digital marketing arsenal.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

News from your area

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now