Search

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

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.

Latest News Stories

The waste which was dumped in Ongar Way, Rainham. Picture: Havering Council

The attractive streets of Havering are being turned into eyesores as fly-tippers dump mountains of rubbish in roads and green spaces – leaving tax-payers to foot the clean up bill.

13 minutes ago
Paul Wickerson. Picture: Essex Police

Two security guards are due to be sentenced today after they were found guilty of handcuffing and kidnapping a half naked man from a festival who later died in a road crash after being left confused and disorientated by the roadside.

The firearm which was recovered from the business premises in Brentwood

Nine members of an organised criminal network involved in conspiracy to supply cocaine and the conversion of a shotgun have pleaded guilty.

43 minutes ago
Katie Lawrence from Kelvedon Hatch, left-centre, performing with Misstasia on Britain's Got Talent. Picture: TOM DYMOND/THAMES/SYCO TV/ITV

A rising star is hoping her band’s “magical” sound will impress on a TV talent show.

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

The sell out 2014 event 32 Londoners, returns to the Coca-Cola London Eye!

The Coca-Cola London Eye is proud to announce that 32 Londoners will be returning this June, following last year’s sell out event. The event will feature 32 talks, in each of the London Eye’s 32 capsules on 32 extraordinary Londoners.

You could take in stunning views of London over brunch at the Sky Garden

Celebrate lighter, brighter days with the chance of winning an indulgent brunch for two with a bottle of bubbles at Darwin, the cool and casual brasserie 36 floors up at Sky Garden.

Digital Edition

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


Our trusted business finder