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Lee Balkwell death: Essex Police pays Hornchurch family £40,000 in damages and chief constable under investigation

PUBLISHED: 10:05 14 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:39 14 December 2016

Les Balkwell stood below a picture of his son Lee.

Les Balkwell stood below a picture of his son Lee.

Archant

Essex Police has apologised to the family of a man found dead in a cement mixer and paid out £40,000 in damages, 14 years after his death.

The force has accepted liability for a series of flaws into the investigation of Lee Balkwell’s death, who was found dead at a farm in Dennises Lane, Upminster, in 2002.

The Recorder can also reveal Lee’s father, Les, has received letters notifying him that Stephen Kavanagh, the chief constable of Essex police, has been served with notice of a misconduct investigation into his handling of complaints over the death of the 33-year-old son.

Devon and Cornwall Police, acting as an independent investigator, served the notice which is looking into allegations Mr Kavanagh failed to act on claims of corruption within the force.

Les, of Hornchurch, has been fighting for justice since 2002, always maintaining his son was murdered by an organised criminal gang.

Speaking to the Recorder, Les said: “It was never about money, it’s about getting to the truth behind my son’s murder.

“It’s a really significant day and I would be elated if it wasn’t connected to the death of my son who I still miss every day.”

Les also confirmed a team of retired senior police officers, formally of the Metropolitan Police, are now going through all the evidence that has been disclosed in a bid to find the answers the 70-year-old still strives for.

Last month, the High Court ruled Essex Police must disclose original police documents to Les and his advisers.

Among the requests were personal notebooks of senior officers investigating the case, photographs taken at the scene and email exchanges between the police and pathologists.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Essex Police has accepted liability in a civil case relating to the investigation carried out following the death in 2002 of Lee Balkwell.

“We also accept the findings of the 2012 IPCC report which criticised a number of aspects of the investigation but concluded: “we have found no evidence to support any allegations of corruption or a conspiracy theory.”

“The force has apologised to Mr Balkwell’s family for the failings in the investigation and the distress and anguish that this has caused.

“As the civil case is still ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

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