Lee Balkwell death: Father's joy after judicial review approved

Les Balkwell.

Les Balkwell. - Credit: Archant

The father of a man who was found dead at a farm in Upminster almost 20 years ago “broke down” after a judicial review relating to the case was approved.  

The decision by Lord Justice Dove allows review proceedings against Essex Police to ask for a murder investigation by an independent force. 

Lee Balkwell, 33, was found in a cement mixer at Baldwins Farm, Dennises Lane in 2002 and Essex Police deemed the death to have been an industrial accident.

The Balkwell family was awarded £40,000 in damages after the force accepted liability in 2016 for a series of flaws in the investigation of Lee's death.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission report also concluded that eight senior officers made 26 errors during the investigation.

Essex Police formally closed its investigation in 2018 and the Recorder reported in August 2019 that Lee's father Les was crowdfunding to launch a legal challenge against the force's decision.

Les, 74, who has been campaigning for a homicide investigation to take place, said: “It’s been a hard fight to even get through to this stage.  

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“I've got wind in my sails but know to keep my eye on the ball as there have been so many ups and downs.  

“I’m high but keeping my feet on the ground. While there’s breath in me I won’t give up.”  

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “The death of Lee Balkwell remains classed by Essex Police as an unsolved homicide as a result of his father’s belief he was murdered.  

“Due to ongoing legal proceedings calling for a judicial review, it would be inappropriate to comment further.” 

The claim for a new judicial review was submitted on July 25, 2018 and accepted on July 26, 2021.  

Les found out that Lord Justice Dove had authorised the judicial review on the evening of July 29.  

On receiving the letter, he said: “Getting that letter through the door I couldn’t be spoken to. I broke down."

Les hopes that the review will bring evidence forward to help find whoever is responsible for Lee's death.