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Lee Balkwell’s father to be paid damages by Essex Police after High Court ruling

PUBLISHED: 16:15 15 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:16 15 October 2015

Les Balkwell with a picture of his son Lee, who was found dead in a cement mixer in 2002

Les Balkwell with a picture of his son Lee, who was found dead in a cement mixer in 2002

Archant

The father of a man found crushed in a cement mixer 13 years ago, will be awarded damages after the High Court ruled the police had breached Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court heard today that Essex Police recently admitted a “failure to carry out an effective investigation” after Lee Balkwell was found dead at a farm in Dennises Lane, Upminster, on July 18 2002.

Master Roger Eastman concluded that the force was in breach of its duties under Article 2 – “the right to life” – which places an obligation on the state to ensure an effective official investigation is carried out where there is a death, or in some circumstances serious injury, involving, or potentially involving, a breach of the article.

Lee’s father Les, 68, of Abbs Cross Lane, Hornchurch, told the court he believes there has been a “total cover-up of the truth” by the police and called it “outrageous” that the force’s admission of failures in its investigation has only now come to light.

Mr Balkwell, who has spent more than £200,000 on legal action, told the court: “I am not interested in the money. I am interested in exposing Essex Police and the corruption.

“I wish to have a proper chance to explain to the court how big the failures were to conduct a proper investigation into my son’s case.”

The Recorder reported how new father Lee, 33, was found crushed between the outside of the cement mixer drum and chassis, with his legs twisted on a pile of rubble.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission report, published in 2012, found eight senior officers made 25 errors in a “seriously flawed” investigation.

It found no evidence of corruption and Essex Police made no plans to reopen the investigation.

Speaking outside court, Mr Balkwell said: “I am quite happy they have accepted liability, but very disappointed this took three and a half years.

“I am adamant that I want the truth of my son’s death to come out.”

The family have previously been awarded compensation of £12,000 by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

A three-day hearing will now be scheduled for next summer, where the sum of damages to be paid to Mr Balkwell will be decided.

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