Upminster dad told to “pay for justice” for dead son

THE grieving dad of a Rainham man found dead in a cement mixer has been billed for evidence used in the inquest – claiming the authorities are unwilling to pay.

Lee Balkwell, 33, was crushed in the mechanisms of the truck at a farm in Baldwins Farm, Dennises Lane, Upminster, in the summer of 2002.

Essex Police declared the death accidental, but a jury at the inquest into the man’s death ruled in early 2008 that the dad-of-one was unlawfully killed.

This month outraged Les Balkwell, 64, of Abbs Cross Lane, Hornchurch, was told he must pay more than �1,700 by a specialist maintenance company in Thurrock, Essex, who carried out works on the truck for the inquest.

“This is a sensitive subject - why should a grieving family have to pay for something used in a coroner’s inquest into somebody who died in suspicious circumstances?,” asked Les. “They are effectively asking me to pay for justice for my son.”

The truck was cleaned, rewired and fitted with a new battery at secure police holding site so the jury could view it in full working order for the inquiry.

Les says the bill should be footed by both Essex Police - who he says allowed the truck to “deteriorate” - and the coroner, who accepted the mixer as evidence.

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Les’s advisor, former solicitor Tony Bennett, will this week lodge a grievance against the authorities with the Office of Judicial Complaints, a government watchdog.

He said: “I’ve requested payment from both parties, but so far both have refused. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable demand. There is a strong case for the police to pay this as [the mixer] was in their care.”

Essex Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray and Essex Police issued a joint statement saying the issue was now “under consideration”.

Les Balkwell maintains his son was murdered and the death covered-up.

West Midlands Police began an independent probe into the Essex investigation in 2009 at the request of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which itself had uncovered major flaws by Essex officers.

The force issued 91 recommendations to its Essex counterpart - 11 of which have been made public.

Kent Police are now reviewing the case.

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