Judicial review rejects call to reopen investigation into 2002 death of Lee Balkwell

Judgement has been handed down in the Judicial Review into the decision of Essex Police not to re-open the investigation into the death of Upminster man Lee Balkwell.

In a decision sure to disappoint the family, the court has dismissed the application.

Lorry driver Lee, 33, was found in a cement mixer at Baldwins Farm, South Ockendon, in July 2002. Essex Police treated thee death as an industrial accident, but his father, Les has spent the past 20 years engaged in a campaign to prove that his son was murdered and the scene staged to look like an accident.

Les Balkwell has spent two decades fighting for a murder investigation to be carried out into his son’s death

A 2012 report by the then Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded that the initial investigation by Essex Police had been “seriously flawed” and in 2013 Lee’s body was exhumed.

A year later Lee’s employer at Upminster Concrete, Simon Bromley, was found not guilty of unlawful killing by gross negligence but was convicted of failings in Health & Safety regulations.

However, Les has always insisted that his son was killed and the crime covered up. The family was awarded £40,000 in compensation after the force accepted liability in 2016 for a series of flaws in the initial investigation.

Following the court’s latest decision, Detective Chief Superintendent Lucy Morris of Essex Police said: “We know that Lee Balkwell’s death is incredibly painful for his family and they still have questions about what happened to him.

“We know there were failings in the original 2002 investigation and for that we are truly sorry.

“However, between 2010 and 2014 we carried out a thorough and extensive inquiry into Lee’s death which involved a team of officers carrying out more than 1,000 actions and producing more than 4,400 documents.

“A new post-mortem was carried out and we obtained evidence from expert witnesses in the fields of pathology, metallurgy, tachographs, and the operation of mixer lorries.

“It resulted in a man being charged with gross negligence manslaughter and taken to trial, for which he was found not guilty, but was prosecuted for Health & Safety offences.

“The inquiry into Lee’s death was closed following the conclusion of that trial.

“Whenever new information or potential evidence comes to light, we will always consider and review it to see if there are further investigative opportunities.

“However, sadly, in Lee’s case there has been no information or evidence which has arisen since 2014 which has warranted a new investigation.

“We want to extend our condolences to Lee’s family.”

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]