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A teenager arrested on suspicion of the murder of a man in Leigh-on-Sea has been released without charge.
It follows an extensive investigation into the death of Luke Bellfield, 18, who was stabbed following a confrontation in High Street, Old Leigh, on February 26.
Detectives carried out exhaustive enquiries and sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Service. Taking into account the legal advice and all of the evidence gathered, it has been decided there is insufficient evidence to reach the level where there is a realistic chance of a successful prosecution.
Therefore, the boy, who was aged 17 at the time, has been released without charge in connection with murder.
Enquiries are still ongoing into other offences in relation to the incident, which may lead to criminal proceedings.
Detective Chief Inspector Scott Egerton said: “We have carefully considered all of the evidence in this case, including CCTV footage and witness statements, and sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Service.
“The suspect was involved in a confrontation with three men, including the victim, in which all four were carrying weapons and were known to each other. No other people are sought in connection with this death.
“Mr Bellfield’s death was the result of an avoidable incident and my thoughts are with his family, who have been left devastated by the events of that night. He was a much loved son and brother and their loss has also been felt by his friends and the community.
“While there is insufficient evidence to charge for murder, our enquiries remain ongoing into other offences, which may lead to criminal proceedings.
“This incident led to the tragic waste of a young life, and we are determined to do everything we can to prevent more people suffering from the devastating consequences of violence involving weapons.”
Southend district commander Chief Inspector Ian Hughes said: “We have been relentlessly working with our partners and the community to drive down violent crime in Leigh-on-Sea and Southend, through prevention and enforcement.
“We have focused extra patrols in areas where we have identified issues with violent and drug related crime and anti-social behaviour and have been targeting the small number of individuals who are behind these incidents.
“We also use legislation, including gang injunctions, to dismantle gangs. And we work closely with partners such as Justice and Care and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to steer young people away from dangerous situations in which they can come to harm.
“We will not stop doing all we can to drive down violent crime and do everything in our power to protect our communities and keep our young people, especially, safe.”
* Five other people were arrested in connection with the investigation. Two men arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm remain on bail. Two men and a woman arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender remain released under investigation.