Questions over role in unexplained death

Lee Balkwell

Les Balkwell

First published in News by

A GRIEVING dad whose son’s unexplained death was not properly investigated by police says he was also let down by health and safety chiefs.

Lee Balkwell was found dead wedged between the chassis and drum of a cement mixer he was allegedly cleaning out at Baldwins Farm in South Ockendon in July 2002.

In January an extensive Independent Police Complaints Commission report identified a series of blunders in the initial police investigation.

Now questions have been raised about the Health and Safety Executive’s role.

The Echo can reveal it sent just one officer, not experience at dealing with fatalities, to the scene.

There were also times when it was unclear whether it or police should have been leading the investigation, and it failed to keep relatives updated about its investigations.

It has emerged that the case was handed over to the executive by police at the end of 2004.

However, police later re-took control and continue to lead the probe, but the watchdog has no record of when this took place.

His father Les Balkwell said: “It is ludicrous the HSE never seemed to have any idea who had primacy in a fatal investigation.

At one point a senior investigator wrote a letter saying they had primacy and a few days later had to write back saying they didn’t.

But they are supposed to be the experts in this and should have taken over.” “Now they are hiding behind the fact there is an ongoing inquiry, it is like Hillsborough.

It was ten years ago now and they never seemed to be doing anything they were meant to.”

He said in 2004 there was a major all-day meeting held by the police and the HSE representative asked one question then left after 45 minutes.

He added: “They sent a very junior officer to the scene, who wasn’t really experience with a fatality. “They never once contacted me, they only every did in response to me contacting them, they never gave us any updates.”

The executive refused to comment on the confusion. A spokesman said: “The investigation into the death of Lee Balkwell is currently being led Kent and Essex Police with the Health and Safety Executive playing a supporting role in accordance with the work related death protocol. As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Comments (3)

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5:31pm Thu 11 Oct 12

SpaffSpiff84 says...

Such a strange incident, the investigation never stood a chance, incompetence at every level, hope this guy gets to the truth someday
Such a strange incident, the investigation never stood a chance, incompetence at every level, hope this guy gets to the truth someday SpaffSpiff84
  • Score: 1

6:57pm Thu 11 Oct 12

Brunning999 says...

This guy will continue with his complaint to the day he dies or until he gets the verdict that he wants, which does not necessarily mean the true verdict because anyone that was there are either dead or never going to tell the truth and spend a lifetime in prison.

The case is very interesting and has become an obsession to the Dad be that right or wrong who knows.

Worth reading on the net the story however that is the story by the Dad who has devoted his life to the case, it will interesting to read the final verdict.
This guy will continue with his complaint to the day he dies or until he gets the verdict that he wants, which does not necessarily mean the true verdict because anyone that was there are either dead or never going to tell the truth and spend a lifetime in prison. The case is very interesting and has become an obsession to the Dad be that right or wrong who knows. Worth reading on the net the story however that is the story by the Dad who has devoted his life to the case, it will interesting to read the final verdict. Brunning999
  • Score: -1

12:25am Fri 12 Oct 12

jobsworth society says...

We know who the guilty party are and so does les/police he's spend alot of time and money trying to get justice for lee, but getting them to admit it is another matter.
Good luck to him hope he gets his result that lee deserves.
We know who the guilty party are and so does les/police he's spend alot of time and money trying to get justice for lee, but getting them to admit it is another matter. Good luck to him hope he gets his result that lee deserves. jobsworth society
  • Score: 1

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