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Dad calls for son's body to be exhumed
THE DAD of a man found dead trapped under a cement mixer more than 10 years ago is calling for police to exhume the body to get to the truth.
Lee Balkwell, 33, was found dead between the drum and chasis of a cement mixer at Baldwins Farm, South Ockendon, in July 2002.
Despite questions remaining around the circumstances of the death and a 2008 inquest ruling he died as a result of “gross negligence manslaughter, no one has ever been arrested.
Essex Police’s initial investigation and two further reviews were criticised in a major Independet Police Complaints Commission report in January. In 2009 an independent review of the case by West Mindlands Police made 91 recommendations to offciers in Essex for further inquiry.
The case is still being investigated by the Essex and Kent serious crime squad. Les Balkwell said he was told by senior investigating officer detective chief superintendedt Lee Catlin one of the recommendations from the West Midlands force was detectives should consider with the CPS and coroner exhuming Lee’s body.
This has yet to happen and Mr Catlin retires in December. He said: “That recommedation was made three years ago and it still hasn’t been done.
This is no easy thing to want to have done, and my family are aghast at the thought, but there are doscrepancies between the post mortem and subsequent reviews of it.”
Mr Balwell feels the body should be looked at again in terms of injuries sustained to see if any were the result of an attack before he was crushed by the drum.
He also believes personal posessions buried with Lee could hold vital clues.
He added: “The information we have gathered over the years points to the consecutive reviews by Essex Police avoiding an exhumation, but there is now a very strong indication that evidence buried with Lee, his personal effects, should be looked at and the truth won’t come out unless he is exhumated.”
An Essex Police spokeswoman said: “The investigation is ongoing and no comment will be made.”
She said assistant cheif constable Gary Beutridge would take over the case when Mr Catlin retires.