Police will tonight exhume the body of a man found dead in the back of a concrete mixer more than ten years ago after a long campaign by his family who claimed he had been killed and the evidence covered up.
Lee Balkwell, 33, was found dead in July 2002 with his head and shoulders wedged between the drum and chassis of a cement mixer in what Essex police originally believed to be a freak accident.
However a later independent inquiry found last year that the original investigation was “seriously flawed” and that police had failed to secure potential evidence, interview possible witnesses or treat the death with an open mind.
An inquest in 2008 recorded a verdict of unlawful killing through gross negligence after the mixer was turned on while Mr Balkwell was helping to drill out dried concrete from inside.
Five people were arrested in November last year in connection with the case including one man held on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter, perverting the course of justice and perjury. All five have been bailed until next month.
The body is due to be exhumed tonight at Upminster Cemetery, in Essex, in the same town where he died.
The exhumation followed a long campaign by the dead man’s father, Les Balkwell, who went to the Independent Police Complaints Commission with more than 130 complaints.
The inquiry looked into issues including alleged corruption within Essex police, the lack of forensic investigation and delays in getting statements.
It found that while there was evidence of poor police work, there was no evidence to support allegations of corruption. Almost 20 or Mr Balkwell’s complaints were upheld.