'Sick and inhumane Pete Doherty left my son to die'

Singer and friend abandoned man who fell from balcony, says victim's mother
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The Independent Online

The mother and sister of Mark Blanco, who died after falling from the balcony of an east London flat, yesterday branded the singer Pete Doherty and his friends as "sick and inhumane" for leaving him bleeding outside as they went off to another party.

In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, Mark's mother, Sheila, and his sister, Emma, called for a full police investigation to uncover the truth behind the death.

The events that led to Mark falling from the second-floor balcony last Sunday morning are being investigated, but it was disclosed yesterday that he suffered from severe vertigo. Sheila said: "I cannot imagine why he would go anywhere near a balcony, never mind climb over it."

His family are also certain that Mark would not have got into a physical argument, yet he had a freshly acquired black eye. "He was a pacifist," said Emma, "Words were his way of winning." The other partygoers may have found him "intellectually intimidating", but he wasn't the fighting type.

The cufflinks and watch that Mark had been wearing are missing.

Sheila, Emma and Mark's Spanish father, Antonio Blanco Santiago, were at his bedside when he died at around 4am on Monday - just over 24 hours after he went into a coma. He briefly communicated by squeezing their hands, but was unable to speak.

Since then, the family have spoken of their trouble in comprehending the manner of his death.

"We're still in shock, it feels surreal," said Emma. "We're finding it very difficult to do any grieving as we're so busy trying to find out the truth. We want to know what happened that night. This is not about us assigning blame on a pseudo-celebrity. We just want the truth."

The family have been told that several people, including Doherty, left the flat before the police and ambulance had arrived.

"It's sick. Can you imagine walking over somebody's body like that?" said Emma. Sheila added: "That is not a normal human reaction. To leave somebody on the ground who is obviously in a very bad state. I feel disgusted at human nature." Nobody who was at the party has contacted Mark's family.

Earlier last week, Emma went to the accident scene to see where her brother had fallen. Paul Roundhill - Doherty's literary agent, who lives in the flat - shouted down at her. "It felt like he was mocking us," said Emma. "I felt sick to the stomach and just left."

Mark had been rehearsing for the lead role in Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist, which was due to open at the George Tavern, a pub theatre in east London, last Thursday. A photo of Mark has been placed above the fireplace in the pub and people have written messages.

Born in 1975, Mark grew up in Guildford and won the King's Scholarship to attend the Royal Grammar School in Guildford, where he achieved 10 GCSEs and three A- levels. In his final school report his tutor wrote: "Mark is charming, personable and quick-witted. He seems to be able to generate atmosphere wherever he goes."

He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1997 with a philosophy degree. Since then he had lived in London, Paris and Salamanca. "He's lived all over the world," said Sheila, "but he phoned me every week, no matter where he was. We've had our differences, he could be infuriating because he was so intelligent, but he was a great son."

Mark was an accomplished magician, writer and actor who had friends from all walks of life. "Mark had no prejudices," said Sheila. "He was a free spirit. He wasn't conventional."

"He was an incredibly protective and very sweet big brother," said Emma. A professional violinist, she will play with her quartet, Highly Strung, in tribute to Mark at the George Tavern on Thursday.