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Man found dead under cement mixer to have body exhumed
7:30am Monday 18th March 2013 in News
THE remains of a man found dead under a cement mixer are to be exhumed, more than ten years after he died, in a bid to find out what happened to him.
Lee Balkwell, 33, was found beneath the drum and chassis of the cement mixer at about 1am on July 28, 2002 at Baldwin’s Farm, South Ockendon.
An initial Essex Police investigation ruled the death was an accident, but that has since been discredited by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The decision to exhume Lee’s body came after a review of the Essex Police investigation by the West Midlands force.
Lee’s father Les, 66, who has not stopped fighting for the truth, hopes this latest development will finally give him the answers about how his son died.
Les said: “No one would want this, their son’s grave being dug up. It’s terribly hard to bear, but because this was recommended, it’s something I agree to.
“The original pathologist, Dr Michael Heath, has had his work discredited since doing Lee’s post-mortem examination “We’ve seen photographs from the post-mortem test showing injuries not mentioned in his report.”
Les claims there appeared to be a defensive knife wound to one of Lee’s hands in the pictures, plus what could be cigarette burns on his hands and another possible knife wound near his kidneys.
Pathologist Benjamin Swift will carry out a new post-mortem examination, to look for any other injuries, but Les will be allowed to have his own expert present.
Les added: “He did a review of Dr Heath’s original post-mortem test and agreed with it, so I would rather a new pathologist, but just hope he will do this as thoroughly as possible.
“I would like to thank the new senior investigating officer, Janine Farrell, who seems to be doing what is needed. “I do believe there is also evidence buried with Lee that could give more clues as to how he died.”
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Officers from the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate intend to carry out an exhumation of the body of Lee Balkwell as part of their ongoing search for the truth regarding his death.
“The investigation team acknowledges the sensitivities of conducting such a line of enquiry and will remain in close contact with the next of kin and family of Lee Balkwell during the preparation and planning of this process.”