TM Eye detectives have been undertaking a detailed review into the death of Lee Balkwell in 2002, at the request of the family. The investigation commenced in 2016 and is the first time that experienced career murder detectives have reviewed the circumstances surrounding the death since the original flawed Essex police investigation.
TM Eye set up a review team in 2016, following an approach from Mr Les Balkwell, the father of Lee. The review team consists of a former MPS Detective Chief Superintendent who has investigated many homicides including some of the UK’s most high profile cases and was responsible for solving the Rachel Nickell case, a former Detective Superintendent who has investigated hundreds of murders in London and in Northern Ireland including the Murder of Victoria Climbie and was also responsible for the arrest of conviction of the serial killer Nicholas Vernage who murdered three people including Police Sergeant Alan King and attempted to kill two police officers. More recently he led the investigation into Gary Haggarty leading to his conviction for 202 terror offences, including five murders, and twenty six attempted murders or conspiracies to murder. A former Detective Chief Inspector who spent his career investigating serious and organised crime including a number of underworld assassinations and a Homicide Detective Sergeant who investigated over forty murders in London. The Review Team are supported by TM Eye’s highly experienced career detectives.
The Review Team have carried out a detailed investigation and identified serious concerns about the original Essex police enquiry which claimed the death was a result of an accident. The 2008 Coroners Inquest found that Lee Balkwell had died unlawfully through gross negligence. New evidence and information discovered by TM Eye suggests that the Coroner was not given all the facts known at that time.
There have been a series of flawed investigations and reviews of police action and involvement that led to a damning IPCC investigation and report in 2012. Nine (9) Essex officers and a Chief Constable were found guilty of twenty seven (27) misconduct matters. None of the officers were ever formally reprimanded.
A detailed report was commissioned by TM Eye for the Essex Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh and a meeting took place with Assistant Chief Constable Downing in charge of Essex and Kent Specialist Crimes Directorate on 14 September 2017, when TM Eye raised a number of concerns about the original investigation and the most recent review by Kent Police called Operation Nereus, which it was claimed was a ‘no stone unturned review of the death of Lee Balkwell‘. This is inconsistent with the comments of the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) for Operation Nereus who stated in a secret email in 2014 that, ‘I had very clear instructions from the outset that this WAS NOT a re investigation, but a process to discharge the recommendations of the West Midlands Op Abante Report…….. and I have been at pains for over four years to emphasise this point.
It is important because of the IPCC 2009 recommendations which recommended a re investigation by an independent force, which was in effect ignored by ACC Bliss (Essex Police) in favour of what he asked me to do – which was explicitly NOT a re investigation’.
TM Eye have made formal requests for a number of exhibits held by Essex police for submission to the independent Home Office approved laboratory Forensic Access. This includes a stun gun that was seized as part of a major firearms and drugs operation in 2005, which TM Eye consider may be linked to Lee’s death. To date Essex and Kent police have refused to allow these exhibits to be independently examined.
Following the meeting with ACC Downing a letter was received by the Balkwell family and TM Eye from Essex / Kent police stating that the investigation is now closed despite the new information and evidence.
Following receipt of the letter the Balkwell family have applied to the High Court for a Judicial Review of the decision to close the case.
TM Eye continue to follow the various investigative leads and are confident that the truth about how Lee died will emerge in the near future and give closure to the long suffering Balkwell family.
The investigation by TM Eye is being carried out at no cost to the Balkwell family.
Anyone with information about the death of Lee Balkwell can contact TM Eye by email at email@example.com