Lee Balkwell
Lee Balkwell BBC

The body of a man who was killed in a cement mixer 11 years ago is to be exhumed as part of a new police investigation.

Lee Balkwell's body was found underneath a concrete mixer on a farm near South Ockedon, Essex, in July 2002.

A spokesman for Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "Officers intend to carry out an exhumation of the body of Lee Balkwell as part of the ongoing search for the truth regarding his death.

"The investigation team will remain in close contact with the next-of-kin and family of Lee Balkwell during the preparation and planning of this process."

Essex Police initially said his death was accidental but his family always maintained he was murdered.

Over 130 complaints were made against Essex Police officers and an Independent Police Complaints Commission report said the investigation had been "seriously flawed".

Les Balkwell, Lee's father, said his son's body being exhumed was a "necessary evil": "It has been a great shock for my wife, my son, my daughter and me.

"The exhumation of Lee is not something any of the family wants but it is something we ardently believe is necessary in order to get to the truth.

"Nearly 11 years have passed since Lee died which means a lot of evidence will have been lost.

"I believe there is information held there, if it is still there, that can nail the people who ended my boy's life."

Five arrested

In 2008, an inquest found that Balkwell's death was the result of unlawful killing through gross negligence.

In November last year, five people were arrested in relation to Balkwell's death.

A 43-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter, perverting the course of justice and perjury.

A 66-year-old man, a 63-year-old woman, and a 49-year-old woman from Upminster were also arrested for perverting the course of justice and perjury, while a 38-year-old man from Southend was also arrested for the same crimes. All five remain on police bail.

Speaking at the time, Tony Bennett, a retired solicitor who represented Balkwell, told IB Times UK: "I have spoken to Les today and he is content. He sees the arrests as very significant.

"His daughter went to visit the site today and said it is crawling with police, so it is a major development. We want to see it followed through with charges and convictions.

"Mr Balkwell has campaigned tirelessly to find the truth, whilst also enduring the trauma and grief associated with the loss of a son. His persistence and determination have been admirable, but have undoubtedly taken a massive toll on him and his family."

Bennett has since been found guilty of contempt of court for publishing allegations that Kate and Gerry McCann killed their daughter Madeleine while on holiday in Portugal. He was given a three month suspended sentence.