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Key witness who called 999 after death of Lee Balkwell in mysterious cement mixer case, has died

A KEY witness in the Lee Balkwell (above) cement mixer death case has died.

David Bromley, 76, from Baldwin's Farm, Dennises Lane, South Ockendon, Essex, passed away last month with his funeral taking place on December 2 at Upminster.

Mr Balkwell died at Baldwin's Farm in the early hours of July 18 2002.

He had been working with Mr Bromley's son, Simon Bromley, 52, (below) to drill out dried cement from inside a cement mixer drum using electric Kango drills and spades.

The concrete had set earlier in the day as the vehicle malfunctioned while Lee, 33, had been making deliveries.  

At just after 1am, David Bromley called 999 to say Lee had been killed in a freak accident while they worked on the cement mixer, before Simon took over the call.

When ambulance crews arrived they found the body of Lee Balkwell in an extraordinary position.

His shoulders were wedged in a gap of just a few inches between the chassis and drum of the mixer, while his head, which was decapitated inside the skin of his neck was hanging on the other side of the gap.

Just above his shoulders was a small inspection hatch that was open.

Simon Bromley said when he got out he found Lee in the position his body was found and said he thought he must have been ejected from the hatch as the drum rotated.

Simon Bromley, who ran the concrete business, employed Lee, and also lived at the site with his extended family.

David Bromley was the first person to ring the emergency control room before his son took over the call for part of it.

The death was treated by police as a tragic accident, but Lee's Dad, Les Balkwell, 75, is still fighting for answers about what happened.

Some emergency service workers noted suspicions about the positioning of the body in statements.

David Bromley was involved in organised crime.

In September 2006, Operation Portwing led to seven men, including David Bromley being jailed for a total of 22 years.

David Bromley was jailed for three years for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

However, police never looked into this background and it was treated too quickly as an industrial accident and several evidential opportunities were lost, according to a probe by the former Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which upheld several complaints from Mr Balkwell senior about the botched early investigation.

He was contacted by Essex Police detectives, who turned whistleblower, and six years after the death confidential files and CDs from Operation Portwing were dumped in his porch.

Mr Balkwell got a team of former Met Police detectives from private investigation firm TM-Eye to investigate the case, and they filed a report claiming it was a murder staged to look like an accident.

Mr Balkwell applied for a judicial review to try to get the case reopened, but earlier this year a High Court judge threw out the claim, saying Essex Police had carried out exhaustive enquiries already.

Simon Bromley has never spoken publicly about the case, but in 2012, Essex News and Investigations Editor Jon Austin interviewed David Bromley.

He said at the time: "This was a terrible, tragic accident.“Lee was like one of the family. He was a great loss. Simon felt terribly guilty. It made him ill. He would cry his eyes out about it. He said he wished it had been him and not Lee who died.”


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