December Diary – One Year On
Blanco: latest developments
Police investigating the death of actor Mark Blanco, who fell from a balcony in suspicious circumstances at a party in 2006, have admitted to his mother that they are only now starting to review new evidence broadcast on Newsnight almost a year ago.
The Newsnight report (reviewed at the time by our award-winning TV critic) contained interviews of several witnesses from the east London party held by drug dealer Paul Roundhill and attended by the pop star Pete Doherty and his minder. It also commissioned analysis of the CCTV footage taken outside the flat from US-based expert video analyst, Grant Fredericks.
Fredericks concluded that ‘the images strongly suggest that one person is leaning far over the balcony as Blanco’s body is moving outward and downward from the balcony railing.’ James Saunders, the Blanco family’s solicitor, wrote to the Crown Prosecution Service earlier this year to alert them to the new evidence. He told the CPS, ‘Although the identity of the person behind Mark Blanco is not revealed by the enhancement, the knowledge that there was such a person confirms Mrs Blanco’s view that this is a homicide case.
‘The throwing of a passive person over a balcony, onto a pavement below, must be a dangerous act at the very least, and is more suggestive of murder.’
After repeatedly calling for a new investigation into the case, Mark’s mother Sheila Blanco recently received an admission that the investigating police officer has only just received the discs containing the Newsnight report and Fredericks’s review. Detective Superintendent Fiona Mallon wrote to tell Mrs Blanco that the police received the discs on 13th October, adding that ‘Police were previously not aware that the tapes existed.
I understand that Jenny Hopkins [Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor] of the Crown Prosecution Service will be writing to apologise for the delay on their part in passing the discs onto police and for failing to make police aware of their existence until now.’
One might have hoped that the police’s investigating officer would have noticed Newsnight’s high profile media investigation and asked for the evidence directly. But alas, no. Mrs Blanco believes the police letter and CPS activity are partly in response to the recent flurry of media articles about the Blanco case and partly thanks to a letter of complaint her solicitor wrote to the DPP Keir Starmer about the police delays.
She tells us, ‘Police have dismissed other evidence that I’ve put to them as irrelevant. They are in a real mess with this case. They’re now starting to realise, after all these years, that I’m not going away.’
Mrs Blanco is calling on the police to conduct further tests using ‘calibrated reverse projection analysis’ to further enhance the CCTV footage. DS Mallon told her that the case’s investigating officer would now seek expert digital advice and would review the interviews in the Newsnight report.