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Mark Blanco’s killing in Whitechapel—a mother still waits 9 years on for justice

PUBLISHED: 08:00 03 December 2015 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 December 2015

2006... Mark Blanco four months before falling from balcony and (right) on life support in hospital where he is photographed by his sister Emma... hours before he dies

2006... Mark Blanco four months before falling from balcony and (right) on life support in hospital where he is photographed by his sister Emma... hours before he dies

Archant

A heartbreak mother is pleading for justice for her son on the nineth anniversary tomorrow (Friday) of him plunging to his death from a balcony in suspicious circumstances.

Police still haven’t closed the case in London’s East End on actor Mark Blanco who was “pushed or fell” from a balcony at Whitechapel’s Fieldgate Mansions tenement dwellings where rock star Pete Doherty was having a party on the night of December 2/3, 2006.

Sheila Blanco with pictures of Mark growing up and (inset) just months before his tragic death at 30Sheila Blanco with pictures of Mark growing up and (inset) just months before his tragic death at 30

“I’ve been on this case every day since Mark died and am never going to give up,” Sheila Blanco told the East London Advertiser last night.

“Police have never investigated Mark’s death properly since Day One.

“I have been providing them with evidence that they don’t follow up.

“They’ve taken the last nine years of my life with nothing to show for it, creating an emotional and financial toll.”

Mark Blanco's sister Emma (left) and mother Sheila outside Fieldgate Mansions where he fellMark Blanco's sister Emma (left) and mother Sheila outside Fieldgate Mansions where he fell

The semi-retired university lecturer has spent at least £60,000 of her savings on private investigations into Mark’s death and blames police for failing to bring a prosecution.

Scotland Yard is expected to release details tomorrow of a forensic re-examination started last March of all strands of evidence including CCTV footage from 2006—the months of delay was because they needed more pictures to examine, Sheila was told.

“I just want justice for my son after nine years of constant search to get the truth out and action taken,” she added.

Mark was due to open at Stepney’s George Tavern studio theatre the week after he was killed, playing the lead role of Death of an Anarchist—ironically about a man in police custody in Milan falling to his death from a balcony.

Mother and son Sheila and Mark Blanco... family snapshot at their home in Guildford, 2001Mother and son Sheila and Mark Blanco... family snapshot at their home in Guildford, 2001

He had turned up at literary agent Paul Roundhill’s flat in Fieldgate Mansions, overlooking Romford Street, to get backing for the production, but got involved in a bust-up with Doherty and his minder Johnny ‘Headlock’ Jeannevol, witnesses said.

Six people at the party claimed Mark caused an annoyance and Doherty asked Headlock to get rid of him.

They threw him out—but Mark is seen on CCTV returning 10 minutes later.

Footage shows 56 seconds later Mark plunging from the balcony, then Doherty and a woman leaving, followed by Headlock, passing round him lying injured in the street.

Mark Blanco in intensive care at Royal London [taken by sister Emma Blanco]Mark Blanco in intensive care at Royal London [taken by sister Emma Blanco]

It was 12.30am on December 3, 2006. He died the following day at the Royal London Hospital, holding his mother’s hand. He was just 30.

Jonny Headlock walked into Bethnal Green police station three weeks later and made a confession statement, which he retracted after being locked up and was allowed to leave.

No one has ever been held accountable for Mark Blanco’s death.

The police attributed it to an accident or suicide, saying at first that there was nothing suspicious.

But coroner Dr Andrew Reid returned an open verdict at the Poplar inquest the following October, where Headlock’s ‘confession statement’ was made public.

Dr Reid rejected the conclusions of suicide and told the hearing: “I will no longer go on to consider the possibility that Mr Blanco committed suicide—I can exclude it unreservedly. My only conclusion can be an Open Verdict.”

He formally asked Scotland Yard to re-investigate—but nothing came of it. No-one was ever charged. Paul Roundhill later faced eviction from the flat.

The case did eventually go to the Crown Prosecution after pressure from Sheila Blanco’s MP. Police in 2011, however, said there was “insufficient evidence of manslaughter or murder”.

Scotland Yard insisted only a year ago that “this remains an active investigation”—but refused to say more, except that they were “not prepared to give a running commentary”.

Sheila Blanco wanted to know why full forensic examinations “have never been carried out on Mark’s clothes”, why Pete Doherty was interviewed through his manager and not on camera and why information in witness statements “naming those responsible for Mark’s death”—which were given to Blanco’s solicitors—had been disregarded.

She also wants to know why the Met would not consider Mark’s death as a crime in what she says “is so obviously an unlawful killing”.

The Advertiser put the points Sheila makes about delays and lack of investigation to Scotland Yard on Tuesday. They were looking into the allegations, the paper was told, but last night had not yet responded.

Nine years on from Mark’s death, a distraught mother doesn’t want “a running commentary” from police—just answers and justice for her son’s death.

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