Grieving Neasden father wishes case of dead son to be reopened after his body found under Dudden Hill bridge 22 years ago

Daniel Blake

Daniel Blake - Credit: Archant

For 22 years, Bonny Blake has never let go of the belief his 18-year-old son was murdered.

Daniel Blake

Daniel Blake - Credit: Archant

Now he wants the case to be reopened and the truth of what happened on March 23 1996, to be heard in a coroner’s court.

He has the backing of his Brent Central MP Dawn Butler, who recently wrote to the police commissioner Cressida Dick on his behalf.

Daniel Blake, a talented mechanical engineer student, was found by railway tracks beneath Dudden Hill bridge, Neasden, the morning after attending a party in Burrows Road, Kensal Green.

The police said it was suicide; the family maintain it was murder. Investigations were opened and then closed.

Daniel Blake

Daniel Blake - Credit: Archant

A 1997 inquest recorded an open verdict and no charges were brought by the CPS.

But Mr Blake believes mistakes made by police in the first hours of the inquiry have permanently distorted the case.

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What’s left is an ambiguous tale of falsified statements and destroyed evidence while a traumatised father continues to fight for justice for his child.

Mr Blake said: “The police have a duty to the public to investigate murders and serious incidents. They cannot say they are not going to do anything.

Daniel Blake

Daniel Blake - Credit: Archant

“The problem is they can’t defend what happened. If the Met can’t touch it because of corrupted evidence, then by law another force has to be put in charge to investigate it with a judge to oversee that everything being done is being done properly.”

Included in the bag of evidence Mr Blake would like explored are witness statements from those attending the scene handed to him by Trident officers during investigation in 1999.

Two days after Daniel’s death, the train driver who first saw him, Trevor Sharman, was quoted as saying he was driving towards the junction of Dudden Hill at 11.35am, when he saw an “unknown object” from 200 yards away.

“Once under the bridge and a few yards from the body I saw the object for what it was. The body was lying face up under the bridge, as if it had fallen. The shirt was open and it was lying left of the left-hand rail. I stopped at the signal box three minutes away and reported it.”

Yet two years later on November 25, Mr Sharman changed his statement to say he was “mistaken” and he had actually run over the body while driving on a different line. “I remember running over the body, and I felt the crunching of bones,” he is instead quoted as saying.

On the day of Daniel’s death a senior mortuary technician did not keep the young man’s clothing for analysis because he was “informed that there were no suspicious circumstances, and for health and hygiene reasons I destroyed them as they were badly soiled”.

Mr Blake continues to maintain that, following an argument in Burrows Road, his son left the property and was badly beaten on Hazel Road by more than a dozen people.

A witness saw a body being placed in a car and the driver saying they’d take him to hospital, but Mr Blake believes it was to the bridge.

He questions the post mortems, initial actions by Kilburn police, investigations by the British Transport Police, and subsequent Met investigations in 1999, when his son’s body was exhumed, and evidence emerged that Daniel had been beaten and stabbed.

The CPS wrote to Mr Blake telling him that, of the initial police interviews, none was made “under caution” – which would make them inadmissible in a trial. The letter also said the case was not in the public interest.

“If it was a suicide, aren’t the police supposed to visit the family and take a statement from them?” said Mr Blake. “They didn’t talk to us. Did police visit Burrows Road? Yes, because I was there and called my wife to alert police. Did they take proper statements from people there? No. Did they take a statement from me? No. They knew Daniel was dead, I didn’t. I was still asking if anyone had seen him because he’d not come home. The police had decided already that they weren’t going to deal with the case. It didn’t matter what we said – they weren’t going to do anything.

“I want to see all the logs from the Friday night, all the calls made to the police that night and by who. I want everything on the table.”

Dawn Butler MP said: “What happened to Bonny’s son is tragic and I can understand that Bonny feels there are still questions to be answered. I hope a barrister out there can take the case on pro bono for him.”

Police had not responded to the Times’ queries as we went to press.