Review of initial Blake Fowler case prompted fresh murder probe

Daily Echo: Police apologise over Blake Fowler inquiry Police apologise over Blake Fowler inquiry

HAMPSHIRE police have today apologised after admitting that mistakes were made during the initial investigation into Blake Fowler’s death.

Force bosses said the original inquiry into how the seven-year-old died simply wasn’t good enough and that the performance of several officers had fallen below standard.

The conclusions were drawn following a major review of the case by a specialist team of officers which began last November and that involved re-examining all lines of enquiry conducted during the initial probe.

Daily Echo:

Blake Fowler

A murder inquiry was subsequently launched and is now being led by a team of officers from the force’s Major Investigation Team.

Speaking about the reinvestigation, Assistant Chief Constable Laura Nicholson, pictured below, said: “Following a thorough review, the investigation has been reopened. I accept that the initial investigation by the constabulary was unsatisfactory, and for that I apologise. We have a full team from the Hampshire Major Investigation Team dedicated to this."

Daily Echo:

When asked whether any officer had been disciplined over the failings of the first inquiry, she said an internal review had found no grounds for misconduct by any officer.

ACC Nicholson added: "We held an internal serious crime review, the priority of which was identifying lines of enquiry for re-investigation. Once this was complete, I referred the review to the head of our Professional Standards Department, who considered the findings against the police regulations for misconduct. It was found that that whist there were performance issues relating to a number of individual officers, there was no misconduct.

"I accept that the standard of performance was not what we would have wanted. Learning individually and organisationally has been identified to improve practice in future investigations." As previously reported by the Daily Echo evidence heard during Blake’s inquest left a number of unanswered questions surrounding the initial police investigation which was led by Detective Inspector Linda Howard.

Southampton Coroner’s Court was given evidence surrounding the post mortem examination of the seven-year-old which along with the brain injury he suffered, also reported findings from a forensic examination of his body.

The inquest heard how traces of ceiling Artex were found on Blake’s lip and in his hair but no explanation was given as to how they got there.

The inquest was also told that there had been several accounts given by Blake’s brother who was in the lounge when he suffered the injury, but that due to his age and obvious distress, his evidence could not be relied upon.

That conclusion was taken from evidence given to a High Court during separate family court proceedings and was not fully recounted in public at the inquest.

Much of the evidence examined by Coroner Keith Wiseman came from those proceedings and no witnesses to the tragic event were called to give evidence.

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