Pete Doherty could face a private prosecution over the death of a man who fell from balcony

Family of Mark Blanco say they may seek to prosecute the rock star and two of his friends if the police do not press charges

The family of a man who died after falling from a balcony shortly after an altercation with ex-Libertines singer Pete Doherty and two of the star's friends say they will seek a private prosecution if police fail to bring charges over the incident in December 2006.

Scotland Yard has requested a private meeting with Mark Blanco's family this week at the Old Bailey. Officers are expected to tell his mother, Sheila, whether they believe that their investigations will yield any prosecutions.

CCTV images showed Doherty stepping over the body of the 30-year-old shortly after he fell to his death. Blanco had been at a party with Doherty at the Whitechapel flat of Paul Roundhill, a figure on the east London alternative arts scene who supplied the Babyshambles frontman with drugs.

A part-time actor who was staging Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Blanco had visited the flat to invite Doherty to see a performance of the play. But he left following a confrontation with Roundhill, Doherty and the star's minder, Johnny "Headlock" Jeannevol. Shortly afterwards he was found dead on the ground outside, having fallen from a first-floor balcony outside Roundhill's flat. After leaving the scene, Doherty and his friends smashed up a hotel room in Clerkenwell, London.

Blanco's family insist that his death was an unlawful killing. Celebrities including comedian Jimmy Carr and magician Jerry Sadowitz have spearheaded fundraising campaigns to establish the cause of Blanco's death as the family has become increasingly frustrated with police inquiries.

Scotland Yard initially believed that Blanco had jumped to his death. However, at the inquest, the coroner, Dr Andrew Reid, ruled out a verdict of suicide and rejected one of accidental death. Recording an open verdict, he requested a second independent investigation.

Michael Wolkind QC, who is representing the Blanco family, said that it was hard for them to believe that prosecutions would come as a result of the police follow-up investigation. "Throughout their investigations, the police have suffered a severe allergy to finding crime, even though it is clear Mark was unlawfully killed," Wolkind said. "This week we will find out if they have overcome their shyness to prosecute." At the inquest, Jeannevol and Roundhill admitted attacking Blanco shortly before he died. At one stage Jeannevol admitted killing him, but retracted the claim. "It would be perverse if they escaped prosecution," said Wolkind, who confirmed that the family would consider a private prosecution if the police ruled out charges.

A private action could take the form of prosecuting Jeannevol and Roundhill for assault, or wider charges against all three. "I'm not going away," Sheila Blanco said. "But it can't be right that we're having to spend thousands of pounds and all of our time doing a job the police should be doing."

Scientific tests commissioned by the family revealed that Blanco had not sought to protect himself when he fell 3.5m (11ft) on to his head. Richard Wassersug, a professor of anatomy and neurobiology and an expert in such falls, concluded that, "the two most likely explanations are that he was backed into the railings and pushed over, or that he was not conscious and was dropped over the railing". The family handed a dossier of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service last July in the hope that this would result in charges. "The strain has been overwhelming," Sheila Blanco said. Blanco's father has suffered two heart attacks since his son's death.

Roundhill, Doherty and Jeannevol deny any wrongdoing.


Jamie Doward

The GuardianTramp

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