What does Pete Doherty know about the night Mark Blanco died?

In 2006, Mark Blanco died after falling from a balcony at a party attended by Pete Doherty. His family insist questions remain unanswered and growing numbers are joining their campaign

You may have seen, or read about, the Libertines reunion this summer. By his standards, it's been a good couple of months for Pete Doherty, the 31-year-old songwriter making peace with his bandmate Carl Barât, with future spoils seemingly on their way.

Yet there's one nagging detail from Doherty's past that refuses to go away.

Last night over 500 people assembled at the Bloomsbury theatre in London to honour and remember the life of Mark Blanco, with music and comedy. It marked a groundswell in activity by musicians, poets and actors in London eager to keep his name alive. Mark's was a life cut tragically short in suspicious circumstances. In 2006, the 30-year-old actor died after plunging 11 feet from a balcony at a party attended by Doherty, after an altercation with the singer and his entourage.

As well as remembering Mark's life, last night's flagship event – the most recent benefit concert, last summer, featured the contribution of Blanco's best friend, comedian Jerry Sadowitz – also served to fund the ongoing investigation by friends and family into how Mark met his end.

"The purpose of the concert is threefold," explains Mark's sister Emma Blanco, who organised the event and performed alongside Cuban guitarist and boyfriend Ahmed Dickinson. "One, to raise awareness of the case – it's difficult to keep up public interest because there's not always new evidence to tell people about, and because the police have been quite slow. Two, to raise funds for what's becoming a very expensive battle for justice. And three, to gather together people who knew Mark and show some appreciation of his life."

The week of Mark's death he was due to play the lead in a new play at The George theatre in Whitechapel. To publicise this, he attended a party at a flat owned by Doherty's friend Paul Roundhill to invite the Libertines singer to the opening night. Ironically, the play, entitled Accidental Death of An Anarchist, was about a man who fell, or was thrown, from the fourth floor window of a Milan police station.

Six people, three men and three women who were at the party, claimed Mark caused an annoyance. Doherty's minder at the time, Johnny Headlock, said the singer asked him to get rid of Mark. They evicted him – Roundhill had punched him several times and set fire to his hat with lighter fuel before doing so. But 10 minutes afterwards, Mark returned. A minute later he fell to his death. CCTV footage shows Doherty and a female friend, followed by Headlock, running away, swerving Mark's body as they do so.

Two weeks later, Headlock walked into Bethnal Green police station and confessed to killing Mark. After being locked up, he retracted his statement and was allowed to leave. The police quickly attributed Mark's death to an accident or suicide. This, supporters say, was done without proper investigation and without interviewing key witnesses – the area was never cordoned off as a possible crime scene; Mark's mother found the lens from her son's glasses in the gutter outside the flat the day after he fell.

Coroner Dr Andrew Reid rejected the conclusions of suicide, recorded an open verdict and asked the police to reopen the investigation on 4 October 2007.

"The sound of his (Mark's) impact on the ground was heard by a person in a neighbouring flat in the block 18 of Fieldgate Mansions. This person also heard preceding the impact with the ground, the sounds of a number of people [going] up and down the stairs preceding this final event."

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

Emma Blanco is frustrated that the Libertines-infatuated music press have never focused on Doherty's involvement in the events at the flat that night, but more so that she continues to believe the singer knows more than he has admitted.

Emma and her friends have vowed to keep performing concerts such as last night's and to keeping her brother's name alive until more answers are forthcoming.


James McMahon

The GuardianTramp

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