Expert analysis of CCTV footage suggests that Mark Blanco, the actor who died at a 2006 party attended by Pete Doherty, was probably dropped to his death.
Blanco suffered fatal head injuries after falling from a first floor balcony in Whitechapel, East London in December 2006. He had been attending a party in a flat on the floor above, at which Doherty and his minder Jonathan Jeannevol were also present.
Doherty was implicated after a 2007 inquest found that the singer had asked Jeannevol to “have a word” with Blanco because he had “annoyed” him. CCTV footage shows the singer running away from Blanco’s body, something which Doherty has admitted he is “completely ashamed” of.
Doherty and others present at the party have always maintained that they have no idea how Blanco died. Writing on his blog last year (2011), Doherty insisted: “When he fell or jumped he was alone. That is what happened. He either fell or was making an extreme point about the nature of life imitating art.”
Although a coroner ruled out suicide, police have never been able to get to the bottom of what happened. For the past eight months, BBC Newsnight has been conducting its own investigation into the case. In doing so, the show asked a pair of video forensics experts to re-examine the CCTV footage of Blanco coming off the balcony.
US video forensics analyst Grant Fredericks concluded that CCTV images of Blanco falling from the first floor are “very consistent with a person being carried and literally dropped over the edge of the balcony”.
UK expert John Kennedy came to much the same conclusion, saying: “There’s no defensive movement whatsoever. It’s literally a drop from outside the rail. The only explanation I can think of is that somebody might have dropped him off the balcony. He doesn’t climb over the railing himself. He doesn’t jump. He just suddenly appears outside the railing and falls.”
Responding to the experts’ conclusions, the actor’s mother Sheila Blanco has vowed to petition for a new police investigation. She told BBC Newsnight: “I think the whole case needs revisiting. The truth will out.”