Pete Doherty party death was 'murder': Cambridge graduate was 'thrown off ... trends now

Pete Doherty party death was 'murder': Cambridge graduate was 'thrown off ... trends now
Pete Doherty party death was 'murder': Cambridge graduate was 'thrown off ... trends now

Pete Doherty party death was 'murder': Cambridge graduate was 'thrown off ... trends now

In her final moments with her dying son, Sheila Blanco placed her head on his chest and made a vow.

'It was my last promise to him,' she recalls. 'I said I would find out what happened at any cost.'

She little envisaged how gruelling that quest would be – and how hard it would be to fulfil it. For while Sheila has long had a very good idea of what happened in her Cambridge-educated son Mark's last moments, she has been unable to get him the justice she yearns for.

Seventeen years ago, Mark, 30, died in tragic and mysterious circumstances after briefly attending a party in an East London flat hosted by self-styled 'literary agent' – and drug addict – Paul Roundhill.

Also present was singer Pete Doherty, at the time the notoriously drug-addled on-off boyfriend of model Kate Moss, who he dated between 2005-2007, and a small number of acolytes, including Pete's 'minder', Jonathan Jeannevol, known locally as 'Johnny Headlock'.

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: CCTV footage of Pete Doherty running from block of flats where Mark Blanco died

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: CCTV footage of Pete Doherty running from block of flats where Mark Blanco died

Less than a minute after Mark had entered the building for a second time – having briefly left – he was found unconscious beneath a first-floor balcony.

CCTV footage subsequently showed Doherty with another girlfriend, 19-year-old Kate Russell-Pavier, and Jeannevol fleeing the scene, callously swerving Mark's body.

Two years after Mark lost his life, and following an initial bungled police investigation, a senior detective brought in to re-examine the case admitted the Met had ruled out an accidental fall or suicide – the latter initially put forward by police as the most likely cause of Mark's death. Aside from the unlikely possibility of what the officer called 'a deliberate jump not intended to cause harm', that leaves only a criminal act on the part of others who were present that night.

Sheila has always been convinced, as are many others, that Mark was pushed off the balcony. In a bid to prove it, she has compiled many dossiers of evidence, knocked on doors and written letter after letter: to police commissioners, MPs, the London mayor. She has also commissioned independent experts, spending well over £100,000 in the process.

It has all been to no avail – until now. In recent months, a film crew from Channel 4 has revisited the case for a compelling new documentary in which, alongside new CCTV footage analysis, one of the six party guests present that night states for the first time that she too has reason to believe that Mark was killed.

Her name is Naomi Stirk, and she recalls that, amid a 'sinister' atmosphere, she had watched Paul Roundhill and Jeannevol physically escort Mark out of the flat.

'From where I was sitting you could see through to the hallway and the kitchen, and there is a point for which I cannot account for the whereabouts of everyone,' she says. 'I don't know what happened, but I know that something horrid went on.'

In further crucial new testimony, Grant Fredericks, an FBI instructor who has analysed CCTV footage from some of the world's most high-profile cases, states that his fresh examination of footage of the fall shows Mark was 'thrown over the balcony'.

Pictured: Kate Moss with Pete Doherty backstage at Glastonbury in 2007

Pictured: Kate Moss with Pete Doherty backstage at Glastonbury in 2007

Fredericks used 3D modelling and reverse projection, where new film is overlayed on the original images, to 'step back in time'.

'The reverse projection clearly shows there couldn't be just one person on the balcony,' he says. 'What I would say is that Mark has come out and somebody has taken Mark and is putting him over the balcony. If the measurements and the distance are correct, then Mark was thrown over the balcony. Mark was murdered.'

Both these developments, Sheila believes, must compel the Met – who have never formally closed their investigation – to re-interview the witnesses who were present.

'I have always believed that everyone who was in that flat that night knows what happened,' she says. Dignified and composed, Sheila is a piano teacher and teacher of English to foreign students who is now in her 70s.

In 2007, within six months of Mark's death, Doherty released a single, Lost Art Of Murder, with his group Babyshambles. He audaciously recorded a promotional video for it in Roundhill's flat.

Last year he published his autobiography, A Likely Lad, with a chapter about Mark's death which Sheila claims is 'full of inaccuracies' and in which he maintains he fled the scene to protect himself and his teenage girlfriend. He denied knowing how Mark's body had ended up on the ground.

Doherty, 44, lives in France with his singer wife, Katia de Vides, and their baby daughter.

Earlier this year, Sheila picketed a performance of his at the Royal Albert Hall with a placard reading 'Pete Doherty, Who Killed my Son?' – the title given to the forthcoming Channel 4 documentary. She says: 'I have to do this so what happened to Mark doesn't happen to other people. Any death like his deserves proper due process.

'The police really need to be accountable. Not just for my son, but for everyone who has an unexplained death.'

Pictured: Mark Blanco, actor, with his mum Sheila, on graduation day in June 1997

Pictured: Mark Blanco, actor, with his mum Sheila, on graduation day in June 1997

We are talking at Sheila's home in Guildford, Surrey, the family home of Mark and his younger sister Emma, now 41 and a classical violinist.

Sheila and her Spanish husband Antonio divorced many years ago but remain good friends. She says: 'I think about Mark every day, but I've tried to channel that grief. You can sit down in a heap and cry, or you try and do something. And for the first ten years the adrenaline kept me going.'

She recalls her son as precocious from an early age. 'He had this huge intellect but also a tremendously soft heart.' A straight-A student, he went on to study philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge. He worked for investment banker Goldman Sachs but, by his late 20s, he was living in an East End flat and had set his heart on becoming an actor.

At the time of his death, Mark was preparing to put on a play, Accidental Death Of An Anarchist, at East End theatre pub the George Tavern. Sheila recalls him talking excitedly about it when he visited her the weekend before he died.

'I had no idea that would be the last time I would see him,' she says.It was attempting to publicise the play that put Mark on a

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