Family of murdered Mansfield man slams the British justice system

Emiel Blankert caught on CCTV
Emiel Blankert caught on CCTV

The Dutch family of a Mansfield man who was killed following a sustained assault has slammed the British justice system after his girlfriend was cleared of his murder.

A jury found Michelle Swift (49) not guilty of killing Emiel Blankert following a trial at Nottingham Crown Court.

Mr Blankert (48), of Ladybrook Place, died in December last year from injuries he sustained during a brutal attack.

Miss Swift had already faced trial in the summer from which a jury failed to reach a decision.

Over the course of both trials, the court was told about the violent 17-year relationship between Mr Blankert and Miss Swift, in which both had instigated fights.

Following Friday’s verdict, Miss Swift has been released unconditionally and the police say they will consider their next step in the investigation.

But a statement released by Mr Blankert family in Holland read: “The news that Michelle Swift was sent home by the judge came to us like a bolt from the blue sky. We were shocked.

“We had no idea how the English legal system worked, but trusted it.

“Emiel never told us about how Michelle was abusing him, that she was violent, but he told his Dutch friends.

“The police investigation strengthened our trust in the legal system because of the information about all the older broken bones and the signs of abuse.

“We always knew that this could be the outcome, but we never expected it. Nevertheless we would like to express our thanks to the British police and the prosecutor for all they have done to get a conviction.”

Police say they are to ‘review’ the case of murdered Mansfield man before making a decision on whether they will continue their investigation.

DCI Tony Heydon, said: “The police and the Crown Prosecution Service built a case and believed that Emiel Blankert had died after he had sustained injuries thought to have been caused by Michelle Swift.

“That evidence was put before a jury who failed to reach a verdict after two-and-a-half weeks.

“Disappointingly proceedings have now concluded without anyone being convicted. The trial Judge has decided to release Michelle Swift unconditionally.

“The death of Emiel Blankert will be referred to the coroner to consider an inquest.

“As always we are in touch with Emiel’s family in Holland and they will receive the best possible support by the Dutch victim support scheme. Our thoughts are with them at this time.”

Mr Blankert had taken several blows to his body, including one that ruptured his bowel and led to his death in hospital four days later. It was thought that he had either been stamped on hard in the stomach or hit with a weapon.

CCTV footage taken from several cameras around the parade of shops in which he lived above showed that he was clearly injured after emerging from his flat on Sunday, 15th December last year.

Miss Swift’s barrister, Michael Auty, suggested that Mr Blankert could have been attacked by a gang who set upon him in an alleyway or walkway or on a stairwell not covered by the cameras.