Authors: William A. Newton
William A. Newton
Copyright Â© 2015 William A. Newton
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study,
or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents
Act 1988, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in
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concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations and events are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events are entirely coincidental.
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Unlike the previous few days, when it had been cool and showery, it was a beautiful morning, the third Sunday in August. Mick and Sue Joyce were having breakfast on the patio of their bungalow, Mick went indoors and returned with the papers keeping the sports section for himself and passing the rest to Sue, his wife of twenty five years. Exactly twenty five years, today was their silver wedding anniversary.
Mick looked at her and thought how lucky he was, she was still an attractive woman as she approached her fiftieth birthday, a milestone she would reach nearly two years before him. She still had naturally dark brown hair and a slim figure partly he supposed due to not ever having children, something they both regretted but now rarely talked about. He raised his glass of orange and clinked it against her cranberry juice.
“Here's to the next twenty five years sweetheart,” he said.
Sue smiled at him, “not been too bad has it, August â86 seems such a long time ago.”
She looked at Mick, still reasonably slim given his age, just short of six foot, black hair going grey at the temples, nice habits, he shaved and showered every day which is more than could be said for some men.
It was just after eight thirty when Mick's mobile rang.
“Hello, Michael Joyce speaking.”
“Good morning Inspector, Hatfield Control Room here, sorry to disturb you on a Sunday. We need you to go to a crime scene, rear of the shops in Stevenage High Street and see Sergeant Matthews. It appears we may have a suspicious death. Can you ring back when you've evaluated the situation?”
“Yes O.K.” replied Mick.
“Bollocks,” he muttered, “that's all I need. This could be a long one Sue, I'll ring you when I know what's happening.”
“Well at least it wasn't yesterday,” said Sue. “We had a nice meal last night didn't we, that new restaurant is superb.”
“I should have gone to the hospice to see dad today but I've no idea what time I'll be able to get away. If I'm not home by two would you mind going to see him, tell him what's happened and that I'll be in as soon as I can.”
“Of course not Mick. I'll go this afternoon.”
He said “thanks sweetheart,” and kissed her on the cheek.
It was turning into quite a warm day as he got into his car, a two year old dark blue Audi, nothing out of the ordinary but Mick liked it. He waited whilst Sue backed her Mini off the drive to let him out and then with a smile and a wave and he set off.
It took less than twenty minutes to drive there and as he approached the two police cars and a Transit van blocking the road he spotted the Sergeant and lowered his window.
“I'm sorry sir, there's been an incident andâ¦”
Mick took out his warrant card and held it up for inspection.
“Detective Inspector Joyce and you must be Sergeant Matthews.”
“Yes sir, sorry I didn't recognise you or the car, I've only just transferred to the area.”
“I'll just park up and you can fill me in,” said Mick.
“Hang on sir, I'll move the van.”
Mick took out his protective suit and boots from the holdall in the boot of the car and as he put them on he looked up and said, “What have we got then?”
“Middle aged man, looks to be tall and fairly well-built lying just around the corner in the service yard of the supermarket, out of sight of the road. Looks like he's been stabbed. His trousers are absolutely soaked in blood.”
The two Scene of Crime officers arrived and Mick quickly brought them up to speed. The senior one of the two immediately rang to request the Forensic Pathologists attendance.
“Looks like he died where he lies, but with a concrete service yard and brick walls I can't imagine you will have much luck with fingerprints,” said Mick.
“Well there's the metal security barrier and that rainwater pipe just to the left of him, his shoes and belt, you'd be surprised where we find fingerprints,” he replied
“True,” said Mick, “I'll leave you to it then.”
Mick ordered the area to be cordoned off and left the scene of crime officers to do their job. He ordered one of the P.C.s to keep onlookers well clear until the body had been removed and the scene of crimes officers had completed their work.
The Forensic Pathologist arrived just after ten and was directed to the body. He greeted Mick and after a brief examination, walked to the entrance to the service yard where Mick was standing.
“Michael, I'd put the time of death at between eleven and twelve last night. He appears to have bled to death, there's no obvious wound, but it definitely feels suspicious. I'll know more when I've examined him at the lab.”
“Can you check his pockets please Jim, we need to establish his identity as soon as possible.”
Jim Kean, a veteran of countless crime scenes who Mick knew from old, returned to the body and searched his pockets.
“You're out of luck Michael, all of his pockets are empty.”
Turning to the Sergeant Mick said “Right then, who found the body?”
“The security guard for the supermarket arrived to open up about seven thirty, spotted the body and rang 999 right away. A patrol car got here about a quarter to eight and reported back. Luckily the security guard is ex-job, retired about two years ago and had the sense to keep the security barrier secured with the combination lock and everybody out till uniform arrived.”
The early starters, warehouse staff and shelf stackers mainly, had begun to arrive but were stopped from going into the service yard. There was lots of complaining of course, particularly from the store manager who had been called by the security guard, they wanted to go in the staff entrance which could only be accessed from the yard.
“Does anybody else have the code for the lock?”
“Two other security guards and the warehouse manager.”
“Get me the CCTV recording from that camera will you please Sergeant,” said Mick.
The Pathologist stayed to organise the removal of the body to the lab whilst the Scene of Crimes said that they would be quite some time yet. The store manager asked if people could now go into the staff entrance, the Sergeant looked at DI Joyce for a decision.
“Not until we've completely finished I'm afraid. Can't they go into the store through the main public doors off the street?”
“I suppose I could place a couple of supervisors there to stop the public going in until the proper opening time but there are bound to be arguments,” said the manager “it's very inconvenient.”
“I find a lot of suspicious deaths tend to cause some inconvenience,” said Mick “I'll put a Constable on the door with your people that should prevent any serious trouble.”
“Well that's something I suppose,“ said the manager, “you'll be finished by twelve won't you?”
“Very unlikely but liaise with the Sergeant there, he'll be in a position to give you the all clear.”
“Sergeant, you and one of your lads should stay in the Service Yard to keep out any nosey beggars and that particularly includes the press. Put the other Constable on the front door.”
Mick then phoned Hatfield to update them.
“Looks like a murder. The victim is a middle aged man, but he has nothing in his pockets at all so identification is going to be tricky. I've asked James Keane to let me have his preliminary findings as soon as possible and to follow up with his full report afterwards.
I'll stay here until scene of crimes have finished and then come into Hatfield to look at the CCTV recording and write up the initial report.”
Later, about seven in the evening, as Mick drove home, his mind was racing. Had he missed anything, had he asked the right questions? He pulled onto the drive and parked behind Sue's Mini. When he walked in he heard her voice coming from the kitchen, she was on the phone to her friend Helen. When she realised he was in the room she turned around, blew him a kiss and smiled.
Mick poured himself a Single Malt and settled into his armchair with the papers. A few minutes later Sue brought him his supper.
“Smoked salmon OK?” she asked.
“Fine,” he said and took the tray from her.
“How was your day?”
“OK, I went to Steve and Clare's for lunch, then in the afternoon I went to see your father, no change in him really Mick.”
“How is your brother?”
“Steve's fine, put the world to rights as usual.”
On Monday morning in Hatfield police station, Mick Joyce was in a meeting with Detective Chief Superintendent Bond. Rachel Bond was aged about forty with black hair cut very short.
“Can you handle this Michael? D.I. Fuller is in court for the next few days. When he's finished he can take over the stuff you're working on now, expensive cars stolen to order isn't it?”
“Yes ma'am. Iâll need to have a dedicated team of a DS and a couple of DCs. as well as uniform to do any house to house and so on.”
“I think we can manage that. I've already checked what we are working on and I can let you have Detective Sergeant North and Detective Constables Witherley and Stavely. You can use meeting room B as your incident room.”
“I know Bob North well of course and I've worked with Matthew Witherley before. I don't believe I know D C Stavely.”
“Emma Stavely, joined CID about a month ago so she may need some supervising, she's good with IT though, so should be a useful member of the team. She's spent the last four weeks teaching selected officers how to set up secure networks.”
At nine o'clock the team assembled in the incident room. Mick Joyce welcomed Emma and introduced her to Bob and Matthew. Bob was a third generation West Indian, always well dressed and had an infectious laugh.
“I understand that you have only just joined CID Emma. Well don't be afraid to ask if you don't understand something or want help of any kind.”
He then asked Bob to organise dedicated phone lines, two extra desks and five or six decent chairs together with secure filing cabinets, flip charts and so on, oh and a coffee percolator.
Bob then disappeared to find the required items.
A few minutes later Sergeant Steve Milken entered the room, smiling.
“I believe you need some help Inspector.”
Mick knew Steve from old, they had been at Hendon together many years before and after a short time at the Met, they had both moved to Hertfordshire and been in the same force for a number of years.
“Morning Steve, can you set up the incident room for me please,” listing what he wanted.
Mick briefed the other three members of his team, outlining the basic facts.
“We should have the preliminary path report some time later today which should give us something to go on, in fact can you give the lab a bell and see how they are doing Bob.”
Bob went into the main office to make the call and returning to the incident room he said, “It's on its way now apparently.”
Just as a couple of PC's were finishing setting up, the report from the lab arrived and the desk Sergeant sent up the folder to DI Joyce who went to his desk in the CID office to read it. Matt Witherley, who looked as if he had only just left school with his slim build and boyish looks, brought him a cup of coffee.
“Matt can you speak to Scene of Crimes and see if they have anything yet.”
The answer was not much except that there was no evidence of the body being carried or dragged there.
“No scuff marks on his shoes or clothes,” said Matt.
The security barrier across the entrance to the service yard was still in place and secured with a combination lock so it looks as if Micks first thought that he died where he was found would seem to be correct.
They both returned to the Incident room and each member of the team chose his or her desk. Mick chose the desk farthest from the door and Bob had the one to his right. Emma and Matt took the two remaining desks, either side of the door.
They each checked their phones were connected and Mick asked, “Everybody happy?” They all were. “Emma, I understand that you know a bit about I.T.?”
“Well I have a degree in it Sir.”
“Excellent, can you check that all our laptops are working and can talk to each other securely. We don't appear to have a printer, I don't like the idea of us printing things out only for somebody else next door to see them first. Ring Sergeant Milken and ask him to get one up here would you.”
Mick, sat down, adjusted the height of his swivel chair and pulled the Path report towards him and opened it.
“Right firstly we don't know who our victim is, he had nothing on him at all, no wallet, no documents, no car keys, no mobile phone, no wristwatch, nothing. His fingerprints haven't shown up on the database, it will be a week at least before we get DNA results. I've had a look at the CCTV recording from the service yard but it's pointed at the staff entrance and loading dock, not the area where the body lay. Matt, can you have a look at it as well in case I missed anything.”
Mick picked up the path report and turned to page two, “we have something to go on,” he announced. “Basically the guy was fully dressed but had died from a deep cut to the femoral artery in his left thigh.”
“Why stab somebody in the thigh?” asked Emma.
“I don't think we should think of this as a stabbing,” said Mick “The cut was six centimetres long and severed the artery, Also there was no hole in his clothes so it looks as if whoever did it had their hand down his trousers and knew exactly where to cut.”
“Medical knowledge?” said Bob.
“Almost certainly,” replied Mick.
“So far we know how he died and where he died but we don't know who he is, what the motive was or who killed him. The report also says he had eaten no more than two hours before he died probably between nine and ten. It says his last meal was chicken and rice.”
Mick suddenly reached forward and picked up the phone, and rang the pathologist.
“Jim, Mick Joyce here. Thanks for the report, it gives us plenty to think about, unusual way to kill somebody, anything like it before?”
“Not that I can think of but I think we can say the killer has surgical knowledge.”
“A surgeon you mean?” said Mick.
“Not necessarily but certainly medical training, the cut was very precise. Actually it's a very efficient way to kill somebody, the victim would have died within minutes,
and would have lost consciousness well before that so he would be unable to summon help or crawl away. There were also massively raised levels of benzodiazepines, almost certainly given by injection, which would have rendered him unable to resist.”
“Jim you say his last meal was chicken and rice, can you be more specific?”
“How specific do you expect me to be?”
“Sorry Jim, but it would help us if we knew where he ate his last supper. Roast chicken, carrots and peas followed by rice pudding is the sort of meal his mother would serve up. Chicken tika masala and a few pints of lager suggest a night out with the lads. Chop Suey â Chinese.”
“Ok, I get the point Michael, give me a few minutes and I'll ring you back.”
Fifteen minutes later the phone rang and Emma answered.
“It's James Keane for you boss.”
“Michael, not a lot to add to my initial report, but I can tell you what wasn't present. No carrots or peas and the rice is individual grains, so I think that probably rules out dinner at mothers. Low alcohol content in blood so probably no night out with the lads. The rice was pinkish colour so might indicate red wine consumed or some sort of chinese meal. I can't really tell you any more Michael at this stage. You will have my full report in a week. I hope this helps.”
“Yes, thanks Jim.”
“OK ,” said Mick “ it looks like our victim possibly ate his last meal at a restaurant, so for a start go round to the nearest ones to where he was found and see what you can flush out. I'll write out a detailed description of the man for you. He had no car keys on him so how did he get into town, Bob check the mini cabs, Emma you can start with the restaurants, see if anybody remembers him. Matt check to see if any cars have been parked up nearby since Saturday night, check for parking tickets issued and also the wheel clamping companies, it might be on private land somewhere.”