PC Hell had viewed the footage supplied by Rob Harrison over and over again. She had tried every filter and enhancement she had at her disposal but she could not ascertain the final part of the registration of the van. She’d spent hours trying to elicit the details from the film and it just wouldn’t come. The phone rang. “CCTV Office. PC Hell can I help you” she answered. “How are you getting along with the footage” asked Inspector Guilfoyle. PC Hell relayed her frustrations but the Inspector cut her off. “You should have had a call a couple of hours ago. Supt Payne specifically wanted you to concentrate on the occupants. The full registration has been identified on an ANPR hit on the by-pass.”
PC Hell smiled a wry smile that only years of service and experience can achieve. “Left hand, right hand” she thought to herself. “Boss. I cannot identify the full reg’ anyway but I’ve finished my work on the occupants. The passenger is a non-starter. The angle of the headlights just shade him out. He will never been identifiable on this footage.” “What about the driver” asked the Inspector. “Well that’s a little better but not much” she replied. “There is no facial id for this driver either but his hands are clearly visible on the steering wheel. They are large strong hands with what I call “bricklayers fingers”. There seems to be a wedding ring on the left ring finger and there is another ring on the right hand. It’s indistinct but looks bulky. Similar perhaps to a Claddagh ring. I know it’s not much but it’s a start.” Inspector Guilfoyle was disappointed. PC Hell had done excellent work as usual but it was always infuriating when potentially excellent CCTV footage turned out to be of little to no value. “Thanks. Get it burnt to disc and you can get off home. Thanks for turning out for us.”
Since the burglary Katharine Winter had been on edge. She found herself constantly checking that doors and windows were locked. Any strange noise, day or night, that would previously have gone unnoticed now struck fear into her. Insurance companies and reassurance from friends, family and the police were very good but none could assuage these insecurities when at home alone. When she woke this morning she had noticed a car parked across the lane from her home. There was a male driver and a female passenger. There was nothing to suggest anything was wrong but they had been there for two hours now and she was becoming unsettled. She chastised herself. “Get a hold of yourself. You’re becoming paranoid.” She wandered into the kitchen and put the kettle on. A cup of tea could settle many worries and if nothing else the activity kept her occupied. She busied herself whilst the tea steeped then poured a cup which she then took and sat in her favourite armchair. She tried to relax but very quickly the fears and nagging worries returned. She picked up the phone. “You can’t go on like this” she said to herself. She detested the idea of looking vulnerable and was reluctant to call but she gave in to her concerns and called the non-emergency police number.
Cairnsy thought he had died and gone to heaven. He was on routine patrol but by a freak of shift deviation he had been doubled up with WPC Pink There had been few jobs this morning and with the sun shining he took the opportunity to give her a tour of the division. They talked about policing the area, where Pink had transferred from and the evening in The Bull a few nights ago with Salwando. Cairnsy had just about plucked up the courage to chance his Irish charm and suggest a date when a job came over the radio. “Go ahead” he reluctantly relayed into the radio.
The job was a simple sus’ circs’. A recent burglary victim was concerned about a car parked up outside her home. Cairnsy span the car around in a lay-by and headed toward the village. The route took them along the boundary wall of the Calder Estate and Cairnsy explained the estate and the family history to Pink as they drove. They finally reached the cottage and there across the road was the car they were looking for. The blue Ford Mondeo was parked opposite and about 30m down from Mrs Winter’s cottage. Cairnsy pulled to the side of the road and passed the registration to the control room for a PNC check. He could see the male in the drivers seat and an attractive young lady in the passenger seat. “What do you think?” asked Pink. “I reckon she’s his secretary” said Dave with a cheeky smile.
The PNC info came back with no reports and belonged to a lease company in Wimbledon. Dave got out of the panda and headed over toward the car. Pink followed him across and stood by him as he came to a stop by the driver’s door. The electric window slid down. “Can I help you officer?” said the driver. Max Blain was used to dealing with the police and relayed one of his well-worn stories to Dave and introduced him to his business partner Hollie Clemence sat in the passenger seat. Dave exchanged some pleasantries but quickly concluded they posed no risk and were simply early for an appointment in the village. “Officer. I can understand why your locals may be twitchy. Shall I move along and park elsewhere?” asked Max. Dave agreed it would be helpful and so the Mondeo pulled off leaving him stood in the road and Pink by the kerb.
Dave knew about the burglary from PC Kirkwood and had explained this to Pink on the way over. The missing key was quite peculiar. Dave walked back towards the car but suddenly realised Pink wasn’t with him. He turned to find her walking the other way. She glanced back and beckoned for him to follow. Cairnsy would have followed her all day long so he quickly crossed the lane and caught up with her. “What is it?” he asked.
Pink stopped and glanced into the fields and parkland of the Calder Estate adjacent to the cottage. “I’m really fond of old houses. You know, National Trust and English Heritage. That sort of stuff. History was my best subject.” Dave was puzzled but humoured her. “Go on” he said. “Whilst you were talking to the driver I noticed this line of trees”. Dave looked to where she was pointing into the Calder Estate. The whole area was grass parkland but two solitary lines of poplar trees marched off in a straight line towards Calder Hall. “Do you see it?” she said to him. “Er..no. What are you on about.” he replied. Pink smiled. “Traditionally in large estates like this they would line driveways or straight line views with trees. I know this is all grass now but there is no view beyond the cottage and the village here which makes me think this used to be a tree-lined driveway.” Dave was beginning to question his eagerness to date this lady. “How can it be a driveway? It doesn’t go anywhere.” Pink turned him toward the house. “Look at the cottage. Imagine the new lane isn’t there. Imagine a driveway running from the hall to this house. Look at the trees. I’d put money on it that at one time that cottage used to be inside the grounds of Calder Hall. There must have been a boundary change but that cottage was once on the estate. I bet if we look close enough there will be some architectural links on that cottage that link to the hall.”
Inspector Winter sat at his desk. The data on John Cooper QC was in a huge pile to his left. The intelligence files and supplementary info about Roaming Royston’s links to the legal profession was in a pile to his right. The sheer volume of paperwork and research needed was huge. It was a task that needed doing but he couldn’t persuade himself to start. There had to be a key to this. One piece of the jigsaw. A snippet of intelligence that would pull the other pieces together. His thoughts were disturbed as the phone on his desk burst into life. He reached over and lifted it to his ear. “Winter. Go ahead.”
Kim Evans felt she spent her life in custody. Yet again she was at the main custody area for the division. She stared in disbelief at the young officer in front of her. “Is that all you’re going to give me to work on?” she asked. The officer nodded his head but looked down immediately and began shuffling his feet. She knew he was holding back something key to this case. “You realise that all you’ll get is no comment if you don’t brief me better than this?” The officer maintained his stance and so she walked with him back to the charge desk. Rural Sgt was the custody officer and knew Kim well. He could tell by the look on her face that things weren’t going to plan. “Are you ready for consultation Kim” he asked. “I am but I’ve had precious little disclosure for a simple assault”. Rural Sgt had worked the custody desk for years and nothing much ruffled his feathers. “I’m sure the officer has good cause. I’ll have your client brought down to you.” Kim returned to a consultation room and the detainee was duly presented to her. She suspected this was going to be a long day of duty cover. Rural Sgt beckoned the officer in the case into the back office. An opportunity to give a little advice to a young PC had arisen. “Only a few more hours before I hand over to SixtyFootDoll” he thought to himself. Then it was a rare night out for dinner with Mrs Rural Sgt.”
Cairnsy and Pink had called on Mrs Winter to reassure her and the conversation inevitably led to the burglary. Pink was enthused with the Renners case and took the lead in asking questions about the house and the key. “I know very little of it. My parents were in the village before me and they always knew it as Lock Cottage. I always associate locks with a canal but the nearest one is miles away. The key was a big old rusty thing and totally obscured by the Wisteria. I’m not a big one for history really. I’ve a box full of papers in the attic that I’ve never looked at. They may shed some light on the history of the place. You’re more than welcome to take a look.” Pink was almost bubbling over with her enthusiasm and Cairnsy found it infectious. “Would it be ok to take the papers to the station and review them there?” asked Pink. “I’d also like to have a look at the house from the outside if that’s ok?”. Mrs Winter agreed and set up the officers with a cup of tea whilst she retrieved the documents. After enjoying the tea the officers took a walk around the house. It wasn’t anything spectacular in an architectural sense and Pink saw nothing she would have considered a replication or theme of the estate or Calder Hall. “Can you show me where the key was?” she enquired. They were by the front door and Katherine pulled back the Wisteria to reveal a large basic and blackened metal hook fixed to the wall. Pink and Dave peered at it. There were lots of spiders webs and leaf mould stuck to the wall. The only thing of interest was a small symbol of a rectangle with a key inside it below the hook.
They said their goodbyes and walked back to the car. “You really seem enthusiastic about this case” said Dave. “Do you think you’re on to something?” Pink turned to him. “I’m not really sure. I need to have a proper look at Calder Hall. How do we get in?”
Inspector Winter hung up the phone. “Prayers do get answered” he thought to himself. His network of intelligence sources spread like spidery fingers across the whole country. The call had been from New Scotland Yard. He had a silent marker on a vehicle on the national computer and somebody had just checked it in a small village in another force. The vehicle was currently being used by Max Blain and he was a middle man for Roaming Royston. He knew from reading Sean O’Neill’s piece in The Times of the graveyard incident and it was the same village. The fact Blain was there, probably with Hollie Clemence, had to mean something. His analytical mind went into overdrive and he could almost hear the pieces of the puzzle clicking into place. He reached for the phone and called the force. “I’m Inspector Winter of the Metropolitan Police. I need to speak to the SIO for your Renners case.
To be continued…..
This post is fiction but the characters are people I follow on Twitter and by referencing to them I recommend (#FF) them to you. The story is just a different way of #FF’ing that gives me some pleasure. The personalities of my Twitter characters portrayed in this tale are hypothetical and in no way reflect their true professionalism and personal qualities.. it’s meant to be fun.