An #FF Tale – Chapter 14

DS Bruce put the final touches to the interview plan with DC Darling. They were now ready to proceed. Kate Harney had been called and was on her way to custody. Bruce leant back in his chair, stretched out, put his hands behind his head and his feet on his desk. “You know what Phil. I think if you do it now we’ve time for a brew before we go down to custody.” Phil glanced up from the notes he was studying, raised his eyebrows and rolled his eyes before pushing his chair back from the desk. “Tea or coffee?”

Jane Hamilton sped across the border into France after about 50 minutes driving and then the route began to veer north toward Chardonnay. The satnav estimated another 1hr 45mins driving to reach the destination. She had called the hotel earlier to advise she would be late but realised she was hungry now and decided to stop at the first opportunity and pick something up.

Supt Payne pulled his car up at the gates of Calder Hall. They were closed and the faint glow of a light to his right indicated an intercom system. He sat for a moment and gathered his thoughts. Over the course of his career he had sat with bereaved parents, rape victims and wives with children who’d just lost their husband. Despite all this experience he was not looking forward to this meeting at all. He had a lot of information to impart to Lord Scholes-Fogg and it would not be easy. “No time like the present Mark” he said to himself before lowering his window and reaching out to press the “call” button. After a few rings a female voice answered. “Can I help you” she asked. “It’s Supt Payne. I need to speak to Lord Scholes-Fogg.” There was a short pause. “Lord Scholes-Fogg is entertaining guests for dinner at present and will not be able to see you” came the reply. “I do apologise for any inconvenience but I need to speak to him most urgently.” There was another pause and Mark became aware of the gates gradually gliding open. “Very good Supt. I do hope it is as urgent as you say. His Lordship does not take kindly to being disturbed. Please come up to the main entrance. I’ll have Teresa meet you.” A slight click from the speaker told Mark the call was terminated. He took a deep breath before driving the car through the gates and down the long driveway to the hall.

Kate Harney arrived at the custody suite and as a regular and well known solicitor she was buzzed right through to the charge desk. Sgt Harris was on duty. “Hello Kate. The officers are upstairs. I’ll give them a call. Do you want a coffee?” Kate accepted the offer and was shown to a consultation room to await the arrival of the interview team. A short time later DC Darling appeared with coffee in a paper cup and some sheets of A4 paper. Kate glanced at them before turning her attention to Phil. “Don’t tell me. Written disclosure?” she said. “I’m afraid so” said Phil handing the sheets to her and placing the cup on the desk in front of her. Kate groaned inwardly. “Thanks for the coffee… and this” she said waving the piece of paper idly. “I’ll give you a shout when I’m ready for Mr Beattie. She read through the disclosure notes and was astonished to find that the remains of a body had been found in the forest near to the saw mill where Doug lived. The disclosure gave a lot of detail and so she automatically suspected some cards were still being played very close to their chest. She did wonder if they had the body what the “other” developments were. Satisfied she wandered back out to the charge desk. “Sarge. I’m ready for my client if you can get him out for me please.”

Inspector Guilfoyle arrived back at the nick around he same time as Cairnsy and Pink and bumped into them in the response Sgts office as they hung up their car keys. “I believe you two have been involved in some developments today. Come down to my office and tell me all about it.” At that he turned on his heel and strode off down a corridor. Cairnsy looked at Pink. “Seems everybody thinks we don’t have homes to go to.” Pink nodded agreement before heading off down the corridor in the direction the Inspector had gone closely followed by Dave.

DS Bruce stood leaning over the charge desk chatting with Darren Harris. “The Supt gave us 12hrs which gets us to 9am tomorrow morning” he said. “I’d like to charge tonight. I’d want to remand. If he throws a spanner in the works though I’m not confident we have enough to convince the magistrates for another 36hrs.” As he finished his sentence a door opened down the interview wing and Kate stuck her head out. “Ok. Were ready.”

Cairnsy had never been in Inspector Guilfoyles office. He and Pink were invited to sit down and then he began to ask questions. They were both evasive at first but Pink eventually spoke up. “Sir. The Super has put us on strict silence about today’s developments. He said we cannot discuss it with anyone.” Simon looked frustrated. “Oh you’re kidding me. Where’s the Super now?” Pink hesitated again. “He’s… er… gone to discuss some sensitive matters with Lord Scholes-Fogg.” Cairnsy was looking for any opportunity to change the subject. He scanned the office and his eyes fell on a small framed photo on top of a filing cabinet. He stood and took it down. The photograph showed an officer stood by a marked Range Rover with a firearm in his hand. “Is this you Sir?” he asked. “Those were happier days. That Glock and I were inseparable. Like husband and wife. Then promotion came along and I had to change dept. All those skills were just cast aside by the force. Despite all my experience and the cost to train me they allowed my ticket ti just expire.” Cairnsy grinned. “Never mind boss. Firearms is a young officers game.” Simon scowled at him whilst placing the photo back where it belonged. By the look on his face Cairnsy knew that the Inspector had been pushed as far as he would go.

Kate Harney paused and took the time to assess Doug’s face and how well he was taking all this information in. “The weight of evidence against you is strong. Your van in the lane, the CCTV, the ANPR hit, the saw mill and now human remains in a freshly dug hole. The only evidence they don’t have is physically putting you in the churchyard, taking the body and burying it in the forest but nevertheless this is pretty tight. It is still essentially a theft matter. There are no other allegations like those animal activists a few years ago. They got 12 years. I don’t see this happening in your case but I need to know your account so I can advise you properly.” Doug was silent. In his head he was torn between telling the truth and following the script yet his military training meant his face remained impassive and gave nothing away. “What happens if I go no comment like I did last time” he asked.

Kate explained how the court could draw an inference from his silence. “I think that may be my best option then” said Doug. Kate was tired and becoming angry. “How can I advise you if you won’t talk to me? What’s the point of me being here? Listen to me. What you tell me is subject to client confidentiality but I cannot help you if you don’t help me.” Doug again sat silently processing options. It had not been his idea to take the body. He felt it could have been left behind. It would look like some sick persons actions or vandalism. His employer had insisted on removal and so it was clearly theft. He slowly turned his expressionless face to Kate. “I was in the caravan all night with a friend. We had been shooting during the afternoon. In the evening we played cards and got drunk. The saw mill is isolated and I always leave the keys in the van. I didn’t stir until lunchtime the next day. The van was right where I left it. I have nothing to do with any grave robbing.” His face still gave away nothing but the relief inside on making a decision felt good. Kate smiled back. She was delighted he had decided to talk. “Good. Tell me more and I can advise on your best course of action.”

Mark Payne was met by Teresa at the main entrance. She welcomed him and then escorted into a small room off the main entrance lobby and offered him tea which Mark declined. “I will ask the butler to inform His Lordship you are here. Mark sat waiting for some time studying the paintings on the walls before the door opened and another lady came in. “Superintendent. I am Lisa the housekeeper. Lord Scholes-Fogg will see you in the drawing room. Please follow me.” Mark recognised the voice as that of the lady on the intercom as he followed her into the drawing room where he had met Lord Scholes-Fogg last time. The room was lit only by a few lamps and the flickering orange flames in the open fireplace. Lisa led him to the fireplace and two leather wing backed armchairs. Mark could see a pair of legs crossed at the knee in one of the chairs. An arm rested on the arm wearing a suit jacket. The white cuff protruding from the sleeve was pinned with a gold cuff link and the hand held onto a crystal tumbler. The glass coruscated with firelight and reflections from the dark amber liquid within. “Supt Payne Sir” said Lisa. Lord Scholes-Fogg turned toward them. “Hello Mark. Take a seat” he said as he gestured toward the other armchair. “Can I get you anything else Sir?” asked Lisa. “No thank you Lisa. That will be all.” replied Lord Scholes-Fogg. At that Lisa turned and padded silently out of the room. Lord Scholes-Fogg took the stopper out of an exquisite decanter and poured a generous glass of whisky and handed it across to Mark. “Lisa and Teresa have been with me for over 15 years. You can choose your friends but not your family they say. They are my staff but are also my friends. They are sometimes more like my family than my actual family.” Mark swirled his glass and a rich peaty aroma rose from the glass and coupled with the darker colour indicated an Islay malt. “Laphroaig Sir?” he asked. Lord Scholes-Fogg inclined his head toward him. “Very good Superintendent. You know your single malts. Cask strength this one. I’m not a fan of wishy washy whisky. It needs depth and this one is perfect. I hope this is important. My guests were beginning to bore me but leaving them is rude. What do you have to tell me that is so important?”

After 45 minutes of consultation Kate Harney came back to the charge desk. She handed a sheet of paper to PS Harris. “Would it be possible to have some photocopies please?” DS Bruce was leaning against the desk next to her. “Prepared statement?” he asked. Kate nodded. “We are ready as soon as you have read through it.” PS Harris came back to the desk, kept a copy, gave one to Kate and the original and a spare copy to Bruce. Bruce scanned the page then looked at Kate. “Give me 5 minutes. Do you want to wait with your client?”

Jane pulled onto the car park of the Château De Fleurville. This was the best hotel she could find at short notice that had a vacancy. It was about 5 miles from Chardonnay itself and approximately 10 miles from the vineyard at Le Château Jeane. It was dark as she grabbed her flight case from the back seat and crunched step by step over the gravelled driveway to the main entrance. She checked in easily and was shown to her room. There was nothing she could do tonight so decided her only option was a long soak in a deep bath, some wine and bed.

DS Bruce and DC Darling walked along the corridor to the charge desk with Kate and Doug following behind. The interview had been one long no comment affair after the reading out of the prepared statement. In this Doug had provided details of an alibi that would need chasing down immediately. Leaving Phil to result the interview with PS Harris, Bruce went straight upstairs to coordinate staff to verify the alibi. “That’s the top and bottom of it Sarge” explained Phil. “If the alibi checks out then we will probably have to bail. If not I think Bruce will want it with CPS tonight.”

“You have this document with you?” asked Lord Scholes-Fogg. Mark Payne handed over a copy of the document found by Pink. Lord Scholes-Fogg took some spectacles from his jacket pocket and began to read. The room descended into silence with the exception of a clock ticking gently on the mantle above the crackling fire. After some time Lord Scholes-Fogg broke the silence. “This is interesting but I doubt it’s authenticity. Edward would not have married his housekeeper. That’s absurd and why would he send his first son abroad? I suspect somebody, probably whoever stole Miss Renners body, is planning to blackmail me or embarrass my family.” Mark Payne placed his glass on a small table by his chair. “I understand all your concerns Sir. There are obvious signatories on the document that on the face of it make it legal and binding. How you go about proving or disproving that will remain to be seen and is not a police matter. However, it does generate some further questions about why Miss Renners body was stolen.” Lord Scholes-Fogg lowered the document into his lap and took off his glasses. “You’re right Superintendent and this could have serious implications for my family and my home. I will need to take some legal advice. Thank you for coming and telling me about this promptly. Lisa will show you out?” Right on cue and apparently without being called Lisa came back through the double doors and waited. Mark suddenly felt like he was a schoolboy being dismissed by his house master. “Goodnight Sir. You know how to contact me should you need to” he said before withdrawing from the room.

Lisa showed Mark to the door and then walked with him to his car in the courtyard. “He’s old and very tired you know and his son Tom is a great disappointment to him.” Mark stopped by his car door and turned to her. “Yes. It must be very hard for him.” Lisa nodded. “Harder than you know. He is very kind to me and the staff. He treats us like family, me especially and I am totally loyal to him which is why I’m going to tell you something….

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.

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