1 INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN OTHERWISE
“And now I turn to the,” Mr Lionel Rossetti QC paused for a few seconds in his summing up, before continuing, “to the forensic evidence. Or, perhaps I should say, the so-called forensic evidence.” He paused again, scratched his head beneath his wig with a pencil, and turned to face the jury. “For as you will remember, Mrs Landers, the cleaner of the police station, told us that the bag of clothes taken from the defendant unaccountably got put in the same cupboard as the blood-stained clothes taken off the victim. Not only in the same cupboard but on the same shelf.”
Pausing again, the barrister took a sip of water before continuing. He was a consummate actor and had his audience, the jury, eating out of his hands. His timing was faultless. He made an elegant picture, shortish, clad in a pristine black robe and neat clean wig, he moved confidently in the confined well of the courtroom.
Sitting at the back, DI Toby Potts, who was in charge of the case against Daryl Cousins for the rape and murder of Betty Drew, smiled humourlessly. ‘He’s milking it,’ he thought to himself.
“Not only on the same shelf but in damaged plastic bags, side by side. The results of the tests that found the DNA of the victim on the clothes of my client must, I submit, must therefore be suspect and ignored.” At this point, he turned and looked directly at DS Bob McIntyre, who was sitting next to DI Potts, who had been the officer in charge of both sets of clothes.
The sergeant went red and squirmed on his seat. Yes, fidget all you like, Bob, the inspector thought unsympathetically, but it was a bloody stupid thing to do. Potts knew it was the end of the case though, as it had been their one solid bit of evidence and should have clinched it for them. All the rest was circumstantial and had been well challenged by the defence barrister. Well challenged, and ridiculed or countered, he thought morosely. How he’d found Mrs Landers was a mystery, and he’d cross examined her brilliantly and totally confused her.
The barrister’s ability to get Polly Metcalf’s alibi, the defendant’s girlfriend, accepted by the jury was beyond belief. Poll, as he knew, and suspected that Rossetti also knew, was a slag. And yet he’d made her sound like, and be accepted as, an upright and honest citizen.
All in all, Potts accepted it had been a brilliant performance, albeit aided and abetted by a lacklustre and totally inadequate one by the prosecuting council. He wouldn’t mind so much if he didn’t know for sure, for certain, that Daryl Cousins was guilty, and was equally convinced that Rossetti knew it too. His acquittal would put other young women in danger of being raped and murdered, and he would blame the defence barrister for that. Him and the pathetic prosecutor, not to mention his sergeant’s stupidity.
DI Toby Potts stood outside the Old Bailey after the verdict of not guilty, with Sergeant McIntyre at his side, watching the media circus around Daryl Cousins and his barrister. The jury hadn’t taken long to return their verdict of not guilty of the rape and murder of Betty Drew. He hadn’t expected any other result, not after the judge’s summing up which, like Rossetti’s, had dwelt long on the forensic evidence, or rather its contamination.
“Right, Bob, I’m off back home. First thing in the morning, I want the whole team together to work out what to do,” he said to his sergeant.
“Yes, boss,” but McIntyre was talking to thin air. His inspector had gone. He followed on behind to the tube station, and then to Liverpool Street and caught the train to Chelmsford.
The following morning the papers were full of it and Toby Potts read them all over breakfast, or a good selection of them anyway. When he reached Police Headquarters in Chelmsford, his whole team were waiting for him. Barbara Fox, his other sergeant, and five constables, as well as the errant Bob McIntyre.
“Ok,” he said. “Now, we all know Daryl was guilty and with the changes in the law, if we can dig up any new evidence, we can charge him again. As well as that, we’ve got to watch him to make sure no other lass becomes his victim.”
“Boss,” butted in Barbara Fox. “The Superintendent wants to see you, first thing he said. I think he isn’t happy at us going after Cousins.”
“Right, while I sort things out, you lot just get on with whatever you’re engaged on at present. But don’t go anywhere, I want you here when I’m back.”
The meeting between Potts and Detective Superintendent Weaver was short and stormy. Toby was forbidden to devote any more time to Daryl Cousins or harass him in any way. When he protested angrily, he was overruled. Toby wondered if it was because Weaver was a friend of Rossetti, and didn’t want to upset him, that he was stopping any further investigation into the case. He didn’t voice this thought though.
He was in a foul mood when he got back to his squad. He called them together and told them his orders. All of them voiced their disapproval
“This is what we’ll do. If anyone objects they can opt out, but don’t go running to the Super. Are you with me?” They all were, of course, they wanted justice for the victim, and they knew Cousins had done it. Regardless of some smooth talking, smarmy lawyer. To nods from them all he went on. “Ok, Bob, you try to dig up some more facts on the case. Amar, you and Colin can help. Just do what you can round your other work. Same goes for you Barbara, you Trev and Maeve, you can try to keep some sort of watch on Cousins. You won’t be able to do much just the three of you, in your spare time. But do the best you can, eh? Sally, you and me, we’ll keep the ship afloat here and try to satisfy the Super. But we’ll help out you lot as well, as and when we can. Right, all agreed? Good, let’s get on with it then.”
Three days went past with nothing much happening. Fortunately for the detectives, things were generally quiet in Chelmsford so they were able to do their jobs, and still spend some of their time on the Cousins case. Superintendent Weaver didn’t twig what they were up to, and neither did Daryl Cousins realise he was under a spasmodic surveillance, especially in the evenings. This is when his rape and murder of Betty Drew had taken place and when the other two similar ones, the ones they suspected him to have carried out, had taken place also.
On the fourth day this quiet hiatus was to end.
Detective Constable Amar Bemas was in the office early to write up her report, before any of the rest of the team arrived. She was one of the three black officers under DI Potts, and one of the four women. Although working long hours to keep on top of her normal duties, as well as look for new evidence in the Cousins affair, she had spent all of her previous evening off on the case as well. All of her time, on both her regular work and Cousins, involved sitting in the office reading statements and reports, driving her almost mad. So, last night she’d gone out onto the streets, to check on Polly Metcalf. Before moving to CID, she had worked in the vice squad and so knew most of the local prostitutes quite well.
She’d gone back to her old haunts asking questions. At about one in the morning, just when she was thinking of packing it in, calling it a night, she’d struck gold or at least seen a possible glint of it. Two girls had told her they were almost sure Poll had been with them on the night she’d said she’d been with Daryl, and so giving him his alibi. It was a fair time ago but they were almost certain. Whether they’d swear to it of course, give statements, go into a witness box, well that was a different matter. But it was a start, a crack in Cousins’ defence.
Now it was up to Potts to take it further, without the knowledge of Cousins and the Super of course. She really liked Potts, he was a big rangy man of about 45 with unkempt black hair. His suits were always a bit crumpled and his shirts were never ironed properly. He needed taking in hand and she was the one to do it, in her opinion.
At about ten that morning, a shop in Broomfield Rd had been held up and robbed by two youths. Not much taken, but the shopkeeper had been injured and taken to hospital. Potts and DC Sally Mbeki went to the shop and then later to the hospital to deal with it. As a consequence, the others had to reduce the time they were spending on the Cousins’ enquiry, and to devote more of their time on their normal work load.
Later in the day, there was a suicide in the town and also a bad case of domestic violence in Great Baddow, and the whole team then had to devote all their time to these incidents; suspending their inquiries and surveillance of Cousins. Quiet Chelmsford had suddenly got busy; no time now for any extramural business for Potts and his team.
Meanwhile, in Danbury, a village just outside Chelmsford, a milder but no less heated domestic dispute was taking place. In the home of Mr Lionel Rossetti QC. It was a three-sided argument between Lionel, his wife Mabel and their daughter Clarissa.
It was a Friday and the barrister was not due in court that day, and had no clients booked in in chambers either. He had decided to stay at home, much to Mabel’s annoyance. She was going out that afternoon and had hoped to do it without his knowledge, knowing how he would question her as to where she going. He was a born questioner and infernally nosy, probably because of his profession, she thought. She was therefore in a bad mood, and picked on him at any opportunity, bringing acerbic comments from him in return, he was a past master at them, probably also as a result of his job.
They were united, however, in their dispute with Clarissa. Their daughter was a spirited, independent and good looking, sexy her friends said, seventeen year old, and she was planning a weekend in town with a friend. It was a girlfriend, though she wouldn’t tell them that; what business was it of theirs? was her view. They, of course, thought the worst, that it was a man. So the house in Danbury was not a happy one, and certainly not the quiet peaceful place Lionel had hoped to spend his free day in. It all calmed down a bit after lunch, Mabel going out, to somewhere she refused to tell him, and Clarissa retreating upstairs to her bedroom to pack for her weekend away, despite all their efforts to stop her. “I’m over sixteen and can do what I want with my life,” she told them.
Meanwhile DS Barbara Fox and DC Maeve O’Driscoll were attending the scene of the domestic violence in Great Baddow. They had almost finished their questioning of the wife, who had been assaulted by her husband. The sergeant had gone outside, for a break and to cool down, leaving Mauve, who seemed to be beginning to build a relationship with the woman, to tidy up the case. She might perhaps get more cooperation from the woman, Barbara Fox thought. The wife was reluctant to press charges, and Barbara was losing patience with her, and coming close to losing her temper as well. Perhaps Maeve on her own might do the trick, get her to turn on her attacker. She stood on the step thinking about the Cousins case. Was it worth going against the Super’s orders? And why was he so opposed to them going on with the investigation anyway, surely he too believed the man was guilty? As she stood on the step thinking about Superintendant Weaver, she was surprised when a car pulled up a bit further down the road and he got out of it. He crossed the pavement and went into a house next to the car. She was even more surprised when a woman walked along the road a few minutes later, and also went into the same door. A woman she recognised as Mabel Rossetti, wife of the brilliant but, as far as she and her colleagues were concerned, irritating barrister. What was that all about then, what are they up to? She took out her mobile and rang Potts. Whatever they were up to, she thought the inspector should know about it.
Potts was at the hospital where the shopkeeper had been taken. He had a bad wound on his head, giving him concussion, and was being operated on at the time. Potts was trying, with Sally Mbeki’s help, to reassure his wife, without any success. They hadn’t got far with the case, as the man had not been able to describe his attackers and his wife had not been in the shop at the time, so had seen nothing. He listened to Barbara with interest. Just what was going on here? In the morning he’d tackle his superior, he decided, get him to remove his ban on the Cousins case. If he wouldn’t, then he’d threaten to tell Rossetti about the meeting, assignation more like in his view. This wasn’t actually blackmail, he told himself, rather justified pressure to allow normal police investigations to continue. All’s fair in love and war, as he saw it. Love, it appeared, between his superior and the barrister’s wife, and the war against crime. In this case, a crime of rape and murder that was possibly just one of a string of similar cases. Cousins could be and almost certainly was, in his opinion, a serial offender.
But in the morning, things changed again precluding this meeting taking place.
3 FOUL PLAY
At three am, Potts was woken by his phone ringing.
“Yeah,” he said blearily. “Potts.”
The voice of the desk sergeant answered him, bright and breezy despite the time. “Inspector, violent death down on the canal, just to the east of the A138, could be a suicide. Doctor’s there now, Toby. And your man, Constable Peterson.” He then went on to give the precise location, which was not far from the Army and Navy flyover.
When he got there a short time later, having only stopped long enough to gulp down a cup of scalding bitter black coffee, burning his mouth, he found Colin Peterson on the river bank, along with two civilian scene of the crime men and the police doctor. The body, that of a youth, was lying on the bank next to them. Peterson seemed to have everything well in hand. He was a competent officer, Potts knew.
“Suicide, Colin?” the inspector asked.
“Nah, sir,” Peterson said, shielding his eyes from the flash as one of the SOCOs took yet another picture.
“Morning, Toby,” the doctor grunted. “No, not suicide. He was stabbed, look there in his side,” pointing to a faint pink hole in the youth’s body. The body was pale and an unnatural white, and the wound almost undetectable. It had been washed clean by the river, Potts thought, and the blood not flowing after death. “Don’t know as whether he was dead before he went in though,” the doctor continued. “He may have drowned. Know more after the post-mortem.”
“When?” asked Potts
“Later this morning, Toby, just give me time for some breakfast.”
“He was stripped bare before being put in the water,” Peterson said. Nothing more than I can see, thought Potts but kept quiet, just a grunt to his constable, who went on, “found by a fisherman who had been out a mile or so downstream, and had packed up and was on his way home. I’ve got his statement and address, he’s coming into the station later.”
What some people do for fun, Potts thought, he preferred to sleep nights. When his work allowed him to, that was. It’s becoming Dodge City, Potts thought, crime after crime, what’s happened to quiet Chelmsford? And how am I going to be able to keep an eye on Cousins and re-examine his murder of Betty Drew? He’d almost forgotten her in these last few days.
Almost, but not quite, he’d not let up until Cousins was behind bars for the rest of his life. Except that would probably only be for thirty years or so, things being what they were these days. Tiredly and slightly dispirited, he walked back to his car on the road, and then drove to the police station in the city centre to start another day’s work.
That morning, Daryl Cousins went to see his solicitor. His girlfriend, Polly Metcalf, had got wind that the police had been checking up on her. Some of the girls interviewed by Amar had been gossiping, and it had got back to her. Worried and fearing she might be charged with perjury, or perverting the course of justice, she had told him.
“It’s harassment,” he shouted at the solicitor. “They can’t do this to me. I was found not guilty. You need to do something about it.”
His solicitor didn’t like Daryl and privately thought he was probably guilty. He also thought that the police could do it and, if they found any new evidence, would be well within their rights to re-arrest him. But he said nothing of this though, and simply said he’d talk to the police.
“Never mind talk to them, get them off my bloody back, and Poll’s,” Daryl said in a panicky but loud voice.
Later that afternoon, the solicitor came in to see a by now almost exhausted Inspector Potts. He’d been up half the night, attended an autopsy, been brought up to date on all the ongoing cases, and on top of all that not had any lunch. He told the sympathetic and almost apologetic solicitor that he would look into the matter. He got the feeling that the solicitor wasn’t too happy at having to represent Cousins. Shortly after the man had gone, Colin Peterson came in to say they had identified the drowned youth. It was David Tombs, known as DT to his friends, a well known petty thief and tearaway.
“Not much loss then, Col,” Potts said, bringing a disapproving frown from the constable. “Ok, get on with it, but in the morning eh? You must be bushed, I know I am.”
The constable left with a smile and a cheery “goodnight, boss.” He was young and fit and this was Saturday, he wasn’t aiming on going to bed, not like his older superior officer. No, he would go out with some mates, see what he could pick up. Or rather who he could, not what, he corrected himself. Perhaps that blonde he’d met last time he’d had a night off. He couldn’t remember when that had been, what with all this extra work due to the clandestine Cousins enquiries. He didn’t mind the extra work though, as he wanted to nail the bastard, as they all did.
He knew that DS McIntyre hadn’t contaminated the evidence. Yes, there’d been a slight tear in one of the bags and yes, they’d both been put on the same shelf, but not touching. But that clever dick of a lawyer had magnified it out of all proportion. Then he’d confused the poor cleaner till she’d not known left from right. So that in the end she would have agreed black was white, if he’d “put it to her” as he was fond of saying. Talk about mountains out of molehills, he thought. That was why the boss and the Super hadn’t done more than bollock the sergeant. Still, it had been a stupid thing to do, nonetheless. He went on his way whistling.
For Potts the day wasn’t quite over though. He got a call from the Met’s drug squad. A certain Clarissa Rossetti had been stopped in the West End, earlier that day, in possession of cannabis. She was only seventeen and they thought her father was a silk, a prominent QC who lived on his patch. She’d not been arrested though, only cautioned, but they thought a quiet word with her father wouldn’t come amiss, would he do it for them?
“Come better from a local. We’ll owe you one, Toby,” the man from the Met said. Wearily, Potts agreed to see Rossetti and his wife in the morning. Bang goes any chance of a Sunday lay in, he thought, as he drove the few miles to his flat near the prison.
Superintendent Weaver and Mrs Mabel Rossetti managed a brief meeting that evening. Her husband was out with some of his cronies at a lawyers’ moot in town, and wouldn’t be home until later. Clarissa was still at her friends and wouldn’t be back till tomorrow. They had a lot to talk about, mainly how they could get her husband to agree to a divorce, without ruining either Weaver’s or Rossetti’s careers. Neither the police service nor the law were too keen on divorce, especially of senior officials and if there was any scandal. And the barrister was a prominent Catholic and would resist any thoughts of a divorce vigorously. The media would have a field day if they got wind of it.
Just before meeting Mrs Rossetti, Weaver had spoken to Potts on the phone and agreed to meet him in the morning, even though it was a Sunday and they both should have been off duty. He had a shrewd notion what it would be all about; Potts would try again to let his team look for new evidence against Cousins.
Whilst Potts slept events that would change all his plans were taking place.
4. SUNDAY MORNING MATINS
Despite it being Sunday, Potts was in early the next morning. He had arranged to meet Weaver, outside the Cathedral of all places, after matins. He didn’t want the Superintendent coming into the office. That was already filling up with members of his team, despite it being a Sunday and a fine, warm one at that, and most of them supposedly off duty. The Super might smell a rat, put two and two together and twig they were still going after Cousins.
He was looking at Amar’s report on Polly Metcalf, concerning the time Polly had said she was with Cousins, giving him an alibi. She was a good officer, Amar, in his opinion, born of African parents who had come to England just before she was born; in the days before immigration became a toxic issue. Her father was a doctor and his wife a nurse, and they had both been headhunted by a NHS desperate for staff. Amar was an attractive young woman, and he had been out with her a couple of times, just for a drink or two, but he knew he wanted to take it further and thought she did too. He’d have to tread carefully though, as he didn’t want accusations of favouritism unsettling his team if he showed any bias towards her. Or even if he didn’t, they might imagine he was favouring her.
He read her report through a few times. She’d found two more women, both prostitutes of course, who substantiated the story given by the other two. They’d all been together, along with Polly Metcalf, on the night she had said she was with Cousins. They knew it was the same one, as they were celebrating the birthday of one of them. Gotcha, he thought, now he had something to take to his boss, demand to be allowed to go on with the investigation.
He looked through the door of his small office into the squad room, it was busy with most of his team in already, sacrificing their free Sunday. He opened his mouth to ask another young constable, Sally Mbeki, to go and get him a coffee. Then shut it again and got up to do it himself. She wasn’t a skivvy, he thought, this was her day off yet here she was doing unpaid overtime. He paused as he passed her desk. “Want a coffee, Sal?” he asked. She looked up surprised and grinned. “No, you’re alright, boss, I’ve just had one.” She looked at his retreating back, he was alright, Potts, she thought, most DI’s would have sent her to get them a drink.
Back at his desk and working out just what to say to Weaver, his thoughts turned to Fox’s sighting of him and Mrs Rossetti. He couldn’t imagine the two of them together. Mabel Rossetti was a good looking woman for her age, about 50 or so he thought, but matronly, not the stuff of high romance. And Weaver, his boss, was a couple of years older than her and staid in the inspector’s eyes. Not quite Romeo and Juliet material, he thought, still good luck to them. But when they met up, how diplomatic should he be? His deliberations were interrupted by an agitated desk sergeant.
“Inspector. Toby,” the sergeant began, he’d left the desk in charge of his constable and rushed upstairs. “Toby, bad news, it’s Colin Peterson, he was picked up last night. I’ve only just found out. Him and some blonde bimbo, both inebriated,” he paused and gave a small grin. “That’s what it says here any road, both pissed as newts, I reckon. Found by an old biddy walking her dog in Admirals Park late on. Both naked and copulating, that’s what it says here, on the grass. Public nuisance, drunk and disorderly and indecent behaviour, according to Inspector Grimes, those are the charges he wants to bring against them. They’ve not actually been arrested yet, he wants to talk to you first.”
Grimes, Potts thought, Grimes had had his knife into CID for a while now. This was the last thing he wanted right now though. “Ok, Charlie, thanks for letting me know, he’s a bloody young fool, but he’s been overworking recently, let his hair down like as not. And Grimes is a... oh, never mind, I’ll sort it out.”
When the sergeant had gone, he called Barbara Fox into his room. He’d get her to go and to talk to Grimes. She was diplomatic and he thought Grimes fancied her, despite being a married man. Potts, who knew most things concerning his team, was aware that Barbara was in fact in a very discreet relationship with one of Grimes’ WPC’s. He also knew he’d be like a red rag to a bull, there wasn’t much love lost between him and Grimes.
He explained what had happened to Barbara. “Go sort it out, can you Babs, if you wouldn’t mind please. Sweet talk him, get him to just give them both a ‘police caution’ and not haul them up before the beak. If you can that is, and if anyone can, you can. He’s a silly lad, Colin, but I don’t want Grimes ruining his career, and I don’t want any distractions just now either.”
“Ok, boss, see what I can do. Quite a lad then, young Col. I assume it was mutual, him and this blonde?”
“Far as I know,” he said to her retreating back. It was an attractive back he thought, she was tall, slim with long auburn hair; he quite envied her partner.
Now, to get back to his meeting with Weaver, he thought. But he wasn’t to get to meet his boss that morning as he was interrupted yet again, this time by a phone call from the lab with news about the drowned youth, David Tombs. And then also by DC Maeve O’Driscoll, with information on the case of domestic violence in Great Baddow.
On the grassy area outside Chelmsford Cathedral after matins, Superintendent Weaver and Mabel Rossetti were deep in conversation. Her husband might be a Catholic but Mabel was a staunch Anglican. They often came to the service together, as they knew her husband wouldn’t come anywhere near the place.
“I’m supposed to be meeting Toby Potts here about now, but there’s no sign of him as yet,” he began. “I think he wants to ask me to reconsider my refusal to go on with the case against Weaver.”
“That’s a good thing, isn’t it?” she asked him “I think he’s a nasty piece of work. And guilty as hell, I think Lionel knows he killed that girl, you know.”
“His team are working on it anyway, I think, despite my embargo,” he said gloomily. “I was only trying to stop it annoying Lionel and raising problems for us. I was wrong though, Cousins must be stopped before he harms another girl.”
She smiled at him “Of course he must. And it’ll not cause any trouble for us, I’m leaving Lionel as soon as I can sort things out. If I can do it without involving you, I will. He’s a right bastard defending that man if he knows he’s guilty, and I think he does know. It’s against legal ethics, but he’s only interested in winning, in looking good, in winning high profile cases.” Her voice rose. “He’s as bad as that rapist himself. As I said, a right bastard. That man’s as guilty as hell.” In her agitation she was almost shouting
The bishop standing near her looked round in surprise.
5. GUILTY M’LUD
Potts read the message from the lab, listening to Constable O’Driscoll at the same time. The note said a couple of fingerprints found at the shop matched those of the drowned youth, David Tombs, and also that his stomach contents contained a high proportion of what the analysts thought was peppermint creams. Toby knew that not much money had been taken during the robbery, only about fifty quid together with about 300 cigarettes and, bizarrely, a large box of peppermint cream chocolates.
Now the prints could have been left there anytime, not necessarily at the time of the robbery, and the sweets didn’t necessarily have to be the ones stolen. But two coincidences, how likely was that? No, Tombs had to be one of the two thieves.
“What was that, Maeve?” he asked having missed some of her story. So she told him again, the woman who had been the subject of domestic violence, the one who’d refused to give evidence against the attacker, her husband, had been admitted to hospital with serious injuries. There was also blood and tissue under her nails, suggesting she had fought back. “This tissue has gone to forensics, boss,” Mauve finished.
“Right, Mauve, get down to, where is it?” and to her prompt of “Great Baddow”, went on “Yeah, Great Baddow, see if her husband has any scratch marks and if he has, arrest him.”
He then called Sergeant McIntyre into his office and explained about the results from forensics; of the fingerprints and Tombs’ stomach contents.
“Get a check made of his friends. Especially any of them who are known tearaways. Bring them in for questioning.”
It was turning into a busy Sunday, he looked at his watch and was surprised to see it was nearly five already. No wonder his stomach was rumbling, as once again he’d had no lunch. And he’d missed his appointment with Weaver, he must give him a bell, fix up a new time. Also, he still had to go and see Lionel Rossetti and his wife, his bosses’ mistress, if DS Fox was right, and he was sure she was. To talk to them about their daughter Clarissa, and her drug habit. As he’d agreed to do with the Met’s drug squad, and earn himself some brownie points. Putting them in his debt, so that at some future date he’d be able to ask for a favour in return.
Well, time enough for all that later, first he’d got to have something to eat. He went out to a pub where he knew they’d fix him up with a sandwich to have with a pint. Thank God for all day opening, he thought, and of course friendly landlords who would make a sandwich at any hour. Especially to keep on the right side of the police.
Clarissa Rossetti was, about the time Potts was eating his ham sandwich swilled down with a pint of best in the Railway Tavern, just setting out to drive home in her old Mini from her friend’s flat in Putney. She had been driving since just after her seventeenth birthday six months ago. She’d had no trouble with the test, and her Dad had bought her the ancient car as a reward. It was a bit unreliable but it got her about, gave her a bit of freedom.
Maeve O’Driscoll had in the meantime gone to Great Baddow, and interviewed the surly husband of the woman in hospital. He had livid red scratch marks down his cheek. Getting no sensible answer to her question of how he’d got them, she’d arrested him for the attack on his wife. Back at the station she knew it would be only a matter of time before he admitted it.
Things were moving in the investigation into the robbery of the shop too. Bob McIntyre, with the help of Constable Trevor Omara, had brought in three known associates of David Tombs. One of them, Robbie North, who was a known petty thief with a previous record, was being questioned by them as Potts came back from lunch. North had been in possession of over twenty pounds, several packets of cigarettes and a bag of peppermint creams. They were sure they could break him down, and charge him with robbery with violence and the murder of his one time friend David Tombs.
Trevor Omara, a tall West Indian who had been in Potts’ squad for a few years, and who should make sergeant soon, came out to tell the inspector how things were going in the interview room. Satisfied, Potts left them to it. He decided it was time to go to see the Rossetti’s. Unfortunately, Lionel was out and wouldn’t be home until later. He arranged to go at about nine that evening.
Potts then decided to go back to his flat for a shower to freshen up before the visit; all the many balls he’d been juggling over the past few days seemed now to be coming down to earth. Barbara Fox came into his office just before he left with a contrite and sheepish Colin Peterson in tow. She’d persuaded Grimes not to charge Colin but to give him and the blonde a formal caution. It with lucky, she thought, as it would not even appear on his record. It had taken quite a time and all her powers of persuasion, but she’d managed it.
She had also been amused as Grimes had responded cautiously to her deliberate flirting; him a married man and quite unaware of her sexual orientation. It had been fun in its way, she thought, but Grimes was a berk in her opinion. Potts thanked her profusely and admonished the embarrassed constable. As things were now getting back to normal, and he had men to spare once again, he sent Colin out to keep an eye on Cousins. Something he’d not been able to arrange for ages.
When he got to Danbury, he found Mrs Rossetti alone and in a bit of a state. On his way back from playing golf and then having a drink in the club house, which is where he’d been all afternoon and evening, her husband had found Clarissa’s car abandoned at the side of the road. There’d been blood on the seat. When he’d reached home and found she’d not turned up, he’d called the police and then gone out again to look for her.
Potts rang his office and found Barbara Fox had gone to the car, and was organising the search from there. He rang her mobile and she told him that the car was almost at the spot he’d parked himself on the morning of the drowning. On the A138, not far from the Army and Navy flyover and alongside the canal. She also told him that Cousins had been seen in the area a bit earlier that evening, and that as Peterson had not seen any sign of him at his home, she’d brought him back to help with the search.
What Barbara Fox didn’t know was that Rossetti had arrived back at the car and, standing quite close to her, had heard every word. Cousins, he thought, that serial rapist and murderer. The man he had put back onto the streets using his eloquence and skill. He looked around him, it was almost dark, just the time Cousins usually struck. He got quickly back into his car and drove off to where he knew Cousins lived.
Almost as soon as Potts ended the call to DS Fox, Clarissa walked in the door with a young man at her side. Her story was simple and quickly told. Her old banger of a car had broken down she told them. She’d cut her hand trying to “open the sodding bonnet. Then Jeremy here had turned up,” she went on. “He took me back to his place, washed the cut and put a plaster on it.” She smiled up at the young man. “Then he gave me a cup of tea.” And whisky too, Potts thought, by the smell of their breath. “So here I am, safe and sound.”
Potts rang DS Fox to tell her, and she sent Colin Peterson back to Cousins’ house. Potts then tried to ring Rossetti but his mobile was switched off.
Meanwhile, Rossetti had arrived at Cousins’ home at the same time he was getting back home himself.
“Where is she, what’ve you done to her?” the barrister shouted at him.
Cousins was in a bad mood, having just had an argument with Polly. She was panicking about her alibi for him, and threatening to go to the police to own up. So he’d shut her up and put her body, well weighted down, in the canal. He was tired and het up, and he didn’t recognise the barrister without his wig and in casual clothes, and with wild tortured eyes and his normal sleek hair all over the place. He was nothing like the arrogant, smooth, sleek and polished barrister who had defended Weaver.
“Get lost you, old git” he shouted. “She got what she deserved. Slag. But you’ll never find her or link it with me......”
He got no further as Rossetti, sobbing with rage, took out a gun and shot him dead.
Just as PC Colin Peterson pulled up outside the house in his car.