Monday 8 – Friday 12 May 2017
He’d watched as nurses and doctors had worked to save her life under stark white emergency department lights. He’d followed as they wheeled her through to theatre. He’d sat impatiently in the waiting room for any skerrick of news about her welfare. And now, he contorted himself into a chair in her hospital room, and attempted to sleep. He’d wait there until she woke up. If she woke up.
Corbyn’s husband, Tom, sat on the opposite side of the bed to Fraser. He’d been by Ali’s side fifteen minutes after Fraser called to tell him what had happened. While she’d been in theatre, Tom and Fraser had gone head to head about how irresponsible it had been to put Ali in a room alone with Kevin Norton. Fraser could do nothing but agree with the aggrieved husband; he’d gone against his better judgement, and allowed Corbyn to interview Norton by herself because she’d convinced him that she’d be okay. Instinctively, Fraser had known that Norton was untrustworthy, but Corbyn was right, they did need as much information on Mackey as they could get.
Tom had refused to speak a word to Fraser after their initial stoush, believing the DCI responsible for the assault on Ali. Occasionally, he looked at the machines keeping his wife alive. He shouldn’t be here. Ali shouldn’t be here. They should be at home, sleeping in their own bed, and waking up together the following morning. Tom made a silent promise that if Ali didn’t pull through, and he ever got close enough to Kevin Norton, he’d kill him.
‘I’m sorry, Tom. I can’t say it enough,’ Fraser whispered.
‘Then stop saying it.’ Tom looked at his wife laying helpless in bed, attached to tubes and machines that were keeping her alive. ‘Fuck off back to work and make sure that bastard gets his comeuppance.’
* * * * *
Pendleton and Burkett stood shoulder to shoulder in Fraser’s office listening to him vent about his stupidity in allowing Corbyn to interview Norton alone.
‘How’s she doing, Guv?’ Pendleton asked.
‘Still no change. Hooked up to all sorts of machines that are keeping her alive. They’ve listed her as critical. Tom’s with her. The hospital will call if there’s any change at all.’ He gave them a few seconds to process the information before moving on. ‘How are we on the Mackey matter? Is he here yet?’
Burkett responded, ‘Yep, he’s in the cells impatiently awaiting your arrival to interview him.’
‘Great. Good. Pendleton, you sit in with me. Burkett, I want you monitoring the interview from the observation room. Everything above board, all bases covered, and all that.’
‘Right you are, boss,’ replied Burkett.
‘Go on then. Get yourself down to the cells and bring up Mackey. Stick him in interview four, and let me know when his solicitor’s arrived.’
Pendleton nodded, and Burkett followed him out of Fraser’s office.
* * * * *
For a man like Roy Mackey, legal assistance was available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and it took less than half an hour for his barrister to attend the police station.
‘So, not just a regular solicitor for you, Roy. You’ve gone whole hog and brought in a barrister. Very impressive. Unfortunately, though, bringing in your barrister makes me think that you’ve got some serious secrets.’ Fraser goaded his suspect. He didn’t expect a successful outcome from his baiting attempt, but he thought it was worth a try.
‘Just because I can afford quality legal representation, DCI Fraser, doesn’t mean I’m hiding anything. It means I’m wealthy and can afford quality legal representation. Now, if you’d get on with your questions so I can leave, I’d appreciate it.’
The barrister, a wizened older gent, sat silently observing the interview and taking notes. He didn’t need to tell Mackey what he should and shouldn’t answer. This was a dance they’d done many times before. Fraser sneered at the barrister. He didn’t like the smug bastards that the cashed-up criminals hired to get them out of trouble. Fraser thought they were as much criminals as the people they represented.
‘Okay, Roy, I’ll cut to the chase. You had your nephew killed. Benjamin Rowe, formerly known as Don Mackey.’
Roy made a show of laughing at Fraser’s accusation. ‘Who the hell told you that? Oh God, that’s fuckin’ hilarious.’
‘You had PC Dave Anderson kill Rowe, and then you had someone, probably one of your goons, kill Anderson and set it up to look like he’d committed suicide out of guilt for killing Rowe.’
‘No fuckin’ way, Fraser. You’re clutching at straws. You’ve got no evidence any of that happened, because it didn’t happen.’
‘Roy, Roy, Roy, you’re not walking away from this one with clean hands. We’ve got statements from your employees explaining the ins and outs of your day to day business, plus the dodgy transactions you undertake, we’ve got people willing to testify in court that you did have Anderson kill your nephew, and this is the best bit, we’ve got Kevin Norton in custody.’
‘Don’t see what having Norton in custody has to do with me,’ Mackey snapped.
‘Ah, well, you see, Norton’s fingerprints were found in Anderson’s flat. Not to mention the fact that you own the building where Anderson had an apartment, and he owe you a lot of money in gambling debts.’
Mackey leaned closer to his barrister, and the two of them engaged in an animated, whispered conversation. When they had finished, Mackey cleared his throat.
‘Okay, DCI Fraser, I’m going to help you out with the Anderson case.’
‘I’m listening,’ replied Fraser. He hoped if Mackey started talking and dumped Norton in at the deep end, he’d be cocky and make a mistake, give out a piece of information that incriminated him for Rowe’s murder.
‘Kevin Norton did indeed kill PC Anderson. But, but it wasn’t at my instruction. He’s been trying to make his mark with me, impress me by doing something of his own volition. Anderson’s murder was it. He was hoping that I’d give him resources to help him get payback on your DS Corbyn. That’s why I might have seemed a bit surprised when you told me her name the other day.’
Fraser looked at Pendleton and grinned. Mackey was confirming some of what they already knew.
‘Your bullshit isn’t going to help you here, Roy. We know you ordered both murders.’
‘And your best informant is Kevin Norton? Good luck with that.’
* * * * *
Isolation was the safest place for Kevin Norton. There, he was out of the hands of Mackey’s goons, and relatively safe until he was required to give evidence. The trouble was, in isolation, all he had were his thoughts, and alone in his own head, Norton thought he might go mad. He considered, for a moment, rescinding his acceptance of the deal he made with the police. Doing so would allow him to go into the general population of the prison. He’d have company other than his own demons.
‘But you’ll still end up dead, Kev,’ he said to himself. ‘Mackey won’t recall the orders. The hit’ll still be active. Better off here.’
Footsteps coming down the corridor meant it was time for his one hour of freedom from the four walls of his cell.
. . . To be continued . . .