10. My 1st novel
Who needs a friend like Brian?
Imprisonment in a Young Offenders Institution, learn two of the teenagers differing lessons; as each go their own separate ways both taking different advantages of the system. One is determined to lead a full legal life upon his release and taking further education, whilst the other immersing himself further into Newcastle’s Gangland.
In Later years fate brings them back together resulting in further gang-land deaths.
Who needs a
friend like Brian?
Newbiggin, or Newbiggin by the sea to give it its official Postal address, is a small fishing village off the Northumbrian coast.
Fishing village might be a slight inaccuracy, for now very little commercial sea fishing takes place other than a few off-shore coble boats mainly taking in lobsters, crabs and other small shellfish.
The elders of the town, in search of the much needed tourism, were forever trying to bring their town into the twenty first century. Euro funding on the sea defences now ensued that the coastline, within the town, was modern, adequate and secure. Although a very pleasant place to live, Newbiggin has very little commerce or industry and therefore full time employment was very hard to come by.
Brian, David and Jimmy were childhood acquaintances, having first met at infant school; they were, within a few months of each other, just over seventeen and because there were few jobs to be had, especially during the winter months, they were jobless. Each fortnight they signed the unemployment register in the nearby larger town of Ashington. Fate, in the form of unemployment, had drawn them further together as they began hanging around the ‘Coble Landing’ Newbiggin’s sole café where, provided they controlled their behaviour and occasionally bought something, the manager tolerated them.
Brian, staring at his, half finished, glass of Cola said. “I’m bored.”
Brian Hyde, at seventeen and a half was the oldest of the three by a few months. He was the Alpha male of the group, being short, stout and slightly overweight for his age, he was a typical ectomorph. He grew his dark brown hair almost collar length with slightly wavy locks thinking it made him look more virile. He had been brought up with the idea that what he could not get by fair means then he would by foul. He’d been caught shop lifting as a schoolboy and the local Co-Op supermarket had given him and his father a warning that if they caught him again then they would report him to the police. He was now barred from that shop. He often bragged about the times he had broken into premises but when probed to explain further he was not very forthcoming and always managed to change the subject. His mother had died of a colon cancer before he was five year old so he remembered, other than a few photographs, very little of her,
His father, Colin, took very little interest in the upbringing of Brian so he had been left to his own devices much of the time.
David nodded his head in agreement to Brian’s statement of being bored. David May was almost the exact physical opposite of Brian in that he was slightly above average height and reasonably well proportioned, although no brain of Britain he had taken a little more interest whilst at school and was slightly the better educated of the three. His light brown, almost fawn hair was cut in a short military crew cut style, a very short number one cut at the sides and a slightly longer number two and almost flat at the top. He came from a very stable family background and his parents, father John and mother Margret, had always been there to help him in any which way they could.
Jimmy Jackson also nodded. He was physically completely opposite to both David and Brian in that he little short and thin for his age. He had often been bullied and called weedy at school and was only just tolerated by the two friends who sat with him at the table. He was the sole child of a one parent family and had never had any real role male models in his life. He always wanted to be wanted and was more of a hanger on within the group rather than any prevailing force. His two friends rarely listened to or acted on anything he had to say.
“We could go fishing.” Jimmy suggested. By fishing he was meaning sea fishing, which they had done many times from the cliff top, which was about a half mile south from the edge of town.
“Are you stupid or something? It’s the middle of February who the hell wants to go fishing in this weather, I certainly don’t” loudly rejected Brian.
“Nor me.” David nodded. “It is a bit cold yet Jimmy, perhaps next month.” David didn’t normally like disagreeing with Jimmy but realised that Jimmy could be a little naïve at times. “Anyway I have had enough coke for one day I’m off home for my tea" he furthered as he stood up "I might see you both at the Opis tonight.” And without waiting for any response, he got up and left.
A few minutes later Brian also got up to leave with Jimmy following.
The Opis that David had mentioned was an old Peoples shelter situated on the boulevard that bordered the sea wall on the northern edge of town. During the day it was used by adults maybe needing a short rest after a stroll along the seafront or just a place to meet to catch up on the town gossip. In the evening youngsters, both male and female, congregated there to illegally drink alcohol, talk and generally lark around.
“What have you been up to today?” Jayne asked David as she joined him, with others, at the Opis.
“Nothing much, we were in the Coble this afternoon and that’s about it.”
Jayne was one of four young teenager girls that hung around the Opis. Her chestnut brown medium length hair complimented her large dark brown eyes. She was considered quite a beauty among many of the other lads that hung round the Opis and they were always trying to attract her attention by doing stupid teenage dares and the like. Jayne secretly fancied David but he never seemed to really show interested in her that way.
“There’s just nothing to do in this town.” Jayne agreed. “Council should open up a youth club or something, getting us off these cold streets of a night.”
David was nodded as Brian appeared on the scene.
“There’s nothing for us to do in this town.” Brian opened the conversation.
“That’s exactly what Jayne was just saying.” replied David.
“Unless you’ve got money, that is.” Brian continued.
Both David and Jayne had heard this type of conversation many times before.
Both nodded agreement.
“But I’ve got a proposition for you David, if you are interested.”
“I’m all ears.”
“I’ll tell you all about it later when you are by yourself.”
“I can take a hint, I know when I'm not wanted.” said Jayne and with that she promptly moved off to another group of friends around the opposite back corner of the Opis building.
“Go on then what have you got in mind this time.” Replied David, he'd heard Brian's fanciful get rich schemes before.
“Here’s a couple of quid go get us a can of larger each and I’ll explain.” Never turning down a free drink, David accepted the two coins and walked round to the rear of the building where one of the older lads, who frequented the Opis, regularly supplemented his job seekers allowance by buying a few six packs cans of cheap low strength larger from the local Off Licence and selling them on for a pound a can, thereby making himself around 40p a can profit. It was strictly illegal of course even selling them on but more importantly he was selling to underage drinkers.
“I suggest we pay the Sandy Bay Caravan Park a visit” said Brian as David returned with the two cans of larger.
Sandy Bay Holiday Caravan Park was about two miles south of the town along the cliff path edge. It consisted of both company and privately owned large static caravans. The Park was opened to owners, and paying visitors, all year round except for the whole of the month of February. Company rules stipulated that owners could not use their caravans during the night hours of that month. The reasoning behind the ruling was that if the site was open for the whole of the year then it could be deemed as a permanent residence and then the owners of their caravans, and the company, would be subject to council and other Tax’s. Although the majority of owners used their caravans mostly at weekends and holiday times a very small percentage used their vans as a permanent residence. It was against park rules of course but providing they made it not too obvious, a blind eye was turned on by the authorities.
David butted in to Brian’s suggestion that they pay Sandy Bay Caravan Park a visit, for he realised that what Brian was suggesting was that they take the opportunity to break into empty caravans. “Na! I don’t think so, I know of a few lads who have broken into caravans out there but all they got was a few petty things, portable TV’s, toasters and the like, not worth thieving for. Caravan owners don’t leave valuable things in them cos of the insecurity and people like you. Nah! That doesn’t sound like a very good idea to me”
“Ah! Yes I would have agreed with you in normal circumstances, but they don’t know what I know.”
“Then you’d better explain what you are getting at.”
“Well it so happens that I have learned that one of the caravans is owned and lived in throughout the year.” Brian began to clarify. “He’s an old fellar who’s a bit of a recluse. He has money and it is there for the taking.”
“What do you mean there for the taking? No one keeps lots of cash on their premises these days, whether they live in a caravan or a house.”
“Yeah! Again I agree, that’s right normally but in this case, as I’ve said, he’s a recluse and of the old school. He does not trust banks.”
“That doesn’t prove he’s got money does it?”
“No, in its self of course not, but I know for a fact this fellar is the owner of four houses in Ashington that he rents out. He lives in a caravan cos he’s a miser and only lives there cos it’s a far cheaper way of living. He books into a cheap bed and breakfast during the month of February when the caravan park officially closes down.”
“Again that still doesn’t prove he’s got money in the caravan.”
“No, but if he does not trust banks then where else does he keep it? I also have it on good authority that he hoards Gold.”
“What do you mean?” The word gold, to David, now suddenly sounded very interesting.
“It’s well known around town that he buys gold and jewellery and he doesn’t ask questions where it comes from. I once sold him a half sovereign ring that I had accidentally come across”
“How does one accidentally come across a half sovereign ring?”
“Enough said on that one.” Brian laughed, tapping the side of his nose with his forefinger.
“Well I’ve never heard of this miser fellar, and if it’s so easy for him to be robbed why hasn’t someone done it before?”
“Cos no one’s had the info or the bottle to do it, that’s why. It’s certainly worth a try and there’s hardly any risk to it; that’s if you’ve got the bottle that is?”
David shook his head at that last statement, “How do you know the fellar will be out if you decide to do it? What about security? As I understand it they have a night watchman patrolling the park.”
“Remember it is February and the park is closed. Of course there is a security man on patrol but what security man constantly walks around his beat? He probably walks around, maybe once or at the most twice in the night. Rest of the time he is probably sitting by an electric fire toasting his feet and sipping tea”
David was now nodding in agreement at this last statement, very rarely is security strictly adhered to. I don’t know if it’s worth it?
“What’s up not got the bottle?”
It was Brian’s second inference that David might not have nerve. “Don’t be so stupid, you know me better than that, course I’ve got the bottle I’m just thinking if it was feasible?” He wasn’t really thinking whether the offer was feasible he was considering dare he risk getting involved and how he could get out of it.
Brian began to explain his plan a little further. “Well then what do you think?” he challenged.
“Probably you could do with someone else who could act as a lookout whilst we do the job." With that last statement David had now outwardly admitted that he was interested in Brian's proposition.
“Well I can certainly agree with that; who can we take with us?” Brian laughed.
Both knew the answer to that one, Jimmy; when it was later put to him later that evening he was all ears and agreed to go with them even before knowing any of the exact planning details. The feeling Jimmy now had was what he always wanted, to be an integral part of their gang
Arrangements and plans were discussed and made for the criminal undertaking to take place late evening, early morning of the following day.
Around midnight, as the three of them plodded along the cliff top path that led to the caravan park they further discussed how they were to carry out their plan of action.
“I’ve brought a crowbar and two torches.” Brian stated as he handed over a small penlight torch to David.
“What about my torch?” Asked Jimmy.
“You don’t need a torch for the job you are doing" retorted Brian, almost dismissing Jimmy's question.
"Have you brought a pair of gloves as we agreed?" Brian then asked David.
David nodded and produced a pair of gloves from his back pocket, which he proceeded to put on.
"I don't have any gloves you never told me to bring any" almost pleaded Jimmy.
"You’re a lookout Jimmy; a lookout and nothing more” Brian emphasised. “You don't need a torch or a pair of gloves for the job you are doing."
It had prior been decided that the three of them would lie under the intended caravan break in, concealed by darkness, and wait until the security guard passed on his rounds. When the guard had passed, it was planned that Brian and David would do the actual break in whilst jimmy would remain hidden in his position keeping watch for any further security walk around. He had strict instructions to bang on the side of the caravan with the heel of his hand if anybody approached.
The roads around the camp was reasonably well lit with street lighting but the shadows of the outer caravans cast dark areas and the three soon found a spot where crouching low and almost fully under the large caravan they could see but not be seen unless approached direct.
It appeared that Brian must earlier have scouted around the camp for as they crouched under their intended caravan burglary; it looked like it had seen better days and only stood out because of its dinginess. There were many others around of superior quality and any prospective caravan burglar would have probably choose one of those rather than the one they were crouched under.
“How often do you think the security guard walks around?” Jimmy asked in a normal voice.
“Shush! Just because a guard cannot see us doesn’t mean he cannot hear us” David whispered in reprimand. “If you need to speak, whisper and then only when you have something important to say.”
Jimmy nodded and realising his mistake whispered. “Sorry”
They had been in their position for almost an hour when Brian quietly hissed, “He’s here”
Three pairs of eyes focussed on the security guard as he appeared at the top end of the road and followed him as he walked to the junction of the road adjacent to them. They now moved from a crouch position to fully prone and lying flat out face down to the gravel below the caravan.
The guard was walking at a normal pace, occasionally stopping for a quick look around before carrying on. He was carrying what appeared to be a large torch that had not been turned on. As he approached their hiding place at the nearest point to them, around 20 metres away, he stopped and slowly looked around and then seemingly, directly at them. Adrenalin was pumping though each of their veins as the guard seemed to be directly looking at them. They hid their heads face down into the grass hoping that any reflections would not show in their eyes but at the same time felt sure that he could see them. Jimmy stirred as if to get up, probably getting ready to flee the scene. David realised this and reached over and put his arm around Jimmy’s waist and grabbed hold of his trouser waist belt. This action seemed to steady Jimmy and he relaxed a little. They remained still for what seemed like ages but it was probably only a few seconds before the guard turned his head away obviously seeing nothing untoward and began steadily walking on and away from their position. When he was out of sight a quiet sigh expired from each and every one of them, they now realised that the job they came to do was on.
“Come on then,” quietly urged Brian as he got up to a stoop, “time to do the business.”
Walking but still crouching very low Brian took up the lead with David behind and Jimmy tailing they approached the caravan steps. The door entrance to the trailer was situated in the middle of the long caravan side and had three steel steps, with a handrail, leading up to the door.
From within his reefer style overcoat Brian produced a steel crowbar and after inserting it between the door frame and the door at lock height he applied his weight behind the fulcrum. The door gave a little and after reinserting the jemmy to a more advantageous position he levered once more and the door lock easily gave in. From the dexterity in jemmying the door it appeared as if Brian had done this type of thing before. The door was now open, Brian led the way in with David behind; Jimmy also climbed the steps following them and as he crossed the threshold took hold of the door handle with the intention of closing the door once they had entered.
“Jimmy, what are you doing? exclaimed David “There is no need for you to be in this van, we can do all the rummaging about that’s needed, you take up your position under this caravan facing, with your eyes on the road looking out for any return of the security guard.”
Jimmy was a little nonplussed at David statement; he had wanted to be part of the team and in on the action.
“I could help with the search.” He offered knowing full well his offer would be turned down. "Three pairs of hands are better than two. I could…”
But before Jimmy could complete his sentence Brian butted in. “No! Do as you are told Jimmy, go and take up your look-out position as we arranged, we need to be warned of anyone approaching.”
Jimmy had to agree knowing full well Brian's order made sense; after all it had been prior planned that way; he began his reluctant walk down the steps closing the door behind him and going to take up his look-out position.
The two large and two smaller windows in the caravan allowed street lighting to enter and although not bright, one could move around without any extra light. From within his pocket Brian produced his penlight torch and whispered. “Try not to use your torch unless absolutely necessary.”
David nodded his agreement.
The layout of the caravan was such that the outside door they had entered led into a small kitchen area and to the right an inner door obviously led to the bedrooms and toilet area. To the left, through the kitchen space, the area opened out to what appeared to be a sitting room. This area was stacked high with books newspapers, ornaments, trinkets and all manner of differing paraphernalia. Only an armchair seemed to be free of any objects it was positioned in front of a medium sized older type television. Obviously the owner of this caravan hoarded items, threw nothing away but watched quite a lot of Television.
“Shall I search the front room,” offered Brian to David, “and you do the bedrooms?”
David again nodded his agreement and moved to his right and through the passageway door that led to the two small bedrooms.
The larger bedroom of the two was almost as cluttered with objects as the main room, all but the bed area was free. The owner obviously collected pieces of art, paintings, sculptures, carvings and the like. Crystal glass and pottery ornaments were in abundance. Whether any pieces were valuable David had no way of knowing. Most of it probably bought at a low price in the hope of it gaining in value as the years went on. David decided to begin his search of the bed believing that if he had anything to hide then that’s where he himself would hide it. He up-tipped the old stained mattress on to its side but found nothing obviously hidden underneath nor did there appear to be any slits or hiding places within the mattress itself. He repositioned the bedspread and knelt down and began removing boxes and objects from under the bed, examining each article until he was sure it was nothing of immediate value, then depositing it on top of the bed. That was how he had determined he would methodically search the whole room. Pick up an item examine it thoroughly and deposit it on the bed if deemed worthless.
Brian was having the same problem with all the clutter within the front room. He realised that much of the pottery and glassware might be quite valuable to a collector and decided that if they didn’t find the proverbial pot of gold they were looking for, then he would take whatever he thought he could carry that may be resalable.
He picked up and examined what he considered two very old looking cameras and then a dog eared stamp album; he might get a few pounds for them he considered from a fellar he knew on the Ashington Market and placed them on the armchair ready to pick up later if he nothing more valuable could be found.
As he was engrossed in his search he didn’t hear the side caravan door suddenly open.
“And what the hell do you think you’re doing?” Brian spun round to look who had spoken so loudly and suddenly.
It was the security guard framed in the doorway; he now looked very much larger than when they had first seen him from their outside hiding place.
The guard walked the few steps through the small kitchen area and approached to within a few yards of him. “Stay exactly where you are I am calling the police.” As he was speaking he raised his hand which held a mobile telephone and began dialling a number and was about to speak into it.
Brian was cut off between the burly guard and the exit side door and realised that he would be no match for him physically; he was trapped.
Just at this point in time, David was busy searching the second bedroom when he heard the loud voice coming from the main room. His immediate thought was that Jimmy had disobeyed orders to remain vigilant outside and had re-entered the caravan again, he didn’t want any further confrontation between Jimmy and Brian so he decided to go and see what the problem was.
Re-entering the kitchenette David was startled to see the back of quite a large man that was confronting Brian; hearing David’s entrance the security guard now spun round to see who had entered the room.
Brian seeing the opportunity and without thinking, picked up a heavy piece of earthenware pottery and hit the guard squarely on the back of the head in the attempt to distract him momentarily, enabling him to get passed, or stride over him to make his escape.
The guard collapsed like a falling ton of bricks; Brian’s way out was now clear.
David seemed transfixed to the spot.
“Come on let’s get out of here” urged Bran as he was about to step over the fallen guard.
Just then a low moan came out of the fallen guard and the both looked down as the guard made an attempt to regain his feet.
Brian, who still held the heavy piece of pottery, again smashed it down on the guard’s head, who again fell pole axed, to the floor.
Brian stepped over the guard and grabbed hold of David’s arm almost trying to pull him out of the caravan. David still appeared dumbstruck and rooted to the spot. “David! Will you pull yourself together, let’s get out of here.”
David now realised that escape was now possible and his first thought was to take it and follow Brian’s lead; his second thought however was that he couldn’t leave a man lying on the floor apparently lifeless. “We can’t leave him like that he might be dead.”
“Well if he is there is nothing we can do about it now” rebuffed Brian rather callously.
“At least let me check to see if he’s alive. That’s the least we can do.”
“Ok” reluctantly agreed Brian. “But if he’s alive and begins to wake up I am out of here with or without you.”
David moved over to where the guard had fallen and placed three fingers to the side of the man’s neck to check for a pulse. He vaguely remembered a short article in the local paper showing what to check for and how to give first aid to an unconscious person. “At least he’s breathing and got a pulse.” He announced, silently glad that those two were present for what further assistance he would have been able to give, if either wasn’t, he couldn’t quite remember.
“Right that’s it, come on let’s get out of here.” Brian urged.
“We cannot just leave him like this he’s unconscious. Up to now all we’ve committed is aggravated burglary but if we leave him and he dies it will be murder.”
Brian now seemed to understand the whole gravity of their situation. “Well what do you suggest?” He asked, almost in desperation.
“We will have to ring for an ambulance, that’s the first and most important thing”
“Just get it done then and let’s get out of here. Use the man’s phone, then it cannot be traced to us.”
“Can you do it whilst I see what can do for him?”
Brian nodded and retrieved the phone which was still in the man’s hand. He was just about to dial 999 when a female voice from the phone was asking “Fire, Police, Ambulance, what service do you require? “Brian cupped his hand over the phone mouthpiece and said. “He’s already called 999 the operator is asking what service I require. What shall I tell them?”
David who was trying to give first aid to the man by placing him into what he knew to be the recovery position looked up and replied “Just say that you need an ambulance. Tell them where they are needed. Just say that a man’s unconscious and needs urgent attention.”
Brian put the phone again to his ear and the operator was still asking. “Hello, is there anybody there? Fire, Police, Ambulance, what service do you require? ”
“Ambulance, we need an ambulance urgently we have a man here who is unconscious and needs help.”
What is your Location?” the operator replied.
“Err… Sandy Bay Holiday Camp, near Newbiggin” replied Brian
“Can you give me a little more detail, exactly where abouts in the camp are you?”
“Seaview. It’s caravan number D8”
“Can you give me your name please?”
“Just get someone here quickly” snapped Brian and then hung up.
“Well then our jobs done, let’s get out of here.”
David had to agree, the man was alive and appeared to be coming round, there was little more they could do here and to be found on these premises would mean certain prison for them both. “Ok. Although I would have liked to direct the ambulance to this caravan making sure they found the man.”
“They’ll find him. I’ve told the operator the caravan number. They’ll find him alright.”
“David nodded. “ Tell you what; I’ll turn on all the interior lights as we leave, that will help the ambulance driver to exactly locate this caravan.”
“OK do it but make it quick.” Brian was framed in the doorway already about make his way down the steps when he suddenly stopped and turned around.
“What’s the matter?” asked David
“Forgotten to pick up something,” he replied as he pushed past David and strode back into the lounge area, again stepping over the guard, and retrieved the two cameras and stamp album he has earlier placed on the armchair; looking further around he espied an empty plastic supermarket carrier bag and placed the articles inside. “Might as well get a little something for my trouble” he announced as he again pushed past and led David out of the caravan.
As they were leaving and David was turning on the caravans interior and exterior electric lights; purposely leaving the door ajar as a further direction to the ambulance staff. In the far distance a distinct wailing of an ambulance siren could be heard
“They have been quick to respond muttered Brian as the made their way back to the cliff top pathway. “
“Well Ashington’s General hospital is only a few miles away from here” he replied and, as an afterthought, said “I wonder what happened to Jimmy.”
“He’ll wonder what happened to him when I get hold of him. He obviously got the wind up and scarpered off without telling us about the guard.” Just as he was speaking Jimmy rushed up to join them.
”Where the hell did you get to?” Demanded Brian as he grabbed Jimmy’s coat lapel with his left fist and almost looked as if he was going to swipe Jimmy across the jaw with his right.
“Steady on Brian” David urged as he placed his arm between them “getting physical with him won’t do anyone any good.”
“How come the guard came in on us without you seeing him and warning us?” Brian again demanded.
“He came round the other side of the caravan, not along the road as I had expected.” Jimmy pleaded. “He was almost walking up the steps and opening the door before I became aware of him there was nothing I could do to warn you.”
Brian let go of his hold on Jimmy’s lapel with a flourish as he said “definitely the last job I’ll ever take you on.”
They hurried back to Newbiggin along the cliff top as fast as they could being mindful that the police would certainly have been called upon finding an unconscious man in an empty caravan and most probably the police search helicopter could have been alerted. They had decided to steer clear of much of the lighted streets as possible.
“See you tomorrow in the Coble, we’ll go over it then.” was Brian’s parting words as they separated, each to go his own particular way home.
Unknown to the three friends the security guards initial 999 telephone call had set up a chain of events. The emergency operator who received the call was aware that there had been no immediate response to her answer. She could hear serious indistinct voices in the background before anyone answered and because the caller had refused to give a name, as well as dispatching a call to the ambulance services, she placed a call to the local police, as was her normal procedure.
Within eight minutes an ambulance had arrived at the scene and a further two minutes, a police patrol car.
The guard was transported to the Ashington General Hospital and the police, due to the suspicious circumstances, sealed off the caravan as a crime scene. Further enquiries would be taken at a later time as the situation developed.
“What if he dies?” Jimmy was putting the question to Brian and David. The three of them were sat at a table in the Coble café talking about last night escapade.
“No, he was quite alive when we left him I’m sure he’ll be alright.” David declared. “We will have to watch BBC’s Look North, after tonight’s BBC main six O clock news and if anything serious has happened it should be reported there. More importantly, are we all certain nothing can come back on us. Were you wearing gloves the whole time?” he asked Brian.
“Course I was do you think I’m stupid?”
“No of course I don’t think you are stupid I not just checking. I’ve gone over the incident in my head many times and as I see it there can be no way we can be connected to last night’s situation.”
“Did he get a good look at your face?” David asked Brian.
“I’m sure not” Brian replied “it was quite dark and he only shone his torch on me briefly, then when you appeared in the bedroom doorway he spun round to look at you. So when he looked at me it was only momentarily, l very much doubt if he will remember either of our faces, after all it was quite dark in the caravan.”
“Yeah! But what if he does remember either of your faces?” Jimmy challenged.
“Even if he did see our faces, being unconscious will probably make him forget and even if he does remember, none of us have criminal records so our photos are not on police file anywhere. It’s highly unlikely that our paths will ever cross again.” David explained.
“But what if he dies?” Jimmy insisted showing his anxiety.
“No I’m sure he will be ok, he…”
“Will you both shut up about it?” Brian butted in. “Course he won’t die. He’s just had a tap on the head that’s all. Surely a big fellar like that can stand a tap on the head?”
“You did hit him twice Brian.” David reminded.
“Forget about it, we are in the clear” retorted Brian, then trying to change the subject somewhat said “anyway probably both of you have some money coming to you, although why I should share it with you Jimmy I’ll need my head examined.”
“What do you mean? What money" asked David?
“Them two Camera I got out of the caravan, I reckon they might be worth a bit of money. I have a mate in Ashington I’m going to see later on, he often buys up stuff like that.”
“Well I don’t want any of it.” David forcefully said.
“Nor me.” Jimmy said quickly after.
“The two cameras are old Leica’s and I’ve been told they can be worth well over five hundred quid a piece,” asserted Brian almost as quickly.
I don’t know how you are thinking at a time like this. A mans in hospital due to us, he might...” said David shaking his head and not finishing his dialogue.
“A time like what?” Interrupted Brian “A mans had a couple of light taps to his head and you are both flapping.”
“Those two cameras could be traced from us back to the caravan” reminded Jimmy. “I want none of it.”
“Nah!” retorted Brian, but inwardly thinking Jimmy just might have a point.
Both Jimmy and David were shaking their heads at the sheer crassness of Brian.
David watched the evening’s local TV news in the privacy of his bedroom it carried the report
“An incident at Sandy Bay Caravan Park has resulted in a man being admitted to the intensive care unit at the Ashington General Hospital. It is understood that the thirty five year old man was a security guard at the Sandy Bay holiday Camp and had disturbed intruders. No further details are forthcoming at this time but we will update our viewers as details come in.
It was reported that Newcastle United Football team Manager Bobby Robson has been given a £1 million pound severance payment by the club. He....
A chill ran down David’s spine as he switched off the TV. The nightmare he’d been having throughout the day was now coming to realisation. Intensive care meant exactly what it suggested and it was now an intensive situation. He had never really seriously considered any God before today but now here he was silently praying to make the man well again. He promised himself that if things turn out right then he wanted no more to do with Brian ever again. Brian was trouble, trouble he could do without. Yes that was it when this is all over I want nothing more to do with him, who needs a friend like Brian?
Both Brian and Jimmy were also watching the same regional news.
Brian was inwardly blaming Jimmy for not doing his job properly and should have warned them that the guard was closing in. It was all Jimmy’s fault, next job he did would not involve such weak people like him. He certainly does not warrant a share of the sale of the Leica Camera’s and if David says he doesn’t want a share then it’s OK, more for him he reasoned.
Jimmy, on the other hand was very troubled and concerned, all sorts of emotions were washing over him, what was he to do? He’d been a fool to get involved with them, never again he vowed. Should he go to the police station and confess. He hadn’t actually done the break in or took any part in hitting the guard; perhaps they would be lenient with him.
The three associates were sitting on the sea wall opposite the Opis discussing that evenings local news report about the hospitalised security guard. David was trying to convince them. “We just have to remember that we are all each other’s alibis. We have always got to confirm, if questioned, that we were together, around the Opis, until just after eleven o clock last night and then we went straight home as usual like we do most nights. Providing we stick to that then no one can prove otherwise. Remember they have no direct evidence that we were involved. There is no reason that they will be looking for us.”
“I think we should turn ourselves in.” jimmy suddenly stated out of the blue.
Both Brian and David looked incredulously towards Jimmy.
“Turn ourselves in? “Brian first challenged. “Are you stupid or what? Why would you ever want to do that? No one can possibly connect us with the break-in. The guard’s going to be all right. We are in the clear, stop thinking like that. You’re now beginning to make even me nervous.”
“Brian’s right Jimmy, it is stupid thinking like that; provided we stick together we’ll come out of it alright.” David confirmed.
“I certainly hope you are both right.” Jimmy replied. “Anyway I’m going home to have an early night, though I doubt I’ll sleep much.”
“I’m worried about him you know.” Brian said to David as Jimmy left.
“He’ll be alright after a good night’s sleep I’m sure. Think I might turn in in early myself.” With that parting shot David got up and also left.
The following mid-day local news report held little relief from their doom and gloom.
Further to our last night’s report about a man being admitted to the intensive care wing at The Ashington General Hospital; it has now been confirmed that a security Guard appears to have confronted a thief or thieves who had broken into a caravan on the Sandy Bay Holiday Caravan Park. The Guard had received a blow, or blows, to his head and is still in a critical condition. The police are asking for any information from any member of the public who may be able to help with their enquiries. We will update our viewers as reports come in.
“Did you see today’s Look North?” Jimmy said, as he joined his two mates in the Opis.
“Of course we did.” Brian abruptly replied. “It told us nothing new from the previous night’s report.”
“It said that the guard is in a critical condition“ countered Jimmy “and that the police are asking for information from the public.”
“Like I’ve just said, if you heard me, nothings new, obviously he’s in a critical condition that’s why he’s in intensive care and the police have nothing to go on that’s why they are asking for information. “ Brian was now becoming a little annoyed at Jimmy’s winging.
“But what if someone comes forward to….”
Brian again interrupted him “Stop getting your nickers in a twist you stupid git, who is likely to come forward? There are no witnesses just…”
“Will you two pack it in?” now it was David who cut in. “Arguing about what has or hasn’t been said on the TV. We cannot afford to quarrel amongst ourselves. We must stick together at all costs. Discuss whatever but we must do it in a quiet and constructive way, trying not to score points against each other.”
Both Brian and Jimmy nodded their heads in agreement, David clearly made sense.
However much he tried to force himself, Jimmy could not sleep, and his mind was full of what ifs? With the most important one; what if the man dies? Then, as he saw it, they would all be guilty of murder. He reasoned that although he had been only a look-out and had not committed the actual burglary or struck the blow to the head of the guard, but because he was part of the gang he was as responsible as any of them. Murder, as he saw it, meant a lifetime in prison. The thought of being locked up in a tiny cell sent shivers down his spine. He’d seen too many TV programmes about life in prison; about how the strong bully the weak into doing all sorts of despicable things. Prison was the last place he wanted to be. He considered going along with the others hoping that the police have nothing to go on and their investigations would slowly grind to a halt. But on the other hand if he did that and they were eventually found out and convicted, then he would get a full share of the sentencing. But what if he turned ‘Queens Evidence,’ as he’d seen it often called on TV; maybe his part of the sentence would be much lower than the others The thought that he should turn himself in always came uppermost in his mind. He promised himself that he wouldn’t squeal on the Brian or David; any questions as to who was with him he’d refuse to reveal their names however much the police questioned him.
David also could not sleep. There were so many things that could go wrong; the main one of course being that the man might die. If that happened then the police would treat it as a murder case, and intensify their enquiries. What evidence did they have? He reasoned, they had both worn gloves and even if they hadn’t, none of them could be coupled to any police file. Maybe the guard had seen either of their faces momentary but there against that, he analysed, if the man came round then the police would show him mug shots, again; neither his or Brian’s face were on file, they had no direct evidence. The main snag as he could see it at this stage was Jimmy. He had more than once indicated that he might turn himself in; that could turn out to be a major problem. No, he could not sleep soundly this night and only time will tell for an outcome.
Brian on the other hand slept quite soundly. As far as he was concerned there was no link from the burglary to any one of them. No they were well out of it. The man would come round and the police, because they were overstretched, would make cursory investigations then close the case because of lack of evidence.
Two days ago we reported that a man had been admitted to Intensive care Department of The Ashington General Hospital as a result of being injured during a caravan break in at the Sandy Bay Holiday Camp near Newbiggin by the Sea. The guard, who we can now report as John Wilinson of Acre Terrace, Ashington, has since died. The police are now treating the case as a homicide and are looking for person or persons unknown in connection with his death. Detective Inspector John Richards has made an appeal to the offenders that they contact and surrender to him. He has also made a request to the public for any information that they may have.
“The man’s dead, have you seen the news? The man’s dead! What are we going to do?”
“Jimmy calm down” cautioned David.
Jimmy had phoned David immediately after hearing the local TV News station report and by the urgency and tone of his voice he could sense that Jimmy was now almost at breaking point. David wanted to make him understand that the death of the guard didn't alter the facts; that the police still did not have anything further to go on than they had before, if anything even less now. He had to dispel Jimmy’s fears but not on a phone line, anyone could be listening in
“Jimmy we cannot speak about this on a phone line. I’m going to ring Brian perhaps we can all meet up and discuss it? I will ring you back in a few minutes.”
As he put the phone down, David began to contemplate; the police had now even less evidence to go on. The man could not now be called to identify himself or anyone. As long as the three of them remained silent then nothing could associate them with any crime, although Jimmy might have a point about handing themselves in. He decided to ring Brian now and update him with Jimmy’s fears
Brian was all for going round and using strong arm tactics on Jimmy but it was obvious to David that this would not work. “No.” David said. “That will not work; we have to talk this through. Can we meet up this afternoon somewhere, well away from other people?”
“Where do you suggest I’ll meet up with you both anywhere you that you say?”
“We need to go somewhere where we can openly discuss our opinions and future actions.”
“Just tell me where and when and I’ll meet up with you both” agreed Brian.
David thought for a few seconds before answering. “We could go fishing that will be as far away from prying ears as anywhere.” He suggested. “We could discuss it fully and openly without any prying ears. I’ll give Jimmy a ring and arrange everything, Get your fishing tackle out Brian and we’ll meet you opposite the Opis in twenty minutes.” David hung up then phoned Jimmy back to make the same arrangements.
As the three were plodding along the cliff top towards their favourite fishing spot and because they were alone, each began openly discussing the new turn of events. Jimmy was obviously under the greatest pressure at the news that the man had died. He was now adamant that their best course of action was to give themselves in.
David and Brian on the other hand were both resolute against this option and were trying to persuade Jimmy to come around to their way of thinking.
When they reached their favourite fishing location high up on the cliffs facing out to sea they began to unpack their individual boxes. A period of quietness descended on them, each was intent on tackling up their rods but at the same time contemplating what he was going to say next. They extracted lines, hooks and bait from their boxes and carefully began stringing their rods; then they prepared to individually cast their lines out to the sea around twenty metres below. The area was a very productive spot from which they had fished many times. Each, after their long and practised cast out to sea, stepped back a few yards from the edge and retired to where the boxes were situated; these containers also served as seats as they now waited for an indication of a catch.
Respectively each in turn sat on his box with his rod sitting in an angling rest which was aluminium ‘V’ shaped rod, at the top and stuck into the ground.
“If I give myself in, I promise that I won’t involve you both.” Jimmy opened up the conversation again; still trying to convince the other two that he still regarded this action was the best way forward.
“How can you possibly make such a promise like that? How will you explain how it was done?” David probed.
“I’ll admit to doing exactly what I did but I will not under any circumstances tell them who was with me.”
Both shook their heads in disbelief, how naïve was he? Without question, a few minutes in a police interview room and Jimmy would spill all.
“We have to decide, one way or the other.” David began trying to reason with the other two. “We either all of us or, none of us, turn ourselves in.” We can’t have one doing one thing and the others doing another. Our strength lies in staying together. That’s the only way we can get through this” as he was talking David could see Brian shaking his head and he didn’t feel as if he was making any headway with Jimmy.
“Jimmy, now you listen to me,” Brian butted in “I agree with what David has just said, we have to stick together in this matter but just don’t make an enemy out of me. You will most certainly regret it.”
“Let’s not talk about strong arm tactics Brian; that will certainly not work.” David cautioned. “We must remain together.”
“Well I still think we should turn ourselves in.” confirmed Jimmy. “That’s my vote.”
“Jimmy may have a valid point and it should be discussed.” Said David, it was the first time that he had shown any outward doubt about their future intentions, “but for now my vote is that we should do nothing. The police have zilch on us.”
“Are you beginning to side with Jimmy? “Brian sneered
“No of course not, Brian, I’ll do what the majority decide. At this time I think we should do nothing and let events take its course at least until such time circumstances change.”
“Then that makes you in a minority Jimmy.” Brian stated. “You’ll have to go with the majority decision and say nothing.”
“No, I don’t think so" Jimmy replied, “I’ll have to do what I have to do.” It was the first time that he had ever shown any mettle or any real strength of determination.
“And what’s that?” they both asked almost in unison.
“I haven’t fully decided yet.” Jimmy quickly replied. But his tone of voice indicated what his course of action was to be.
“You’ve got a bite David.” Jimmy exclaimed. All thoughts of conversation naturally ceased as they looked towards the end of David’s quivering rod in the excitement of catching a potential massive fish.
David picked up his rod from the angling rest and moved towards the cliff front beginning to reel in his line as he did so.
As he got to the cliff edge he said. “I’ve definitely hooked a fish or something but my line seems to have snagged yours Jimmy, see what you can do.”
Jimmy got up from his seat and began reeling in his line as he moved towards David’s right hand side.
Both were at the edge each trying to reel his line in and at the same time swinging their rods to the extreme left and then right, forward and backward in an attempt to release the lines that were obviously undersea snagged.
Just as Jimmy was bending forward and reaching out to his left with his rod, David had also moved his to the right, so intent was he that he momentarily overlooked that Jimmy was slightly bent over. A slight nudge from David and Jimmy briefly lost his footing, seeing Jimmy’s difficulty, David quickly reached out to grasp Jimmy’s coat but only succeeded in furthering Jimmy’s unbalance. Jimmy in trying to save himself had flung his upper body back from the cliff edge but in doing so his feet crumbled the damp earth and moved further over the edge. Brian was now on his feet and about to rush forward to assist in any way he could; then he momentarily stopped; perhaps fate was taking a hand, he realised.
As David was attempting to take hold of jimmy’s coat he realised that in doing so he was risking himself also being dragged over the cliff, all had happened in a split second.
In that brief moment Jimmy had gone over the edge and both mates now looked at each other in astonishment and disbelief at what had just happened.
They now crouched and then lay face down with their bodyweight well back from the cliff edge and looked over. Far down on the rocks Jimmy’s inert and probably dead body lay.
“What are we going to do?” David broke their silence.
“Well now you seem to have solved our problem.” Brian callously said.
“What do you mean I have solved our problem? It was an accident!”
“All I’m saying is that the accident has now solved our problem; whichever way you put it, whether it was an accident or not.”
“But I tell you it was an accident. Surely you believe that?”
“Yeah! I believe you but thousands wouldn’t; but as long as we stick together that’s how it will always be” he implied the lie. “Well what do we do now?”
“I’d better phone 999 and get us some help” replied David reaching into his pocket for his mobile phone.
“Brian just nodded. He realised that now he had the upper hand in their relationship just as David had now also become aware of the same thing.
There was quite a gap in time before two uniformed policemen arrived on the scene. They ‘d had to park their patrol car in the Conway car park almost a quarter of a mile away from the scene of the accident and then walk along the cliff top foot-path. As soon as they arrived and took charge of the incident one of them radio-phoned his headquarters and informed them of the details of the accident and that they needed coastguard back up.
Within ten minutes later a police helicopter appeared and began hovering over the scene and soon after the Newbiggin Lifeboat, had been launched and arrived. It began patrolling just off shore. Within half hour from the time of the accident, a yellow Royal Air Force rescue helicopter arrived. A crewman was winched to the beach and after securing Jimmy’s body in a cradle, both were winched back aboard. As soon as the rescue was completed the RAF helicopter flew off obviously in the direction of the A&E Hospital at Ashington.
Whilst all were waiting for the rescue to be completed the each policemen took one of the boys to one side and recorded details of how the accident had occurred. The boys had prior agreed to tell the truth as to what had happened, without exactly disclosing the fact that David had accidently come into contact at the time Jimmy had slipped, or as to who or what had prompted them to come fishing, in the middle of February, in the first place.
After a brief verbal statement to the police both boys were escorted to their respective homes and handed over to their parents.
Arrangements were made that each, the following day, would attend the Ashington General Police Station; and, accompanied by a parent, where a written statement would be taken. The policemen assured both parents that it was a formality in circumstances such as this.
That evening David and Brian met up at the Opis and discussed past events.
David still felt shaken about the accident that had happened and still considered it an accident but in the back of his mind a reoccurring thought suggested he could have done more; and the more he thought about it the more the answer was in the affirmative. Had he accidently nudged Jimmy subconsciously, thereby letting him go and solving their problem?
Brian on the other hand seemed flippant about the situation. The police still have nothing to go on, even less now that Jimmy had gone, that problem had solved itself as well.
David attended the police station with his father, John, who had decided it was important enough to take a day off work. A plain clothes officer escorted them through to an interview room where a uniformed officer, who David recognised as one of the two policemen who attended the scene of the accident, sat behind a desk. The plain clothes officer introduced himself as Detective Inspector James Williams and said that the uniformed man was PC Jack Staples.
The inspector invited David and John to sit across from them at a table; positioned to the edge of the table was a recording machine but it appeared not to be switched on.
The officer began the interview by saying that as he personally had no prior information of the accident, perhaps it might be better, if before a written statement was made, David could relate, in his own words, exactly what took place yesterday afternoon.
David’s father agreed with the suggestion and nodded to his son that he should begin.
David was a little nervous in the beginning and began faltering a little but the Inspector interrupted and assured him that was quite normal and that he should take his time in what he had to say. David then re-composed himself a little and, remembering that he did not have to tell any direct lies relating to the incident, began.
When he had finished the inspector then asked a few minor questions to clear up a few ambiguous points and then took out a police form from a manila file then asked David and his father if either of them would prefer to write the statement themselves or would they prefer him to write it? Both agreed that the detective should write the statement.
The inspector took up his pen began asking personal details of David, his exact name, address date of birth etc. and the answers given were appended to the form. As the inspector began writing the actual statement, he occasionally clarified points before writing anything down.
At the end of the statement the detective read out aloud what he had written and asked David if he had anything further he would like appended. David said no and the Inspector handed it to David and asked him and his father to read it through and if they agreed with it, David should sign and date it at the bottom of each page; and his father should sign as witness to that signature.
Within the hour the interview was over and the officer shook hands first with David and then his father before escorting them from the police premises.
Colin, Brian’s father, on the other hand had reluctantly escorted his son when he was interviewed. Much the same sequence of events occurred; the same officer and the second uniformed policeman took the interview and again a written statement was produced. Throughout the interview Brian was a little arrogant about the whole proceedings, his father even more so; both seemed to show little regard to the seriousness at what had happened.
After each interview the inspector had informed both teenagers and parents that in all cases of sudden death an inquest would have to be held and they would be required to attend and give evidence. The corner would then determine the exact cause of death. The Inspector assured all that this was quite normal and as far as he could see there should be no problems; further saying that they would be informed at a later date when and where the inquest would be held.
Later when the Inspector was studying both statements they were, except for very minor details, alike and he had no reason to disbelieve how the occurrence had actually happened. The boys should not have taken risks by fishing from the cliff edge but that in itself was not illegal; a pure and simple accident he determined and his official report, at this time, would reflect this.
When the boys met up again that evening Brian seemed cock a hoop with him-self. “Told you everything was going to be alright, we got away with it.”
“Got away with it? David retorted “Away with what? It was an accident. We didn’t get away with anything, pure and simple.”
“Yeah! Whatever,” was Brian’s answer,” You look at it how you see it and I’ll look at it as I see it.
“We still have the dead guard to worry about.”
“No problems if the police had anything on us they’d have kept us in the station this morning and grilled us.”
How anyone could be so crass was unbelievable, David was now beginning to realise what an idiot Brian was and the sooner he could ditch him the better. Who needs a friend like Brian he, once again, decided?
David was now determined to slowly detach himself from Brian’s company and whenever they met around town or at the Opis, after a few minutes, he would make excuses and move on to other friends or even walk away. He decided that Jayne’s company was now more acceptable and began spending more time with her.
Sixteen days after Jimmy’s accident an early morning officious type knock came to David’s home door. As he opened the door a uniformed police constable whom he now knew to be PC Staples reintroduced himself and asked that he be allowed to enter. First the constable asked if his parents were in and on receiving the answer that both were out at work he told David that an inquest into the sudden death of James Jackson would be held in fourteen days’ time at the coroner’s court in Ashington; that he, David George May was required to attend. He was also informed that, being a minor, the court required a parent or guardian be obligated to accompany him. The constable then handed over an official looking document along with other papers and said that they should be handed over to his parents as soon as they returned home that evening. He said that he would follow up his visit with a telephone call to his parents to make sure they had all the information that they needed and to answer any questions they might still have. PC Staples further stated that it was all a formality in law and for him not to be too worried as to what might happen. He asked if David had any questions and when he received the negative answer made his salutations and left.
In the past few nights, after an initial period of worry about the outcome of their misdeeds David had managed to get a few hours’ sleep but now looking now at the papers, floods of worry cast over him once again; he hadn’t many strong religious beliefs but he often now silently prayed for a positive outcome to all that had happened, all he wanted was for his life to be returned back to normal again.
Much the same thing happened at Brian Hyde’s house except that his father was in watching a morning quiz show on Television. When the constable informed them of their statutory duty’s in attending the coroner’s court Brian’s father grumbled as to why they could not just take his sons word for what happened that day. His son had already made a written statement why should he have to make another; what was all the fuss about, it was just an accident, could have happened to anybody. The Policeman nodded his head in diplomacy and reminded them, that was how the law worked. After further explanations from the PC, Brian’s father nodded his head in acknowledgement and accepted the official papers which were immediately cast the to the side table; he then returned his attention to the TV screen. The PC realised there was little further he could do, made his excuses, and left.
When the two met up again that night Brian was all grumbles about having to waste time at the coroner’s court. He appeared quite at ease with the situation, as far as he was concerned it appeared that the outcome was all cut and dried. He had apparently put the break in and the guard’s death to the very back of his mind.
David on the other hand was agonisingly worried; he knew there would be little sleep for him again this night.
“All rise,” commanded the court usher. The Ashington Coroner’s Court was quite a small room as court rooms go. As one entered the room, on the facing back wall, there was a large desk on a raised platform, with three black leather padded chairs behind, obviously this was where the coroner and his assistants sat; on the same wall behind hung an officious looking coloured coat of arms. The wall to the right were two rows of chairs with a sign stating that they were reserved for the press, only two of the chairs were at present occupied. The left wall also had two rows of chairs where any jury might sit, these were all empty. The back wall had four rows of chairs with a sign that simply stated ‘Public.’
Jimmy’s mother Margret was the sole person seated on the front row and about seven other members of the public were sat behind her.
Brian was accompanied by his father Colin whilst David was with his father John. They had all been instructed to wait outside in the court corridor where an usher would direct them into the court room as and when required.
“All rise.” The court Usher announced. All in the room rose as a man entered the room from a side door. He was dressed quite sombrely in a dark suit rather than court robes as one might have expected. The man walked to his seat looked towards the centre of the room stiffened slightly, silently nodded to all present and sat down. This seemed to be a sign of permission that all could now regain their seats. The court usher now announced that Mr Henry Challenor was the coroner in attendance and that he was now looking into the sudden death of James Jackson of 26 Church Avenue, Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland.
“Before we begin proceedings has the body of James Jackson been identified?” Mr Challenor asked of the court usher.
“It has sir,” replied the usher. “By the deceased mother, Mrs Jackson who is in attendance, I have her affirmation here sir.” The court usher handed the coroner a single sheet of paper.
The coroner briefly read it, and then gave a brief nod for the court usher to proceed who then announced “Call Police Constable Jack Staples.” The rear door opened and a constable entered. He took up a position to the left of the Coroner on a slightly elevated platform. The usher asked the PC to confirm his identity, which he did, and then asked him to affirm that the evidence he was about to give would be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The policeman so affirmed and looked towards the coroner.
“Can you tell the court in your own words what you know of this case?” The Coroner asked.
“Sir, I was on patrol duty accompanied by Police Constable Scholes in Milburn Lane, Ashington when we received instructions to proceed towards Newbiggin by the Sea about a half mile south from the town. As we were driving further details were relayed to us that an accident had occurred on the cliff top and giving us a more detailed description as to exactly where on the cliff top.”
PC Staples went on to describe what he saw and did on his arrival at the scene of the accident. He described taking a brief statement that he wrote in his notebook from one of the two boys in attendance. The PC went on to describe what the boy, who he now knew to be as David May, had told him how the accident had occurred.
Mr Challenor, after asking a few simple further questions, seemed satisfied with the policeman’s evidence and dismissed him, but also reminded him that he may be required to be questioned further.
Much the same evidence was given in the other Pc’s case who described what Brian Hyde had told him and he was also stood down soon after.
The court usher then announced that Doctor Pauline Andrews to be in attendance. She entered the court and stood at the witness stand, after her swearing in she looked towards the coroner.
“Can you please give the court details of your medical expertise Doctor Andrews?”
Dr Andrews stated that she was a qualified doctor and had a Ph.D. in Medicine. She had eighteen years’ experience as a general practitioner and for the last seven years had held a commission at the A&E Ashington General Hospital. She went on to list her qualifications to which the Coroner said that he now accepted her as a qualified expert.
“What were the injuries and what, in your opinion, was the cause of death?” the coroner asked.
The doctor began to read a list of numerous injuries that she had discovered to the body of James; relating to wounds to internal organs, broken bones and loss of blood. She passed the list to the usher who then handed it to the coroner. She finalised by stating that the direct cause of death was the massive compression injury to the front cerebral area of the brain. Death, in her opinion, would have been instantaneous, she stated.
Mr Challenor asked, “Doctor Andrews, in your opinion, could any of these injuries you have detailed have been sustained before the fall to the rocks.
“No Sir” was the definite reply. “I found no such pre-mortem injuries.”
The coroner accepted Dr Andrews’s findings, thanked her for her time and released her from further testimony.
“Call Mr David May to the stand?” the coroner requested. An usher in the corridor announced that Mr May was required to enter the courtroom.
David at first thought it was his father who had been summoned, he wasn’t used to being called Mr May when he was with his father, after a slight hesitation he rose from his seat and was led inside the courtroom. His father followed him and then sat in the public designated seat area.
As David entered he was directed to the rostrum. The court usher then handed him a bible and said, “Repeat after me. I David May swear by almighty God that the evidence which I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
David repeated the oath as he was bid then looked to his right at the coroner.
Mr Challenor said “Please state your full name and address to the court.” David complied and then the coroner continued, “In your own words, Mr May, what happened on that day of the accident?”
David began slowly at first to relate how the three friends had decided to go fishing from the cliff top as they had done so many times before. He described how they had been sitting on their fishing boxes a few yards from the cliff edge when David’s line indicated that he had caught a fish but in doing so his line had apparently snagged on Jimmy’s line and then on submerged rocks. He went on to describe how he and Jimmy had levered their rods to and fro trying to un-snag their lines but in doing so one foot of James had slipped over the edge. He explained how James had tried to throw his bodyweight backwards from the cliff edge but by that time both feet and his whole body had slipped off the cliff edge.
“How close to jimmy was you when he slipped?” the coroner asked.
“Right by his side within arm’s reach” he replied. “When I realised that he was losing his footing I tried to grab him but I was too late. He’d already gone over. It all happened in a fraction of a second. I could not possibly have saved him.”
At this point quite a loud tearful gasp of breath was heard and all looked to Mrs Jackson who was openly sobbing.
The court usher rose from his feet and handed Mrs Jackson a box of tissues which she took.
Would you like a recess of court, Mrs Jackson, to help you compose yourself?” the coroner asked.
Jimmy mother looked towards Mr Challenor and shook her head “I’ll be OK now “she replied “thank you for your kindness sir”.
The coroner questioned David further to clear up a few points then allowed David to stand down go and sit with his father and mother in the front row.
Brian was next called to the stand to give his evidence.
As both boys had originally discussed that they would give evidence exactly as it happened but without exactly stating that David had at one point almost had hold of Jimmy as he was slipping off the cliff edge. Brian evidence backed up the evidence that David had already given and the coroner appeared satisfied with it.
David gave an inward silent sigh of relief.
Further evidence was given by the Para-medic on board the RAF rescue helicopter. His evidence stated that after being winched down to Jimmy’s body he could find no signs of life; both of them were then winched backup and safely stowed into the helicopter. In his opinion life had become extinct immediately after the fall.
The coroner announced that there was to be a short lunch recess where afterwards he would give his decision.
The court reconvened at two that afternoon where the Coroner, Mr Challenor, gave a short statement as to what he believed to have occurred that day and then concluded that he was satisfied that after considering all the evidence that had been placed before him that the cause of death of James Jackson was accidental and it so should be recorded. He also made a short statement saying that perhaps the councillors, of Newbiggin by the sea, debate about positioning notices alongside the cliff edges warning of its dangers.
“Home and free,” was Brian first words to David that evening as they met, to the side, of the Opis. David roughly pulled Brian to one side away from others. What do you mean home free? We are not home free at all; there is still a long way to go.”
“Well the Jimmy problem is out of the way, you certainly put paid to that.”
“It was an accident will you get that into your thick head, it was an accident; there was nothing I could do to save him and the coroner’s decision proved that.”
“Yeah! Whatever you say but always remember that coroner’s decision can be changed if new evidence is placed before him.”
Did David detect a veiled threat in Brian’s Voice? “Who told you that?”
“My dad, he knows a lot about law does my dad.”
Six days after the coroner had released Jimmy’s body to a funeral director his intended burial was organised to be at St Bartholomew’s.
The beautiful old church which has 13th century origins looks out to the North Sea on its South Eastern side and within its grounds many of the old fishing family names of Newbiggin are interned there. Jimmy’s mother who was a regular at the old church had insisted that her son be buried there.
The Reverend Peter Philips was conducting a fine service and as David gazed around the church it was noticeable how few mourners there were. He had come with his father John and mother Margret but further observed that neither Brian nor his father were in attendance. Looking further around David did noticed two men who were sat at the far back of the church, one of them he recognised as the plain clothed police officer who had interviewed and taken a written statement from him in regard to Jimmy’s death. He did not recognise the other one.
As the church service came to a close four pallbearers from the funeral directors approached the coffin and lifted it to shoulder high. They began the slow walk out of the church with Jimmy’s mother directly following; she was obviously deeply upset and was being supported by another female whom David didn’t know. The small congregation trailed behind and the procession moved to the place of burial. As the few mourners arranged themselves around the open gravesite the coffin was slowly lowered into the hole and the Reverend Philips continued with his consecrations. Now, as he was almost concluding, Jimmy’s mother was openly sobbing her heart out, “My poor boy, my poor boy struck down at such an early age. Why didn’t he take me?” She cried “Why didn’t he take me?” At one point it looked as if she was about to throw herself into the hole. Two elderly gentlemen moved towards her and prevented her from joining her son. It was the first burial David had ever attended and a very moving experience for him; he felt very guilty about the whole state of affairs.
The service over, mourners began slowly to meander away and it was at this point David again noticed the two men, whom now he assumed were both policemen, standing at the exit gate of the church.
“Mr May?” one of the two men asked David’s father.
“I think you may remember me, I’m Detective Inspector Williams and this Detective constable Byron both of us are of the Northumbrian Police.” Both men momentarily produced warrant cards to prove their identity.
“Yes how can I help?” David’s father answered.
“I wonder if I can have a word with you and your son down at the Ashington Police Station.”
“What’s it about?” questioned David’s mother.
“I’m not at liberty to say right here mam, can I just say it’s very important.
David’s heart pounded. What did they know? What had they found out? Was it about Jimmy’s death or the guard’s death? All these questions and many more were running amok through his head.
“You mean now?”
“Yes. We have a car, if you will accompany us?”
David’s father nodded. “Do you need my wife to come as well?”
“It is David we wish to interview and as a minor we need one of you to accompany him, either one of you would be OK.
David’s heart beat even faster now that it was confirmed it was he who the police wished to question.
“I will accompany my son" his father said to the officer; and then to his wife said. “You go on home Margret; I’ll phone you when I have more information. It cannot be a too serious matter, David has already told the Coroner everything about Jimmy’s accident, and I cannot see what furthermore he can tell them.”
The two men led David and his father out of the church area to the waiting car in the car park.
It was the same Ashington Police station interview room used at the initial interview when David had made a statement about Jimmy’s death, but this time a red neon light was illuminated on the recording machine showing it was active.
The detective noticed David looking at the recording machine and said. “I have not switched the recorder on to record as yet so anything that is said, before I do, will not be recorded. I will probably switch it on later and a green light will indicate that it is recording but I will warn you before I do so.”
David and his father nodded their heads.
“I’ve called you in for an informal chat at first.” The detective began
“An informal chat, you’ve brought us in for an informal chat?” David’s father John interrupted. “Couldn’t it have been done at home?”
“I did say at an informal chat at first, Mr May, if you’ll allow me to explain. As we have met before you know that I am I’m Detective Inspector James Williams. This man here is a Detective who he is heading another enquiry which may or may not be related to the death of James Jackson.” The detective then looked to the other man and said. “Would you like to take over now?”
The inspector nodded and said. “I am Inspector John Richards and as my colleague here has intimated I am investigating the death of John Wilinson who was a security guard at Sandy Bay Caravan Park thirty one days ago.”
David’s blood froze in his veins.
“What has my son got to do with that?”
“I’m coming to that” continued the Inspector. “David, how well did you know James Jackson?”
“We have known each other since early school days. I already said that in my statement" he replied.
“Yes I have read it and Brian Hyde?”
“The same, I have known him from early school days.”
“Can I now inform you that we have reason to believe that James Jackson and probably Brian Hyde may have been involved in the burglary and the subsequent death of John Wilinson at the Sandy Bay Caravan Park on the 12th of February this year? Can I also inform you that Brian Hyde is, at this time, in another interview room? I have already had a chat with him exactly as I am with you now. I intend to leave you and your father both alone to recollect your thoughts and I will return to question you and then it will probably be under caution.”
“I didn’t think…” began David but the inspector held his hand up to cut him off.
“I don’t wish to hear anything more from you at this time. I just want you, with your father’s advice, to gather your thoughts.” The inspector now looked directly at John and said. “Sir, I am obliged to tell you that if you wish legal counsel for your son, one can be contacted at any time from now, just please make yourself heard to one of the officers just outside this door. Can I also reassure you that the tape recorder in this room is not active, at the present time and that anything you discuss in this room cannot be overheard by anyone else.” with that last statement the two policemen left the room.
“David, tell me truthfully, are you in anyway involved with this matter?” asked his father.
David cast his eyes to the floor unable to look directly at his father and silently nodded.
“Then perhaps we’d better have some legal representation.” John stated and rose from his seat and opened the door, directly outside a uniformed constable sat on a long bench.” I need a solicitor to represent my son can you please arrange one to be called?”
“Yes Sir.” The office replied and began to speak into his lapel radiophone.
A few minutes later the same uniformed officer knocked on the door and entered the room, he said that a duty solicitor had been called and would be with them within the hour. In the meantime could he bring them a drink, tea, coffee, a soft drink? They both shook their heads declining his offer.
Before the solicitor arrived, David and his father discussed what had happened that fateful night with David speaking the full honest truth leaving nothing out. Together they then decided that to confess all would be their better course of action. The solicitor, when they told him of the circumstances and their decision agreed that it might be the better option.
When inspector Richards re-entered the interview room and they informed him of their decision he again immediately held his hand up to stop them talking any further and said “In view of what you have just said I must now caution you: “
“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. David do you understand the caution?"
Both David and his father nodded in agreement.
“I am now going to switch on the tape recorder,” the inspector said “then I will, for the benefit of the recorder, re-caution you and then I will begin to question you about the matter in hand. The inspector then reached across and pushed the on button and a green light replaced the red one and the interview had begun.
The interview lasted over and hour and after it the inspector stood up, reached over to place his hand lightly on David’s shoulder and said “ I am now placing you under arrest in connection with the homicide of John Wilinson of 42 Acre Terrace, Ashington.
The interview session was over and the tape switched off, three labelled copies of the recorded interview had been made. David’s solicitor took charge of one of them and two would remain on police file.
David was then processed by the Duty Desk Sergeant and made aware that he would later be taken to the Newcastle Upon Tyne City, Bridewell to be held in a custody cell overnight; then he would be brought before a magistrate’s court this following morning.
Brian had been collected from his home at around the same time as David and accompanied, grudgingly, by his father, to the police station. The police handling of him, at the beginning, was similar to that of David. He was initially informed that they were investigating the death of John Wilinson and that he would be given a short time to collect his thoughts and decide what he had to say.
But Brian and his father were more headstrong in their approach to the situation; if the police had anything to go on let them prove it, was their attitude. Brian’s indifference to the seriousness of his position gave the police little flexibility, he was given the option to contact a solicitor, which they refused, and they escorted him and his father to an adjoining suite to sit it out for an hour or so to think about the position Brian was in.
At Brian’s interview Inspector Richards informed him that the sound recorder had now been turned on and formally cautioned him. The investigation of Brian began slowly at first by asking did he know Jimmy Jackson and David May and had he been with them on the evening of the twelfth of February this year. When both his answers was noncommittal in that he couldn’t remember what he had been doing on the twelfth, then the questioning took a very different turn; they informed him they expected to find direct evidence confirming Brian had used the dead man’s mobile phone to contact the emergency service from the caravan where the comatose body of the guard lay. Brian and his father were informed that a sound recording is always made during all 999 emergency calls and a voice print could easily be obtained from it to confirm Brian’s voice print. Brian was assured that Voice prints are an exact match as are fingerprints. The exact location, within a few square metres, of the 999 call can also be determined. He was advised that a DNA sample would be taken from him and tested against DNA samples found in the caravan; that they believed the samples would match; but most of all they had a witness statement identifying him at the scene of the crime. The inspector then further stated that Jimmy’s fingerprints had been found in the caravan.
When Brian’s father realised that all this vital evidence could be proved against his son, he stopped the interview by stating that they now wanted to see a solicitor.
It was sometime later that evening when David was alone in his cell mulling over the events of the day. Had he made the correct decision to admit all? Could he have held out and made the police prove he was at the caravan park? On the other hand the police did seem to know, prior to his interview, many of the occurrences that had happened that night. But how had they found out? Had Brian already confessed?
Considering the inspector’s probing questions, they seem to have known Jimmy had entered the caravan, how? He had been in it only seconds. Another point; the inspector seemed to have already known that it was Brian who had telephoned the emergency services, how could they possibly be aware of that that?
Pondering further over these two main points he remembered that Jimmy had not been wearing gloves at the time as he followed them into the caravan. He must have left his fingerprints on the caravan step handrail and door. Presumably on Jimmy’s death the hospital, as a matter of course, would have taken Jimmy’s medical details, blood type, fingerprints height, weight, etc. to ensure they had the correct data to the person on file. The police presumably had access to these records and the fingerprints obviously matched up with the caravan prints already outstanding on file on the police computer. The second point about them knowing it was Brian who had telephoned 999; had they secretly taken a voice print and already matched it up with Brian?
David looked around the cell he was in, though clean and seemingly well maintained every time he looked at the light blue painted walls they seemed to closing in on him. It had been a long time, since childhood, that he had cried but he began to do so now. He covered his head beneath the bed sheet, hoping that others couldn’t hear him and began openly sobbing at the plight he was now in.
Brian, on the other hand was bemoaning the fact that Jimmy must have told someone, before his death, who had then blabbed all to the police, how else did they find out that it was he who had made the 999 phone call? How could they have possibly matched Jimmy’s fingerprints to the scene? Stupid Jimmy not doing as he was told, if he hadn’t climbed the caravan steps, touching the rail, none of this would have happened. After Jimmy’s death he had originally thought that he was in the clear but now with Jimmy dying here he was all banged up. Next time I do a job, he vowed to himself, I’ll do it on my own and not rely on anyone else.
David, can you hear me, are you there? Brian was shouting from his adjoining Bridewell cell hoping his voice was loud enough to penetrate the thick walls. No answer was returned other than other prisoners shouting at him to keep quiet that they were trying to get some sleep. They must have moved David to another nick, Brian reasoned.
David, on the other hand, did recognise Brian’s voice shouting for his attention but he wanted nothing more to do with him, it was he, after all, who had got him into this mess. No, he didn’t want any more to do with Brian now or ever in the future. Who needed a friend like Brian?
“Before I pass committal have you anything to say? The lady Magistrate asked. Both Brian and David were now stood in front of the duty magistrate at Ashington county Court.
“Guilty.” replied David suddenly “I want to plead Guilty.”
“So do I!” Brian exclaimed, almost at the same time. “But I didn’t intend to…”
The lady magistrate held up her hand and stopped Brian in mid-sentence. “We are not here to hear mitigating pleas. Manslaughter is an indictable offence and you are not required to plead your case here. Both of you are before this court to determine if there is a case to answer in the Crown Court. I have read all the Police evidence and I conclude that there is.” Then looking at the two solicitors who were representing the two boys she said. “Do we have any pleas for bail?”
Each solicitor in turn stood and made a submission as to why his client should be granted bail. Each stating that it was his first offence and up to that night he was of previous good character.
The magistrate turned to each of the two lay JP’s on either side of her and conferred.
Then she pronounced “the charge before me is one of manslaughter and aggravated burglary, began the lady magistrate. “An indictable offence can only be tried by a Crown Court and I so do order. I also direct that social reports be made on each of the two defendants. I order that you Brian Hyde and you David George May be remanded to a suitable young person’s institution for one week from today then I will hear further pleas for bail. The Court is dismissed.”
“All rise” stated the Clerk to the justices.
Brian and David were led down the steps from the dock and placed in separate holding cells to await their transport to prison.
“Come on lads, thy carriage awaits.” The Bridewell cell-officer joked.
David, Brian and five others young persons were led out of the cells to the rear exit of the court building where a large white security van had been parked close up to a ramp. The prisoners walked directly from the building into the van without even seeing the light of day. They were locked into individual units, within the van, and it began its journey to Long Frampton Grange. The cell units within the security van were small but of adequate size, each had a small smoked toughened glass window which enabled prisoners to look out but onlookers would not be able to see directly in. Every time the van passed a pretty young girl, David could hear rowdy, bawdy voices shouting to each other and banging on the windows. Trying to attract the girl’s attention? More like trying to show how unafraid and impervious they felt. David kept quiet; he was feeling very vulnerable and would be glad when they had reached their destination.
Brian on the other hand was causing as much nuisance and noise as any of the others.
After about a half hour journey the van slowed to a stop at the high opening gate to Long Frampton Grange. When the entrance gate was opened it proceeded to a further closed gate and could only then proceed further when the outside gate was closed and secure.
Inside the prison grounds proper the seven were ordered out and through to the reception building entrance. The outside of the building looked quite modern and recently built. David had expected to see small prison cell like windows similar to ones he had seen on TV but these, although not large seemed to be of a reasonable size.
The outside door opened and the seven were ushered into the main reception room. A uniformed prison officer instructed them to empty and deposit all contents of their pockets into a plastic tray; then to walk through a security scanner. It beeped when Brian walked under it; he was instructed to remove his trouser belt and go through once again, it remained silent now, obviously the scanner had recognised the belt buckle.
Another prison officer then took them, singularly, to a side room. Each was instructed to sit on a ‘Body Orifice Security Scanner Chair’ to do an internal body-scan for any concealed objects. Aside, the guard told David that occasionally staff would discover all manner of objects hidden inside a prisoner's bottom, from drugs, money and even a mobile phone had once been found, very painful indeed, mused David. Drugs, the officer furthered that a mobile phone had once been discovered tied with cotton thread to testicles. Ouch!
After the full body search the inmates were individually interviewed by another officer who asked detailed personal questions and duly typed the answers into a computer terminal.
They were then ordered to line up in single file in front of a Rostrum behind which an older civilian dressed man stood. Beside him stood a, dark uniformed, male prison officer whose shoulder epaulets sported two star like badges. The officer ordered them to “listen in” and the plain clothed man then introduced himself as Mr Dawson who was the governor of the establishment and the uniformed man to his right was The Principle Officer Collis.
Mr Dawson then began to explain that Long Frampton Grange is one of Her Majesty’s Young offenders Institutions (HMYOI) and designed especially for persons between the ages of sixteen and twenty one. He said that a full induction session is usually organised within the first few days after a young offender arrives at the prison. This would give him and themselves an occasion to talk through any concerns and issues they may have as well as discussing opportunities for education and training during their sentence. He further said that Prisoners serving sentences at young offender’s institutions are expected to take part in at least 25 hours of education per week, which is aimed at helping them to improve their education and behaviour and also to develop practical skills for use in the outside world; all were designed to prepare them for lawful employment following their release. There were also opportunities for prisoners to undertake work in Community Service Volunteer programme. Mr Dawson then took his leave and left them in charge of Principle Officer Collis
As Mr Dawson moved away a feeling of fear and trepidation swept over David, could he handle this part of his life? He’d seen television programs about life inside, how the strong bullied the weak. Although David was not a large person he had never before felt weak, though he certainly did now. For the very first time in his life he was unsure of himself. He remembered his father’s parting words “keep your head down son, do your time and try and come out a better person.” Good advice? Yes but would he be able to hack it? Would he go under trying?
Brian on the other hand looked quite at home; as he looked around inquisitively his head was held high. Now and again he would nudge the younger lad by his side snigger and wink at a private joke between themselves.
The new inmates were instructed, to left turn and follow him. He led them down a maze of corridors and through a locked door, which he had opened with a key attached to a chain hanging from his waist belt, into a large room. A sign on the door had announced D Wing. “You lads are in luck.” the PO. said. “D wing is a new section to our establishment and you are privileged to be its first occupants.” He led them to one side wall of the large communal room where every few meters a door led to an individual cell.
The PO continued. “I am going to assign you each to a room. You will notice I did not call them cells, in this establishment we only have rooms. Each room at this time is empty but they will all be filled over a period of the next few days. I am going to leave you now to get accustomed to your new surroundings. Within the hour I will collect you again and will take you to induction where you will be briefed further on the rules and regulations of this establishment; after which you will have your evening meal.” From a clipboard he read out each name and assigned everyone to a room.
“If you have any problems, the officer on duty at the far end of this area is there to help, any questions? No! Then Gentlemen I will see you later” said the officer and left the group to themselves.
“Wow!" said Brian to the others. This place is better than I expected. I expected a grotty old place with dungeons, dragons and prisoners hanging from chains set into the walls.” Brian had made a funny and two of the younger members nervously laughed. David didn’t, he wasn’t amused. Right at the onset of leaving the magistrates court he had hoped that he and Brian would be assigned to separate establishments, no such luck. David left the group still talking and entered his room.
He had been quite surprised that the PO. referred to the accommodation as rooms and not cells as he had expected. Later he discovered that although the officers called them rooms the inmates still referred to them as cells and the officers were not called officers but screws.
As David entered his room he was pleasantly surprised by its size, though not large by any standards it seemed adequate. Inside were a small table and two chairs, an upper and a lower bunk bed. David now realised that the room was designed for two. Set into a wall was a wash hand basin and behind a closed partition a single basic toilet. A small screen television hung from a bracket high up on the wall.
On the table laid out was a tiny bar of soap, a white plastic comb, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a sachet of shampoo which were obviously for him; what he didn’t realise that In the future he would be required to buy his toiletries and this was only a welcome pack everyone receives on arrival. On the table there was also an assortment of sweets – a pack of Polo’s, Gums, Refreshers, a Fudge bar – and a small carton of orange squash, again in the future he would have to earn and buy his own.
“Bit of all right in it?” David turned around and Brian was stood framed in the doorway. It peeved David a little that Brian was encroaching on his space, so little time had passed but even by now David accepted that this room as his space; well for the very near future at least.
Brian began. “I’ve been talking to Joe he’s the taller guy that arrived with us, he’s been here before and knows a lot of the inmates in here. It seems as if the present A wing is to be modernised, same as this wing has been, and all A wing prisoners are to be transferred tomorrow here to this D wing. Joe knows the Head Honcho in here well and says he’ll put in a good word. I intend to make things as easy as possible in here for the two of us. Stick with me Dave I’ll see us alright.”
Brian calling him Dave had rankled him a little. “Brian can I say something and please don’t take it the wrong way, I intend just keeping my head down in here and doing my time the easy way. I don’t want any favours from anybody and certainly no dodgy dealings.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, well I think it might be best if we go our separate ways, you go yours and I’ll go mine. We are different people; we can still be friends but…”
“OH! Mr Lord high and mighty now are we?” Brian cut in. “I’m not good enough for the likes of you? Well, let me tell you this, if it wasn’t for me you’d be facing a longer stretch than you are now. You owe me!”
“What do you mean longer stretch? When we are convicted we will both received the same sentence if anything you struck the fatal blows to the guards head not me. We were both in it together.”
“I don’t mean the security guards death I’m talking about Jimmy.”
“What about Jimmy?”
“If I just let it be known to the authorities how you pushed Jimmy off the cliff to keep him quiet then you will be done for his murder; that’s what about.”
“Come on Brian we both know that not to be true? Anyway by telling that story you would only be incriminating yourself you’d be charged exactly the same as me.”
“OH! No. That’s where you are wrong, both you and I gave evidence to the police and to the coroners court that I was a few yards away from Jimmy when he went over. You by your own admittance were at his side. It was you that arranged the fishing trip in the first place. As far as I was concerned we were on a normal fishing trip like the many times we’ve fished there before, I can say I had no idea of your other intentions.”
Brian was right, he had given court evidence that their lines had tangled and they were both together when Jimmy went over and that he had arranged the fishing trip. A chilling fear ran down David’s spine. He very much doubted that Brian would ever carry out his threat but it would be better not antagonise him any further. “Brian let’s be sens…”
David’s last few words fell on stony ground for Brian had already turned on his heels and left in a huff. Another problem to join the many others he felt he had to deal with, David worried.
As promised the Prison Officer picked up the seven new inmates and led them to a room that in some ways David thought looked like a classroom. He wasn’t far wrong because its main use was a place of study. They were instructed to seat themselves in chairs that had side leaf that served as a small worktop. The officer then began a lecture about the do’s and don’ts of the institution.
A list of contraband items were then listed, David was not surprised to learn that Drugs, Alcohol, Weapons, mobile phones were a big no, no and the possession of any of them carried penalties of varying degrees.
They were instructed that education lessons were obligatory for all of the inmates, who are aged between 15 and 18, and prisoners can earn up to 40p for every class they attend, which they can spend on a variety of goodies, chocolate, confectionary or even credits for phone calls.
Reveille would be at 7am, breakfast at 7-30 and classes would begin prompt at 8.30am. Other timings where given and David was a little worried he might not remember them all but was relieved when a written list of rules and regulation were handed to each inmate.
They were informed that on entry, newcomers are classed as Standard prisoners but they could earn the classification of Enhanced if they proved to the staff that they be worthy of the enhancement.
Incentive Earned Privileges or IEPs as they were usually called could be earned or deducted, three demerit warnings from staff could mean your Standard classification would be reduced to Basic classification.
IEP plusses would earn an Enhancement classification. This meant more privileges, extra telephone times, extra visiting times, more TV, games etc.
David made a mental note that he was going to earn the highest assessment as soon as he could. It was stressed, on the other hand, that if an inmate did not cooperate fully with the staff they could be, at the governor’s ruling, downgraded from Standard to Basic classification.
David looked over at Brian at this time he didn’t seem as if he was paying attention, a Low Basic classification looked, in the future, to be on the cards for him.
The newcomers were taken to the mess hall for the evening meal. The hall held around forty inmates and now appeared almost full. They had been instructed to join the line up to collect their meal from the serving hatch. Again all décor, walls and floors appeared very clean and if one hadn’t known better one could have believed they were in a modern cafeteria. The meal although basic was quite adequate, reasonably tasty and filling.
All inmates were now allowed free time out of their rooms and could acquaint with others in the communal hall until eight in the evening, and then they had to retire to their own rooms. Television could be viewed on a big screen in the communal area, or at any free time in their own rooms but all TV power was switched off at nine pm.
David retired to his own room long before the eight o clock deadline he felt no desire to fraternise with other inmates. As he tried to snuggle under his blankets he realised that his was going to be a long hard sentence.
Inmates were aroused at seven am by an officer. There had been no banging and clattering of dustbin lids and the like as David had often seen in film. Up to now all the officers on duty had been polite but firm in their dealings with inmates and in most cases the inmates accepted that the prison officers were only doing their job.
The new inmates were excused education classes for the rest of that day, an officer collected them and issued them, as required any extra articles that they may need and had not brought in with them. They were allowed to wear their own clothing and it was suggested to them that visitors could bring in fresh clothing as needed.
Each new inmate was medically examined by a female doctor. When it was David’s turn he was asked if he had any mental or physical health problems, asthma or ADHD. When he had answered no, she further asked him about any drug problems, his tobacco and alcohol consumption. As he was a non-smoker and very rarely drank, David was given a clean bill of health but reminded that at any time she or someone would be on hand to cater for any health problems he may have in the future.
The officer informed them that all Young Offenders Institutions have personal officer schemes. These officers are trained to help with any questions or problems and will play an important part in developing and refining a prisoner's sentence plan.
David, up to now, was quite impressed with the treatment he had been give the prison staff, doctor and her co-workers all seemed to care about the duty they were doing. It was his fault that he was in here and he vowed, when he got out, it would be the last.
As Brian had prophesied A wing prisoners were slowly being integrated into D wing and when David returned to his room that day another person was sat on one of the chairs at the table writing.
“Hi! I’m David.” He thought he had better introduce himself.
The other lad turned round and replied. “Hello, my names George.”
David didn’t know whether to approach and shake the new comers hand but, deciding it was not prison protocol, decided not to.
“I took the top bunk I could see the lower one was yours.” George said.
“Yes cheers.” replied David. “You just come from A wing?”
Soon David was chatting to George like an old friend. He was quite relieved that his new companion seemed quite ‘normal’ or at least appeared normal.
George, in turn, was also a little relieved that David seemed OK. He’d been in prison for the past month and still had just less than two years to do. Anyone describing George could only say he was average, not tall not short, not fat not thin, he wore his brown hair medium length. The distinguishing feature though about George was his large blue eyes that seemed to say ‘I’m a friendly person. He was born and bred in Byker the well-known, run down, infamous/famous district of Newcastle; although to give the local council its due they had spent millions updating the estate and it was now becoming quite a thriving area. George’s mother had died when he was four years old and his father had left her, to go somewhere down south, well before that. He had been brought up and by his grandmother who, since his incarceration in this establishment, had gone to live in an old people’s home. George, because of his natural flair for computing had become involved with the wrong crowd. He had been convicted of very serious embezzlement crime. He, like David, had vowed to go straight on his release.
David’s parents visited him the day after his internment and had brought clean underwear and further clothing. Inmates, as a concession, were allowed to wear their own clothing provided they came within the rules, but they were always aware that this privilege could be withdrawn at any time. With what they earned within the establishment they could buy sweets, magazines and other goodies. Visiting hours and times are quite reasonable in a Young Person’s Institution but as always these are privileges that can be taken away from an individual for bad behaviour.
As his parents left they promised to visit him at least once a fortnight during his incarceration. David felt that although he may have let his parents down they were not going to let him down.
Three days into his sentence he received a letter from Jayne; she asked if she could write to him if that was agreeable. David thought about it, she couldn’t be called his girlfriend but he did somewhat like her and she obviously liked him, yes he thought, why not an occasional letter from home would keep him up to date with events in Newbiggin. He would write her a letter of reply later that day.
Since there last altercation David very rarely spoke to Brian, how many visitors Brian had received David didn’t know but he suspected very few.
As each day became very similar to the last and the days blurred together; a week had now passed since their inurement in Long Frampton Grange and David and Brian were now up again before the Magistrate at the Ashington Courthouse.
David and Brian had already been interviewed by a probation officer and a written report was with the magistrate, she was reading it.
“Both of your reports are acceptable at this stage.” The magistrate announced. “I have listened to your legal counsel’s applications for bail and note that you both intend to plead guilty to all of the charges. I have considered all these facts but as this case is the serious one of manslaughter and aggravated burglary which may or may not be changed to a murder charge, a custodial sentence is more than probable; I cannot in all conscience allow bail. I further remand you both to the Young Offenders Institution at Long Frampton Grange to await your Crown Court Hearing. I remind you both that time served in your present establishment will be deducted to any future sentence given. Court is dismissed.”
Both David and Brian were dismayed by the judge not allowing them bail. Each had been warned of that possible outcome but that because of the seriousness of their offence bail could not be ascertained.
David, on hearing the Magistrate state that the manslaughter charge may be upgraded to a murder charge chilled him to the bone.
The uncertainty of David’s future had now been taken away from him; he would be incarcerated at least until his crown court hearing and then more than likely a long period of time after that. When he had queried his solicitor for the chances of the manslaughter charge being replaced to a murder charge, his advocate advised that there was a chance of this happening and that he was already in discussion with his barrister with the finer details in law. Any outcome of this happening David would be informed immediately and a full defence prepared.
His solicitor further confirmed that he should prepare himself for a substantial period in jail. He could not be pinned down to how long a substantial period was. “Only a Crown Court can determine that” had been the reply.
Now going back to Long Frampton David knew exactly what to expect at the end of this journey and very soon became merged once again within the system.
The friendship between David and George began to flourish. Without this friendship David realised that he would have had great difficulty existing in this place. In itself the institution wasn’t that bad it was the people inside it that dismayed him. Ninety five per cent of them just wanted to do their time and then get out; not necessarily to go straight after getting out but they appreciated that by bucking the system it made living here that much harder. It was the other five per cent that caused problems and sometimes made life unbearable for others. The five per-centres were always looking for ways to extend power over other inmates. There were many ways they tried to achieve this, from the illegal supply of alcohol, drugs and mobile phone time, all of which could be supplied of course but at a price.
The head honcho of the institution was Clive or Big Clive as he was usually called. Calling Clive big was a misnomer because he wasn’t, if anything he was shorter and less sturdier than average. Clive had a hand, though not usually his own hand, in every illegal dealing within the institution and always, but always there was a price to pay. All contraband that was smuggled into the prison, Big Clive decided it was his or it had to be dealt with through him
Clive, himself, very rarely put a foot wrong within the establishment he was always polite and always did exactly as he was told by the prison staff. He never gave staff any reason for complaint.
Tobacco was a form of currency and could be used as such to buy extra amenities within the inmates. Loan shark lending was rife and always payment for any service given, whatever it was, was called ‘double bubble’ if a single cigarette is loaned then two would be demanded in return
One of Big Clive’s main dealings within the institution was the supply of ‘Subies’.
Subies was the nickname for the White Subutex tablets. Subutex Sublingual tablets contain the active ingredient Buprenorphine, which is an opioid. The tablets are about the size and shape of a Paracetamol capsule, long round ended and like methadone can be obtained on a doctor’s prescription and is legally used treat to drug addiction. Like many opioids Subies act in the brain to cause feelings of euphoria and hallucinations.
Subies are smuggled into the prison in many different and ingenious ways; from having them brought in by visitors then passed from mouth to mouth during the initial kiss of greetings or passing them across or under the table whilst having a normal conversation; even hiding them in baby’s clothing and the tablets are retrieved whilst the prisoner was allowed to cuddle his baby at visiting time. Sometime the tablets were thrown over walls, wrapped in a weighted sock at predetermined times. Occasionally they were inserted into the rectum of a prisoner prior to his arrival at the establishment, but these were usually discovered.
These Subies were usually cut into four parts, each part crushed up into a fine powder and usually snorted. Very occasionally they were injected into a vein with sometimes disastrous results, brain damage or in the extreme case, death.
Many younger inmates just couldn’t hack the secure incarceration and to relieve their anxieties they experimented with drugs. Usually the first time dose was given free, via Clive of course. Because drugs usually relieve apprehension and a feeling of euphoria takes over; a second dose to relive this elation would be needed but this time there would be a price to pay; either it was paid within the jail or to one of Clive’s henchmen on the outside. After a few hits a young person could soon become addicted and he was now under the power of the Head Honcho and completely at his mercy.
Although it did not occur often, it was not unusual for a desperate inmate to be totally destroyed by his drug habit even to a point of no return and suicide being the only answer.
The powers that be and staff had tried to make the inmates lives as tolerable as possible. The main area of the wing had been specially designed for recreational purposes. There were two pool tables and two table tennis tables that dominated the centre of the room. To one side wall stood four tables with computer gaming machines; there were other tables for games such as chess etc. adjoined another wall. To one corner was an open hatch that was the tuck shop. It was always open during recreational hours. Staffed by an officer it supplied, at none profitable prices, sweets, chocolate and canned drinks.
David and George as well as being roommates had become genuine friends. George had a natural flair for computing. David up to this point had no real interest in computers but after many conversations with George he could see how significant they were and in the future would be. It had been computers that had gotten George into trouble in the first place; he had been coerced into breaking the security codes of a very large discount warehouse computer where one of his criminal allies worked. Very large sums of money and goods had been criminally diverted from the warehouse to within gang members. George only saw a very minor fraction of the proceeds but when the house of cards fell down George was convicted as being one of the masterminds of the scheme. He truly regretted his criminal mistake and vowed it was his last. When he got out, he declared, he was going straight and hoped to get work as a computer programmer. He had a computer games idea in his mind and was hoping to build on it.
David, the more he thought about it the more he realised that computers could be the way forward for himself.
George had already advised him that these days as well as a need for programmers there is also a need for GDSP’s which is short for Games Development Systems Programmers. They provide a 3d environment for the games designers to build the gaming universe. He had remarked that GDSP’s was the new in thing in computing and it had not been fully around when he was studying.
David decided to approach the educational officer of the prison to review what training in GDSP was available. The education Officer was only too pleased to help someone who wanted to help himself of skills. He researched courses in Games Development Systems and found that an Open University curriculum could be obtained and downloaded to computer from there; also with their help, an outside tutor could be arranged to visit the Institution once a week, in the afternoons, to give one to one study to David.
Arrangements were made and study began.
Brian during his time inside had also learned a number of useful things whilst in jail; how, provided you were accepted within the criminal fraternity, the wholesale supply of drugs can be very profitable; how, on the outside, cars could be stolen to order, ringed and sold on. He learned how to fight in jail and how to fight quickly; how a fight usually lasts only last a couple of seconds before it gets stopped, so you've got to fight harder giving no quarter, fighting, kicking, biting, any and all of these behaviours are used. Yes Brian was being educated by the Young Offenders Institution but not to the best of sophistication.
It was now the middle of June and Brian and David were in front of the crown court in Newcastle. David looked around the court, his parents in the public gallery were there to support him and he was a little surprised that also sat with them was Jayne. She had written numerous letters to him whilst in the jail to which he had replied; in them she had intimated to him that she would stick by him whatever the outcome.
The case was almost over and the judge was making his final sentence before announcing sentence.
“It matters not who stuck the fatal blow, it was a joint enterprise, you have both been found guilty as charged of Involuntary Manslaughter and Aggravated burglary.” Mr Justice Keenly was making his summing up prior to passing sentence.
“I have taken into consideration that you did not carry any weapons or plan the aggravated burglary and although I believe your initial reaction in delivering the initial blow to the head of the guard was not planned and was done on the spur of the moment, It has been proved by a medical expert that it was this second blow that caused the ultimate death of Mr John Wilinson. It has not been proved that this second blow was delivered with malice and aforethought otherwise you both would have been in front of me charged with murder.
Murder, the word inwardly shook both boys they were well aware that they were being charged with manslaughter but murder would have been a completely different charge.
“I have also taken into account of your ages” the judge continued “and that you have both admitted guilt at the onset of the police enquiry and at all times, you have cooperated fully with all departments,”
“In England and Wales manslaughter has a discretionary life sentence.” He continued.
At this last statement both boys now feared the worst. They had been led to believe by numerous people that anything between six years and twelve could be expected as normal but here the judge was talking about a life sentence.
“But taking all into consideration,” the judge continued, “I decree that you each be sentenced to one year for the aggravated Burglary charge and four years for the involuntary manslaughter charge. These sentences to run concurrently.”
Four and one, five years total they both almost audibly gasped.
“Take them down.” pronounced Mr Justice Keenly.
As they were being directed back to their holding cells to await transport to Long Frampton, Brian loudly remarked to David “Five years! Five years, I was expecting a lot more. I can do five years standing on my head, no problems.”
Brian’s statement was surely and act of bravado but David silently agreed he had been expecting a longer sentence. Yes, five years is better than he expected.
“You’ll do four years.” The cell officer interrupted.
“Whatdyr mean four years?” Brian retorted. “The judge gave us one year plus four that’s five.”
“Yes but he said to run concurrently which means happening at the same time. You will only have to do four years; two if you keep your nose clean and get full remission,
Two years it was the most welcome news David had had since that fatal day last February that meant that he could be released in early spring 2007 for In his mind he had no doubt that he would earn full remission as soon as he got home; he had to catch himself from thinking Long Frampton as being home, had he been institutionalised? As soon as he got back to the nick, he decided, he would draw up a calendar and mark every day off until his release date. For just a moment he almost fell into Brian’s trap as he thought ‘yes I can do two years standing on my head’.
George genuinely welcomed David’s good news and even offered to go and buy some hooch, in jest, to celebrate.
Hooch is an alcohol drink that is brewed from yeast and fruit purloined from the prison kitchen. Strictly illegal of course, but it is brewed and hidden in all manner of places throughout the jail. The brew has been sometimes known to have been laced with methanol, or anti-freeze, to strengthen the alcohol content. All prisoners are warned about drinking the hooch as it could impair your eyesight or even make you go blind but fools being frustrated fools will drink it anyway.
“No better not, we can just as easily celebrate with a can of coke” replied David and with that he produced two cans of Cola from his small personal cupboard that each inmate had.
“I was only joking when I suggested hooch” replied George.
”I know you was but here’s to the future” agreed David as he lifted his can.
As David lifted his drink to his lips, inwardly he was thinking this is the best feeling I have had since I came in here. “Cheers”
“Let’s get down to studying your latest GDP paper you downloaded” suggested George as he sat down. “Do you know I thought I knew most things about how to program a computer but as far as Games Development Systems, I know next to nothing? I’m learning just as much as you on this course and just as important, I’m enjoying it.”
David nodded his head in agreement. “And I’m enjoying learning from you your programming skills as well.”
“Just a point” continued George, “on the making of our computer game, yes we need a programmer which I suppose is me and we will need a Games systems developer, that is obviously you, we haven’t even thought yet about a musician. Making a successful computer game these days is like making a movie, it is big business”
“You mean we might meet up when we get out? David laughed already knowing the answer.
“Of course we are going to meet up on the outside. That is a foregone conclusion, and if all goes well my computer game idea will need all hands working on it and by the time you get out we will have, and need, your skills.
“You’ve taken into account that I won’t be out for almost another four months after you.”
“Don’t worry I’ll wait” assured George. “I plan to get a job, any job, when I get out because we will need some time to save up the money needed to start up.”
“My father has always said that he has a little money put by for me when I get married.” David began. “And I’m sure he would release some of it early if I could put a business plan together.”
“That could be a problem solved" agreed George as he lifted his can of cola, “cheers again.”
“Cheers.” David returned the toast.
George and David studied together whenever the opportunity arose and both were now learning each-others expertise very fast.
Brian was also learning fast, learning how powerful and lucrative drugs can be. He was now one of the head honcho’s right hand men. He carried out, without any conscience, any and all orders given to him by Big Clive for which he received and enjoyed all the advantages of power. Occasionally he was instructed to give a prisoner a beating, usually for not paying a debt back on time. The small debt not being the main reason for the beating, it was nearly always to show other inmates not to defy the Head Honcho. Clive had promised George a ‘heavies’ job when he got out with Big Clive’s father.
An incident that occurred early in his sentence reminded David that outward appearances can be very deceptive. On the surface the institution appeared calm and well organised but underlying factors still held sway.
David and his new found friend George were going to the shower block carrying their towels and bag of toiletries. As they approached the entrance Brian stood framed in the doorway. David realised that Brian had put weight on in the past month, probably because of the orderly meal times and the regular weight training he now practiced.
“This Shower block is closed.“ Brian said; the words rather than being informative sounded like a direct order.
David instinctively rebelled and was about to move forward to push past Brian.
George on the other hand quickly sensed that there could be trouble brewing; he instinctively reached out to take hold of David’s upper arm to lead him to an about turn. Almost at the same time another of Big Clive’s heavies came out of the shower block and both he and Brian walked away.
“Sorry about that” said George “taking your arm to lead you away but I sensed there was something was wrong and it was best for us to keep out of it.”
“Yes of course you were right George whatever was going on was none of our business.”
George nodded as he beckoned them to continue into the block for a shower.
As they entered the community shower area they immediately saw one of the younger inmates, whom they knew as Little Colin, lying on the tiled floor attempting to regain his feet, he was totally nude.
Both George and Brian rushed to help him regain his feet and as they did so they could hardly help but notice several reddening bruises beginning to appear on the young person’s body. His upper arms and legs had at least three bruises to each limb though none were apparent to his head or face.
As they helped him to his feet David began to say “what happened? I’ll go and get a screw to help us get you to the medical room.”
The young inmate violently shook his head saying “I’m alright I just slipped on the wet floor that’s all. Help me get dressed and back to my cell if you really want to help. I’m just a bit dazed, I‘ll be alright in a little while.”
“You need proper help you cannot just leave without seeing someone” urged David.
George now looked directly at David and shook his head urgently and said “Best to do as he says David, if Colin wants us to help him back to his cell then that’s all we should do.”
David had to agree if Colin insisted that he had only slipped on the wet floor who was he to contradict that.
After the incident later that morning in their room they were discussing the incident in the shower room. George reiterated that it is always best to keep your nose out of other people’s affairs especially were it was not wanted. Why Little Colin had been given a beating, for that’s what had occurred, was anybody’s guess and by interfering, the wrath could be brought upon oneself.
A lesson learned for David it may look calm on the surface but be very violent underneath.
Jayne continued to write to David on a regular basis sometimes three letters week and the letters, and his reply’s, were getting more intimate as time went on.
Hours passed into days and each day was very much like the next; the days into weeks and the weeks became months. It was towards the back end of November 2006 and George’s release was imminent. He had been informed officially that his early release for good behaviour had been granted and that his sentence had been reduced by half. He had been made aware that for the rest of his sentence he would be on licence and would have to report to a probation officer at regular intervals; initially once a week and when he proved himself settled in, once a fortnight.
The exact day of that week of his release he hadn’t been officially told.
“George! Clive wants to see you.” Brian had entered their room, without asking or knocking, with the message from the head Honcho.
“Well tell Clive I’ve no wish to see him.” George answered.
“When I said Clive wants to see you I was trying to be polite. Now I’m telling you, get off your fat arse and follow me. You can go the easy way or the hard way makes no difference to me” threatened Brian.
“Might be better if you just go see what he wants” suggested David; knowing full well that anything to do with Clive was usually bad news.
George reluctantly agreed to go with Brian.
“Listen George I need a favour from you.” Clive began. “Our friends on the outside need a little help. That warehouse you and your mates hit a couple of years ago it’s ripe for another hit. My contact needs the codes for the security systems.”
“Clive I don’t wish to be disrespectful to you or your mates on the outside but I don’t want to be involved with anything illegal. When I get out I’m going to keep my nose clean I intend to start up a legit computer business. Thanks but no thanks.”
“I obviously haven’t made myself clear George, my associates want the codes and you will give them to them. Understand?” Clive emphasised the word will. “You’ll need money for this computer business of yours and we can put plenty of it your way. You look after us and we will look after you.”
“Clive the codes I had before won’t be operable now anyway they will have been changed long ago.” George tried to reason.
“We are not fools, we already know that but when you get out the boys will set you up with new computers to retrieve the new codes. They will surely be in the same format and you are familiar with that format.”
“Sorry Clive I cannot do it. No”
“No George is not a word that we can accept. It’s you that will be sorry. The boys will pick you up on the outside be ready for them.” Clive threatened and then to Brian said “Get him out of here.”
“What do you think he’ll do?” Asked David when George told him what Clive had wanted.
“I don’t know but hopefully my release will come before he has a chance to do anything. I’ll just have to keep my head down that’s all.”
“Ah! But what will you do when you get out? Won’t this gang, Clive threatened you with, seek you out?”
“Hopefully after I qualify to move out of Midway, I’ll be able to get somewhere to live outside of Byker.”
Midway was a hostel for young people just out of detention who had no parents or guardians to move in with. It was part of the requirements of his parole, prior to moving back into conventional life.
“Listen George if you ever want help, accommodation that sort of thing, get in touch with my father. I’ll write his address down for you and tonight I’ll write to him to expect you. It’s the best I can do.”
“Thanks David, you are a true friend and I’ll not forget it. I will be waiting on the outside for you.”
“Good news for you I think Mr Samuels.” Principle Prison Officer Mr Collis was stood in the doorway of their room talking to George. “The governor wants to see you.”
Normally when the governor wanted to see an inmate it was to admonish or punish him for wrongdoing; but this time George was sure his release papers had come through and that usually it meant the coming morning.
The PO was true to his word it was good news, news that George had been waiting for all these months. As he stood before Mr Dawson’s desk most of what he was saying was going over his head, his mind was in such euphoria. Mr Dawson was reminding of the conditions of his release and the responsibilities he had to live up to during the period of his discharge license.
Mr Dawson shook his hand congratulating him on his good conduct whilst in this establishment, how he was sure that lessons had been learnt and he was certain that George would, from this time on, live a good clean and honest life.
Back in their room David also shook George’s hand warmly, he was genuinely pleased that at last George had got his freedom; a part of him regretted that he was leaving because George had been a very large part of his life in here.
“I’ll get out a couple of cans of Cola we’ll celebrate with a drink and I think we still have some chocky biscuits left.” David suggested.
“A good idea but I need to take a shower before lock down. I want to scrub every pore clean of this place and be like a new pin when I leave here tomorrow.”
David nodded his head in agreement as George picked up his towel and toilet bag then padded out of the room to go to the communal showers.
George had been gone about 10 minutes when Brian walked in the room again without any invitation to enter from David.
“Dave” Brian began I wish you would tell your mate to cooperate with Clive, things are looking and could get very nasty if he does not do as he asks; I have not been told to come and warn you, I’ve done this off my own bat, I’m just telling you as a mate. Tell him to watch his step cos it’s not finished, not by a long chalk.”
“I could never tell him to cooperate with Clive” David replied “George knows what he’s doing and as a matter of fact I completely agree with him.” Just as he was replying to Brian there seemed to be an unusual lot of noise coming from outside. There always was quite a noisy racket emanating from inmates just before lock down at eight but this noise seemed to have more of a sound of urgency.
“Probably somebody has just overdosed on a Subbie” offhandedly replied Brian and as he said that he turned about and walked out of the room. The noise wasn’t unusual but somehow it was.
George is taking a long time, thought David, he must be scrubbing all the time spent in here off himself, he decided.
Just as he was thinking this an inmate who occupied a room two doors down burst in. “Have you heard? Your mates been done in the shower.”
A chill went down David’s spine many similar beating had happened in there before.
He had witnessed the outcome of one and had learned that if it did not involve him then he should ignore it. No point in worrying about what he couldn’t mend was now his way of dealing with any violence within the institution; but this time it did involve him, well involve George and that was as good as.
David rushed out of his room towards the communal shower room but all around the entrance other inmates were collecting. Also at the door was a prison officer who had secured the entrances. The staff nurse arrived with another officer carrying a stretcher and pushed their way through the throng and entered the shower room. Other guards now appeared on scene and ushered the inmates to their individual cells. Lock down had come early tonight.
So many thoughts churned round David’s head that night, he just could not sleep; how was George and who had done what it to him? He could not blame Brian, not this time; Brian had been talking to him when the incident happened. It may not have been Brian, but without doubt Clive would have had a hand in it for very little beatings happened in this nick without Clive’s involvement or consent.
The following morning as all lined up for breakfast the main topic of conversation was George’s hammering and how he was. Speculation was rife ranging from; he was unhurt, he had minor bruising, he was on deaths door, he was dead and David feared the worst. Later that day PO Collis approached and asked if he could have a word. David followed him into the now empty visitor’s room; he beckoned David to sit down.
“Can you tell me how my mate George is?” David urgently asked.
“George has been transferred to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital” he began, “we are not certain at this stage how or what his injuries are. I will get to know later today and when I do I will come and let you know” he promised.
“He was supposed to be on release this morning.” David exclaimed. “What a way of getting out of here.
The officer nodded in agreement “did George have any enemies in here?”
“He told me that someone had proposed a scheme to him when he got out and that he had refused point blank. George has always assured me that he intends to go straight when he got out, and in fact we were hoping to go into a legit computer business together on my release.”
“Yes I am aware of all that and sincerely hope you both make it.” Mr Collis paused a little then said “Do you know who it was that propositioned him?”
David had to bite his tongue, he wanted to tell all that he knew but realised that he could not prove anything or who the person who did the beating was. Yes the order for the beating had most certainly come from Clive but could the authorities prove it. It was highly unlikely that anyone else would come forward with direct evidence. The governor and all of the prison staff already knew who the head honcho was and would be almost certain who was behind the beating but of course it could not be proved.
“I have as much of an idea as you have Mr Collis. I’m sure you have your suspicions and they are just as good as mine.”
PO Collis nodded, he knew all about prison protocol not to confirm or deny anything and without evidence nothing could be proved therefore no further action could be taken by the authorities. “OK I’ll keep you informed of George’s progress as I get to know it.” PO Collis promised, as got up from his chair, it was an indication that the interview was over.
Later that day David managed to phone his father and relate to him what had happened. His father promised that, if allowed, he would visit George in hospital to get some first-hand news.
The next day David phoned his father to ask if he had any news of George’s plight. Father told him that when he went to see George in hospital. He had been allowed to sit at the bedside but George’s being in an induced coma was unable to talk. An attendant nurse told him unofficially that George had many superficial injuries that would heal in time but he also had a severe injury to his head and that had caused compression and this was their main concern of the moment.
Two days after George’s accident, for that was how it was now being described within the institution, David’s father visited him. Surprisingly accompanied by Jayne. Her visit had been discussed before in letters but this was her first time visit.
Although David was pleased to see Jayne he wished it could have been under different circumstances, his father suggested that he go get them all a cup of coffee and conveniently left them alone for a few minutes. Looking at Jayne for the first time in ages he realised how attractive looking she was and now seeing her in the flesh he momentarily forgot George. He could see other inmates looking over at his eye-catching girlfriend, for that was what she had now become.
Too soon the visit came to an end and his father and Jayne had to leave. As they bade their farewells Jayne gave David a little peck on the cheek which made David’s juices flow. She promised she would be waiting for him on the outside and his dad further promised to update his son when he had more information on George.
As he returned to his cell, for that was what his room had now become, he felt very frustrated; frustrated that he could not see Jayne alone and for a longer time; frustrated that he was now without his friend George; frustrated that he could do nothing to avenge that friend; frustrated that he knew who was responsible for George’s injuries and frustrated that he was afraid to do something about it. He vowed and declared to himself that if he was ever in a position to could get back at Clive he would unhesitatingly do.
He decided to keep his head down and try and forget his exasperation and do his last few months absorbed in his studies. David sat down at the table and opened his manuals.
“I’m your new cellmate.” A rough looking youth announced as he entered the room. “My names Tony I’ve been transferred from B wing for fighting you should have seen the other guy.” He laughed. “What’s your name?” he asked as he threw his small kitbag onto the lower, David’s, bunk.
David took an instant dislike to Tony but could not afford to let him know that, after all he was destined to share a cell with him for the next three months when hopefully he would grain his remission.
He turned round slightly and non-committedly replied. “David.”
“I’m in for ABH” stated Tony smugly “what you in for?” Usually one doesn’t ask what another is serving time for; Tony’s question tended to prove how little he knew about prison protocol.
“Manslaughter!” replied David; he realised he was boasting but he felt a little satisfaction in taking Tony down a peg or two. “I’m in for manslaughter.”
The look of smugness left Tony’s face and now one of respect came over it. “Shall I take the top bunk?” Tony asked as he retrieved his kitbag and now placed it on the upper bunk.
“Yes, do that.” David delivered the answer as if it was an order. Round one to him, the pecking order within this cell had been established, but could he keep it up?
An understanding was slowly established between David and Tony; Tony was quite happy spending most of his free time outside of the cell fraternising with others in the communal hall; whilst David used his time in study. He was determined to pass his exam in GDS 3D computer programming later in the month.
Later that week his father relayed the news that George’s condition had rallied round somewhat and although he would remain in hospital for the rest of the week it was forecast that he may be released at the weekend.
Time passed. George had been discharged from hospital and was now ensconced in the Midway hostel; David’s father had visited him a couple of times and reported that he was making progress but very slow. When David asked his father what he meant about the slow progress he would not or could not elaborate. George being an ex-inmate couldn’t visit David in the institution and so they had to rely on e-mail or snail mail letters. The content of the letters worried David a little. George had always been correct in the punctuation of his writings; in the past in e-Mails he always clicked on the Spelling & Grammar button to check and correct any mistakes, now for some reason his mails were always full of spelling and grammatical mistakes. Certainly not like George at all.
The morning of his Bs.GDP exam arrived and David was a little apprehensive about taking it. He had gained quite reasonable marks for his other course work elements but feared that he might trip up at the last hurdle, the last written exam paper. He was now sat in Principle Officer Collis’s office, behind his desk with a sheaf of papers lying face down in front of him. The clock on the wall was approaching ten, Mr Collis who had already read and explained the guidelines for supervising the exam, asked David if he had any last minute questions before the exam started proper, he hadn’t and as both the second and minute hands reached twelve Mr Collis announced that David could now overturn his papers and begin. It was a two hour paper and David turned his full attention to it.
At exactly twelve O Clock Mr Collis said “Pen down please.” And the exam was over and the PO collected his papers. “How was it?” he asked.
“A lot harder than I expected.” David replied. “I will be very lucky if I even get a C pass.”
“I’m sure you will do better than that, I know how hard you have worked. To be able to write Bs.GDP. after your name will be fine but don’t despair in your future dreams if you don’t."
David’s cellmate Tony was less of a pain than at first he initially feared; after lock down at eight they would often talk about their fears and frustrations. Tony was not as hard as he always tried to appear, most of it was all front. He had run around with a teenage gang in North Shields, an area East of Newcastle. The ABH (Actual Bodily Harm) he had originally boasted about was none other than a small gang fight that went wrong. He was involved but more on the perfidy of the fight and instead of running away ran into the arms of the police. It being his third minor offence the magistrate’s court had sentenced him to a six month detention, he would do less than half of that if he kept his nose clean.
Six weeks after taking his last exam a P.O. popped his head round his room door and said. “The Governor wants to see you.” “Come with me?”
“This letter has arrived for you” Mr Dawson said.” It had been sent to me at this establishment to hand over to you personally.” The governor announced, handing over a sealed envelope. ”From the address on the back it looks as it is from the exam board, would you like to open it in the privacy of your own room or here now?”
David took the letter and began opening as he said. “I may as well read it now and get the bad news over with.” On reading the contents a smile slowly began to spread across his face he was obviously happy with the content.
“How did you do?”
“I think I have got a first with honours” he announced, almost unbelieving what he had read or said. He handed over the letter for Mr Dawson to confirm.
The Governor accepted letter the said “Then let me be the first to congratulate you. I know you have worked very hard during your time here and I cannot think of any person who deserves the credit more. You have got a first and now this establishment has also got a first. You are the first person ever to achieve a degree whilst studying here. Well done.” The governor took and shook David’s hand most sincerely.
At last the day, David seemed to have been waiting half of his life for, arrived. Breakfast was at 7-30 and by nine o clock he was in the Governor’s office receiving his release, on licence, papers. Mr Dawson again congratulated him on him passing his Bs.GDP. in computing and hoped it would lead to a successful career; he warmly shook his hand and nodded his permission to Principle officer Collis for him to escort David to his new life on the outside.
Mum and Dad were waiting directly outside the main gate to the Institution and when David saw them he felt like running into their open arms but restrained himself and tried to appear nonchalant. His mother was crying openly with happiness and his father’s eyes glistened somewhat, David himself felt as if he might fill up but feared that was not quite manly. He may have gone into the prison a youth but now he felt he had come out more of a man.
In normal circumstances Brian should have had the same release day as David but because Brian had been caught red handed in the brewing and supplying of hooch, two weeks had been deducted from his good behaviour record; a further two week had also been deducted for being caught in possession of ‘Subies’ with intent to supply. Brian could be released in a month’s time provided he didn’t get caught breaking any more of the establishment rules, which David doubted.
It seemed a little strange sitting here, on his bed, in his own bedroom. Not a thing had been changed in his room, his mother had made sure of that, but it was now different; no, it was not the room that was different it was himself who was different; he no longer was the boy that had once used this room, he was a lot wiser and an adult now. His priority was to find a job and use the degree qualification that he had earned. First thing, he thought, I’ll phone Georges Hostel and see how he is and let him know I’m coming to visit him, then tomorrow morning he would get the bus into Newcastle and sign on with the an employment agency who specialises in finding places within the computer industry. Then I’ll visit George in the Midway Hostel
But tonight, he thought, I will sleep in my own bed and I may or may not leave the door open, depending how I feel.
David had rang up and made an appointment with the ACEIT Jobs Agency Ltd. of Queens Street, Newcastle and afterwards had rang George’s Hostel, leaving a message that he would be visiting later that afternoon.
The interview at the agency was a little disappointing, there were no jobs within his field at this time but they took his details and qualifications and said they would certainly be in touch with him when circumstances change.
He was looking forward to seeing George again, since George’s release from hospital David had had very little contact with him and he was looking forward to rekindling their friendship.
“Hello George my old mate, how are you?” David greeted his friend and warmly took and shook his hand.
The return handshake was rather limp and very little hand grip returned. “I’m Ok.” He replied rather dejectedly. Yeah! Things are Ok, how are you?”
It soon became obvious that George was not ok and was not his old self. George could never have been described as an outwards going person but could usually hold his own in any conversation with anyone. The person in front of him now seemed totally unsure of himself. After much probing David managed to ascertain that George still had problems from his physical encounter in the Young Persons Institute. He still complained of headaches and in general his heath was waning, he was still undergoing treatment as an outpatient at the Royal Victoria hospital.
David suggested that they go out for a walk around the town and even then George laboured in walking, needing a stick to help keep his balance.
George related to him how, soon after his release from hospital, two men had approached him and wanted him to get involved with another fraud scheme involving computer theft. He had told them in no uncertain terms that he wanted nothing more to do with crime. Their reply was that the ‘Head’ would not like his answer and that they would be back. When George had questioned who the ‘Head’ was, the answer was the same that he had received in the Institution, the head was the same one George had originally worked illegally for; he just had not known at that time whom the top man had been. He had since discovered that the head of the gang was the father of Big Clive.
David left his friend late that evening promising to return as soon as he was able; he had a lot to think about.
The following day David caught the bus to Ashington to see his probation officer. He was informed that he would be required to attend for interview every Wednesday for four successive weeks and if all progressed OK then once a fortnight until his sentence on license expired. He also took the opportunity to visit the Job Centre to sign the unemployment register.
Over the next few days David and Jayne regenerated their relationship and they were now an item.
The next time he visited George he could see his physical appeared had deteriorated even more than before, he had become a shadow of his old self. “They have been on to me again.”
“The same two heavies that pulled me the other day but this time they were far more threatening. I’m supposed to meet them tomorrow afternoon at three.”
“Are you going to? Surely not.”
“No, of course no, I told them that as soon as I got back to the hostel I was going to tell the warden who would ring the police about their approach.”
“And did you?”
“No, not as yet, but if they pull me again I will have no option but to at least tell my probationer. It is part of my license terms about any criminal contact that I might have.”
“Yes I know that but might that get you into deeper water. These people have no scruples they think nothing of beating people up. Look what happened to you in the nick; that might just be their starter for ten and might just decide to soften you up some more.”
“That’s what I’m frightened about as well. I’d like to get away from here but under my bail conditions I cannot move with my probationers consent.”
“Tell you what, when I go back home I’ll explain to my dad about the predicament you are in. He’ll agree, I’m sure, that you could come and live with us for a while, at least until the heat wears off. I’ll get dad will phone your probation officer and explain the problem, I’m sure they could arranged for you to sign on at my probation office in Ashington.
It was agreed by them both that could be the better course of action and as David left a look of relief had spread across George’s face. George seemed to look better already. David remained with his friend for as long as he could before taking his leave and promising that his father would soon solve their problems.
David, on his return home and after explaining to his father about George’s predicament it was agreed that George should come to live with them in Newbiggin. John would phone the probation officer first thing the coming morning.
When his father rang George’s probation Officer she said that she needed a little more information before she could sanction George’s release from her care but agreed, on principle, that it might be the better course of action. She would get back to him as soon as she had made some enquiries.
That afternoon David’s father John answered the phone; it was George’s probation officer, there had been a problem; George had been injured in a motor cycle accident. He had been taken to the Royal Victoria hospital in Newcastle and, at this time, she had very little further news to give.
“Dad will you take me to the hosp…”
“Of course I will son.” His father butted in before he could even finish. “Get yourself ready I’ll go and get the car out of the garage.”
“George Samuels of 26 Throstle Street, Byker?” the hospital receptionist asked.
“Yes that’s him.” David confirmed.
“Are you a relative of Mr Samuels?”
“No, we are just very good friends.”
“Then I have to tell you Mr Samuels was pronounced dead this morning at around 9-15.”
David’s knees almost collapsed under him. “How, I mean where? Err…”
“I’m sorry I cannot give out any further information other than that he was involved in a road traffic accident.”
“Can I see him?” David spoke, before he had thought, did he want to see him?”
“I’m sorry that’s not possible at this time only the next of kin can do that.”
David was a little relieved at the receptionist’s decision; he had not really wanted to see George’s lifeless body. “I understand thank you.” he said.
“Will you take me to see his probation officer?” David then asked his father.
“Yes of course.”
“I cannot add much to what I told you on the phone this morning.” The lady probation officer said. “The Warden of the Midway Hostel rang me and said that George had left the hostel to go out for his morning newspaper as he usually did around eight thirty. About an hour or so later the police rang him to say that George he had been involved in a motor cycle accident and had been taken to hospital. So that’s as much as I know at this stage. I will be in touch with the police for an update and when I have further information I will let you know.”
“Thank you” replied David. “What about the motor cyclist?”
“That’s a mystery. It appears it was a hit and run accident. The motor cyclist involved did not stop.”
“Wow!” gasped David. “Do you think George’s problem had anything to do with the accident?”
“That is what concerns me. When you rang me earlier and told me George was having problems and your suggestion that he be allowed to live with you for a while intrigued me. Exactly what problems was George having?”
David began to describe to her about what happened in the Young offenders Institution. How George had been propositioned then threatened to commit further offences when he was discharged. About how two heavies had approached him just a day or so ago and propositioned him, with George refusing and how he threatened them that he intended informing the police.
“From what you have told me, I have no alternative but to now inform the police and I’m sure they will want to talk to you.” The probationer confirmed.
David nodded his head “I will cooperate with them all I can.”
“Who actually propositioned him in the Youth Offenders Institution?”
“George told me it was the head honcho.” David answered. He was being interviewed by two plain clothes police officers from the Newcastle Metropolitan Police
“Whose name is?”
“I don’t know.”
“You have just come out of the nick and you don’t know who the head honcho is?”
“Of course I do, as I’m sure Mr Dawson and CPO Collis, and all the other staff at the nick. Everybody in there knows who he is, a telephone call from you to one of them will confirm this, why don’t you ask one of them?”
“We are asking you.”
David had to study long and hard over the question before he said,” There is already one person dead because of his involvement with them and I don’t want to be the next. No I’m sorry I cannot tell you.”
“Did George tell you what the proposition was about?”
David told them exactly what George had said, how they had wanted him to research codes for the security computers at the discount warehouse. How George had refused and was later beaten up in the shower room. How soon after his release, two men had also confronted him in Byker for the same reason. How, only the day before the accident the same two men had confronted him again and George had threatened to inform the police.
“Did he say which warehouse?”
“No. but I’m sure if you look up George’s file it will be in the records which warehouse it was.”
“Who did he say had threatened him in Newcastle?”
“Just two heavies.”
“That’s how George described them. They accosted him on two separate occasions.”
“You haven’t given us a lot to go on,” said the officer, “most of what you have told us is hearsay evidence and would not stand up in a court of law.”
“I can only tell you what I know.”
“Which isn’t much because what you have told us cannot be proved one way or the other?” The officer replied and David had to agree with that statement.
Just as the officers got up and made ready to go, David asked “Have you caught the person on the motor bike that killed George.”
“Not as yet, we are continuing with our enquiries.”
The following appeared in the Local Evening Chronicle Newspaper:-
It has now been confirmed that the person involved in the hit and run accident in Throstle Street, Byker was that of Mr George Samuels of The Midway Hostel, Byker. It is believed that he died at the scene of the accident. The motor cyclist is, at this time, unidentified. Witnesses have stated that the motorcyclist wore dark leathers and a black crash helmet with no identifying marks or features. Police are appealing to any potential witnesses for any information regarding the accident and are continuing with their enquiries.
“An accident!” exclaimed David looking over to his parents who were also watching the program. “How can the police possibly treat it as an accident? It was murder. George was murdered.”
Both parents nodded their agreement knowing full well the police had to treat it as an accident until they could prove otherwise. David was feeling a little guilty about not disclosing to the police that, although the original criminal proposition to George came from Clive and that order probably came indirectly from others on the outside.
Two days after the telephone rang, David answered it. “Could I speak to Mr David May please?”
“Good morning, my name is Carol Jacobs, I’m from the Amrotex Group and your details have been passed to me by the ACEIT Jobs Agency I wonder if I might ask have you got a position yet or are you still looking?”
Not as yet and yes I am still looking.
Looking through your qualifications we might be able to offer you an interview for a placement we have. Would you be interested?”
“Yes course I’m certainly interested.”
We are situated at Lincoln Mews in Newcastle, do you know it?”
“No, but I can certainly find it. When would it be convenient to come down to see you?”
“Would a week today be convenient?
“Yes that is fine by me.”
“Shall we say ten o Clock?”
“Yes, on Tuesday a week today, at ten o Clock. I look forward to seeing you Miss Jacobs.”
“And I to you Mr May. Goodbye.”
David, felt on top of the world he was very excited at the prospect of a job, his first job and he could hardly wait until his parents came in from work to tell him them. Thinking further into the job prospect it occurred to him that there would be a great deal of travelling involved. Newbiggin was around 16 miles from Newcastle; a bus journey could be up to an hour each way at peak periods. In his mind he began to make plans for the future; for the first few months or so he’d have to bus commute to Newcastle but as soon as he was earning a living perhaps he might be able to afford a car. A few months after that he might rent a flat nearer work, get married to Jayne have children Oh! The future looks rosy; things are looking up at last. Jayne will be pleased I’ll go round now and tell her.
David felt the urge to visit George’s grandmother in the Swan Valley old people’s nursing home and he and Jayne caught the bus into North Shields. Grandmother was suffering from dementia and seemed in a world of her own. She didn’t appear to comprehend that her grandson had passed away. Other than his condolences at their initial meeting, David didn’t refer to it again and even looked upon her ignorance of what had happened as a blessing in disguise; she was neither happy nor unhappy at George’s passing away. He was glad he has Jayne with him to make conversation for very little came from Grandmother other that one word answers to any questions.
Very little happened the coming week there being no further updated news on TV about George’s death and the police had not contacted him as they had implied they may want to. He and Jayne saw each other every day now. Jayne worked part time in a hairdressing salon, she was still leaning her trade. Both discussed David’s new job prospects and planned that sometime, when they could afford it, she would like to open her own coiffeur salon in Newcastle or, if David got promoted and had to move to the company head office, even London .
“Good Morning Mr May welcome to Amrotex” Carol Jacobs said the. “Please come inside.” She said as she beckoned him into her office and proffered him a seat opposite her at the desk. “Is it OK if I call you David?”
“Yes of course.” agreed David as he sat down.
“Please call me Carol, I always prefer these initial interviews to be on a friendly casual basis; I find I can get to know the personality of a person better that way. You’ll find that here at Amrotex Group we are a team and all call each other by our first names, even the MD is known as Reg.”
David took an instant liking to Carol and felt as if he was going to like working in an environment such as this.
“Can I explain a little about what we do here Amrotex. Ours is a company that looks after the computer security of other large establishments. We write and develop computer programmes to a specific customers need. Obviously no one programme is suitable for every need. We deal with many major oil and Gas companies as well as a few well known banks and building societies’. Initially you would be part of a three man team headed by David Gibbs, our senior controller. Does this type of work sound interesting to you?”
“I am interested in all matters to do with computing and hopefully when I get some practical experience I‘ll find a division in which I would like to specialise.” David hoped he had answered the question to Carol’s satisfaction. It was his very first interview and didn’t want to say too much for fear of putting his foot in it.
“Tell me a little about yourself? I see here in your CV you gained a Bs.GDP. in Computer Development Systems; congratulations on a 1st with hons. by the way.”
“Do you think you could adapt your skills to our branch of computing?”
“I’m positive I could. At the onset of my study for a degree I expected to write computer games programming code, there was a reason for that but not anymore; the more deeper I studied the more I realised Computing is a vast area and one cannot possibly know every branch. As I say I hope to develop new skills as they come along.”
“I agree.” Carol replied. “Again looking at your CV I note that you gained your degree only this year and you are now coming up to 21, what work experiences have you had before that?”
Carol’s question knocked him back like a sock in the mouth. How was he to answer such a question?
He father had earlier warned him that his past would crop up in interview but he hoped that his high qualification would see him through. He had thought to just say that he had been unemployed and hope to leave it at that. He had put the matter to the back of his mind telling himself that he would deal with it as it cropped up. Now here he was, having to make the decision.
To come clean he decided; and come clean he did leaving nothing out, other than the George thing that is.
“So you are still under licence?” Somehow Carol’s face had fallen
“Yes for another eighteen months but I know I can prove myself to your company, all my past is completely behind me, all I want is a chance to show my determination to succeed. I’ll do any…”
“I must stop you at this stage.” Carol held up her hand. “I need guidance from my Managing Director on this subject, who I’m sorry to say is out of office at this present time. Can I ring you back on your home number later this week when hopefully we can continue this interview at a later date?”
David crestfallen nodded.
"It’s been a pleasure meeting you David," she said as she rose from her chair and offered her hand for him to shake. Obviously the interview was now at an end.
True to her word, three days later, Carol did ring him back but it was only to inform him of bad news, however much she apologised for wasting his time, he had not got the job.
David’s world had fallen apart. Yes he accepted that he had done wrong but he had paid for it and, how he looked at it, he was now paying for it again. How was he to tell Jayne? More important how was he to tell his parents, they would almost be as disappointed as he.
“Don’t worry son there will be other jobs” was his father’s reaction to the bad news, his mother nodding in agreement behind him.
Jayne’s response was just as supportive. “Just do not let it get you down, whatever happens in the future I am behind you, successful or not.”
The comments helped a little but not a lot. David decided that he did not want to go through an interview ordeal like that one again so he rang the ACE jobbing agency to tell them about his past and how he was still under licence for a further eighteen months. It might be better if any prospective employer was aware of this before deciding to interview him. The agency understood and amended his file forthwith.
David duly began to sign the unemployment register every fortnight and each time the centre receptionist would ask him what steps he was taking to find himself a job, at the same time reminding him that his file indicated that he had never been in any full time occupation. Each time he answered truthfully their questions he was becoming more and more frustrated; constantly asking himself what was the point of all the hard work he had done in the nick trying to better himself. He had applied for numerous jobs ranging from builders labouring and general council work to office jobs starting at the very bottom but he was turned down from them all with varying excuses, from being over qualified, too old or having no previous experience; but David knew the real reason, it was because of his past and that he was still on parole.
David’s father was reading the Evening Chronicle, the local North East newspaper when he remarked, ”I see that there was a coroner’s inquest last Friday and the verdict given was that George was the victim of a hit and run accident by person unknown.
“Let me have a look.” Said David
The Coroner of the inquest at Newcastle Crown Court has determined that the death of George Samuels of 26 Throstle Street, Byker was due to misadventure by person unknown. Mr Samuels had been crossing the Ryan Street, Conaught Road, Pedestrian crossing in Byker at 9-13am on the twelve of this month when he was in contact with a red Yamaha motor cycle. The rider, who wore dark clothing and a black crash helmet, drove away from the scene without stopping. Police are asking for any information from the public regarding the accident.
“Why wasn’t I called to give evidence of foul play?” David said out loud, “I could have told them how he was threatened and how he had said he would tell the police.” Almost at the same time as he spoke he realised that he was as guilty as anyone at not telling the police all he knew. If he ever found out who had murdered George I will avenge him, he again vowed to himself.
“And how are you progressing on the job front.” His probation officer had asked. David went through the same routine as he had done many times to her and to the Job Centre receptionist. He explained how frustrated he was, how he had almost given up on trying to get employment in the IT and computer industry; how he felt as if it had all been a waste of time studying for the degree. The probation officer nodded her understanding of his situation but added that at least he is far better educated generally now, than when he first went inside. “But I am still without a job” he retorted. She silently had to agree with him.
The very same thing happened at the job centre when he signed on; he felt the receptionist was not trying to understand his position. David blew his top. He had been expecting her oft repeated warnings about him getting a job. With a flourish he threw a sheaf of papers he had prepared proving that he had tried many avenues in finding employment. “What do you think these application and rejection forms are toilet paper? For that’s all they seem to be worth now anyway.”
“Please calm down Mr May getting exited will not help your case.” She tried to pacify him.
“Clam down, there are a million and half unemployed out there and you are telling me to get a job. You find me a job, any job and I will take it.”
“It is not our remit to find you a job you must find one of your own.”
As a finale he then threw his Bs.GDP award certificate down. “Does even a degree with honours get one a job nowadays? No! Have you got one of them? I so very much doubt it.”
“Please hand me your unemployment card for me to sign.” She answered coolly.
David handed her his card and retrieved his sheaf of documents as she said “Thank you Mr May we will see you in a fortnight.”
David as a one last flourish retorted “I’m telling you here and now find me a job, any job, and I will take it that is a promise.”
David was walking through the Ashington Main Street to the bus station and was window shopping looking at things he could not afford to buy; as he passed the Greasy Spoon Café and bemoaning to himself the fact that he could not even afford to buy a cup of coffee and a donut these days, his eyes were directed to a small notice in the window.
Having read it he determined that this was not the type of work for him; what did he know about working in a café? As he walked on David began to have second thoughts, he’d enquire, knowing full well that he would not get the job but at least he would be able to prove to the job centre and his probation officer that he was trying to find work.
“Wow! That was quick.” The man answered, when David had enquired about the job. ”I have only just this minute put the ad in the window.”
“My dad always told me to strike whilst the iron is hot. Would you consider me for the job?”
“Don’t know about that, I was really expecting a dolly bird type to fit the bill.”
“I might not be as good looking as a dolly bird but I’m certainly a lot stronger than one, carrying sacks of potatoes and the like around, I could always put on a skirt and lipstick if you insist.” David smiled at his own little joke.”
“I like your style lad and you seem to have enthusiasm,” the man replied, also smiling. “But the notice in the window did say it is a part time job of only thirty hours a week. And it’s only minimum pay. Thanks for your enquiry lad but I’m sure it’s not for you.“
David had to think quickly; how could he convince the man that he was serious without showing he was in desperate need of the job. “Tell you what Sir.” David hoped that by referring to the man as Sir it might impress him. “Set me on for a week’s trial; if at the end of the week you don’t think I have earned my pay then don’t pay me. If you think I have earned my pay but still not the right person for you, then pay me and lay me off but I’m hoping to impress you and then you will keep me on.”
Well your offer certainly does impress me, I’ll give you that and I have nothing to lose” The owner relied. “Tell you what, when can you start?”
“Right this minute if you want.”
“Well business is a little slow this late in the afternoon so I’ll just explain your duties and what I expect of you then you can make a start tomorrow morning at eight, is that OK?”
“Yes sir.” David replied he felt quite proud of himself, it may not be the greatest job in the world but it was a job, a job he did not have a few minutes ago.
“No need to call me Sir, my names Tom. Now what do I call you?
“I’m pleased to meet you David” he said as he took and shook his hand “and I hope we get along.”
Tom Taylor had a wizened old, lived in, face and he could have been anything between fifty and seventy years of age. He looked slightly less in height than average but that could be due to the slight stoop that he had. David’s eyes were attracted to Tom’s woollen cardigan that looked as if it had seen better days and his apron certainly needed a launder. But all in all David took an instant liking to Tom and hoped they could become friends as well as workmates. David had noticed a slight limp in his right leg when Tom had initially approached him and made a mental note that he might ask what the problem was; when he had got to know him a little better that is.
Tom proceeded to show David his way of doing things; Tom’s specialty was full English breakfasts, bacon sandwiches and burgers, ‘workmen’s comfort food’ as he put it. Tom would do all the cooking and David would be expected to wait and clear tables, wash up afterwards and keep the place general clean.
Tom explained the café was opened six days of the week, Monday to Saturday and that David’s day off was the whole of Wednesday. This was ideal for David as he had a regular monthly appointment with his probation officer on Wednesdays; as yet he hadn’t got round to telling Tom that he was on probation, someday soon, he promised himself, he would.
The greasy spoon café was ideally named because the inside looked like a greasy spoon how the food inspectors had missed this place was anyone’s guess. The cafe was the middle one of the nine-shop, through terrace properties. The front doors of the shops were on the main street with a back doors leading onto the parking and loading areas. The upper part of the building looked unused. David was determined that during, and hopefully after, his weeks trial Tom would see the advantages of keeping him on.
As David left to continue his walk to the bus station he wondered what his father would say about his new job, would he think lowly of him for taking a job beneath his qualifications.
He need not have worried both parents were supportive of his decision even to the point that his father had said he was proud of him for taking a job, any job.
Jayne was slightly less supportive she could not see much further than a lowly job that carried lowly wages; how could they hope to get married and survive on such low pay. David and Jayne had often discussed that they might get married someday when they could afford it and that, from her point of view, seemed a long way off now. David tried to explain that if he could afford to hold the job down for at least the rest of his parole period then he could still seek employment in the IT field after it. Jayne, who was in training to become a hairdresser, rather reluctantly agreed.
David arrived at the ‘Spoon’ ten minutes before eight hoping to impress his new boss. It seemed to have worked because Tom remarked “at least you are not a clock watcher.”
Tom must have started a little earlier because the ovens were hot and bacon was already sizzling on the grill. Tom remarked that most of the food served early morning was ‘full English’ breakfast food.
David looked around to see how he could start before any customers arrived; some of the salt, pepper and sauce containers needed replenishment so he busied himself doing that until the first customer came in. The man sat down and demanded. “A ‘Full English’ quick as you like.”
“Yes sir, coming up.” He relayed the order to Tom and David’s first day had begun.
The rest of the day went without major incident and David felt as if he had given a good account of himself, Tom must have thought the same as he said. “You can knock off now lad, I can manage from now on, seeing as it was your first day you have done well and I’m quite pleased.”
David nodded and carried on cleaning his last table before retrieving his coat and making ready to leave. “See you tomorrow Tom!”
“Yes. See you David, have a good day, well the rest of what’s left of it anyway.”
Much the same happened the rest of the week. David took orders, relayed food, cleared up and generally cleaned and tidied up as his time permitted.
One occasion of note occurred on his third day. Four young teenagers had strutted into the café sat down, feet up on other chairs and one demanded “Two cokes ‘toot suite’.” The youth laughed as he ordered, he seemed to be the alpha male of the group.
Tom looked over from his griddle and shook his head. “What’s up Tom?” David asked.
“These lads come in pretty regular and make a nuisance of themselves by throwing salt and pepper all over, very rarely do they buy much and even then they complain. I’m sick of them I have asked them to behave in the past, and not to come back, but they don’t take any notice. If I’d been twenty years younger their feet would never have touched the floor as I threw them out.”
David walked back and whispered in the alpha male’s ear asking him if he could have a word with him in the backroom in that it might be advantageous to him. Alpha male laughed nodded then swaggeringly followed David into a back storage room.
As they entered the storage room David suddenly turned and grabbed the youth by his lapels and pulled him close up, eye to eye, until his nose was always almost touching the youth’s nose. Then he slowly hissed. “I have brought you back here so that I don’t show you up in front of your mates. If you and your mates get out now and don’t ever come back, this is the last you will hear from me but if you don’t go now! I will throw you out bodily through the front plate glass window and then your mates will follow you, one by one, through that same glass hole. I have just come out of the nick for homicide and I’ve eaten bigger than you for before breakfast. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”
The youth who now looked pale and deflated, nodded eagerly “err, err, yes.”
“Okay you can go and tell your mates anything that you want but leave now and don’t ever come back!” David turned and walked out with the youth sheepishly following.
“Come on we are going” said the youth to his mates and as they were following him outside he was telling them that the waiter was queer and he’d just been propositioned and they were not going in there again
“Wow! You got rid of them quick. What did you say to him?”
“I gently persuaded him that his and his mates’ custom was not welcome anymore in this establishment.” David laughed. In fact both he and Tom had a good laugh together.
By the end of the week David had not only received his weeks’ pay but was offered and took a regular Job.
Not only was Tom highly satisfied with David’s work, David himself was satisfied with working; it was his very first wage ever and it gave him a nice sense of fulfilment.
Over a period of weeks David soon realised that the bulk of the cafes income came from the morning and lunchtime workman’s trade, breakfasts, chips, sandwiches and the like. The afternoon trade was almost non-existent that was why the job could only part pay time. When he put the point to Tom, Tom agreed but had no idea how to fix it.
“Can I say something without you taking offence?” began David.
Tom cautiously nodded and said “Yes?”
“Perhaps you could think of the decoration in here” David began looking round. “Perhaps it could be redecorated with some nice new light coloured pastille shades.”
“You are right.” said Tom “And I agree but have you any idea how much it will cost to have this place redecorated professionally. There is no way I could do it with my bad hip.””
“I’ve thought of that, maybe I could do it in the evenings you could pay me just the basic hourly rate.”
“How much do you think it will cost?”
“I have even thought about that as well and reckon I could do it in three evenings of three hours each. Say nine hours at basic pay, say fifty quid. Plus your paint etc. around another fifty, a total of about a hundred pounds. How does that sound?”
“Sounds good to me when can you start?”
“Tomorrow night OK?”
“I’ll leave the colour scheme up to you; just tell me how much you want to go buy paint and do the job when you want.”
David was quite pleased that Tom had given him clearance to make decisions and now looked forward to the task. When David told Jayne he’d be busy the next three evenings and why, she insisted that she wanted to help; in her eyes it would be a joint project. Jayne inputted the female touch with Yellow, white and light blue pastille shades and hand drawn flower motifs randomly painted around the walls.
“The café was completed transformed; now it was more than just a work man’s eating place. Tom was delighted with the transformation of his café.
“Tom, might I make another suggestion?”
“Go ahead lad, your last suggestion certainly worked out so I’m all ears.”
"Do you think we should to change the café‘s name?"
It’s always been named ‘The Greasy Spoon’ ever since I took it over fourteen years ago,” began Tom “but I can see what you mean; it now looks like a proper café from the inside; from a greasy spoon type place to quite a pleasant watering hole where older persons might begin to drop in for a cup of tea and a scone in the afternoons.”
“Have you any name preferences or suggestions?” David asked
“Let’s both of us sleep on it and maybe we can come up with the right one.” Tom replied.
David was so pleased that Tom had again taken his suggestions seriously, now he was asking him to help decide its new name.
David discussing the name change with Jayne asked for her input. Even without appearing to think about it she exclaimed “Copper Kettle.” As soon as David heard the suggestion it seemed an ideal name, the word ‘Copper’ seemed to suggest sturdiness, cleanliness and quality, whereas the ‘Kettle’ part suggested homeliness, a nice cup of tea. When the name change was suggested to Tom he was delighted and said “book a sign writer immediately.”
David made another suggestion that he be allowed to paint the outside of the café before a sign writer was booked, same conditions as before. Tom just said “Get it done lad.”
Slowly but surely the café began catering for older persons who liked to call in in the afternoon for a cuppa and a chat; the cafes main clientele still being his early morning and lunchtime ‘English’ food.
With the increase in takings Tom offered David to work full time. David for the very first time in his life was contented, he had a full time job, maybe not very well paid but it was adequate and certainly fulfilling, a girlfriend who he could rely on and parents who provided a very comfortable home life.
In about two months’ time he would be twenty one and just after be released from court licence and the finish of his probationary period.
Now that he had a regular income he could afford to take Jayne out socially, an occasional pub meal or a visit to the cinema was a norm rather than just a stroll around the Newbiggin town. Many times they had discussed getting married and setting up a home together and hopefully raising a family but their present low combined incomes meant that they would only be able to afford accommodation at the very low end of the scale. They looked forward to the time when David was released from his probationary period and then he might begin making use of his qualifications and to apply for jobs in IT.
David had now been working at the Copper Kettle for almost a year and a half now; Tom had slowly released the reigns of control of the café to David and he now was more of a manager rather than just a hired hand. Tom had allowed him to take over the café’s stock control and he now sought out, and paid for, the best bargains. David regular totted up and recorded the day’s takings and made visits to the bank.
Tom’s right hip problem turned out to be Osteoarthritis and he was on the NHS waiting list to have a hip replacement. Although Tom rarely complained about his health problems jokingly he said that by the time I get the right hip done the left will need doing as well.
The week before David’s twenty first birthday as they were about to close the café Tom, locking the door, took him to one side and said “Sit down lad I have got something to tell you.”
Tom sounded very serious; David’s first thought was he about to fire him? What had he done wrong?
As they sat at one of the tables Tom began. ”As I’ve remarked many times to you lad, that I’m not getting any younger and as you know my left hip has started playing up almost as much as my right one. Over the last few months my wife and I have discussed our future and we have made a decision; we have decided that I should retire and sell up.”
“But where does that leave me? Does that mean I’m out of a job?” David butted in
“Hold your horses’ lad, let me finish.”
Tom then went on to explain how, due to his hip problems, he was physically finding it harder to work in the café standing the long hours at the grill. How his daughter, who lived in Leeds, was about to converted part of her property into a granny flat and had invited them to go and live there. He explained that he and his wife had, after much deliberation, decided to sell their house and the café to finance the move and to pay for a private hip operation to both his limbs. Tom said that he had originally acquired the café on a forty year lease and as he had had it for around fourteen years there was still just over twenty five years still to run; because of the shortness of the lease an estate agent had estimated the market value to be slightly over £95,000.
“I want to give you the first refusal.” Tom said
“You would consider selling the café to me?” David answered and at the same time thinking there is no way I could raise five grand let alone ninety five.”
“It’s the least I can do, you have done a lot of work in the café and it’s much appreciated and even if you cannot manage to buy it and I sell it on I’ll be giving you a bonus for what you’ve done.”
“Even so, ninety five thousand!”
“I agree it’s a lot of money to raise, even banks are reluctant to lend money on property nowadays so I’d agree to a solicitor properly drawing up a contract giving you a private mortgage on the property proving you can come up with around twenty five thousand pounds deposit. I know that sound a lot of money but my wife and I have reckoned we’d need this to finance my hip operations and our move south to Leeds.”
“Twenty five grand?”
“Yes, I wish I could take less but the wife and I retire in two years’ time and we need to supplement our income until our pensions are due.”
“Can I discuss your offer with my dad before you make any decisions?”
Of course lad you need to think it over and get proper advice. I won’t do anything without consulting you first.”
“I understand your position Tom and although I am disappointed at what’s going to happen I fully understand and thank you for the first refusal. I talk to my dad tonight.”
“There is no immediate rush for an answer” said Tom “but I’d like one within a couple of weeks if you can.”
“It’s a lot of money son.” David’s father was home and putting a point
“Yes but didn’t you once tell me that you had put some money by to help me when I got married?”
“Yes but not ninety five grand’s worth.”
“Tom did say he would accept just twenty five thou in cash and the rest on a private mortgage but I didn’t fully understand what a private mortgage is. Do you know?”
“A private mortgage,” his father began to explain. ” is, as I understand it, that you don’t borrow the money from a bank as would be usual; instead you borrow from another person or usually the owner. You pay your monthly mortgage directly to the owner; he receives the repayments plus the interest on the sum, owed. The money owed is directly tied to the property until the debt is paid off.”
“But if I could raise the deposit I’m sure I could pay any mortgage payments out of the profits.” David was trying to convince his father that the business was a viable proposition. “More just lately Tom has trusted me with accounts and although I don’t actually do the full accounts, an auditor does them, I do see details of income and outgoings. I reckon on average the café is making a clear profit of around £400 pounds a week, take into account it pays me around £250 that’s well over a six hundred pounds income I could have. I know Jayne would love to pack her job in at the salon and work there. There are two rooms upstairs now being used as storage rooms that can be converted to living quarters. Jayne and I, when we get married that is, could live above the café. We could even open the cafe on Sunday’s which would earn extra income. OH! Dad I have so many plans running round in my head.”
“You paint a rosy picture son and I will gladly release the little money your mother and I have been saving for your future but I fear it won’t be enough. There is about ten thousand pounds in that account at this time. We were going to hand it over to you as a twenty first birthday present anyway.” David’s father then looked over to his wife and said, “Can we afford to lend him a further five thousand from our joint account?”
She concurred “of course.”
“That makes fifteen thousand, far short of the twenty five you need though.”
David looked pensive and nodded in agreement I could ask Jayne if her mother could help.
“No don’t bother them, if needs be we’ll raise the money on this house. We will get the deposit somehow. Tell Tom you will raise the deposit and buy the café. I will go to the bank tomorrow morning and make arrangements to transfer the fifteen thousand pounds to your account and also enquire about raising a loan to cover the rest.”
David was elated; he rushed to his father and embraced him then ran over to his mother to cuddle her. Tears of happiness were flowing all around.
David could hardly wait to call round to pick up Jayne and to tell her the good news. She was as ecstatic, now they could look forward to a happy family life. Just a few days ago their courtship had been stagnant, with little room to move forward, but now everything in the garden was rosy.
David couldn’t wait to go to work the next morning his feeling of elation was still awash within himself. When Tom heard the news he almost danced a jig in delight; he was almost as happy as David was in that he would be taking over the café.
True to his word, the next morning John May transferred the money to David’s account and had made application for a bank loan secured on their house for ten thousand pounds The bank manager had warned him that it might take some time arranging but all in all it should be OK.
Had David detected an uncertainty in his father’s voice about the bank loan? He hoped that would not be a problem.
On the Tuesday following the decision to buy the café, David was still happy but was a little worried about getting the other ten grand. The coming week he would be celebrating his twenty first birthday and then a week after that the visit to his probationer would be his last.
“Hello David Long time no see, do you come here often? As they say in the movies”
David’s head spun round from the table he was cleaning. It was a voice from his ugly past. “What do you want?” He tried to appear calm but inside he certainly wasn’t
"A bacon sandwich… you do serve them don’t you?” Brian said
Of course we do, err! I’ll order you one. What I meant was what have you come to see me about?
“Well funnily enough a bacon sarnie was all that I came in for, I didn’t even know that you worked in the Greasy Spoon.”
“It’s called the Copper Kettle now. I've had its name changed” David retorted, boasting a little on the ‘I’ve’ as he said it “and I’m about to buy it!” Now he was openly boasting.
“Good for you David. Well done, though I had expected bigger things from you, what with all the qualification you’ve got nevertheless, well done.” Brian seemed genuinely pleased with David’s success.
David now looking at Brian could see that he was not now short of a bob or two. He was well dressed in a good quality charcoal grey silk suit that was obviously tailor-made for him. His silk powder blue tie and white shirt made him look very much the business man and his hair though still collar length was obviously now professionally well styled.
“You appear as if you’ve done well for yourself” David acknowledged “business good?”
“I certainly cannot complain” he replied “I live in ‘the toon’ now, just up to see my old man; he’s in Swan Lodge, the old people’s home you know. He’s on his last legs and I’ve been told to expect the worst within the week. I’ll be up and down from Newcastle to see him until the end.”
“When are you going back?”
“I’m staying over at the ship inn, Newbiggin tonight and probably tomorrow but I’ve got to go down to the smoke on Thursday night for a bit of business.”
“What kind of business?”
“Oh! A bit of this and a bit of that as they say.” He laughed “Listen, I don’t mind talking but am I going to get that bacon sarnie you promised?”
“Sorry I’ll get in now.”
Brian paid for and ate his sandwich without further comment. As he got up to leave he bade his goodbye and remarked as he was walking out the door. “We’ll have to go out for a drink sometime. Catch up on old times.” With that he was gone.
David nodded without comment.
That evening David’s father handed him a letter from the bank stating that due to the credit crunch their might be a problem raising the ten thousand pound loan. It wasn’t a definite no at this stage other than a decision would be made within a month or so.
Was this a fly in the ointment David certainly hoped not and decided not to worry Jayne about the letter, when he next saw her?
On the Wednesday it was David’s regular day off and also his twenty first birthday; in the afternoon, his father and mother had arranged a table at the local Tandoori Restaurant for him and Jayne. A fine time was had by all. As David looked over to his parents and he could see the love they still had for each other; I want some of that he inwardly declared to himself.
On Friday Brian walked into the cafe again. It was no great surprise for David this time; Brian had said he’d be around for a few days. They couldn’t talk too much because of David working and they arranged to meet in the Barrington Pub, for a quick half, later in the afternoon when the café closed.
“So how are you going then?” Brian asked as he put down the two pints of larger on the bar room table.
David then proceeded to tell all that had happened to him since their last contact in the Institution, including how George had been propositioned by the heavies and how later he had met with the motor cycle accident. How he could not get a job because of his past and had taken the only job going in the café. He said the owner Tom was retiring and now he was in the process of buying it; he even described how he had managed to raise the money and even said how just the other day a letter from the bank put the sale in jeopardy.
Brian seemed sincerely interested in all that David had said and genuinely wished him well.
“So how are you going then?” David asked.
Brian told him how he had graduated into being Clive’s right hand man in the nick but said that he was sincerely not aware that George was going to be done over that day in the showers; he had been in David’s cell at the time, nor what happened to him after.
David was not sure whether to believe him but he had to concede that Brian had been in David’s cell at the time. He decided to try and forget about it.
Brian went on to say that after he had been released he got a job working for the Hedge organisation in Newcastle.
David had never heard of the Hedge organisation although he did seem to recollect somewhere in the back of his mind that there was a supermarket called Hedge’s and wondered if it was the same supermarket that Brian now worked for.
Brian didn’t further anything more about the nature of the work he did.
“You mention that the bank might stand in your way in getting the café.” Brian asked.
“There may be a small problem of timing that’s all,” David assured Brian, but in his heart he could see there might be a big problem in actually getting the loan. “Trouble is without the banks definite yes, the sale cannot proceed, but I’m sure it will all work out right in the end.”
“How much is your shortfall?” Brian asked.
“Around ten thousand.”
“Thinking about it I might be able to help you there.” Brian proposed.
“No. I haven’t told you all this to try and get a loan from you” implored David.
“I know you haven’t and I have not suggested that I lend you the money.” Brian carried on telling him how he sometimes doubles his money within days, strictly illegal of course. He described how, once a month, he went down to London on behalf of his boss with a lot of cash; how he met up with a contact who then exchanged the cash for a commodity.
“Drugs you mean!” David interrupted
“I did not say what the commodity was, let me finish.” Brian furthered, he explained that regularly he also puts up his own cash to the same London contact and also receives a separate bundle for himself. He gives the original bundle to his boss and sells his bundle on. His boss is aware of what he does so there is no problem in the double sale providing he does not sell his bundle within his bosses’ area. “I’d have no problem doubling my money up here in Ashington within twenty four hours.”
“I’d love to take you up on your offer but I dare not. Thanks for the offer though.”
“No problem mate, I haven’t made you an offer I just thought I might help out an old mucker out that’s all.”
The pair discussed further old times and the offer was put be to one side and around seven o clock Brian said he had to leave; he had promised to see his father before he left in the morning. He said he might, or might not, see David again it all depended on his dads ill health. As he got up to leave he produce a gold coloured pen and a small diary from within his jacket pocket and jotted on one of the pages his mobile telephone number. Tearing the page out he handed it to David saying that if ever he had any problems in the future to give him a ring on that number; he knew of people who could make problems disappear. Without another word Brian waved goodbye and left.
Brian seems to have changed, David thought, he seems more mature now, although he’s obviously still mixing with the wrong sort of people. David thought no more about it and went home.
“I’ve been to see the bank manager.” David’s father said that evening. “I wanted him to explain the letter about the uncertainty of not getting the loan. But he couldn’t tell me anything further. The letter, it seems, came from head office who are tightening the purse strings. The manager said he did not hold out much hope for the loan, not in the foreseeable future anyway.”
The news hit David like a hammer blow He felt as if his whole future had just gone up in smoke.
John tried to console him by saying. “Don’t worry too much son there are always other banks. I’ll get you the money somehow.”
His dad’s statement did not help any.
That Friday evening he withheld telling Jayne the bad news, No point in both of us worrying about it he mused, but his mind was in turmoil and he just couldn’t think properly, he was no company for Jayne this night. He made excuses that he needed an early night and walked Jayne home.
On his way home the purchase of the café was looming large in his mind he needed the café; his and Jayne’s future lay within the ownership of the café. Without it he would be on the dole again and that was the last thing he wanted.
“That’s it!” He almost loudly said to himself, he had no other option but to ring Brian.
“Brian? It’s David. How are you?”
“Good” was the brief answer in return. This phone call from David he had expected and been planned.
“You know what we were discussing earlier? Well I was thinking were you serious about doubling my money” David then went on to explain his predicament and how he was strapped for immediate cash to buy himself a future.
Brian stressed that he needed David’s money up front before he could do anything to help him.
David agreed that he understood the terms and arrangements were made to meet in Brian’s car, which would be parked be in the local Asda supermarket car park, at half past nine the coming morning, to hand over the cash.
He then rang Tom and told him he would be late in the morning as had a bit of business that he needed to attend to and needed to visit the bank as soon as it opened and he would be into work later that morning.
“No problem lad.” Tom replied, “Trade is usually a little quiet on Saturday morning anyway. I’ll manage; take all the time you need.”
A visit to his bank as it opened at nine to withdraw cash presented no problems, other than a look of amazement from the bank teller at such a large amount of cash being withdrawn. David was soon heading towards the car park as arranged.
Brian’s car was already parked up and nodding to him as he got in said. “There’s fifteen thousand in this packet.” handing it over to Brian.
“Whoa! Hold your horses I didn’t tell you I could double fifteen grand.” said Brian, refusing to accept the package. “You were talking ten grand earlier and even that’s a lot more than I planned, I mean could handle.” Brian almost gave himself away by saying planned, “but I decided that as you were an old mucker I would handle it; but fifteen is definitely too much. If I took it there would be no profit in the deal for me. Believe me I’m doing you a big favour but I have to make a profit as well you know.”
David was a little taken aback. “Can you do the ten then?”
“That’s what I said; yes I can do the ten OK.”
David undid the flap of the packet and counted out five thousand pounds and put it into his jacket inside pocket. He then counted out the remaining ten thousand in front of Brian who nodded in agreement. The package was again handed over to Brian who, this time accepted it.
“When will I get my return?” David asked.
“I’m driving down the smoke this afternoon returning first thing tomorrow morning; I then have a bit of business to arrange; I’ll give you a ring late Sunday afternoon for us to meet up. Does that sound OK to you?”
David nodded his head in agreement as he got out of the car.
“See you” were Brian’s last word as he drove out of the car park.
And as David was walking back to work he began to worry, what had he done? Had Brian taken him for a sucker and even if he was genuine what if things go wrong? He was still on parole and Brian could drop him in the proverbial? There were so many what ifs. He would be glad to get into work to take his mind off of things. Then he remembered the five thousand pounds still left in his jacket pocket. He should he retrace his steps and take it back to the bank for safe keeping but it was getting a little late, Tom will be wondering where he was. No, he decided, he would hand over the money to Tom to put in the café safe. Hopefully on Monday morning he would be able to hand to Tom a further Twenty thousand making the full twenty five thousand pounds deposit and then the café would be his.
Tom was a little surprised when David handed over the large amount of cash for safe keeping and although he didn’t ask any direct questions you could see he was mystified.
“I got it out of the bank for a reason but found I didn’t need it.” David explained “I was going to return back to the bank but it was getting a little late and the bank closes at twelve.” David explained. “There is five thousand pounds here in this envelope do you want to count it?”
Tom nodded in understanding and said that there was no need for him to count it, if David said there was five thousand in the envelope then that was good enough for him, he accepted the money and promptly put it into the safe.
For the rest of the morning David just could not concentrate and was making silly mistakes, he would be glad when work was over and he could go home.
The rest of the day was just as bad, he felt as if he needed to be able to tell someone about what he had done but there was no way he could tell his parents or even Jayne. All he wanted to do was to be on his own. How he was going to get through the rest of this day and most of the next, god only knew.
Jayne sensed that something was troubling David. She reasoned that David would explain when he was good and ready. She wasn’t surprised when he made his excuses that he wanted to have an early-night; he had something on his mind but would explain all tomorrow, Sunday night. She had the good sense not to push too hard in asking what was troubling him and suspected that it had to do with the sale of the café.
David couldn’t get to sleep that night thinking of all the things that could go wrong; the main one that Brian would abscond with his cash. The one consoling thought was that if that had been Brian’s original intention why had he not taken the full fifteen thousand, when offered, rather than only the ten?
Normally on Sundays he had a lie in and very rarely got out of bed before ten but today, as his eyes opened, David instantly remembered his transaction and began to worry all over again. Late this afternoon Brian had said he would call, but could he wait until then without calling him to confirm all was going OK.
Throughout the day David kept checking his mobile phone at times he felt that his phones clock had stopped.
Jayne was aware that something was wrong, David had been acting very strangely last night and even this morning’s phone call puzzled her, normally they would meet just after lunch but David said he couldn’t today but would call her later in the evening. When she had asked what the matter was, he had been very abrupt and non-committal. Was he about to dump her? She worried.
Slowly but surely the time crept round to four o clock in the afternoon and David was now constantly looking at his phone almost willing it to ring. Could four o clock be called late in the afternoon? He asked himself. Brian had said he would ring late in the afternoon, what did he call late? Why didn’t it ring? Should he ring Brian and ask what was going on? Whilst all of these thoughts were traversing his mind; his phone just remained silent.
David again looked at the time on his phone, it was now six o clock he was certain something had gone wrong; Brian had definitely absconded with his money; what a fool he’d been in trusting an ex con with ten grand; the café is down the drain now alongside his money and his future. Who needs a friend Like Brian? He almost said aloud to himself.
Just as David was again looking at the time on his phone, it rang and Brian’s name appeared on the screen identifying the caller. In his haste to open the line he almost pressed the red cancel button rather than the green allow button.
“Hello!” David almost croaked in his haste to answer.
“Is that you David?”
“Of course it’s me! Where are you?”
“I’m parked opposite the Coble in Newbiggin. Where are you?
“Have you got the money?”
“Then I’ll be with you in five minutes.” A ton weight had suddenly been lifted from his shoulders. Relief now swept over him like a spring shower of rain; all was going to turn out right after all. He never doubted Brian; he knew who he could trust and who he couldn’t, he needed a friend like Brian.
“Brian handed David a large brown paper envelope almost as soon as he had sat down in the passenger seat of Brian’s car. David eagerly opened the envelope and pulled out a wad of fifty and twenty pound notes, as he flipped through them Brian said “Count it if you wish, but it’s all there, all twenty grand.
“No need I trust you, always have.” David was so euphoric he was saying without thinking; the contents of this package meant that his and Jayne’s future was now assured. “Cheers mate,” he said “I never doubted you for one minute. If I can ever do you a favour in return then I’m your man.”
Just as David took hold of the handle to open the car door to leave Brian said, “Oh! By the way that favour you just said you owed me.”
“Yes” replied David very suspiciously.
“Well for the next two hours I was with you.”
“I don’t follow you. What do you mean with me?”
“Well I have to be somewhere around seven, and I don’t want anyone to know I’ve been there.” Brian stressed the word ‘anyone’. “I need an alibi for the next two hours. I don’t want to involve you too much other than to say that I may have to prove where I was in the next hour or so. So if you keep out of anyone’s sight for the next couple of hours, say until eight o clock, then you are my alibi. Nothing will come of it I’m sure and no one will need to ask you to confirm that I was with you. It’s only a little insurance policy I need.”
“Where will I say we have been if I’m asked?”
“As far as anyone,” again Brian stressed the word ‘anyone’ “is concerned we met up here, as we have done now, then we drove out, say, to Jesmond High Street to look at some property that I was thinking of buying; I needed you as a second opinion before I put a bid in for it but when we arrived there, the ‘for sale’ sign had been taken down and we didn’t even get to look at it. We just drove straight past then back to Newbiggin and I dropped you off back here between seven forty five and eight. All you have to do is keep out of sight until quarter to seven.”
“No that alibi’s no good it certainly won’t stand up to scrutiny.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well for a start there will be CCT cameras situated along Jesmond high street and anyone passing there will be recorded, along with the time of passing.”
“Yeah! Never thought of that. Good thinking Batman. Well what do you suggest?”
David felt as if he was between a rock and a hard place, he certainly did not want to get mixed up in any of Brian’s dealings but there again Brian had just done him the turn of his life; Brian had secured a happy future for him. David made his decision.
“Drive to the Conway car park.”
“Just start the car and drive I’ll explain on the way.”
As they were driving David explained that, if anyone asked, the reason they had met this Sunday evening was that they had earlier arranged to re-visit the place where there old friend Jimmy had died to pay their respects.
“Stop here a moment outside the co-operative store I need to buy some flowers.”
Brian stopped the car, bemused as to why David wanted some flowers.
David got out and headed for the shop. On his return he was carrying two small bunches, of yet to open, daffodils. As he got into the car he said that part of their alibi was now confirmed in that he just happened to mention to the shop keeper that the flowers were for the grave of a friend. She will probably remember me if asked. As they drove on David continued, in his mind, to further develop his idea of the alibi.
“When we get there we’ll park up a while and go over our alibi to make sure we are word perfect. Then you can drive off and do your business and I’ll walk slowly along the cliff edge to visit the site. I’ll place the flowers at the exact spot and remain there for about an hour then I’ll walk slowly back and arrange to meet Jayne just after eight. Just as a backup when I ring her I’ll mention that you just dropped me off.
As they were entering the Conway car park gate another car was leaving.
“Flash your lights to let them know they can exit first.”
“Why? I’ve got the right of way here.”
“Yes I know but I want them to remember us entering the car park at this time. It just helps to strengthen our alibi.”
“You are thinking all the time David. I wish I’d your brains. Together we could have been a major force.” He said then as an afterthought said “and we still could be.” Brian flashed his lights to show he was giving way to the exiting car and the driver of that car waved his thanks.
“My future is assured elsewhere Brian” returned David.
No other cars were in the car park as they parked up. Together they went over every detail they could think of to get their story to match. David stressed that if anything he or Brian was unsure of then it is always best to say they could not remember the detail rather making it up
As David got out of the car Brian said “How are you going to explain the money?”
David hadn’t really had time to think that one through. “I’ll have to consider that problem as I waste time on the cliff top” he replied.
“See you.” Brian said as he waved and drove off.
What are you going to do now? David thought as he walked the mile or so to Jimmy accident spot.
Well first he should ring Jayne and put her out of her misery, since the sale of the café looked as if it was falling though he’d been a pain in the backside, he realised. He would reassure her that all was now well and that the sale of the café could go ahead and that he would meet her at the Coble at eight fifteen. He would make sure that he rang her from the accident spot so that any of his phone records would prove he was where he said he was.
Then he would ring his mum and dad to tell them that there was now no need to raise a loan on their property that he’d got it all in hand.
And where will you tell them you got the money from? He now began to ask himself.
He could hardly tell his parents that he had been in cahoots with Brian’s dodgy dealings, he’d certainly have to think of something, where can one acquire money almost instantly?”
I bought a lottery ticket and it won. I won’t say tell them about the cash other than a scratch card ticket had won, he decided.
As he placed the flowers at the site of Jimmy’s death he felt so annoyed with himself that he was using a dead persons memory to give Brian and alibi for whatever illegal act he was about to do. He consoled himself with the thought Jimmy would understand.
Jayne was over the moon when David affirmed the good news. She told him that she had been worrying about him of late and suspected it was about having problems about the sale of the café. She did not mention her worry that she had thought that he was about to finish with her. Suddenly all in the garden, for them, was lovely again.
David arranged to meet her outside the Coble Cafe just after eight.
Then he then phoned his father and told him that he may be a little late in tonight but that all was OK and he had some very good news..
When he met Jayne in the Coble she hugged him in sheer happiness, their way ahead together was now assured, she was bubbling with excitement for now they could plan a proper future together; there were so many important decisions to be made; the colour scheme of the flat above the café, carpets that must match the walls, furniture; of course furniture. Oh! There were so many things to think about, she was almost unable to control herself. She would be able to pack in her boring hair salon job and begin to work alongside her husband to be. Yes! Now they could make definite plans to get married. Oh! There were so many decisions to be made.
David’s parents were guardedly pleased upon hearing the news but his explanation as to where the money had come from did not quite ring true. David didn’t seem to want to elaborate what the winning type of lottery ticket it was, so they thought it best to let sleeping dogs lie.
As he lay abed that night David could hardly wait until the morning to tell Tom that the café sale could go ahead as fast as possible. This night might be sleepless, not because of worry but this time of making plans for his and Jayne’s future.
“Tom I’ve got great news.” Proudly announced David as he entered the café door at opening time Monday morning and flourishing the large brown envelope containing the cash. “I’ve got the full twenty grand in here,”
Tom’s face was ashen and was almost speechless; he had the phone to his ear and was in the process of dialling a number. As he was waiting for an answer he said breathlessly “I’ve been robbed. I’m just phoning the police now.”
“Robbed how do you mean robbed, have you been mugged?”
“The safe, its empty someone has been in over the weekend and cleared out the safe, the till has also been jemmied open.” Then into the phone he said “Police Please.” Tom then began to explain to the emergency operator that he had been robbed and needed Police assistance. When he had been put through to the police he briefly described who and where he was and what had happened. As he put the phone back into its cradle he said, “The police are on their way and I have not got to touch anything or open up the café. We have just got to await their arrival.”
“And you say that there is no sign of forced entry of either the front or the back door?” A uniformed policeman was asking questions and recording answers in his notebook. To his accompanying partner he said “Could you check around upstairs and see if there is anywhere up there the intruders could have got in?” The other policeman nodded his assent and moved to begin an inspection of the upper premises. “How much was in the safe?” the policeman asked.
”A little over five thousand, two hundred pounds” replied Tom. “I’d have to check my Saturday’s taking record to give an exact figure.”
The policeman looked a little surprised. “Do you usually keep that much in the safe?” the policeman asked.
“Usually there is only a day or two day’s taking at the most in there, it just so happened that David, my assistant here, left five thousand pounds in there on Saturday morning for safe keeping.”
The policeman raised his eyebrows at the answer and carried on with his questions. When he had about finished his initial queries he said he would now have a look around. He moved over to the safe that had its door slightly ajar. “Have you touched the safe this morning?” he asked Tom
“I noticed the door was slightly afar when I arrived this morning I opened it fully to look inside, discovering that the money had gone. I was phoning you people when my colleague here came into work. I closed the door to its present position like it was when I found it. We haven’t touched anything else.” The policeman added the questions and answers into his notebook.
The other policeman came down the stairwell that led up to the upper floor. “It looks as if the intruder has climbed onto the outhouse roof crowbarred the storeroom window and gained entry there” he stated “the window frame woodwork is old and rotten and made an easy entry. The door to the stairwell has also been jemmied.”
“I’d better ring the plain clothes branch with there being so much money involved,” he said, “I’m sure they will want to be informed.” The policeman then began to use his lapel radiophone to report his findings to his headquarters. When he released his radiophone input button he said. “Plainclothes are on their way. Please don’t touch anything until they arrive.”
On the arrival of two plain clothes detectives the two uniforms gave them a brief update and left.
“Now can you tell me exactly what has happened” one of the detectives asked Tom.
“I have already told the police officers.”
“Yes I know but can you tell me please then I get it first-hand.”
Tom then described exactly what had happened from him unlocking the café door this morning to the present time.
“And who has keys to the premises?”
“I have a set for both front and rear doors,” replied Tom “and David here has a set for the front door only.”
The other detective looked over to David and said “do I know you? Your face looks familiar.”
David shook his head and said “no I don’t think so.”
“Never mind” he accepted. “It’s probably not important.”
“You said that the safe door was ajar when you arrived this morning. Who has the numbers for the safe?” The senior detective asked.
“We both use the safe at different times so both David and I know the security number.” answered Tom.
“So how do you think the burglar opened the safe door? I assume one of you locked it on Saturday night especially with all that money you say was in it.”
“I don’t know the answer for that one” replied Tom. “It was certainly locked when we left on Saturday afternoon I was the last one to use it and I’m a hundred per cent certain it was locked.”
“Have you any idea?” he said suddenly turning to David. “The safe does not appear to have been forced.”
“No. replied David. I have no idea. If Tom says he definitely locked the safe then as far as I’m concerned the safe was locked.”
The two detectives began to quietly converse with each other, occasionally nodding or shaking their heads. One of them retrieved a mobile phone from his pocket, dialled a number and spoke into it.
The other one came back and said. “A Scenes of Crime Officer will be along in a few minutes to take photographs, fingerprints and the like. In the meantime can I take a written statement from you Mr Taylor and my colleague will take one from Mr May here. When SOCO has completed his inspections we will all be away and then you can open up your café and hopefully recoup some of your lost business.”
The scenes of crime officer arrived on the scene and began photographing and then dusting for fingerprints. When he had completed his tasks he left.
“That’s it, all done” announced the detective. “We are going now; can I remind you to make your upper room window and doors secure. We will be in touch. Goodbye” The officers left.
“Did you get the impression that the detective thought that it might be an inside job?” asked Tom.
“I don’t know,” replied David, “but obviously either the safe door had not been fully locked or the thief knew the number.”
“I’m certain I locked it especially with all that money in it.”
David nodded in agreement. “How are we fixed insurance wise? Will it cover my deposit money on the café?”
“I’ll ring the insurance company while you open up the café.”
“What about this envelope of cash I have here, do you want to take charge of it? You had said earlier you preferred cash.”
“No, I don’t think I ever said I preferred cash and there is too much to think about at this time, you had better hold on to it until a proper agreement can be signed. I’ll get on to my solicitor later.”
“Can I go to the bank later this morning then to re-deposit this money?”
“Yes of course you can, might be best if you go now, get it done with.”
For the rest of the day David felt a sense tension between himself and Tom. Tom wasn’t his usual self; understandable of course no one likes a break in but surely Tom didn’t think he had anything to do with it? The detectives’ remark about the safe door being open and no sign of it being tampered with, and only Tom and himself having the safe security numbers didn’t help. He knew it was not himself who had robbed the safe and of course was a hundred per cent sure it wasn’t Tom but how would an intruder open a locked safe without burning it open?
Thursday afternoon of that week the same two plain clothes officers called into the café and spoke to Tom. Tom nodded to them then said, “David, I have to pop out for half an hour or so can you manage without me?” Without waiting for an answer he took off his apron and walked into the back storeroom to retrieve his outdoor coat.
An hour later Tom returned. He explained that the detectives had interviewed him at great length, wanting to know every last detail of the burglary. Especially about numbers to the safe “They said that they will want to re-interview you as well later this week.”
David racked his brains, what more could he possibly tell them? Surely they cannot suspect himself why would he want to thieve his own money? Of course he knew the safes long security number so did Tom but why would they suspect him of robbing his own five grand that was in the safe.
That’s it, he thought, the safes long security number. It is a long 8 digit hard to remember number.
“Tom! I think I know how the intruder opened the safe.” He exclaimed.
“Friday afternoon the café telephone rang, Tom answered it then said, “It’s for you David.”
It was one of the two plain clothes policemen who had investigated the break-in, could he come down to the station to have a word with them. David was expecting they contact him and agreed with their suggestion to meet them in a half hours’ time.
David was seated in the same interview room as when he had originally given a statement regarding the manslaughter of the security guard almost four years ago. Does this police station have only one single interview room? He thought to himself.
“Tell me in your own words what you know about the break-in at the café?” Began the policeman who wore a dark suit and a navy blue and white striped police federation tie and sat directly opposite him across the table; he seemed to be leading the interview. The other policeman, who also wore a dark suit but with a grey tie, sat to his colleagues’ right hand side.
“But I have already told you all I know and I gave you a written statement to that effect.” David replied.
“Yes but just to refresh memories, both yours and ours, can you tell us once again?
“Well last Monday morning, just before eight, I walked into the café to start a day’s work.” David began to recite all his memories of that day.
Most of the time as David was explaining the past events Blue tie was nodding in agreement but Grey tie kept shaking head with a look of disbelief on his face.
“And so the safe was locked when you finished work on Saturday afternoon?”
“Yes, Tom says it was and I’m sure it was although I did not actually do or see the locking.”
“And you did not return to the café between Saturday evening and Monday morning when you arrived for work?” probed Grey Tie.
“What are you implying? That I broke into the café?” Retorted David rather heatedly.
“Calm down Mr May my colleague hasn’t suggested that.” Said Blue Tie
“Not yet.” Inputted Grey tie a little sarcastically. “You still didn’t answer my question, did you return to the café between Saturday evening and Monday morning?”
“You see Mr May the upper glass window appears to have broken glass both on the inside and outside of the window frame” continued Blue tie.
“Well what does that mean?”
“If anyone breaks a window from the outside most of the glass is on the inside of the building in this instance glass was found on both the outside and the inside.”
“But that does not prove the intruder didn’t break in from the outside.
“No, it’s just another of the many inconsistency’s that surrounds this case and we have to examine all aspects.”
“Another contradiction is, can you give us an explanation how the locked safe came to be open and the contents gone and there are only two persons who have the security code number?” interjected grey tie
“I have racked my brains over that one and I think I have an explanation.” David answered. “Long before I got the job at the café Tom, that is Mr Taylor, wrote the long security number on a slip of paper. He said it was because he could never be certain of remembering the exact number. He had told me about it and how, if I ever needed the number, this slip of paper was left under the drawer of the till and out of sight; only by taking out and separating the drawer from the till could the slip of paper be retrieved. When Tom opened up the café that morning the till drawer that had been jemmied and it was completely out of the till and on the floor. That’s how, in my opinion, the thief could have obtained the numbers to open the safe.
“How very convenient.” muttered Grey Tie.
“Have you a better explanation?” snapped David, he was now becoming very annoyed at grey ties insinuations.
“Listen David, we are only doing our job and trying to find out how the theft occurred; we have to explore every avenue” consoled Blue tie.
“Tell us a little more about the money in the safe” said Grey tie
David explained that he had drawn out the money from the bank on Saturday morning to give to Tom as a deposit on the sale of the café and that he could prove the withdrawal from the bank
“Why did you want to give him cash why not a cheque or even a banker’s draft?” Blue tie asked.”
“Tom had once said he preferred cash.”
Yes, you told us earlier that Tom had once asked for cash but when we interviewed him yesterday he said he could not remember ever asking you for cash.”
“Well I must have got it wrong I thought he had said he preferred cash.”
“And where did you get the envelope containing the balance of the cash for the sale of. We understand you offered it to Tom before he told you about the burglary on Monday morning. The envelope even by your own admission contained twenty thousand pounds. Where did you get that?” demanded Grey tie.
David realised he was in hot water having an envelope containing twenty thousand pounds in cash. He began to explain about the gift of fifteen thousand pounds from his father who had paid into his bank; and of drawing it out all out on the Saturday morning.
“Why did you draw it all out? You have already told us that you only deposited five thousand pounds into the café safe?” Blue tie asked.
David realised he was not only in hat water but in deep hot water now, parts of his story just did not ring true He decided to tell all without revealing any names. He explained that ten thousand had been loaned to a friend and the other five held in the café safe.
“So you are telling us that you lent a friend ten thousand pounds?” asked blue tie.
“Some friend” muttered Grey tie. “I could do with a friend like him.”
“So where did the other ten thousand pounds come from?” asked Blue tie
“That was interest on the loan.”
“Are you trying to tell us that you received a One hundred per cent interest on a forty eight hour loan? You don’t expect us to believe that do you?” sneered Grey tie
“Believe what you will but it is true. By the way are you two playing good cop bad cop? Cos I know which one you are” David said as he looked directly into the eyes of Grey tie.
“We are just trying to get to the truth David” said blue tie. “Who is this friend of yours so we can corroborate your story?”
“Yes he would but I’d rather not say who he is at this stage. Neither my friend, nor the money has anything to do with the café burglary.”
“That may or may not be true but even you must admit that events look very suspicious; you need money for the sale of the café you have money, but not enough on Saturday morning; then sometime during the weekend the café is burgled and the safe is opened, and I remind you, without force. A large amount of money is stolen and suddenly, come Monday morning you have all the money you need. Would you admit that does that look suspicious Mr May?”
“I admit nothing.”
“You are on probation for manslaughter.” Grey tie now challenged, when I first saw you in the café I thought I’d seen you before. I searched our computer files and I remembered that when I was a PC in uniform almost two years ago you had been arrested for aggravated burglary. You have form Mr May. In fact you are still on parole.”
“I will be released from parole this coming Wednesday. OK I made a terrible mistake when I was younger. My time has been served; or is it in your eyes once a crook always a crook?”
“You said that, about being a crook, not us Mr May.”
The interview lasted over two and a half hours and further written statements were taken.
“Have we finished?” David challenged. “I have told you all that I know and unless you have something definite on me either let me go or charge me.” If not I request that a solicitor be summoned for I obviously need legal advice.”
“Yes we are about finished, I think you can go but remember this case is far from over and I assure you we will need more answers than you have already given us. We are still researching forensic evidence and we will be in touch. You may now go Mr May.” And with that last statement the two policemen rose and blue tie escorted David from the building.
“They think it was me!” David was describing to Tom his interview with the police. “They are suggesting that the money I had on Monday morning was, in part, the proceeds of the burglary.”
“Did you tell them it was a lottery win?”
“Well no, it was a business deal I had made and it came through. A lottery win seemed easier to explain.”
“I thought so, at the time when you told me it was a lottery win, wins as big as that are that not paid in cash.”
“Yes I was wrong to explain it like that, especially to you. It just seemed easier that way at the time.”
“Before this robbery, David, I always thought we had a good understanding but since it I’m having doubts.”
“Yes doubts, for instance you never told me that you were on parole for robbery and during that robbery a guard was killed.”
that was a long time ago in my teens and I have been straight since
them. Would you have given me the job if I’d have told you
everything about my past?”
David recognised that Tom had a point. “How is this going to affect you selling the cafe to me?” he asked.
“I think I will have to have a rethink on that one, at least until this robbery thing is cleared up” Tom replied. “My wife and I were talking about the sale only last night and she reminded me that we probably could put the café up for sale at a much higher price than seven hundred and fifty grand. She has a point and the full price would be paid rather than a private mortgage. We may even decide not to sell the café and my wife come in to help run it. As I say I will have to think about it before making any definite decisions.”
David realised that little more could be said on the subject and the rest of the days conversation between them was kept to a minimum.
As David entered his house that evening the look on his face said there was something seriously wrong. “What is the matter son? His father asked.
David realised that he had now no option but to come clean and tell the full story to his parents, bones and all.
“I am very disappointed in you David, you have acted very foolishly. I fully understand your motives in being so eager to buy the café, but there are no easy ways of making money. There are shady and criminal ways but in this world what comes around goes around. Your deal with Brian was stupid to say the least and if not strictly criminal was certainly shady.”
It was at this point that David was glad he had omitted to tell his parents about the Sunday evening alibi that he had arranged with Brian.”
“But I’m your father, you have told me you did not do the burglary and I believe you; but I can see how it looks to the police or even Tom. The next time the police want to interview you I think I’ll be there with you and we should have a solicitor there as well.” David’s mother nodded her head in full agreement.” We should also contact Mr Jacobson the solicitor and make an appointment. We need to explain your circumstances and get advice before the police question you any further. You have the money in the bank to pay for one.”
David had been admonished by his father and what had been said was true, he had been a stupid fool to engage with Brian but what had been done had been done and he could change that but as a serious consideration he still had an extra ten grand in the bank.
The strained atmosphere between Tom and David continued the whole of Saturday morning and David was glad when the working day was over, at least he had the rest of the weekend to mull over his thoughts.
Jayne was a little confused with events, what was the problem? she asked herself. She fully trusted her boyfriend and was one hundred per cent sure he wasn’t involved with the robbery; how could the police and Tom think otherwise? “Things will work out” she tried to assure David.
“From what you have told me Mr May, you have not committed any criminal offence.” It was Monday afternoon and Mr Jacobson, the family solicitor, was giving his opinion on David’s circumstances. “But if you believed that by lending your friend money he would use it to commit an illegal transaction then you yourself have committed an offence. Or if you knowingly benefited from a criminal transaction then you are also guilty of an offence.
The police cannot demand that you explain where you obtained the money other than if they have evidence that it could have been gotten illegally.”
The solicitor’s advice had made it obvious to David that, providing he maintained that he didn’t know what the money, which he had lent Brian, was to be used for and it couldn’t be proved otherwise then the police could not charge him with any offence. In fact it might be better if he refused to say anything further where the money had come from. He didn’t have to prove that he hadn’t committed any offence; it was up to the police had to prove he had.
The hour spent with the solicitor although expensive was fruitful. David was now confident that the police could not have any evidence connected with the burglary for the simple reason he had not done it. No matter how much the police suspected him, they couldn’t prove it and if they couldn’t prove it they couldn’t charge him with any crime. The knowledge gave him little comfort but he still felt that his life was still coming apart again.
Work, since the break in, had now become a chore to David, the atmosphere between himself and Tom was as strained as ever.
Wednesday afternoon the same two plain clothes police officers entered the cafe and Tom took them into the back room to talk. As they came out they approached David and said, “Will you come with us we need to talk with you some more.”
David said “Why, are you arresting me?”
One of the officers replied “not at this stage but we can and will if you refuse to come with us.” David had no option but to accompany them to their awaiting car.
As they were driving to the police station David asked if he could he ring for legal advice. The officer had said yes of course, that was his right, David phoned his solicitor who arranged to meet him at the police station.
Because David’s solicitor, Mr Jacobson, had already been in the building at the time of David’s telephone call, the interview was soon under way.
The same room was being used as all the other times before. This must be the only interview room in the building? David, once again, mused? And the same two, grey and blue tied, plain clothes officers sat across the table opposite, although this time the colour of their ties were slightly different,
Mr Jacobson was sat on David’s left hand side; prior to them entering the room David had had chance to talk with his solicitor who had given him a little advice.
Blue tie seemed to be leading the interview again and told him that although he was not under arrest at this time that situation could change at any time during the interview and if it did he would be informed of the fact. He described how the interview would conducted and what was been said recorded, a copy would be given to him. He then gave warning that he was switching the tape recorder on and spoke into it giving the place, date and time of the interview and the persons present. He then said, looking directly at David.
“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. Mr May, do you understand the caution?"
David replied. “Yes.”
The interview began with the policeman asking the many questions that they had asked before in interviews, David, because he was telling the truth, gave exactly the same answers for as far as he was concerned he had nothing to hide regarding the café break in.
Then the interview took a different line, more emphasis was placed on where David had got the extra ten thousand pounds. They accepted that he had originally withdrawn fifteen thousand pounds from the bank on the Saturday before the weekend break-in and that could be accounted for, but where had the other ten thousand pounds come from?
David studied for a moment before replying , looked to his left at Mr Jacobson who nodded it was OK to answer, said. “I do not wish to answer that question,”
“You told us earlier that it was the return of a loan, plus interest from a friend. What was that friend’s name?”
“I do not wish to answer that question.”
“We have reason to believe that person was Mr Brian Hyde originally from Newbiggin.”
“No comment.” David answered.
“Do you know Brian Hyde?”
“I do not wish to confirm or deny that I know Brian Hyde.”
“What was the loan for?”
“No comment” again repeated David
The questioning carried on along the same lines about the money and his relationship with Brian Hyde again his answer was of none committal, no comment.
The interview lasted over two hours before the detective declared it closed. David had told them nothing that had not been said before and as the detective was escorted him out of the door grey tie said quietly as an aside. “We know there is a relationship between you and Hyde and that the café break in has something to do with it. We may not be able to prove it at this stage but mark my words we will.” The officer turned about and left.
Wednesday, David’s usual day off work he kept his appointment to see his probation officer and hopefully it would be his last. David had already made his PO aware of the break-in at the café and her first questions were about it. David could only tell her that the police had not yet found the culprit. He omitted to tell her he had been formally interviewed a number of times.
At the conclusion of the meeting his probation officer stood up, reached over her desk, took his hand and shook it, congratulating him that his period of probation was now over; his time was fully served.
The end of his probationary period was a time that David seemed to have been waiting for most of his life but now that it had arrived he was less than elated; if anything he was slightly depressed, his life instead of progressing seemed to be unravelling.
Thursday the tension between himself and Tom seemed to have heightened. Now they rarely spoke to each other unless it was in regard to the job. In the afternoon the same two plain clothed policemen called in and after a few minutes chat with Tom left; they had ignored David. When David asked what they had wanted Tom’s a full answer was not forthcoming and he just said that they had told him that their investigations were continuing.
Friday morning as he entered the café Tom was at the door to let him in and as David entered Tom reached over and slipping the catch to lock said “Can I have a word in the back?”
“David,” he began. “I have a problem. The police seem to believe that you were involved with the café break-in.”
“But Tom I promise you that is not true. I…”
Tome held his hands up in front and said. “Hear me out David. I don’t know whether that is true or not but even you must accept that there is something rather odd about recent events surrounding this burglary. Yesterday I had a visit from my insurance loss adjuster to give him details of my insurance claim. I had to give all details of the break-in and my interviews with the police and how you appear to be involved.”
“But I’m not involved I promise you. Tom, please believe me!” David implored.
“The upshot of it is,” Tom carried on, “that because there is suspicion in the police eyes that it was an inside job, the loss adjustor has refused to proceed with my claim until the police resolve it one way or the other.”
“Does that mean that I won’t get my five thousand pounds back?”
“Until the matter is resolved, I’m afraid so.”
“So what are we going to do now?” David asked.
I intend giving you two weeks wages in severance pay and two weeks in recognition of your help in revamping this place.”
“You mean you are letting me go, you are firing me?"
“I really have no other choice; too many problems have been raised. The police for instance definitely think you are involved. They had already told me that you are still on parole from another serious burglary case and that you are now frequenting with a known criminal. The insurance loss adjuster also insinuated that the insurance company may have to cancel my policy with them whilst I employ known criminals. What am I to think?” What other option do I have?”
“I’m not on parole now; my time has been fully served.”
“That may be so but you never told me you were on parole when I hired you.”
“What happens when you and the police are proved wrong? That I did not have anything to do with it.”
“Then that’s my mistake and I will be able to proceed with my insurance claim and then both you and I will be reimbursed. I hope for both our sakes that this does happen but I cannot forecast the future.”
David realised Tom’s mind was made up and there was little point to try changing his mind. “When do you want me to finish?”
“It might be better if you finish right now I have arranged for my wife to come in later this morning to help me. If you call in Monday sometime I’ll have a cheque made out to you for four weeks’ pay. I will be paying you a full month’s pay in lieu of notice.”
David left the café looking and feeling like the broken man that he was. He decided to walk the three miles home to Newbiggin. All the way he tried to console himself that he was an innocent man unjustly accused of a crime that he had not committed; he may have felt better if he had actually done the act he’d been accused of.
How was he going to tell Jayne that all of their plans were off? More important how will he convince his father he did not do what he had accused of? It was going to be a long walk home.
David’s parents were as understanding as could have been expected, they said they believed him but could he detect their slight doubt? His father had said that until the police charged him with a crime there was little more that could be done.
Jayne was devastated, throughout the evening she ran through the whole gamut of emotions from infuriation that anyone could accuse her boyfriend of burglary to resentment that now she had to put her future on hold. Slowly Jayne’s anger was reduced to tears and as David dropped her off at her home she was still sobbing. As he left her at her gate, he promised that someday he would fulfil all of her dreams. They would be married and have a fine family, a nice home with money in the bank; although he had meant it at the time, he realised that he had no way of fulfilling any of his promises.
On Monday morning David called in at the café to collect his wages as Tom had arranged. David was hoping that Tom might have a change of mind and invite him back to the job. No such luck, as he entered Tom looked up from his grill and moved over to the till, opened it and extracted an envelope; he handed it to David without any comment.
Whilst in Ashington David decided that now that he was unemployed he would have to re-enrol as unemployed and at least qualify for unemployment benefit. No such luck, yes he was told he could fill in the form to register and his National Insurance contributions would be credited but as he had been given four weeks’ severance pay then he was not eligible for benefit until such time as this time was up. He tried to explain that only two of the weeks were severance pay the other two weeks were remuneration for earlier work done. The clerks reply was that the information they had was that David had received four weeks’ pay and to prove otherwise he would have to get a statement from his previous employer stating different. He could of course appeal against that decision. He could also use the facilities of the Job Centre to search for work but at the present time there were very few jobs to be had. David decided to contact the ACEIT Jobs Agency again; now that he was not on probation perhaps they might have something.
The following week David was again pulled in for police questioning but now the questions had taken a different turn, the questions were more about Brian than the actual café break-in. David, accompanied by his solicitor, was pressured where and from whom he had got the ten thousand pounds. Acting on his solicitor’s advice that he was not required to answer such questions unless he wished to do so, he refused. How well did he know Brian and when was the last time he had seen him? David answered the two questions truthfully but when he was then asked how long he had spent with Brian at their last Sunday meeting, he had to make a quick decision, was he to lie or did he tell the truth. In the brief millisecond before he had answered he thought of the consequences; if he told the truth and denied Brian’s alibi then Brian would soon know and then he in return would admit to have given David the money and where it had come from, he might possibly denounce him in many other ways. If, on the other hand, he upheld Brian’s alibi was his defence watertight? David made the instant decision to sink or swim and upheld the account Brian and he himself had concocted. The police having no direct evidence one way or the other had to release him.
David had been out of work for three weeks now with very little prospects of employment and things were getting to him, he was mildly depressed; however much Jayne and his parents had tried to cheer him up all had been to no avail.
David’s mobile rang, it was Brian ringing to say thanks for backing his alibi up and if ever he needed a favour then to give him a ring. David replied, “Cheers.”
Brian asked him if he’d had any problems with the police and David related to him how they had grilled him and given him a hard time, first about the café break-in and then about his last association with Brian.
“Sorry about that mate but don’t worry as long as both you I stick to our story they cannot prove anything; anyway you received ten grand for your trouble, a nice little earner in anyone’s eyes.”
“Yeah! Agreed but the money cost me my job and the chance of buying my future.” muttered David.
“How do you mean lost you your job how come?”
David explained the sequence of events since he had last spoken to him.
“What are you going to do?”
David told him about visiting the Ashington Job Centre looking for a job but felt he was just wasting his time there; very few jobs were listed. He told Brian about how he’d applied to the Job Agency in Newcastle and was on their books but again there were very little prospects.
“You mean all that studying you did in the nick was a waste of time?
“When you put it like that, it certainly looks that way” David agreed
“Do you want me to put in a word for you in our organisation?” Brian said “I can always ask around.”
“Cheers Brian but I’ll get by.” The last thing he wanted was to be mixed up with Brian again; who needs a friend like Brian, he thought.
“Well if you need any help you have got my number.” and with that he made his farewells and rung off.
Just of late David’s relationship with Jayne seemed at an all-time low, every evening the met up, conversation was either almost non-existent or they were arguing about one thing or another. Usually the disagreements were trivial but the real reasons were more deep seated. In David’s case it was sheer frustration about not having money in his pocket so that he could treat Jayne like she deserved to be treated. In Jayne’s case her frustration was that she could not help her fellar with his problems only adding to them.
One evening as David and Jayne were strolling along the Newbiggin Boulevard and for the past twenty minutes very little had been said, obviously both were in deep thought, each thinking completely different things. “You are quiet tonight.” David remarked trying to break the ice.
“Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant” Jayne suddenly stated quite bluntly.
“What!” David almost shouted, he heard what she had said but he was hoping he hadn’t heard her properly.
“No need to shout. You did ask why I was very quiet and the reason is because I was trying to pluck up enough courage to think of a way I could tell you.”
“I’m sorry I did not mean to shout.” David turned and put his arms around her. “It just took me by surprise for the moment.”
As the embraced Jayne began to sob into his upper body “What’s the matter my love everything going to be alright. I will make it all right.” he whispered into her ear.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean it to happen, I don’t know how it’s happened.” She cried.
“Don’t be sorry and we both know how it happened,” he laughed a little trying to make light of the seriousness of the situation. “But it’s happened let’s put how it happened behind us. Let’s go on from here.”
David must have said the right words because the sobbing had now abated a little.
“You sure it’s going to be alright,” said Jayne, seeking assurance.
“I’m going to make it alright.” He declared, though how he had no idea.
That night as he lay in bed he began to think about the position he was in; he would have to marry Jayne before the birth, no child of mine is going to be born illegitimate he was definite on that point; but where would they live? Jayne’s mother, Vera, has always told them that they could live with her, she certainly has enough room in her house but although he got on reasonably well with Mrs Purling, living with her would be another matter, and he certainly did not fancy that. Living with his parents was not really an option their house was only a two bedroomed terraced house and was far too small for him Jayne and the baby. If I have to live with Mrs Purling then so be it, he thought as he lay in his bed, unless I can find another way that is. Just before David fell asleep that night he was thinking there was a way out but dare he take it?
‘If you can’t beat em join em was an old saying but in his case it certainly applied to him.
“Brian, its David, how are you mate?” David had made a decision to contact Brian to see if he had meant it when he said he could put in a word for him, within the organisation that he worked for.
“Hi! Dave funnily enough I was expecting you to ring sometime.”
“You were expecting me to call you? Wow! Have you got second sight or something?” he tried to joke.
“No,” Brian laughed, “but last time I spoke to you seemed down at heart with having no job or any real prospects. How can I help you mate?”
Were you serious when you said you could put in a little word for me within your organisation?”
“Yes of course.”
“Can you do that?”
“I can certainly try and see what comes up. I’ll get back to you.”
“I don’t want to be involved with anything illegal, you understand Brian. It’s just I remember you saying that your company has many supermarkets and the like. Maybe there is job going that I could do.”
“As I have said David I’ll put a word in and get back to you.”
Brian was true to his word and a few days later he rang David and said that he had managed to arrange a meeting with his boss Big Jake Hedge at Hedge House at eleven O clock tomorrow morning. Did he still want the meeting?
“Of course I do!” David’s immediately replied.
Hedge House was in fact an eight floor newly built tower block that faced directly on to the river Tyne. David would later learn that the first six floors of the building were rented by numerous businesses. The extensive Penthouse suit was where Big Jake lived and the seventh floor housed his own offices and manservant/bodyguard. The floors of the Hedge building appeared to be serviced by two lifts although that was not strictly true; one of the lifts serviced the public to the first six floors whilst the other lift serviced only the two top floors. This private lift was operated by an inputted security number given only to trusted employees or by the occupants of the top floors who decided if and when the lift operated.
David entered the ground floor of the Hedge Building and walked to the concierge desk and reported that he had an appointment with Mr Hedge. A phone call confirmed his appointment and he was directed to the right hand private lift. On the side wall was a single button to summon the lift and David pressed it and as he looked around he noticed a CCTV camera high up above the lift entrance. The door opened and David stepped in, as he looked around he realised the lift did not seem to have a control pane and he was unsure what to do but within a few seconds of entering the lift the door closed and began to ascend without any input from him. The doors opened on to the seventh floor and Jakes bodyguard and man servant, was there to meet him.
Oh –Oh was a man of great standing, well over six and a half feet and the physique of a body builder. Big Jake, his boss, had nicknamed Oh-Oh because, on first sight, he had been reminded him of the Jolly Green Giant Sweet Corn Television advertisement who often sang Oh! Oh! Oh! The difference being, Oh-Oh was not green but Afro Caribbean and very dark skinned.
David was half expecting Oh-Oh to frisk him for concealed weapons like he had seen in films, but he didn’t.
The manservant was obviously expecting him and greeted him cordially with, a wide smile that showed an almost perfectly white set of teeth “Good Morning Sir. I understand you have an appointment with Mr Hedge. Will you follow me please?” Oh-Oh then turned about and led him up a single flight of carpeted steps to the top floor, briefly stopping at a heavy oak panelled door he knocked waited a few seconds before opening the door and walking in. “Mr David May to see you sir.” he announced to a small oldish looking man who was standing at the far edge of the spacious room looking out of the main room’s large scenic window.
So this was Big Jake Hedge, as Brian had earlier described him, thought David, he certainly did not look that big; to him fact he looked, because of a slight stoop, rather small and old. He was dressed quite casually and normally in black slacks and a short sleeved black Nike sports shirt but the gold Rolex watch on his left hand seemed to signify wealth.
As Oh-Oh left, the man turned and beckoned David to come forward to meet him.
“Good morning Mr May.” Jake Hedge said as he proffered out his right hand to shake.
David took it and returned the greeting. “Good morning Mr Hedge I’m very pleased to meet you.
“Do you like the view.” he replied, proffering with his hand the vista before him of the River Tyne; to the right could be seen the famous Tyne Bridge and to the left the latest built millennium path bridge.
“Yes sir. You have a most magnificent view of our world famous river and it’s Bridges.” remarked David.” I wish I could look out of my own window and see this view every day.”
“Perhaps you will be able to afford it one day. One can never be sure of ones future.”
David definitely agreed with that sentiment.
"I don't usually have the time to meet all of our new employees, David, but I have had very good reports about you. I’m told you knew my son when you were in Long Frampton.” David’s interview with Brian’s top boss, Jake Hedge, had obviously begun.
“Your son Mr Hedge, what was his name?”
Clive! Jake’s son? David was astounded at the news. Why had Brian not told him that? He remembered George telling him that Clive’s father was the head of the gang he had been involved with but at the time he had not linked the similarity between Head and Hedge.
David had to think quickly and said. “Well I knew of him to be more exact, I didn’t actually swim in the same important pond that Clive swam in. Clive will probably not even remember me.” The answer seemed to please Jake for he seemed to swell with pride that his son had been described as swimming in an important pond.
“Brian Hyde has recommended that you might be looking for a job. Is that correct David?”
Brian also reported to me that you are very intelligent and have a degree. I was most interested to hear this."
“Tell me a little more of yourself David.”
David explained the BA degree that he had taken in the YOI.
He described having known Brian most of his life and attending the same school. He described the trouble they had incurred together when they were younger and their eventual incarceration in the Young Offenders Institution. He explained how he could not find a job because of his past record, even with his degree. He described taking the only job available in the café and how he thought he had made a success and was about to buy it but after a burglary the police had suspected him of committing it. The owner of the café had then reneged on the sale. He tried assuring Jake Hedge that he had not committed the burglary but if he was believed there was no indication.
“Brian also tells me that you and he have done a few deals together and that you are one to be trusted even under police questioning. That’s an attribute that I demand from my employees, in my business any deviation from 100 per cent commitment will not be tolerated. Are you sure you could make that same commitment to me?”
“Absolutely Mr Hedge.”
“And I think you can David, I rather like you.”
“Thank you Mr Hedge. I certainly won’t let you down.” He had rather enjoyed talking to Jake Hedge and felt that there was a certain rapport between them.
“I’m sure you won’t David, now here’s the job I may have that might interest you.”
Jake began to describe how one of his businesses was losing money. He owned a supermarket in the Gosforth, about 5 miles north of the river Tyne. The supermarket should be making a good profit but was making less than would be expected. He had employed auditors to go over the books but they could find no direct discrepancies and they could only put it down to shoplifting but if it was shoplifting it had to be on a very large scale. Jake had already employed a private detective to stand in for one of the security men on the shop floor keeping his eye out especially for shoplifters, checking stock in and out but after a month of keeping vigilant he had come up with nothing. Shoplifting had occurred which was normal but nothing untoward. Jake wanted a fresh mind on the job and was employing David to see if he could find out where the problem lay. Jake further explained that the supermarket often employed temporary staff from an employment agency and that David would be sent to the supermarket as temporary staff. He would be a typical dog’s body doing anything the management bid him. He would be paid as normal through the employment agency but his business secretary would arrange that David would be paid an extra fifty pounds a week cash whilst he was working undercover for him. If he managed to detect the fiddle, as Jake called it, he would be amply reimbursed. Did he want to take on the job?
“Most definitely sir. When do I start?”
“Monday morning probably, my secretary, downstairs, will arrange all the details.”
As Big Jake was offering David his right hand to shake indicating that the interview was over, his left hand was pushing a remote control button that summoned Oh-Oh, who appeared within seconds, to escort him from the apartment. Oh-Oh led him back down the stairway to the floor below which contained Hedge’s numerous offices. David was led into one of them and seated behind a large oak desk was an oldish looking man. Od-Oh said “This is Mr Higgings, he will look after you and you will report only to him.” He then left.
“Come on in David, take a seat.” Mr Higgins said, indicating he pull up a chair to him opposite his desk. “I hope you don’t mind me calling you David by the way? My full name is Bertrand but everyone here calls me Bert.” Bert had a genial type of character that David took an instant liking to. He was small in stature, grey balding hair and looked quite old to be still working. David later found out Bert was sixty nine and should have retired years ago but working was his life, and in it he felt needed.
Bert explained that he was the person to whom David would contact if he wanted to report or needed anything. He gave him his card with his name and mobile telephone number and said he could phone him for anything day or night. He further described the job that David was about to take and confirmed, mostly what big Jake had already told him on how the Gosforth supermarket was losing profit. Even he himself had gone over all the books and even he, being a discharged, ex chartered accountant, could find nothing wrong with the figures. He explained that to all intents and purposes David would hired by the temporary employment agency and would receive his pay through them as normal but if every Friday evening he visited these offices fifty pounds would be left with the ground floor concierge for him to pick up. There would be no record of this payment and so there would be no need to sign for it or even declare it on any of his income tax returns.
Later David would discover that Bert was Jakes right hand man. He had every aspect of every business, legal or otherwise, that Jake dealt in at his fingertips and that Jake very rarely made any financial decisions without first consulting Bert.
Jayne, when David told her about his new job, had mixed feelings; she certainly welcomed the idea that David was earning a wage but was not sure about him being employed by Big Jake who, she had heard, had quite an infamous reputation.
If he could make a success at this job maybe he could be trusted further, he reasoned, and other jobs might follow. “It might be the start of something big baby.” he joked putting on a fake American gangster accent.
The Hedge supermarket was much like many other medium sized supermarkets; it had six outlet tills but very rarely were more than three of them used at any one time. Two were permanently staffed and a third only used at peak periods or when trade was heavy. Within minutes of arriving and introducing himself to the under-manager David was sweeping up and polishing floors which lasted for most of the day. All the time he was working he was also keeping his eyes open for any scams, shoplifting or just anything out of the ordinary. In his first week he did notice two very minor shoplifting offences and he reported them to management, because they were minor, the offenders were let off with a caution and warned not to come into the store again. David was later told by security, in no uncertain terms, that his job was cleaning and the stacking of shelves, not security, let them do their job and him do his. He reported no more but kept a written record
The first week passed uneventfully, David did every job that he was told to do but he was always on the lookout for that something out of the ordinary. When he went to Hedge house on the first Friday to collect his extra fifty pounds allowance he almost felt ashamed to take it as he had nothing to report back. When he told the concierge who he was an envelope containing five ten pound notes was handed to him, no signature being required for the receipt. David consoled himself with the fact that if a private detective and professional auditors could not find anything how was he expected to.
David had been working at the Hedge’s supermarket three weeks and now had a fair idea of the workings of the place. Occasionally he was required to help unload the articulated vehicles delivering goods to the store. He paid particular attention at this time to any discrepancies that might arise but the charge hand responsible for accepting delivery was meticulous in his duties; every item taken from the vehicle and placed on to the loading ramp was checked and then re-checked again before being taken into the warehouse. In the warehouse the under manager would then recheck it for any discrepancies, which there never was; an obviously large amount of stock was not going astray from that department.
One point did puzzle David was that occasionally a fourth check-out, and always the farthest one of six from the entrance was staffed and in service. At all other times only the first two check-outs were used and at peak periods a third till needed to be staffed. It seemed unusual to David that when a fourth till was used it was always check-out number six in line.
On the card that Bert had given David was Bert’s e-mail address; David decided to e-mail him an enquiry. He asked Bert if he could receive a floor plan layout of the premises and details of cash amounts taken from individual tills during the previous day.
Within the hour of David’s email enquiry to Bert, a return mail with a photo-stat of the store floor plan and Microsoft Excel spread sheet of earning attached was received. The spread sheet detailed the cash amounts taken from each check-out during the period requested.
Studying the spread sheet and the original floor plan revealed the scam and directly indicated the perpetrator. David phoned Bert stating he may have the answer to the problem, could he see him ASAP. Bert agreed.
He explained to Bert that he believed that originally the supermarkets layout had only five till check-out points; that the manager, unbeknown to the owners, had an extra check-out installed. When staff emptied the till of cash and check-out rolls, each till had its own sack with the check-out number on it. The sacks contents were duly entered into the store accounts correctly but the sixth till’s takings went straight into the manager’s pocket. The manager was the only person who entered figures into the spread sheet accounts therefore he was the obvious thief.
Bert was astounded at the simplicity and the audacity of the scheme and could readily understand how it had fooled every other inspection.
David received an e-mail from Bert asking if he could call into the offices at ten on Monday morning. David was unsure what to make of the summons was he to be given a reward for the saving the company money and then to be laid off, after all he recognised that the job he had been given was now over. He’d rather enjoyed working at the supermarket and it would be a miss.
“Mr Hedge has asked me to thank you for the successful completion of the task that he set you and as a reward he has suggested that you take over as manager of the supermarket. How do you feel on that suggestion?” Bert Asked
“Err! My first thought is of complete surprise. I had expected a little reward I must admit but something like this is way out of my league. I know nothing about running a supermarket for a start.”
“Mr Hedge has already thought of that; the present under manager, Colin, had nothing to do with the previous manages fiddle so he can remain in his job. He will have strict instructions, if he wants to keep his job that is, to teach you the trade; to give him a little incentive there will be a little bonus for him if he succeeds. What is your decision, what will I tell Mr Hedge?”
“It’s an offer I cannot afford refuse.” David’s reply was meant to be a joke playing on the Godfather Film. Bert did not seem to see the joke and did not even smile. “When do I start?”
“Monday morning the under manager has been told what to expect and what his duties are now. If you have any problems with staff or the job make sure you call me direct.”
When he told Jayne the news of his rapid promotion from shelf stacker to manager of the supermarket she was overjoyed. “Does that mean? ...”
“Yes.” He pre-empted her. “We can arrange to get married as soon as you like. With the new increased salary we will easily be able to afford a place of our own, somewhere nearer the store I think, and then I won’t have as much travelling to do.” Much planning was to be had.
His father was a little more reserved in his praise, asking “What did you have to do to earn such fast promotion, sell your soul to the devil?”
“Dad, don’t be so negative I have earned this promotion.” He began to explain the exact nature of the job he had completed and in doing so earning the respect of his superiors in the organisation. The promotion was a reward for his good work in saving the company a lot of money. It was now up to him to live up to their expectations and being good enough to hold the job down.
As promised the under manager of the supermarket was there to greet him and wish him every success in the job. Was Colin being so affable because he had been told to do so or was he just being his natural self?
Within reason the supermarket ran itself or rather the staff did. All employees were aware of the scope of their responsibilities and provided they all did their job properly very few problems arose that could not be fixed on the spot. David’s main responsibility lay in making sure all departments worked towards a common goal which was the smooth running of the business. Stock and its control, Staff, Income, Expenditure and Security were the main departments that David had to have an intricate knowledge of. Slowly but surely the longer he did the job the more experience he gained.
The supermarket had a central computer and all other peripheries ran from it. David having an intricate knowledge of computing was most interested in this main frame computer. When he had a little time on his hands David decided that he would examine the various programming codes used for the different tasks that the computer carried out. In general any re-programming of a main frame would be carried out by a qualified outside computer specialist and would not normally be the responsibility of any employee of the store.
Two weeks after his promotion David and Jayne were scouring the estate agents for rented accommodation having discussed and made a decision to initially rent a small house, on a short term lease, until they could afford to raise a mortgage to buy a more ideal property.
They found an ideal semi-detached house that had just been put on the market for a rent that they considered they could afford. It had three bedrooms with only a small garden at the front and back but they felt it was big enough, in the short term, for their needs. Before the week was out they had moved in and began the exciting tasks of setting up their first home. Baby was due near the end of the year and in that time there was so much planning and preparation to be done. Life was once again sweet for David and Jayne and they both felt that they had a happy rosy future ahead of them.
Their move into the new house went without hitch and although Jayne’s mother had objected that they live together before marriage, Jayne convinced her it was practical because it made sense financially and more important it was what they both wanted.
As a consolation to Jayne’s mum they decided to allow here to have a major say in the organisation of their wedding. It was decided sometime in late June, Jayne would be nearly four months pregnant at the time and leaving it any longer and Jayne would be showing her pregnancy.
“David can you arrange call into my office tomorrow morning around ten? I have something important to discuss with you.” David’s mobile phone voicemail had recorded a message from Bert, his first thought was the worst, what had he done wrong? Things at work seemed to be OK and he considered himself to be progressing through the retail trade quite well.
David had returned the call almost as soon as he had accessed it. “Your call to me to meet you in your office tomorrow morning sounded quite serious, is there anything wrong?”
“No David, Mr Hedge and I think you are progressing quite well in the job it’s just a few points I need to go over with you. Can I expect you tomorrow at ten?”
David was a little relieved at Bert’s answer and replied, “Yes of course I’ll be there.” At least there seemed to be no problem with his work.
David, we have a little problem,” Bert began, “as you know our corporation has numerous businesses and this month we have made a lot of extra money and most of it is in cash, we need to syphon some of this cash sideways.”
David’s first thought, as he listened to Bert’s opening remarks, problem, too much cash? How can too much cash be a problem? Most companies don’t make enough cash and what did Bert mean by the syphoning of cash sideways?
“In the past when this problem has cropped up we have put some of it through the supermarket books” explained Bert. “We are not averse to paying taxes on our many differing businesses just that it’s more convenient that we declare it through the retail trade.”
“What do you want me to do?” David asked not sure what the answer was going to be.
“I’m going to give you ten thousand pounds and I want you to enter it into the supermarket accounts as money taken through the tills. We do the same sort of thing through our South Shields branch. Can you do that for me?”
David was on the spot. The request did not seem quite right, was it legal? Bert was talking as if it was a normal business practice a little shady maybe but Bert had openly said they were quite happy paying the taxes on income. It must be OK he decided.
“How should I record it on the till rolls? As you know when I cash up each check-out and enter the amount into the computer accounts there is a backup hard copy on paper.” David asked.
“Don’t record all ten thousand into the accounts as if taken in one day; spread it over a week’s takings and over each till. I’m sure you can find an acceptable way to do it. We, Mr Hedge and I, have every faith in you.” As Bert was making these last assurances to him he had reached into his desk drawer and withdrawn a blue canvas bank sack and handed it across.
As David accepted the bank sack, Bert was now picking up a pen and looking down to the papers on his desk indicating that their meeting was over. As he rose from his chair and was about to walk out of the office Bert said “Ok! By the way you don’t drive do you?” and without waiting for an answer he said, “I have booked you a series of driving lessons with our driving school. They will be in touch with you to arrange suitable times. They are all on the company of course.”
Wow! Driving lessons and all paid for, he thought, and if I carry on like this I might be able to afford a small second hand car.
David was sat at his desk in his supermarket office wondering how best to document the money into the accounts. He realised that he just couldn’t just insert the figures in each till records, for the till rolls would show a different amount to that recorded in the books.
His first thought was to use one of the spare tills to record transactions as if they had occurred legitimately throughout the day but again the till rolls would record not only the entry but the time it was transacted and that would be very time consuming because only he could be privy to what was occurring.
After much thought he had an idea, he could re-programme a spare till that was almost never used. The programme would include code to order a print out of a sequence of random ghost orders at random times during the day. This would record transactions on paper, as if the till had been used legitimately throughout the day. He could also insert into the programme any amount he prior decided before switching on the fake till.
When he had decided that his computer programme would work and he could write it he decided, before putting the plan into action, that he would ring Bert to get his OK. Bert on hearing the plan sounded highly delighted. “I’m dropping everything and coming over” he said “this sounds as if you have come up with an ideal way of doing things.”
Within the hour David was outlining to Bert the computer programme he planned to write, with his permission of course.
“Take all the time off from your work you need to write the programme and let me know when it is executable.”
As Bert was leaving he asked did David have the tools to do the job and when David explained that his laptop at home was rather dated as he had originally bought it second hand and it was now almost four years old; a faster and more up to date computer would enable him to write the new programme much more efficiently.
“Go to Dixons, Curries or wherever you get these machines from, and buy the computer you need and anything else for that matter. Put it through the supermarkets accounts and take it home with you.” Were his parting words as Bert got into his taxi to leave.
David was on a high Bert had come round to see him and not the other way round as was usual. He liked the idea of being noticed and important and the thought of a brand new up to date powerful computer almost made his mouth water.
For almost the next two days and nights, other than eat and sleep David worked on the computer programme and finally was in a position to give it a test run on till number five; the false till number six had already been removed on first discovery. Barring a few minor tweaks to the codes the programme appeared to work well and it was soon installed on till five. It worked perfectly and needed no further alterations. David had already issued orders to his staff that till five was kaput and was never to be used. Three times that week, when the store was closed, David inputted his password into the till to tell it to begin the rogue programme and after replying to the monitor prompt asking, ‘What amount?’ he hit the input button and the till roll churned out a fake printed days takings, including the date and random times; exactly like a true statement. Now that amount could be inputted into the overall takings of the supermarket, with till rolls to back up the statement. The ten thousand pounds cash could now be banked, on the face of it, quite legally.
He reported to Bert his successful insertion of the codes in the rogue till. Bert seemed highly delighted and said he would inform Mr Hedge the good news right away.
The following Monday a call from Bert summoned him to his office.
“Mr Hedges is very pleased with your work and has asked me to reward you.” Bert began and as he did so he handed David a sheaf of papers and a small bunch of keys. “Your car is parked in our private car park at the back it’s a blue Citroen Saxo. The papers,” he continued, “are deeds of ownership to the car that now belongs to you.”
David was astounded at the news, “but I can’t drive!” he exclaimed.
“I understand you have taken two hours of lessons, already passed your written driving exam and your driving test proper is booked for three weeks hence; hopefully you will pass and you will be able to drive your new bride to be on honeymoon when you get married later in the month.”
David was almost speechless, how Bert seemed to know every aspect of his life and knew about him getting married in a few weeks’ time. As an afterthought he wondered if he should invite him and probably Mr Hedge. He made a mental note to talk it over with Jayne first.
“Mr Hedge has decided to invest in you David; he thinks you are destined for bigger things within the company.”
“Please thank Mr Hedge for his faith in me” answered David liking the idea that the boss had noticed his hard work. “But how am I to get the car home I’m not insured to drive it even if I was I’d need a qualified driver at the side of me.”
That’s also taken care of; you will find your insurance document is within the papers I have given you. Your under-manager Colin is downstairs in the foyer waiting for you, he’s now your qualified co driver and he has been instructed to accompany you anywhere and anytime you want him. Do not be afraid of using him that’s what he’s being paid for. Enjoy.”
Bert’s last words seem to indicate that the interview was over. “Thank you Mr Higgins and will you again convey my thanks to Mr Hedge?”
“Bert, please David,” I wondered who you were thanking when you said Mr Higgins.”
“Yes sorry Bert. Bert it is.”
“Oh! And can you also put this through the accounts when you have time?” said Bert, almost as an aside and without looking up; he handed over another blue bank sack containing what David assumed was cash money.
“How much is there this time?”
“Ten.” Bert was now looking at other papers on his desk obviously he wanted to get on with his own work,
David reluctantly accepted the sack of money; his conscience was telling him something was wrong but he could hardly refuse; perhaps this was the last time, though he had a feeling it wouldn’t be.
Colin, as Bert had said, was waiting for him in the foyer. David felt as if he could hardly tell him that the car was a gift, so explained to him that the Saxo was a company car. “Lucky you” was Colin’s only comment.
The Citroen Saxo was second hand but in showroom condition with less than thirty seven thousand miles on the clock, Colin had estimated its value at over five thousand pounds. Am I worth that much to the company David had to ask himself? And almost the same thought told him that he must be.
Colin was now his unofficial chauffeur, at first David was unsure about the idea of someone being at his beck and call but as Bert had said it was Colin’s job and he was getting paid for it. Besides he rather enjoyed being the boss and giving orders. Life was good.
Every Monday David was summoned to Bert’s office, and now when he alighted the secure lift Oh-Oh, Jake’s bodyguard, only occasionally met him and when he did he was greeted with “Hello Mr David how are you today?” Oh-Oh always had the big white toothed grin of greeting on his face. David didn’t feel like a stranger up here anymore.
Usually Bert would hand David a bank sack containing ten thousand pounds to be falsely recorded into the supermarket takings. There was little else David could do but accept it and accomplish as he was bid.
Because he’d had many hours of driving lessons and could drive his own car whenever he wanted, David passed his driving test first time, he could now throw away his L plates and Colin could stand down as his co-driver.
One Monday morning and as usual, David was visiting Bert’s office; as he sat down Bert said. “Mr Hedge has instructed me to say how he is pleased with your progress in our company, especially how your idea of re-programming the computer has proved very successful. He has decided to do the same thing at our South Shields supermarket and wants you to call in and do the same as you did at our Gosforth Branch. Can you do that?”
David felt uneasy about accepting the task but at the same time he could not refuse; if he did his job would be at risk and therefore the rent on house wouldn’t be paid and his planned marriage to Jayne would have to be put on hold. A rock and a hard place instantly came into his mind before he made a decision.
“When do you want me to visit North Shields?”
“This morning.” Bert’s reply was instant.
“I would have to look over the tills and the audit books before I could be certain of doing the same thing. There are so many problems that could arise, for instance, what if all the tills are different and will not accept the same codes?” He was almost pleading an excuse.
“If the tills there won’t accept your codes then we will have to buy some that will.” Bert almost abruptly answered. “The manager at South Shields is expecting you and has been instructed to help you in any way you see fit. Make it work David. I will leave it all in your quite capable hands.”
As he departed the office building he began to realise how easily he had again been manipulated. It had already been decided that he was going to visit North Shields that very morning, he hadn’t made his own decision it had already been made for him by Bert even before he had even entered the building.
The South Shields supermarket was about the same size and shape as the Gosforth one, in fact they probably shared the same plans when they were first built. The five check-out positions and layouts were exactly the same and he suspected that the overall Audit sheets would be similar. David realised that he would have no real problems re-programming the computer and a separate till.
The manager, when David introduced himself, seemed to bend over backwards in his endeavour to help and said that his office was now David’s for as long as he needed it. Had the manager been forewarned to put himself out?
“Would he like a cup tea or coffee?” David enjoyed the attention he was being given. “Yes, a cup of black coffee with two sugars would be quite acceptable. Thank you.” he almost commanded.
By the end of the day David had finished ‘Job done’. He rang Bert to inform him of the successful code insertion into the fifth till at North Shields.
“Well done.” was his reply. “Can you call in to receive some cash flow?”
“Yes of course, when?”
“First thing in the morning will be Ok.” The reply again almost came across as an order.
As David put his phone back into his pocket he felt demoralised He wasn’t his own boss anymore he now never seemed to make any decisions of his own; he was well paid yes, he enjoyed his job, well managing the supermarket part of it but increasingly he was at the constant beck and call of Bert, or more than likely, his boss Jake.
“Because you have worked so well within the company” Bert began, “I have been instructed by Mr Hedge to promote you. You are now the area manager of Hedges Supermarkets.”
“You mean I have to run both supermarkets? I hardly have time to…”
“No,” Bert held his hand up to interrupt him. “Colin your present under-manager will take over almost all of your work there as will the North Shields manager be still responsible for that one but you will have the overall control of both of the supermarkets financial affairs.” Bert went on to explain to him what his new promotion duties would entail. “Your salary will almost double and you will be paid a six monthly bonus.”
“Well thank you.” It was all David could think of as a reply. The news that his pay would double with bonuses would be welcome but was his new promotion as welcome? Was it more to do with how he could manipulate computers rather than him being good at his job? His fingers would now be in both tills, figuratively speaking.
“And can you put this through the books?” Bert handed over another bank sack which seemed more bulging than any of the others.
“How much?” David asked but probably could estimate the answer.
“Twenty. Ten for each” Was the terse reply, meaning ten thousand pounds for each supermarket.
It’s a lot of money to be carrying around can’t you just put it in the bank?"
“We could but it looks more bone fide if the cash appears in the supermarket bank overall takings at the time when the Securicor collect it."
David was aware the answer was true but he’d asked the question more out of frustration at the position he was in.
“And I agree it’s a lot of money for one person to be carrying around so I have arranged you an escort at times whilst you are carrying cash. He’s downstairs waiting for you.”
“Hello David long time no see.” Brian uttered, not the most original greetings David had ever heard.
“Hello Brian how are you?” David returned.
“Top o' the morning mate. I understand that I’m to be your minder for the day. Where are we going?”
“Hedge’s at Gosforth first stop.” David replied as they got into his car. He rather liked the idea of being in charge of Brian and Brian fully accepting that position.
“I understand you’ve done quite well for yourself since you joined the organisation, Manager of a supermarket all within four months.” Brian was making small talk as they were driving.
“Area manager you mean.”
“Area manager I have been promoted to Area Manager now and responsible for both supermarkets.”
“I’m impressed I always knew you had it in you. Your nick education has certainly served you very well.”
David felt a little peeved that Brian had called his degree a nick education. Wherever he had studied for it he had worked extremely hard. “And it’s earning me very good money, wherever I got it from.” David quickly responded. He realised that he was boasting a little but felt Brian needed to be reminded of who the boss was.
Brian nodded his agreement.
Congratulations on your promotion Mr May.” Colin, his under-manager, now manager, genuinely acknowledged as he entered his office. Colin must have been forewarned of David’s promotion.
David quite enjoyed being called Mr May now rather than just David as Colin used to call him before his promotion.
“Thank you Colin but my promotion will mean extra duties for you but I‘m sure I can arrange a salary increase for you.”
“Well thank you sir I will try to live up to your expectations.”
“There is no need to call me sir or Mr May unless we are in important company, I’m the same person I was when I left this morning; David is still Ok by me.”
“Cheers David” Colin nodded
“Can I ask you both to leave me for a few minutes I need to put something in the safe?”
Both Colin and Brian turned about and left.
David needed a little time to work out how he was to have access to the South Shields number five check-out without any of the other the staff knowing. He decided he would have to visit the store when it was closed to enable him to run the computer programme without anyone being aware. He deposited half the money in the safe and carried the remainder out of the office. “Can you come with me Brian?” he requested.
“So you are the head money launderer now?” Brian off-handedly remarked as they were driving to North Shields.
“Whatever do you mean?” David demanded.
“Well the last guy that had your job suddenly disappeared; the official reason said he immigrated to South Africa but I have my doubts. He just knew too much and could not be trusted. I just assumed you had taken his place.”
“I mean what did you mean by me being a money launderer?”
“Surely even you know what money laundering is?” Questioned Brian.
“Of course I do but what do you mean by me being the new money launderer?”
“Forgot I said anything, it’s none of my business.” Brian had realised that he had opened his mouth a little too much.
“That’s right Brian, we agree on that one, it is not of your business.”
There was silence between them for the rest of the drive which suited David. It had really hit home to him when Brian had stated the obvious; he had become a money launderer. Since that very first time he had unwittingly falsified the supermarket accounts hiding the ten thousand pounds. At the time he had felt something was wrong but he had no idea why it was.
When he had returned home that first day he inputted the words ‘Money Laundering’ into the Google search engine on his computer. Part of the answer given stated that ‘money laundering is the conversion of money derived from serious crime, for the purpose of concealing or disguising the illicit origin of the property or of assisting any person who is involved in committing such an offence or offences to evade the legal consequences of his action.’
David recognised that now he was deep into organised crime and for some unknown reason to him it didn’t seem to bother him as much as it once would have. He decided that it might be a wise move to realise as much money as he could and then get out, probably immigrate to Australia with his wife and family.
David now found that after his promotion his duties lay solely within accounts, being responsible for all bookkeeping and banking duties to both supermarkets. All other duties were now more of a supervisory nature rather that hands on.
At his next call at the hedge’s office Bert had said Jake would like a word with him upstairs. Oh-Oh escorted him into Jake’s office introduced him as before and left.
“You have done well within our company David I have had very good reports on your progression.” Jake Hedge began. “You may, or may not, know that we have connections down South and I have been telling them about your skills.” Jake began to explain how his associates in London could benefit from David’s experience. “I have told them how you had fixed one of our problems and they feel they may also be able to take advantage of your services.”
“Whatever you say Mr Hedge” David had the same feeling as before, that he could not refuse.
“Excellent, I have arranged for Brian to accompany you down to the smoke to look after you. Take all the time you need and of course all expenses are on the house so don’t be afraid to spend, our associates are paying all bills. If you are successful there will be a nice little bonus in it for you. Do your best for me David and you certainly won’t lose out.”
First class train tickets for Brian and himself down to London and David felt quite the business man; a taxi drive across the city, deposited them at the London Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square. A largish burly type man approached them as they walked to the check in desk; Brian saw him first and stood between the man and the approaching stranger. He was doing the job he was being paid for. “No problems mate.” The stranger held his hands slightly raised, palms facing outwards, spoke with an Australian accent. “Just wanted to introduce myself I’ve been assigned to look after you whilst you are in our part of town. You can call me Bruce, it’s not my real name but, cos I’m from Oz, everybody else calls me that. When you are ready this evening around six I’ll meet you down her in the foyer. I have instructions to take you to my boss Mr Jordan. Reservations have already been made for you here and it’s all paid for so if you get your room key from reception you’ll still have a few hours to settle in before I pick you up. Any problems you can ring this number at any time.” He handed David a small business card. “It’s my mobile number and as I say I’m here to look after you.” With that he bade his farewells and left them to book in.
“Wow!” Brian said as they entered their hotel room. “This is what I call five star luxury.” David had to agree, as he gazed around everything looked to be perfection. David had expected a hotel room with just a bed in it but this was a suite of rooms. The main living room was quite large by normal standards and the décor and furniture looked very old in design but highly polished and super clean. The suite had two bedrooms each containing a king-sized double bed with cream silk sheets. Brian asked him which bedroom he preferred; David was quite pleased how Brian now deferred to him now in every way. David was in charge and Brian knew his place.
As arranged at six that evening Bruce met them in the foyer and a taxi was waiting to take them to a large block of luxury flats that faced North across the river Thames and only a few hundred yards away to the right was Tower Bridge.
Bruce led them into a lift which rose to the penthouse suite at the top. As the lift doors opened up, the largest man David had ever seen stood there in the corridor. Bruce approached him and raised his arms, he’d obviously done it before; the large man quickly patted him down and when he was satisfied that he carried no concealed weapons, looked over at David who immediately raised his arms without being told, Brian did likewise. When the large man was satisfied he led them along the corridor to the main door of the suite and quickly knocked twice, then after a slight pause a third time. The door was opened by a person who, by the way he was dressed, was a butler or valet of some sort. “Good evening Sir, Mr Jordan is waiting for you please follow me. David followed him through the door whilst Brian remained in the corridor with Bruce and the large man.
David had thought their hotel suite of rooms was luxury but this apartment looked as if it had been designed for a film set, it was not just luxury but exquisite luxury. From the large Chrystal chandeliers’ to the thick, almost white, Persian rugs on the floor everything explained the wealth of the owner.
“Mr Jordan sir” the butler announced “this is David.” David wondered how the Butler knew his name and it was only then he noticed that Brian had not been announced and had remained in the corridor outside.
“Come in David please make yourself at home.” The person who he now knew as Mr Jordan walked towards him with his right hand outstretched David took it and returned the greeting.
“Can I get you a drink?” Jordan asked.
David rarely drank alcohol but thought if he refused such illustrious company he might offend, so replied “A small whisky would be nice Mr Jordan, thank you.”
Mr Jordan was quite small in stature, a little below average height and weight but he had a poise that seemed to exude a silent power. His dark receding hair was well expertly trimmed and brushed straight back with a razor sharp parting to the left hand side. He wore a wine red dinner jacket, white silk shirt and black cravat; the shirt cuffs just protruding just the right amount from the jacket sleeve to show a solid pair of gold cuff links. The nominal Gold Rolex adorned his left wrist. David was reminded of an American Gangster film set in the prohibition era.
Jordan led him to a very large luxurious white leather couch and motioned for him to sit. By this time the butler was on hand to serve him a large tumbler of a golden fluid. David nodded his thanks to the butler rather than speaking them.
“Now David, has Mr Hedges told you what I hope you can do for us?” Jordan asked.
“Not exactly sir. He did say I might be able to help you similar to what I have been doing at the two Hedges supermarkets.”
Yes, Jake has told me a little about that, we also have a supermarket with a similar computer system that you might be able to re-programme. Our main outlets though are gaming clubs. Mr Hedges and I thought you might look at the computer programme of our gaming tables, book-makers, night clubs and the like and maybe you can tweak the programmes to our benefit. If you can prepare a report on what and where you might be able to help I would be most grateful. Bruce will show you around tomorrow morning and hopefully by the end of the week you may be able to suggest something. If you look after me I can be a most generous man David. Here let me freshen up that drink of yours.” Jordan reached over and took David’s half-finished glass. The butler had already anticipated his boss’s silent command and was on hand to take the glass and returned in what seemed like only a few seconds with fresh glasses of drinks.
Jordan chatted to David quite amicably throughout the evening with him appearing to be interested in David’s and his life ‘up North’ as he put it. After about an hour and a half Jordan made his excuses to cut short the visit as he had other business people to see. He assured David that if there was anything at all that he could do to help David in his tasks then not to be too hesitant to ask Bruce who would relay, back me, any messages.
David was glad to leave the company of Jordan, at no time had he not been made welcome but the hidden menace surrounding such people had put David on edge.
Bruce, as arranged picked David and Brian up from their hotel the following morning and their first stop was the supermarket. The rest of the morning was taken up with studying the computer files and programmes. David came to a decision that he could help in a similar fashion to what he had done at Hedge’s.
The afternoon Bruce took him to visit two bookmakers and again after study decided what his report would contain. In the evening Brice took them to the Esquire Club which was a mixture of an exclusive Gentleman’s gaming club and a night club. After an excellent steak meal and a couple of drinks David was shown the layout of the back rooms.
David’s main interest was the clubs main-frame computer and the programmes it contained recording the input and output of cash going through the clubs gaming cage. After a few hours David had a vague idea what might be achieved but it would take quite some time in thought and study before he could be certain.
For the rest of that week David was shown around Jordan’s many legal businesses and on the last day he remained in his suite writing up his report.
As David and Brian were chauffeured to the railway station he realised that he liked being a person of note, a person that others admired and looked up to; as yet he was on the bottom rung of the ladder but was already looking forward to the next rung up. As they passed through the Kings Cross railway station ticket barrier, David handed his written report to Bruce for him to carry to back to his boss.
On the train journey north Brian commented on how far and how fast David had progressed within Hedge organisation. David agreed and said he had a lot further to go.
“And I always thought you hated the whole idea of the drug trade.”
“What do you mean? David indignantly asked.
“Well Jordan’s whole empire, if you can call it an empire, is founded on the drug trade. Jake Hedges, although smaller, is also built on drugs. Drug income has enabled them both to buy up legit businesses which they use to launder the drug money. Of course all laundered money going through a legit account attracts income tax but Drug barons don’t mind paying taxes on their drug money income. Clean money means they can openly spend, invest or bank it, dirty money means it has to remain in cash and hidden.”
Inwardly David had always known drugs were within Jakes organisation but as he had no direct knowledge of it them he preferred to sweep it under his minds carpet. His selective thinking reasoned that Drugs were only on the perfidy of Jakes business. “But Jake has so many legit businesses like his two supermarkets, his nightclub and betting shops, surely he hasn’t a need to trade in drugs to make a living.” He tried to reason.
“People like Jake and Jordan enjoy the power they have over others, take away his money and you take away his power. They will always want more money and therefore more power” explained Brian.
“Does he do a lot of business in the drug trade?” he asked.
“Where do you think he gets all the cash from that you launder and that’s only a very small percentage of it? Sorry I shouldn’t have said that; as you said me once before, it’s none of my business.”
“No Brian, go on tell me what you know. I promise it will go no further than me.”
Brian then went on to tell David how pure unadulterated drugs were cheaply bought in Columbia and then smuggled, via boat, into the London dock’s by Jordan’s people who then had a redistributed setup around the country for drugs in bulk. Ten thousand per cent mark-up is not unusual. Once in the hands of the local drug baron, and each one had his own area, the drugs would be cut and wrapped into small portions to be further distributed to the smaller drug dealers further down the line. Brian explained how that other local drug baron were always trying to ‘muscle’ in on another’s patch and was why each baron had to employ muscle like himself.
He described that once or twice a month he himself got orders from Jake, well Jake, he explained, did not actually do the ordering, but he or others would get orders to go down to London with a packet of money, usually around thirty thousand pounds and he would meet up with one of Jordan’s henchmen and a few kilos of Cocaine would be exchanged. It had all been arranged before he got down there, he explained, for he was just the errand boy. Occasionally, providing he got permission from higher up and he sold it on well out of Jakes area, he was allowed to put up some of his own money and buy a small amount of the stuff for himself.
He reminded David how easily he had doubled David’s money at the beginning of the year; “How did you think I doubled your money? I bought the cocaine neat, cut it, then sold it on”
“Well yeah! You know when I buy it it’s about 99% pure. I just unpack it and add ten times the weight, or even more, with Talc.”
“Well I usually use Talcum powder but I have known people use Brick dust, ground up chalk or even the contents of a cigarette ash tray.”
David had read and heard about this type of thing before but because it hadn’t cut across his world he had not thought about it in depth before, but as his grandmother used to say ‘It will all come out in the wash.’ He had to finally admit to himself that he was involved in the illegal drugs trade. There is no sitting on the fence in this game, one is either in or out, ‘in for a penny in for a pound,’ as his grandmother also used to say.
“Your report to Joe Jordan was very acceptable.” David was in Jake’s apartment. “He wants you to go back down to London as soon as you can and carry out his supermarket reprogramming and then make a start with the night club.”
“Does Mr Jordan realise that I may be able to programme the supermarket the same day but the club computer will take a lot longer. I will have to make copies of the already installed programmes and bring them home for me to work on. When I’m satisfied that my new programme would work within the existing programme then I could go back down to do the job properly.”
“I’m sure Mr Jordan understands all this David, and if you wish I will let him know what you have said. When you have reprogrammed the supermarket computer in London will you show the manager there how works so that he will be able to input any figures necessary and thinking along those lines I will have to arrange that you show one of our men how to use our own supermarket tills. The bottom line David is that Mr Jordan wants you to go back and do whatever is necessary. And what Jordan wants Jordan always gets.”
Because of David’s many work commitments now his wedding to Jayne had to be postponed, he reasoned to Jayne that their coming baby’s future relied on him making a success at work, especially the London work, and when he had succeeded they would have all the time in the world. Jayne had understood but her mother less so. To try and placate Jayne and to show her his total commitment he took her to the Metro Centre in Gateshead and after walking round the many jewellery stores within, they discovered the exact expensive matching engagement and wedding rings for Jayne; a nice meal in an Italian restaurant completed their day and they both returned home happy.
Since David had done a similar job twice before, as predicted, the Jordan Supermarket was an easy programming job. The supermarket manager proved an easy pupil when shown how to act on the programme prompts and to input the figures, data and other information it asked for. The Gaming club, as he had also predicted, would be much more complicated. David, again accompanied by Brian, spent three days in London before returning home to Newcastle. Now the hard work would begin re- writing the new programming codes.
All cash inputs and withdrawals from Gaming Club came from within a strong room. This secure room within the club building nicknamed ‘the cage,’ was where all the financial transactions took place.
A visitor to the club who wished to gamble would approach the single small wire meshed window and deposit an amount of cash or debit card money, for which he would receive that amount in gaming chips; round plastic tokens specially designed for the club. When a customer wished to cash in his chips on leaving the club the reverse procedure would be enacted.
First David would write a short initial programme to be inserted; it would only start up if an operator inserted a certain long pin number, known only to him. This rebel programme would request the operator to input a figure. This figure would be the amount of money needed to be laundered that day. Inputting the figure and pressing return would instruct the computer, at random intervals during the session, to appear to accept cash money over the cage counter as if the teller had accepted it in person. This bogus transaction would appear in between all genuine transactions and paper records as a normal cash input. Also, at random, reverse cash withdrawals would appear to have been repaid.
David had researched that on average, give a decimal or two, gambling usually repays out a legally stipulated requirement overall of at least 78 per cent return, making a profit to the establishment of around 22 per cent. These figures would have to be taken into account so that the 22 percentage total money paid out would equal the original inputted figure to be laundered.
David worked hard on the computer programme, he realised that to succeed would enhance his stature within the company and his expertise would be in much demand.
He had been working on the programme now for almost two weeks solid. Other than the Monday Evening when he had met individual manages of the two stores to instruct them how the till number five would accept the rogue programme. Bert had already approached them and obviously they had agreed to their coercion.
David reckoned that this last week’s hard work should get the programme finalised; trouble was this coming Saturday, Morpeth registry officer had been booked for his and Jayne’s wedding.
Jayne was now twenty eight weeks into her pregnancy. He had put off the last date for the wedding because of pressure of work but there was no way he could give the excuse of work this time. He explained to Jayne that this point in time was crucial to his work. He would have to work right up to the Friday before the wedding and then resume the Monday following. A further week in London setting up the programme and he could maybe relax a little. Did she understand? He was promising her the moon, but she could not have it just yet.
The eventual wedding at Morpeth registry office went without a hitch; because of Jayne’s advanced pregnancy only David’s mum and Dad and Jayne’s mum were in attendance. They had previously discussed inviting both Jake and Bert and many others to the wedding but, after taking all things into consideration, decided against it. When David had previously spoken with Bert he explained how the wedding would only be a small family gathering and that normally they would definitely have invited both Jake and Bert but did not because only parents were invited, did Bert understand and would he explain the circumstances to Jake? Bert said he appreciated the sentiment and said he was certain Jake would understand and that he was sure a little wedding present bonus would be in the offing.
Jayne was radiant in her semi bridal outfit. David promised her that sometime in the future, when he was successful, they would have a lavish second renewal of their marriage vows with no expenses spared. Jayne, as always, seemed to understand and agreed to the quiet wedding. The reception afterwards at the Royal Park Hotel in Morpeth was the best money could buy. David had booked the bridal suite and five star rooms for a Friday and Saturday night stay for all parents.
Jayne felt, although she had said nothing, a little let down that her special day had not been that special at all; but she reasoned that as David climbed higher in the company then he would be able to delegate more work to others enabling them to spend more time together.
Back to work on his computer Monday morning and hopefully the last week of hard slog. The phone rang it was Bert hoping that the wedding went off without a hitch and a wedding present was in the pipeline. How was the computer programme progressing? David replied that hopefully it would be completed by Friday. He reminded Bert that he would have to completely close down the London gaming club computer before he could install the rogue programme. Bert replied that Mr Jordan’s manager would not want any interruptions to the 24 hour gambling over the weekend and suggested that Monday night Tuesday morning was usually one of the slowest times of the week perhaps they could make arrangements for it all to happen around three AM on the Tuesday. He would contact Jordan of the proposed timings. David agreed, in that he would be ready to travel down to the smoke Monday morning and hopefully would be travelling back home later that week.
By mid-week the programme was finished, after exhaustive checks and rechecks David sat back in his computer swivel chair and decide there was little more he could do to refine it. He was free for the rest of the week; perhaps he should spend as much time as he could with his wife, he had been neglecting her of late.
“I’m free until Monday morning and I’m all yours till then, what would you like to do, where would you like to go my love?” He asked.
“The nursery.” Jayne replied
“The nursery, I want the smaller room converted into a nursery. In case you have forgotten I’m almost eight months pregnant with your child and I want the nursery decorating. I also want the spare bedroom decorating for when we have visitors.”
“Visitors! What visitors?”
“When I’m due to give birth mum has said she would move in for a few weeks to help out, I had already told you but you seemed preoccupied. Her moving in won’t affect your work too much. Least we can do is decorate and furnish the room for her”
David certainly did not like the idea of Jayne’s mum moving in but he did accept that it was a practical solution.
“Can’t we get someone in to do the painting? A proper decorator would do a much better job than me. We can certainly afford it now.”
“No! I want it to be an us, thing. But first I want like to go shopping for a crib, baby clothes, and spare bedroom furniture and then we can go to the hardware store for paint and brushes and things.”
“If that’s what you want, then so be it.” David reluctantly acquiesced.
The nursery was completed by the weekend and although David openly looked relaxed and enjoying the preparations for the coming baby, inwardly his mind was worrying about installing the programme on the casino mainframe; would it crash losing the company many hundreds of thousands of pounds? A single wrong number within the many thousands of codes of the programme could make it crash irrevocably.
Monday morning a final check to his newly written computer programme proved it should work and was ready to be installed. The first class seats on the train for Brian and himself had been reserved for the mid-day express to London Kings Cross. The journey was uneventful, Brian kept quiet he could sense that David had a lot on his mind and did not want to be disturbed.
David did have a lot on his mind, what if the rogue programme crashed the main frame and ruined the existing installed programme? He had as a matter of course made a copy of the original programme already running on the computer and hopefully he could always reinstall it if anything went wrong, with his new programme he had installed, but he was acutely aware that a lot of money could be lost to the Gaming Club if thing went awry. What if it all went wrong and he was responsible for the losses?
A similar suite of rooms had again been allocated to them at the Marriott Hotel now the luxury of the rooms didn’t impress him quite as much as they once had; perhaps he was becoming complacent and expected such treatment.
After visiting the club and making the necessary arrangements as prior agreed, the mainframe was closed down at three am Tuesday morning and the club was closed for gaming. It took less than ten minutes for the new programme to be installed but many more hours of checking that all worked as intended Tuesday morning the mainframe was switched on it was now able to accept input. David would have to wait at least forty eight hours before he could be sure all was working as he had designed.
The club re-opened Tuesday at noon and gambling resumed, all appeared working as normal at least the new additive hadn’t crashed the mainframe, as yet anyhow. The input and export of cash was as normal and David decided the time was right for testing. The casino manager was on hand to authenticate all that occurred and also to learn how to operate his new programme.
David typed F$4 on the keyboard and a box appeared requesting the eight figure security number. He inputted Jj23?74?22?/DM,> < and then pressed the ENTER key. As expected a box appeared and prompted a cash amount input. As agreed with the manager he typed 10000 then pressed the ENTER button. The input box disappeared.
“Is it OK?” asked the manager “nothing appears to have happened.”
“Well that in itself is a good sign;” David replied, “my programme hasn’t crashed or interfered with the main programme but it is still running in the background. Over the next twenty four hours the programme will, at random times and random cash amounts, input into its records as if the teller is typing them in. These amounts will be interspersed with the real inputs so no one can determine which is a real input and which is a bogus.”
“So all is OK?”
“As far as I can see it is. Let’s wait for an hour and during that hour we will record, by hand, on a separate computer the true cash inputs and outgoings. After that hour we will request the computer to print out the official record up to that time. If it’s working as I expect the bogus figures will be interspersed with the real figures and we can then compare the two sets of data. All we can now do is wait.”
Sure enough after an hour the print out confirmed that the programme was working correctly and David inaudibly breathed a great sigh of relief. David waited a further hour before repeating his actions and all seemed to be well.
He instructed the casino manager to wait a further four hours then again begin to hand record payments in and out and again order a print out to check. He would remain, on call at his hotel, for a further twenty four hours to check that the initial figure tallied with the printout. If it did he was home free. David retired to The Marriot feeling physically and mentally exhausted
David visited the club the next day to verify all was well he need not have worried, he had written a good programme and all the figures tallied; after making sure the club manager was fully competent in running the rogue programme, he left the club to return to the hotel to pack and make arrangements to return home.
“Once again you have proved your worth David. You are a very valued asset to me and the company.” It was Friday evening and David was in Jake’s apartment and being congratulated on a Job well done. Jake handed him a thick brown sealed envelope.
“What’s this Mr Hedge?” David enquired.
“There’s five thousand in there, take it It’s a little bonus, you’ve deserved it; go book yourself and wife a honeymoon. They tell me that Las Vegas is good this time of the year. Hells bells” he laughed. “I have always found that Las Vegas is good at any time of the year.”
David laughed at Jake’s feeble joke, not because he thought it was funny but because he wanted to humour, and keep well in with, his boss. The five thousand pounds cash would come in very handy.
“Well Thank you very much Mr Hedge you are more than generous, although I hardly think Jayne would appreciate a holiday in Las Vegas so late in her pregnancy” David responded.
“Of course, David, I’d forgotten “Here take this as well.” Jake handed David another smaller envelope “Inside is a company debit card and a note that has the pin number, anytime you need anything for the good of the company then use the card. It’s all tax deductible.”
“Well again thank sir. It is much appreciated. I’ll not misuse the card and use it only when necessary.”
“I’m sure you won’t David. If I didn’t trust you I would not have given you it. I wouldn’t want to have to send my heavies round would I?” He laughed again at his little joke.
Again David laughed along with the joke but inwardly he realised that Mr Nice Guy Jake could always turn into a Mr Nasty Guy Jake.
“Here let me fix you another drink.” Jake reached over and grasped David’s half-finished whiskey that Jake had given him, without asking, as he had entered the apartment.
David was about to protest he didn’t want another drink but had no wish to annoy his boss. “Thank you.” He responded he’d drink this one just to be sociable and then make an excuse to leave, he decided.
“So use the money and have a couple of weeks off at our expense and by that time your wife and will be expecting your first born. I’ll have to meet Jayne some time by the way.” Hedge remarked. “Sometime after your holiday I want you to call in to the Craven Gate club in Wallsend and introduce yourself to my son. He is expecting you, I want you to acquaint yourself with the general running of the club and I have arranged that he will give you all the assistance you need. Perhaps at a later stage when you are ready you might take over whilst my son is on holiday and the like. You might like to call yourself the under-manager whilst you are there just to give yourself some sort of authority. I have ideas of acquiring another club in Newcastle, similar to the gaming club our friend Jordan has in London and your knowledge of both types of club would help me set it up.”
David was rather pleased with himself at the news, when he looked back less than a year ago he was looking forward to being the manager of working man’s greasy spoon café and now he could look forward to managing a night club or even a casino. Although thinking further, working with Clive could be the fly in the ointment.
A few drinks later and Jake and David were chatting away like old friends. Jake seemed to have taken a liking to David and David had decided it was advantageous to respond; besides the Glen Fiddich single malt whisky was becoming quite palatable.
As they drank Jake seemed to want to explain himself how David reminded him of himself. He explained how many years ago, in his teens, he also had been accused of a crime that he had not committed. How the police had hounded him at the time and how he had decided that if he was being accused of doing something that he hadn’t, he might as well live up to their expectations.
David was surprised that Jake had remembered all what he had told him at their very first meeting. David began to realise that Jake was a very astute man with a very agile mind he hadn’t become rich and powerful with his physical prowess, that was obvious, but by his shrewdness. The old adage about ‘the pen being mightier than the sword’ definitely applied to Jake.
During their conversation Jake had insisted that David, when they were alone together, should call him by his first name. David felt complimented at the suggestion but decided to compromise and began to address him as Mr Jake.
“Mind if I use you toilet Mr Jake this drink seems to be running straight through me.”
“Of course not lad it’s the door opposite the kitchen.” Jake replied.
The bathroom was just like the other rooms to this lavish flat and no expense had been spared in decorating it. It was the first time that he had seen a sunken bath in fact it was the first time he had seen a bath large enough to accommodate two or more persons quite adequately. After his pee, as he reach over to the soap dispenser and began to wash his hands, he noticed a medium sized glass fronted box attached to the wall, the small printing on the door it announced it was a ‘Chiller Cabinet.’ David thought no more about it and returned to the main room
A few drinks later and the alcohol was beginning to tell, Jake began talking more personally he confided to him about his health problems. He had type 1 Diabetes that unlike Diabetes type 2 could not be controlled by diet or medicine alone; that he had to take an insulin injection twice a day, every evening at eight o clock and then twelve hours later in the morning.
David now realised that the bathroom wall cabinet probably contained Jakes supply of Insulin which had to be kept at a cool temperature hence the bathroom Chiller Cabinet. He had never heard of diabetes and as it did not seem to affect Jake’s mental, physical or drinking capabilities, he cast the knowledge to the back of his mind.
Also as the alcohol seeped into David’s blood stream he realised that he was becoming slightly drunk and had stayed a little longer than he had planned, he decided to make his excuses to leave.
best be off Mr Jake, my wife will be wondering where I am. I’d
better phone for a taxi I could not possibly myself drive home with
all of your good spirits inside of me.”
“If you are sure Mr Jake it would be greatly appreciated.” David quite liked the idea of having Oh-Oh as a chauffeur.”
“No problem son it’s my pleasure. I have enjoyed our little chat David you will have to come round again; someday I may have a little proposition to put to you.”
Whatever could Jake’s proposition be? The plot thickens.
In the cold light of day David would have hated to admit it but he had spent quite a reasonably pleasant few hours with Jake and rather looked forward to their next meeting.
David could now have a well-earned two weeks rest.
As expected Jayne did not want to go anywhere on holiday much less Las Vegas, she seemed quite content having her husband by her side and just generally snuggling up to him and putting her feet up as they watched television together.
The five thousand pound cash present from Hedge was most welcome but David realised that he could hardly bank such a sum, it could be regarded as income and liable to income tax. He decided to buy and install a small strongbox. David took up a couple of floorboards in their bedroom and after sawing them to size to make a lid he fitted the strongbox to the joists between the floor joists, the screw bolt heads inserted from inside the safe secured it to the wood joists. The floorboard lid was replaced and a carpet covered the lid.
Their two weeks holiday just seemed to flow by and Jayne’s pregnancy had almost reached full term. Jayne’s was huge, her dates indicated another week to go but by the size of her girth the birth could be expected at any time. Jayne’s mother Vera assured all that because the baby was lying low down it almost certainly meant that it was a boy. Both David and Jayne had no real preferences other than that the baby arrived safely.
Jayne’s mother who had arranged to stay with them for a few weeks was most welcome, although David had been a little loathe in admitting it at first; her assistance and advice helped them both a lot.
David, as Jake had suggested, decided to call in to see Clive at his club one evening.
He explained to Jayne that he had to go out for a few hours and as she had her mother to keep her company he didn’t feel too bad in leaving her.
The Craven Gate Club could only be described as a dive. It was dirty unkempt and scruffy. It was ten o clock of a Friday night and, for a nightclub, the place was almost empty. This was obviously not a place where young people hung out. Loud heavy metal type of dance music glared out from a makeshift stage where behind a huge console of speakers a young disc-jockey manipulated the controls.
As he walked towards the bar David decided that on first appearances he wasn’t going to like working here. Two young teenage girls were stood at the bar and David wondered if either of the two waiters had bothered to ask their ages, probably not.
“Can I speak to the manager?” David politely asked the young man standing behind the bar.
The man looked to be only just of legal age to serve drinks himself sarcastically replied. “Wait your turn mate. I’ve only got four pairs of hands.” He grinned as he looked towards one of the pretty young girls he was chatting up.
David was unsure of what to do, he could sheepishly wait and do as he was told or assert himself from the onset. These employees, he decided, will have to learn who he is and he must start as he means to go on.
Quite loudly this time David said “I am going to be the new manager.” It was not strictly true of course but they didn’t know that “and unless you want to keep your jobs one of you will direct me to the manager’s office now!” David’s loud assertive announcement, especially the booming last word ‘now’ and both waiters heard him, paused in what they were doing, and looked directly at him.
The young waiter who was chatting to the girl stopped and replied. “I’m sorry but Clive won’t be in until sometime after midnight.”
David realised he should have known this said. “Yes of course I know that, what I want to know who is in charge when Mr Hedge is not in attendance? I want to speak to him now.”
The other, slightly older, man walked over and said “can I help you?”
As David began to explain who he was, the man came from behind the bar and led him to a side office; a number keypad was affixed to the door jamb. David watched the man tap in a four figure number and without thinking memorised the number. He opened the door and after they had entered closed it behind them. The man introduced himself as Alan and said that he had been told to expect David’s appearance. He also said that he usually stood in when Clive was out. Alan went on to apologise for the previous young waiter attitude and would rebuke him. David nodded in acceptance of the apology.
“And what time do you expect Mr Hedge to come in?”
“Around twelvish. He usually comes in just after midnight or thereabouts” replied Alan.
“Then I’ll wait.”
“Before I can leave you here alone in the office,” began Alan “I have to satisfy myself you are who you say you are. I have been told to expect a Mr David May. Do you have any identification on you?”
“Well at least someone in this establishment seems to know what they are doing.” replied David as he produced his driving licence from within his wallet. He also flourished his debit card with the Hedge Company name engraved on it.
Alan was satisfied that David was, who he said he was, asked did he mind if he resumed his duties at the bar area.
David agreed and as Alan was about to close the door as he left David said “Well done Alan at least you seem to be conscientious in your work.” Let the staff know who is boss David had decided but at the same time give credit when it’s due.
As David looked around the office it appeared as dirty and unkempt as the rest of the club either Clive did not employ cleaners or if he did then he didn’t ensure they did their job correctly. Still, he decided, he wasn’t here to run the club just to learn the ropes.
At twenty minutes past midnight the office door opened and in walked Clive. David rose from Clive’s chair behind his desk and moved round. He was about to hold out his right hand for Clive to take in a handshake but could see Clive had no intention of offering his own so he kept his hand down by his side.
“So you are the new high flyer my dad’s told me about I’ve been wondering when you were going to turn up.” Clive asked by way of an introduction.
“Yes my names David May. How do you want me to address you as Clive or Mr Hedge?”
“All of the staff call me Clive so that’s Ok with me. The punters, though, I insist call me Mr Hedge.”
“Clive it is then.” David agreed “Unless we are in proper company that is.”
Clive was clutching a laptop computer by his side as he moved over to the far right hand wall on which a large oil painted picture had been hung. Clive swung, what proved to be a hinged picture to one side and revealed a metal safe that had been concreted flush into the wall. Clive punched a long series of digital numbers on to the pad at the side which then allowed him to pull the safe door open. David took notice that Clive had made sure that his back was in the way of David seeing him input the numbers; Clive then deposited the laptop inside and closed the safe door and repositioned the picture.
“My Dad tells me we’ve met before in the nick. Is that right? I don’t seem to remember your face.”
“We didn’t actually meet, our paths never crossed though I knew of you. I swam in quite a different pond to you. My old mate Brian Hyde though was acquainted with you in Long Frampton.”
“Ah! Yes Brian, that wanker, he works for us you know?”
“Yes I know he’s accompanied me down to London on a few jobs for Mr Jordan.”
“Jordan, that old git, Yes I’ve met him, he thinks he’s bigger than he is. One day someone will take him down and I’d like to be there when he is.”
David decided neither to agree nor disagree with Clive’s statement. “What do you want me to do while I’m here?” he asked.
“Didn’t dad tell you? I don’t know why you are here either; this place pretty much runs on its own. Alan, my manager, does most of the manual work. I just walk around now and then, probably give somebody a bollocking just to let them know who the real boss is around here, and let them get on with it.”
“I think your dad wants me to learn the business of running a club like this, so that when you go on holiday I could stand in for you.”
If that’s what he wants OK, it’s his decision but Alan usually takes over when I’m on holiday; which is quite often I might like to add.” Clive laughed at his little joke about his regular holidays.
“Your dad tells me he is thinking of acquiring another club in Newcastle probably a casino type club. Perhaps he is thinking that you will take over that one and me this one. Who knows how your dad thinks.” David tried to explain his reasons for being here, although he hoped the reason he had given were false he certainly did not like the idea of taking over this club; though a gentlemen’s casino was a different kettle of fish.
Clive nodded in agreement he seemed to like the idea of moving up in the world.
“Is it ok with you then if I just nosy around a little and get to know the place look in the files etc. just to see what’s what?”
Clive seemed to blanch a little at David’s suggestion that he look into the club files, did he have something to hide?
“I suppose you can but not tonight though they are in a bit of as mess and only I would understand them. Give me a few days to get them in order and then they are all yours. I need to…”
Clive was interrupted by a slight tap as the office door opened and in walked a very young girl who was certainly not of legal age to be in this establishment, she looked to be about fourteen and probably not yet left school.
“Clive.” She began but then seeing David stopped speaking.
Clive looked over to her and silently shook his head slightly.
“Sorry wrong door.” The young girl mumbled. “I was looking for the ladies toilets.” She turned about and closed the door behind her.
“Sorry about that” excused Clive “my office door is often mistaken for the ladies toilets. I really should reset the security lock when I come in but it usually slips my mind.”
David wondered if that was literally true.
“That’s ok.” replied David. “As I say I only called in to introduce myself and I have just about finished anyway, my wife’s ready for giving birth any time this coming week so I’d best be off. I won’t be around for a week or so and I have other work I need to catch up on, I probably won’t see you until after Christmas. So nice to have met you Clive, I’ll be seeing you around.” As David bade his farewells he again wondered if he should offer his hand to shake but decided against it.
As he walked into the club main room it was filling up a little, there were about thirty five to forty people in now, some were dancing others just seemed to be hanging around. Not that many punters really considering it was well after midnight of a Friday night. In the gloom of the far corner David could just make out the young girl who had burst into Clive’s office she was with two other girls of about the same age.
As he drove home and thought about his visit and concluded that the club had very low standards and that Clive had definitely something underhand going on.
All was quite as he returned home; Jayne was in bed fast asleep, he undressed as quietly as possible and crept between the sheets to join her. Would this late homecoming be a regular thing if he became engrossed in the nightclub scene?
The next couple of days David busied himself with visiting the two supermarkets to ensure there were no problems with tills number five; there were none and everything seemed to be running smoothly. He called in, after telephoning for an appointment, to see Bert.
“Exactly what does Mr Hedge want me to do at the Craven Gate club?” David asked Bert. ”I have visited the club and it’s pretty much a dive. Perhaps I’m speaking out of turn saying that.”
“I might agree with you on that one David and maybe sometime in the future you can help us change that.” Bert replied. “Mr Hedge has been very impressed with the work you have done for the company and he sees you as a real asset. At some point in the future he intends to retire and expects his son to take over from him and he will need help. I am getting on in years and when Mr Hedge senior goes I’ll not want to carry on. Mr Hedge wants you to learn the ropes of the business and do the job that I’m doing for Mr Hedge, you will do the same for his son.”
“Ah!” replied David “I hadn’t looked that far in the future.” He certainly did not like the idea of permanently working under Clive.
“Perhaps I’ve overstepped the mark in telling you all this but I know Mr Hedge was thinking along those lines but as I’ve said that’s far into the future.”
“I’m very flattered. I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t say anything at this point because you are not supposed to know and anyway nothings been decided as yet.”
“So what do you want me to do at this present time?”
“Just keep an eye on the two supermarkets for the time being, pop in and out now and again just to show your face and keep them on their toes. We may want you to go to Liverpool or Leeds in a few weeks but certainly not before your wife has recovered from the birth of her baby. Until then just generally enjoy your leisure time off and look after Jayne, I will let you know when we need you.”
“David.” Jayne nudged her husband awake. “I think the babies coming.”
He was out of bed in a flash and was struggling to get out of his pyjamas and into his trousers at the same time. It occurred to him to say ‘Don’t panic’ but Jayne wasn’t panicking, if anybody was, he was. “I’ll wake your mother she’ll know what to do.”
“I suggest you phone for an ambulance first, my waters have broken and we can hardly go in our car now.”
“It’s a girl.” The midwife affirmed “and beautiful she is too.” After clamping in two places, then severing, the umbilical cord she handed the baby to a nurse who wrapped him in a cover and carried him to the far side of the room.
A look of concern appeared on David’s face. “Where is she taking her, is anything wrong?” He asked rather hurriedly.
“I assure your Mr May there is nothing wrong, my colleague will bring your daughter back when she has been cleaned, weighed and measured.” She assured him “I need now to concentrate with the aftercare of your wife.”
Within a half hour of the birth Jayne was sat up in bed cuddling her new born seven and a half pound daughter with David and grandma sat by her side looking equally proud. “Are you glad now we didn’t know the sex of our baby before its birth?” Jayne asked
“I am now” replied David. “Isn’t she the most gorgeous sight in the world? I could hug her to bits. Look at those large brown eyes they are exactly like yours. Jayne you have made me the proudest man on earth. Tears almost welled up in his eyes as he cuddled up to the two most precious females in his life.
Grandma looked proudly on and with a large smile on her face said “I always knew you would have a daughter, the signs never lie.”
For the next two weeks David relaxed from work a little, but not from the extra home chores that a new born baby brings, luckily Jayne’s mum took up most of these duties as a matter of course.
“Can you go down to Leeds we have a job similar to the one you did for Jordan in London?” Bert was ringing him on his mobile. “If you call in I’ll give you all the details.”
David was about to ask him when he wanted him to call in but he already knew that the reply would be, now today. “I’ll call in around mid-day is that OK?” it was.
The two hour 1st class train journey down to Leeds was quite uneventful. Brian, as before, accompanied him.
“So you are going to help Clive run his club.” Brian casually asked.
“Who told you that?” David replied.
“It’s common knowledge. Everybody knows that they are training you up.
“Training me up?”
“That’s what they say on the grapevine. ‘Training you up for bigger things’ are the words being bandied about” answered Brian.
“Well they know more than I do. Don’t believe all that you hear on that grapevine of yours.”
“How do you feel about working under Clive? “ Brian asked. “Rather it be you than me.”
“I always thought you and Clive got on together.” David queried. “You seemed to be very close in the nick.”
“He was a means to an end in there. Just cos I worked for him, sometimes I still have to, but that does not mean to say I like him personally I wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire.”
“I didn’t know you felt like that Brian, any particular reason why?”
He likes little girls, that is one of the reasons. It’s common knowledge that the younger they are the better. There are some lines one just does not cross. I’m no angel, God forbid, but that’s one line I would not cross and I cannot stand people that do.”
“I have said enough already. One shouldn’t open ones mouth too wide in our business, there are always people around that will close it for a price.”
David nodded in agreement. “What you have said is safe with me Brian, it will go no further but I take what you have said on board.”
The Leeds job was pretty much the same as the last London Job that David had completed. A casino club owner wanted to launder regular amounts of cash over a period and was quite willing to pay for the service. As before David took copies of computer programmes and promised to report back. The programme, he estimated would take a few weeks to develop but should be ready just before the coming Christmas period.
David and Jayne decided to name their daughter Helen, both mother and daughter were progressing well and David welcomed the few weeks he was at home developing the new programme. He was forever stopping work to look over to his daughter to make sure she was OK. He now knew the real meaning of unconditional love.
The week before Christmas David and Brian returned to Leeds for David to install his bespoke rogue programme on the casino main computer. As before all worked well and the owner was highly delighted, he tipped David five hundred pounds in used notes and even Brian received fifty. The manager said that if they cared to stay over for a further night he would provide them both with a little girlie entertainment. Brian was more than up for that but David politely declined saying he wanted to get home to see his newly born daughter.
This five hundred pounds joined the five thousand cash present from Hedge that was under floorboard strongbox, it now contained five thousand five hundred pounds.
David mentally totted up in his head the amount of cash he had at his disposal, his regular monthly banked savings from his legitimate salary totalled some £4,200. With the money given to him by his parents and most of the money made in the deal with Brian in the bank David now had well over £30,000 of disposable cash and a nice car, not bad considering that just over a year ago he had almost zero in his bank account.
Christmas was upon them and David had arranged with Bert to have six days leave. He, his wife, and daughter planned to stay with Jayne’s mum Vera and visit his mum and dad regularly during their visit to Newbiggin.
This would be their first Christmas together as man and wife and daughter Helen. With plenty of money at his disposal they were in a position to buy expensive Christmas presents.
David and Jayne made a shopping trip to the Metro Shopping Complex in Gateshead to buy presents for their respective parents. For both mothers’ presents David left Jayne to decide assuring her not to worry about costs.
He racked his brains trying to think of a suitable gift for his dad. As they were passing an up market jewellery shop an Omega Sea-master watch caught his eye. The watch looked similar to the one James Bond wears in his films and he felt it would be a perfect present for his father. At three thousand, one hundred and sixty seven pounds it was a lot more than he had planned to spend but the thought of seeing such a watch on his father’s wrist gave him a great pleasure and warmth.
On Christmas day, lunch for all had been arranged at David’s parent house, and after their meal Christmas presents were exchanged, the two mothers were delighted with their expensive perfumes and pure silk scarves. Motherly kisses were given all around.
David was a little disappointed at his father’s reaction when he handed him his present. Instead of him being enthusiastic, emotional and proud that his son could afford to give him such a present, his father had said, “And how can you afford such a gift. I thought you were just an ordinary supermarket manager?”
David was crestfallen, not in the fact that his father had not liked the watch, one could not dislike a watch like that, but the fact that his father was aware that not all of David’s income was above board.
Rather than argue the point David decided to say little and just quietly mumbled “Yeah. Ok.” It was all he could think of in return. He could have argued that he was now an area Manager and in charge of two supermarkets but decided that explanation would have invited his father into saying something further.
“Let’s drink a toast drink a toast to celebrate baby Helen’s first Christmas“ David’s mum Margret invited. It was her way of breaking any coming silence.
All raised their glasses of bubbly “to Helen a merry Christmas” they all chorused “and many more of them.”
An enjoyable Christmas seemed to have been had by all, nothing more was said about the watch situation.
Tuesday, a couple of days into the New Year, David rang Bert to log in as available so to speak. Bert said he had nothing for him at this stage and would get in touch with him sometime later; maybe he could look in on the two supermarkets and another visit to the Craven Club.
David’s visit to the two supermarkets proved uneventful the two managers there seemed to have everything under control and no problems had arisen that they couldn’t handle. David was a little disappointed; he was hoping there might be problems that needed his attention thereby giving him an excuse not to revisit the Craven club. No such luck. He decided to visit the club during the day knowing full well Clive would not be there.
The first thing David noticed as he entered the club was two, obviously cleaning, ladies sat at a table gossiping over a cuppa. They looked over at him disinterested and then looked back and carried on with their conversation.
“Who is in charge here?” he demanded.
“And who wants to know?” one of them replied.
“I am the new under manager and if you value your job here you will tell me who is in charge.”
There are only the two us here. We are the cleaners.” The same one said.
“Well then I suggest you do your job and start cleaning up this pig sty.” He retorted as he strode towards the office. As he was walking towards the office door he was praying that the number he remembered Alan originally tapping in, hadn’t been changed since his last visit. If the numbers were different how could he save face with the cleaners? He, the supposed under manager, couldn’t even open the office door!
The keypad accepted his inputted number and the door unlocked, David walked through it as if he owned the place.
The office was a little tidier than on his first visit but not much. Some of the manila files that had before cluttered the desk were now stacked neatly on shelves affixed to the side wall. David looked over to the oil painting that adorned the right hand wall it depicted an English Civil War battle scene and was in quite glorious colour. His mind went to the safe behind and what it could contain.
He switched on the desktop computer and the monitor lit up and prompted the user to input the password before it would fully open up. As he did not have the password he didn’t bother any further, he knew there were ways to circumvent passwords but they could be very time consuming and in this case Clive would give him the password if he asked for it. The password number for the safe might be another matter; he assumed Clive would want to keep that number to himself. What did the laptop contain? Clive had taken great care in depositing it to the safe. It had been his first action as he entered the office. It was an enigma, if he got chance he would love to explore the files the laptop contained.
David began to study the many paper files detailing the normal financial transactions of the club. Invoice and payment records both in and out. In the Individual Staff records he noted that there were six persons who regularly worked behind the bar and four cleaners. All on hourly payments he noticed and only for the legal minimum wage, pay them the minimum and they will work the minimum hence the run down state of the place, he mused.
It did pass by his mind that Clive looked to be claiming wages for more staff than he used?
David’s mobile phone rang and the display stated that it was his dad calling. “Hello Dad how are you?” He asked
“Hello David. I’m fine and how are you, Jayne and daughter?”
“Yes everything is Ok with Helen, Jayne and myself. All the problems I have I can handle.”
“Good to hear. Listen son I have just had a call from Tom, he wanted to speak to you but says you must have changed your mobile phone number.”
“Yes you remember Tom, the owner of the copper kettle café in Ashington.”
“Yes of course I remember him; I meant what did he want?”
His father explained that the break in at the café had been solved. Tom had said the police had been in contact with him and told him that two youths had been arrested after breaking into a warehouse. After being charged and appearing in court they had asked that numerous previous offences be taken into consideration. One of these past offences, they had confessed to, had been the burglary of the Copper Kettle Café. Their statement described finding the security number that opened the safe by accident and of opening the safe and taking the cash contents.
“David you are now cleared of all suspicion.”
“Fat lot of good that will do me now” David replied.
“One never knows I don’t think he has had no buyers for the café as yet; perhaps he might re-offer it to you again.” His father was implying that could be a way for him to get out of what he was doing and a legitimate way forward. “Anyway I have given Tom your number he said he would like to speak to you personally so I’m just advising you to expect his call.”
After a few more pleasantries his father rang off.
Did he want to go back to working in a café? He recalled the time when he and Jayne had planned running the café together and the happy future they had both looked forward to. Did he want to go back to that time? Now he had a wife a daughter, and a nice house and they will probably buy a larger one sometime in the very near future. He had nice car that he planned to update some time, with money in the bank and prospects of quite a lot more. No, a resounding no was the answer he said to himself; but a little doubt in the back of his mind asked was he telling himself the truth?
Later that day Tom did call and make apologies for not believing in him. David’s curt answer to that one was, “What about my five grand that I lost, am I going to get that back?”
Tom explained that his insurance company had promised to reprocess his claim and that he would get back to him as soon as he had further news. There was no mention of him taking over the café.
As the weeks past David would call in at the Craven Gate Club at all times of the day and night to learn as much as he could about the running of a nightclub. He now had a copy of the two keys for the main and side doors of the building and the password for the Desktop computer; Clive had never offered, nor had David asked for, the wall safe security number.
A nightclub should run like any other business, on paper it supplied its customers with what they wanted, within the bounds of legality that is, but much about the Craven Gate disturbed him. Young girls still looked, even when made up, like schoolchildren. They would congregate in a back area of the club and every now and then one of them would depart with Ronnie through the rear exit fire door and reappear up to an hour or so later.
Ronnie was Clive’s number one minder and usually on call. He would stand to one corner of the bar and every so often would open up his mobile phone to receive and then make a call. Very intriguing and David was determined to get to the bottom of it.
One Monday morning as Brian was escorting David to the supermarkets to deliver cash to be laundered David broached the subject of the strange goings on at the Craven Gate.
“You mean you haven’t sussed it out yet?” Brian asked.
“Sussed what out, what’s going on?”
“It’s Clive’s prostitution racket.”
You mean the young girls are on the game?”
Brian began to explain, “Girls are recruited from the Holly Head home. That’s Ronnie’s job, he keeps them supplied with cigarettes, grass, booze, cocaine or any other substance for that matter and they will do any trick at his command.”
“You mean The Holly Head institution in Shields for females under sixteen?”
“Yes and from Clive’s point of view the younger the better.”
“This is incredible.” David was amazed. “Why don’t the police step in and raid the place.”
“Because Clive has them in his pocket, it’s rumoured that Clive has something on one of the Superintendents on the Wallsend force. As I say it’s only rumoured and I have never seen him in there but I have seen the odd town councillor or two in there though.”
“Then he wants stopping.” David pronounced.
“I agree and if you find a way to do it and I would help you in any way I can” assured Brian.
The key to discovering what power Clive had over the police and other officials lay, David felt, in Clive’s laptop computer. Problem was that it was always in Clive’s possession or in the wall safe when he was in the club.
David had been given the security password to open up the desktop computer but Clive had said that the laptop was his personal computer and did not belong to the company. He also stated that contents of the safe only contained cash so there was no need for David to have access to it.
How to log on to Clive’s laptop was the problem. David had long since learned about downloaded virus programmes, hackers can steal information provided they can decode the password to get into the computer in the first place. Most computer owners now install long passwords that are harder to hack. As people are liable to forget long passwords they sometimes make a written copy backup somewhere. An ideal case was when Tom, the café owner had made a written copy of his safe pass number and placed it under the till drawer.
If he was to hack Clive’s laptop, finding where a backup copy password is stored would be David’s problem. Thinking things further he surmised that Clive would have stored all his passwords somewhere on the desktop computer where only he would know, probably hidden within a file and probably looking very innocuous.
He decided to write a computer programme to install on the club desktop that would record every keystroke made and forward that information to David’s own computer at home. To a computer whiz like David it was a simple programme and could be written over a period of a few hours.
The next day he revisited the club and installed his programme on the desktop computer. Sure enough the whole file content of the desktop was soon winging its way via the broadband telephone lines to his home computer. By remote control David now had a copy of every file stored on the club’s desktop computer and every keystroke, input and output made.
But now came the hard part of dissecting where, among the many files, the info he was seeking was stored, if at all. This would take quite some time in reading.
He started with the obvious thousands of quite innocent word and notepad documents each had to be opened and read. The security number could be hidden anywhere if there at all. He then progressed through the many XL spread sheets with no obvious hiding place becoming apparent. David was almost certain that Clive would have recorded the safe access number somewhere, it probably would be a twelve figure number not easily remembered. A Microsoft Works Database may be the answer.
He trawled through the MW database that contained data collected about many customers and clients collected over a number of years. Each person’s name was listed alongside their address and, and home and mobile telephone numbers. One such listing was:-
PHEONIX Pat. Home 0191 522846 Mobile 84732496123
The name seemed to ring a bell in his head but no answers were forthcoming.
David quickly passed over it, but the name seemed to jog in the back of his memory. He continued to scan the Database document but his mind kept returning to Phoenix name. Then he remembered how his mum used to watchtower TV Programme Coronation Street and how her favourite character was Elise Tanner who was played by Pat Phoenix. But why would Clive have her phone numbers listed? She had passed away years before Clive was borne he certainly couldn't have known her. Had she once been a customer of the club?
David continue to trawl through the many files and slowly began to think that perhaps Clive had not kept a backup copy of the security number on the desktop computer at all.
He was feeling weary so decided to retire to bed early but as always when his mind was active he could not sleep.
As he was looking up at the darkened ceiling thinking about the club office safe he remembered that it was a wall safe made by the Phoenix Safe-ware Company and suddenly the data on Pat Phoenix’s MW file came to mind. The information contained numbers, purportedly a home telephone number and then a mobile number, could the two be connected? He had to get out of bed to satisfy his mind.
Sure enough the number listed for Pat’s mobile contained twelve numbers and he realised that mobile phone numbers always only have eleven numbers and usually begin with 07. Had he stumbled on it? There was only one obvious way to find out.
David entered the club office early the next morning, only the cleaners were in attendance; he was aware that the laptop would not be in the wall safe until Clive put it there when he arrived later that evening but he wanted to be alone with no disturbances whilst he tested the number. The number worked perfectly and the safe door swung open. Inside was a middle shelf that carried a considerable amount of cash and to one side a set of keys. There were other papers and manila files in there and also a brown scotch taped parcel about the size and weight of a small flat bag of sugar, though he much doubted that was what it contained. David did not touch or disturb any of the contents for he did not want Clive to suspect that anyone else had privy to the safe numbers for he could quite easily change them. He closed the safe and restored the pictures position.
David’s obstacle now lay in opening the safe when the laptop was inside and Clive was out of the office.
“Brian I need a favour.” David asked.
“David you can have anything but money.” Brian laughed at his little joke.
“I need you to distract Clive for five minutes or so, I could make it worth your while”
“Tell me more. How and when do you want me to do it?” replied Brian
David had recognised that Clive’s laptop was a ‘Dell Inspiron’ and was sure that Brian would not be able to distract Clive long enough to open any files within, even if he got the chance to get through the opening password which was doubtful, ‘but there are more ways to skin a cat’ as his grandmother used to say.
A knock on the nightclub office door, David answered it revealing Brian asking if he might see Clive.
“Clive, Brian’s here, says he wants to see you” David said
“Send him in.”
Brian entered the room. “I’ve got a proposition to discuss with you Clive, can we do it in private?” he asked, shaking his head towards David, who had his back towards them, and shaking his head indicating to Clive that he wanted to speak out of David’s earshot.
“Yes Brian, come on we can talk at the bar, it gives me an excuse to get a drink.” With that he rose from his chair and followed Brian out.
No sooner had the door closed behind them that David was out of his chair and swinging the large picture to one side. He dialled the safe security number and the safe door swung open to reveal Clive’s laptop.
Moving over to his desk David had already unscrewed a bottle of clear nail varnish and with the dipping brush, proceeded to dab some fluid onto the small rounded electricity connector socket. He then turned the laptop over and unclipped the battery. Again with the clear varnish he dabbed the battery terminals. The whole operation had only taken a few minutes and in a further minute the laptop was replaced in the safe and the wall picture swung back into place.
David was seated at his desk when Clive re-entered his office eight minutes after he had left. “Stupid idiot” he muttered to himself. “Does he think I have nothing to do but enter into his hare-brained schemes? I have a good mind to fire him, before getting a couple of my heavies to give him a good hiding that is.” He laughed.
The next morning David’s mobile rang it was, as he expected, from Clive.
“David my laptop won’t work.” He said.
“What’s up with it?”
“I don’t know” he replied rather abruptly, “I’m no computer expert. That’s why I’m ringing you.”
“Send it round with your minder and I will see what I can do.”
“No I’d rather you look at it the office whilst I’m there.”
It was exactly the outcome David was expecting. Clive was confirming that he could not afford to let his laptop out of his sight and could hardly take it to a computer repair shop, so his next option was David. Similarly he could not let David be alone with the laptop whilst he repaired it; he certainly did not want him delving into the contents of the hard drives memory, he needed to be on hand.
“Can you come in early tonight around six and I’ll have a look at it?”
Arrangements were made.
David was sat at his desk with the laptop open but not powered up. Clive was at his desk looking across. “It might be a long job.” He said to Clive but I might be able to help.
Cleaning the terminal connectors was an easy task and whilst doing so he inserted a small HDSC memory card, similar to the cards ones used in cameras, into a side USB a lot. The card when inserted is almost unseen. Calling Clive over to his desk David then depressed the 'on' button and then asked Clive to input his security code to power up the windows operating system. David made a purposeful turn away whilst Clive did so. Clive on the other hand also made a purposeful turn away whilst inputting his code.
The computer opened up as normal but unbeknown to Clive the programme on the memory card also opened up.
David then asked Clive to open up a few programmes to ensure the computer was now working. Whilst Clive was checking, the rogue programme worked in the background, installing itself of the computer When Clive affirmed that it was, David asked him to switch off again so that he could recheck the terminals and as he was doing so he now removed the card.
David handed back the laptop and declared “all done Clive, it is up and running OK now. Shall I re-open it up again and show you?”
“No.” Clive hurriedly replied. ”If you say it’s OK then I believe you.” As he picked up the laptop from David’s desk he furthered “if you weren’t in this business you could quite easily set yourself up as a self-employed computer repair man” he laughed at his little joke
David merely smiled.
The file David had surreptitiously installed would send, every time Clive’s laptop was connected to broadband, every future key stroke made and all data and files would be sent and recorded to David’s home computer. Whenever the laptop was switched on David could have remote control over it and he could download or upload any file he so decided and all would be completely unknown to Clive.
Some of the pictures and videos installed on Clive’s laptop were utterly repulsive.
Videos of a deprived nature had been made by a hand held camera in the room of an unknown opulent looking house and other places. The orgy scenes at what appeared to be a fancy dress party depicted young girls and older men were sometimes too extreme to watch. Clive appeared in some of the videos but not all; sometimes he was masked and sometimes not. David vaguely recognised some of the faces but because many were masked so he was not sure exactly who there were. When Brian had said Clive likes young girls he certainly had not been exaggerating, very far from it, children more like.
Every time a recognisable face appeared on a video David would stop the file mid frame and copy the facial image, he began to build up and print a photo file of all the persons depicted.
Also amongst the many files David discovered emails sent to persons, depicted only with initials, which seemed to suggest blackmail. The wordings did not exactly describe definite blackmail threats other than to remind the person that monthly payments were late and would not be tolerated; what these payments were for was not described.
Also on file were details of bank accounts; these were very interesting and indicated four separate bank accounts all in different names and one that appeared to be a numbered off-shore account.
Now having access to the laptop database details David could open three of the accounts immediately and examine the figures. Details indicated that regular amounts were being credited every month suggesting that the blackmailed victims were depositing there. The total balances of the three accounts overall came to a little over eight hundred and eighty seven thousand pounds; an enormous sum in any language.
David now had all this knowledge and the power to use or misuse the data at will; but what was he to do with it? He realised that even to have such vile videos on his own computer was a criminal offence in itself, so decided to copy the offending files to a portable memory stick and delete the originals from his own computer. The memory stick he intended to hide within the club office; then find out later the identity of the faces. David was fully aware that any deleted file on any computer never really gets deleted and could be retrieved by an expert but he had already installed a programme that over-wrote all deleted files many times, before defragging at least twice which made erased files almost irrecoverable.
David met up with Brian and asked “You remember you telling me that you hated Clive.”
“Yes…” He replied guardedly.
“And that you said you remember saying that wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire.”
“What are you getting at, are you setting me up for something?” Brian replied rather guardedly.
“No, but if I told you that I had proof that Clive was at the root of a gang of men who regularly molest of young girls. What would you say?”
“Well I’ve always suspected it but until I have proof I prefer not to know.”
“Can you meet me in Soprano’s café this afternoon I have something to show you.”
David switched on his laptop and after power up he inserted the memory stick into the drive and selected one of the many video files it contained and pressed ‘Enter’.
“Wow! That without doubt proves he’s a paedophile” said Brian. “Some of those children don’t look more than eight years old.”
“Can you recognise any of the men in the videos?”
Brian replied that he recognised one of them as Detective Superintendent Willis of the Northumbrian Police stationed at Wallsend. Brian’s identification of DSI Wills seemed to confirm the rumour that he was being blackmailed by Clive. Brian couldn’t confirm any of the others but seemed to have seen some of the faces before somewhere; he suggested that they could be people in local Government.
A trawl of the Wallsend Council web–page confirmed that two of them were indeed councillors.
rang and suggested he come round to see him at his office, he had
another job for him. Any further action David could take would have
to be put on hold for a while. He had considered talking to Bert or
even Jake about the video-nasty’s he had discovered but decided
against it, after all it was Jakes son who was taking a major part in
the video’s, would Jake allow the evidence to be known to the
police? Most definitely not.
“Again you have produced the goods for us David.” Jake Hedge began. “Let me get you a drink.” He said as he rose and moved over to his mini bar to prepare the drink. “I understand that you have learned all that is necessary in running the Craven Gate. Clive has told me you are not needed there anymore.” Hedge returned with a tumbler of Glen Fiddich whisky. “Do you feel as if you have much more to learn there?”
“No Mr Jake I agree with your son. No need for me to be there anymore.” David was most relieved at Jakes decision.
“Good that’s agreed then” he said the reaching over to a side coffee table he took hold of a sealed envelope, much like the ones given before. “Here’s your bonus for another job well done.”
“Thank you again Mr Jake your generosity is much appreciated.” David didn’t open the envelope but it obviously contained bank notes.
“There’s more to come David. You do right by us and we will look after you.”
“Do you mind if I visit your loo.”
“No of course not lad you know where it is.”
As he was standing at the toilet his eyes again glimpsed the chiller cabinet on the wall. Curiosity prompted him to open the door. On the glass middle ledge stood two phials of insulin one was full with the security tag still attached and one just over half full and obviously the one in use. The lower ledge contained the metal closed box marked ‘SHARPS’. Just under the cabinet on the floor near the wash hand basin stood a waste disposal container. Depressing the lid pedal with his foot revealed discarded paper tissues, empty paper packets and a couple of used phial bottles of Insulin.
Returning to the room he said “I noticed the chiller cabinet in the bathroom that contains your Insulin how often do you have to take it? That’s if you don’t mind talking about it that is.”
“No lad. I don’t mind. I think I told you once before that I have type 1 diabetes and have to inject 10cc of Insulin once in the evening and once in the morning both at eight o clock. If I didn’t take it then my sugar levels would soar and it would make me quite ill, could even kill me.”
“You say you inject it? I could not bear the thought of injecting myself.”
“After the first few times of injecting it becomes easy. If I didn’t inject I could, probably would, die, especially with all the amount of whiskey I drink. No matter how drunk I get I would never forget my insulin injection. Never have, never will” He replied.
“I want you to start working with Bert.” Hedge changed the subject. “He’s getting on you know and could do with a little help.”
“He has been very faithful to me over the years and I know he always will be but he cannot walk very far these days and sometimes he has to go out into the field, not quite literally of course, but to travel to visit my contacts. I want you to learn his job, not to replace him of course, but to be of assistance to him. Does that sound OK to you?”
Yes Mr Jake. I’ll do whatever you say.”
“I’m sure you will David and be assured your salary will be commensurate with your new job. Now let me refresh your drink and you can tell me about what you’ve been doing, especially about your new daughter, Helen isn’t it?”
Monday morning, Nine am David was in Bert’s office; Bert was obviously expecting him and began to show him around. Bert indicated a door that he said was Oh-Oh’s bedsit office. Because David had now become an accepted member of staff very rarely was Oh-Oh on hand when David visited the offices. Bert then led him a smaller side office and said that it was now his and that if there was anything he needed he was to use the debit card Jake had given him and buy whatever was needed, making sure to get written receipts of course. Bert indicated the desktop computer saying that it was an old one and might need upgrading but that would be his decision. He showed him around his own office indicating the many files stored there and that he might want to peruse them as he thought necessary. Bert obviously had been instructed by Jake that he be shown the ropes of the company.
“Jake has said told me that he wants you to learn about the running of the company from the grass roots up, tomorrow morning I have arranged that one of our operatives will call and pick you up; he’s on his monthly rounds. It will only take a few hours but you will see, and more importantly, be seen around. You will witness but a small fraction of the many pies we bake.”
David thought the adage about pies was a little unusual but did not comment other than nod his head in agreement.
Bert then gave David the security code to the Company computer which gave him access to the many legitimate files it contained he could now acquaint himself with the many lawful sides of the business.
“It might be better if you say very little when we go in to see the landlord. Just look menacing.” David was being advised about his coming demeanour by a largish well-dressed man called Joe. Joe had picked him up, as arranged, from the Hedge Building foyer and they were now about to enter a pub called ‘The Plough & Forge Inn’.
Behind the bar counter was a man, more than likely the landlord, cleaning the bar area readying it up for the morning opening time. The man looked up from his work, stopped what he was doing and reached under the counter for an envelope which he handed to Joe without comment. Joe took it, nodded, then turned about and walked out. David followed behind.
“Wish they were all as easy as that it would make my job a lot easier” mused Joe
Because David had his thoughts but didn’t fully know what had just happened, decided not to comment so just nodded his head and replied “Yeah!”
The same type of thing happened in five other public houses, sometimes pleasantries were spoken sometimes a look of sheer animosity was given but they all paid up. At least that’s what David assumed was happening, that they were all paying ‘protection Money’. Exactly how much the envelopes contained was any bodies guess.
Corner shops were next, six other corner shops was visited and all but one paid up without much ado.
The last shop to visit Joe remarked that he had kept this one till last as he expected a little problem here. Joe first looked through the shop front door window, obviously first checking to see if there were any customers in the shop. As he entered the shop he instructed David to keep behind him and to keep his back to the door and not to let anyone in until they were about to leave, David did as he was told.
The shop keeper, who was quite a large youngish person himself, began arguing with Joe how he could not pay because trade was down this month.
“That’s not my problem my job here is to collect and not argue the point. Have you got it or do I take it out of your hide?”
Up to this point Joe had appeared to David as having a likeable demeanour but now he was seeing a very different side to Joe.
“I can’t pa…”
The shopkeeper did not time to finish his sentence; Joe had reached across the counter and grasped hold of the man’s shirt front with his left hand then delivered a kind of right handed Karate chop to left side of the man’s neck. All had happened in one fluid moment. Joe then, again with his right hand, grasped hold of the man’s hair and with both hands pulled him bodily across the counter.
Joe’s action had all happened in a fraction of a second as he hissed into the man’s ear, who was now sprawled across the counter, “I will be back around this time tomorrow and you will have it ready; whether you can afford it or not, that’s not my business but if you want to continue in business then have it ready tomorrow morning, if not we will see about closing you down for good.” With that Joe released his grasp, brushed himself down, turned about and left the shop, David sheepishly followed.
“Now where were we? Let’s go get a nice cup of tea.” Joe likeable demeanour seemed to have returned.
David was quite excited at what had just taken place never before had he seen such a one on one confrontation, he was sure that if he had been the shopkeeper threatened then he would certainly have the money ready in the morning.
After their café tea break Joe looked at his expensive looking watch and said, “It’s nearly time for our other meeting. They drove to a car park beside the fish quay in North Shields where another car was parked waiting for them. Joe took the previously collected envelopes, which were now together in a canvas bank sack, and they were handed to the driver of the car who in return gave Joe four packages.
When David asked Joe if the envelopes were payment for the packages received, Joe said no, and that the envelope and contents would eventually end higher up in the Hedge organisation but how many hands would handle them before then he had no idea, it was not his business. “Now,” he explained “the packages we have just received have to be delivered and then our days’ work is over.”
Various addresses were visited in both Newcastle and North Shields and the packages were handed over with no questions asked or given.
By four o clock in the afternoon David was back in Bert’s office.
“How did you find your first day on the job?” Bert asked.
“Very eye opening“ David replied. “I hadn’t really expected to be doing that type of job though.”
“Of course that is not the type of job you will be doing for us. You normally will be well out of the way of that side of the business. I was just wanted to show you a little bit of it, warts and all.”
“Yes I understand. I just don't want to be involved in that physical type of thing.”
“You won’t.” assured Bert.
I want you to accompany Tony tomorrow. He has two train tickets going to London on a little business for us; you won’t have to do anything other than to keep him company. A taxi has been arranged for to pick you up at your house at nine in the morning. Let your wife know you will probably be a little late home tomorrow evening.
Tony was another well-dressed heavy set man who again appeared quite amicable but by now David recognised, after meeting Joe, that first appearances were not always true. Tony carried an ominously looking leather hard backed briefcase that had seen better days but what it contained David could only guess. Tony seemed easy to talk to as they rode the train to London.
Tony related a lot about himself and his place in the organisation. He seemed to know quite a bit about David and his rapid promotion and even offered that if David had any problems with anybody then to get in touch with him and he would sort them out. David had every reason to believe him, he looked the strong silent type who is often misjudged.
‘Why had Tony offered him his personal backing,’ David asked himself ‘was he hedging his bets in recognising the fact that David might be a strong force within the organisation some day?’
Reaching Kings Cross Tony led them to a café a few blocks away from the Railway Station and ordered a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich for them both.
As they were eating their food a customer walked in, paid for a cup of tea and promptly sat down at their table. The stranger obviously knew Tony as they briefly shook hands. Tony introduced David to the stranger who nodded to him but no handshake was offered.
After they had finished their sandwiches the two men nodded and stood up and with the stranger leading they left the café and hailed a passing taxi. The stranger gave the driver a St Pancreas address and five minutes later the taxi stopped at a parade of shops. The stranger gave the taxi driver a twenty pound note and told him to wait, Tony and David followed into a retail wool shop and then through a door into the back room. The stranger locked the door behind them and from a large steel safe pulled out four rather large brown Scotch Taped packages and showed them to Tony. Tony then opened his briefcase which contained wads of fifty pound notes. The stranger counted the bank sealed wads after flipping each in turn to make sure they were intact and placed them into the safe. Then he handed the four taped packages to Tony who placed them neatly into his briefcase. The two then shook hands and David followed Tony outside to the waiting taxi. The whole episode had taken place so efficiently, each knew exactly what had been required and had obviously done the same thing many times before.
Fifteen minutes later they were in the Kings cross railway station cafe having a cup of tea, waiting for their return train home to Newcastle. David was on edge the whole of the return journey home; what if they were stopped by the police now? The amount of drugs, David had assumed they were drugs, that Toby carried could send them away to prison for a very long time; Tony appeared very unconcerned.
On their arrival in Newcastle just after six in the evening a Taxis took them to, of all places the Craven Gate Club and Tony walked to the side fire door of the club, David followed behind. Tony gave three distinct raps to the fire door.
Clive was obviously expecting knock and the packages arrival because within seconds the fire door was being unlocked and opened. Clive looked a little surprised to see David accompanying Tony, as he took possession of the four packages in the briefcase. Nothing had been said by anyone from Clive opening the door to him closing it.
The taxi dropped David home just before seven in the evening.
As he was lying in bed that night David was thinking what was the point of him being there the last two days? He hadn’t done anything nor was he of any assistance to the two ‘heavies’ and he certainly hadn’t learned anything of use to him or to the Hedge organisation. Then it dawned on him, he had assisted in two days of illegal acts and serious illegal acts at that. Jake and Bert had now further compromised him, he was now a fully-fledged criminal within the organisation and by not taking action about the videos he could be seen to be just as bad as them.
By the time David had arisen from his bed that day he knew he must stop the molestations of the children and inform the proper authorities providing the video’s as evidence.
The men involved have to be brought to justice he mentally decided and he must extricate himself from the organisation; which begets a problem in itself, does he get out before informing the police or inform them then get out.
Which comes first the chicken or the egg?
David decided to phone Bert and explain that he had a tummy bug could not come in today he hoped Bert would understand, he hoped to be in tomorrow.
Now that he had made the decision to disconnect himself from the organisation a heavy weight seemed to have been lifted from his shoulders but then rethinking about it another weight had replaced it; how was he going to get himself out of the organisation? He knew too much, it would soon become obvious who had squealed and who had supplied the info to the police and authorities. By bringing down the Hedge organisation he would also be bringing himself down. He himself had committed various illegal acts. Yes, the courts would take into consideration the vital information he had supplied but he surely would receive a prison sentence, maybe not a long term but definitely a custodial sentence. Inside a prison he could be ‘got at’ One sure thing other prisoners hate is a grass and although Hedge and his son would be imprisoned for a long time, their money would still weld power and whichever prison in the land David was sent to, he would be doomed.
No, going to prison was not an option for him but slowly a germ of an idea began to ferment in his mind.
David had much to discuss with his wife
That morning David decided to come clean to Jayne about his dealings with the Hedge organisation. He confessed all that he had found out; how he at first thought that his cleaning job was a one off, he had hoped for better things to come of it. He had thought that his trainee manager-ship had been a bonus for a good job well done. His first wrong step, although he had not known it at the time, was the acceptance of the ten thousand pounds cash to hide in the supermarket accounts. By taking it had taken the first bribing step on the criminal ladder and by suggesting and writing a computer programme to launder the cash was quite a few more steps up.
Jayne nodded her head quietly. She felt almost as guilty as David for not saying something in the first place. She’d had an idea that some of the actions David had taken were not kosher but had said nothing. “What are we to do about it?” she asked.
David further explained what the consequences would be if he informed the authorities; Prison was not a possibility it was a certainty. Was she prepared to leave the country with him and flee abroad? If things worked out they might be able to set up a small business abroad.
Differing thoughts were running through his mind they could flee with just what they owned now; or he could commit a robbery to feather their future nest. He had actions he may have to take; but actions that he did not want Jayne to have any knowledge of. The little she knew the better, he knew she would trust him.
The outcome of their discussion was that Jayne, with their daughter, would follow David to the ends of the earth if necessary and she said that she had married him ‘for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health’. “Do whatever you have to do.” She stressed. “Whether we come out of it rich or poor, as long as we come out of it together that’s all I ask.”
What a beautiful women in mind and body I married, he thought
Money! All his thought processes about what they, as a family, could do and what they could not do all boiled down to money. If he decided that they leave the country before he revealed all to the police it would require money. To set up a small business abroad, he would need money. To continue paying his way until a business was established needed money. To have all that and the means to take flight if they were ever discovered needed money, big money.
Just before Christmas, a month or so ago, he had estimated that his disposable cash amounted to around thirty five thousand pounds and at that time he had thought it was a sizeable amount to have and quite an enviable position to be in; but thirty five grand would be nothing like enough if he and his family were to take flight. ‘Where could he get more?’ He asked himself knowing full well what his answer was.
He had access to the bank accounts details taken from Clive’s computer and could raid and bypass funds from there, the idea was very tempting. But the problem being that transferred funds could be traced and reversed if found to be fraudulent. He could, of course, open up anonymous accounts that he could transfer funds into but that would take time, setting up and organising time which he did not have.
There was of course a large amount of cash in the Craven Gate wall safe he had not touched or counted it at the time but he was sure it had been a substantial amount. Dare he plunder the safe this coming Friday and, together with his family, catch the five o clock ferry from North Shields to Amsterdam? Once into Europe he and his family could disappear for a while until full decisions on their future could be made.
Before he could make definite decisions he had to find out how much cash was usually in the safe, for all he knew the money in there at that time might have been in preparation for a business deal and now only token sums stored. He decided that he would have to check before he could make any further decisions.
When to visit the club and open the safe, not to steal the contents but to see how much was in there, was the first major decision if he was to go about changing his life.
He remembered that the cleaners finished their duties at twelve mid-day and locked-up behind them. The Craven Gate club is empty and secure until five thirty in the evening when Colin enters to begin his preparations for the clubs opening at six. Any time after one pm should be all right.
No time like the present he decided; if he was going to make a lifestyle change better start today rather than be unable to start in the future.
Pulling on a thin pair of cotton gloves and using the keys that he had been given earlier in the month he unlocked the main front door to the building. At this stage he could not be accused of doing anything untoward he had every right and responsibility to be in the building and would be able to explain his presence. As he passed through the door he locked it behind him and moved through the main room of the club to the office door. He punched in the keypad pass number and when the green light shone, opened the door and walked in.
In his mind he had still not crossed any threshold yet. He had not come to steal at this time, other than to access how much money he could get when the timings were right. Moving over to the wall picture he swung it to one side to reveal the safe and keypad. He punched the twelve digit number and heard the satisfying click that signified that the safe was unlocked.
Sure enough a considerable amount of money still lay on the middle shelf of the safe and a single taped package that more than likely was pure cocaine. He didn’t want to disturb the money too much other than to guess-estimate how much the safe contained. He reached in and withdrew a wad of fifty pound notes and began to flip through mentally counting how many there would be in each wad.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?” Clive’s voice bellowed from behind him.
Unbeknown to David, Clive had arranged to be in the club that afternoon to take receipt of further packages of Cocaine; because David was concentrating in counting the money he had not heard or seen him come in.
David spun round he was caught in the act. “This is not what you think. I wasn’t going to steal it.” He began, although even he could see how it would look to Clive.
“No? That’s not what my dad’s going to believe when he sees this.” As Clive had been speaking his threats he had placed the laptop he was holding on to his desk. Then retrieving from his jacket pocket his mobile phone he was preparing to take a photo of him, red handed so to speak.
David, realising what he was about to do, rushed forward to try and prevent him from taking the photo as the camera flash lit up the room.
Clive tried to move to his left side to avoid David’s rush but David anticipating the move grabbed both of Clive’s coat lapels and both body-weights overbalanced and fell towards the floor. As they were falling the soft area on the left side of Clive’s head came into heavy contact with the corner edge of Clive’s Desk and he crumpled to the floor in a heap.
As David staggered to regain his feet he wondered what to do next, he had to concoct a feasible story to explain being in the position he was in.
“Clive. I was only meant to…” David began as he looked down at Clive’s crumpled body lying on the floor, obviously unconscious.
David realised the mess he was in when Clive came round, what was he to do?
Did he flee the scene? Did he take the money then flee the scene? Did he try to bring Clive round and explain himself, hoping Clive would understand?
As David looked down at the body of Clive he noticed that a slight trickle of blood had oozed out of the left ear.
“Clive?” As David reached down to inspect Clive’s condition he did not appear to be breathing. David felt for a pulse at Clive’s wrist but again could detect none.
Surely he wasn’t dead! Panic began to set in. It had been an accident but could he prove it? Would anyone believe him? Why had Clive fallen? Why had David been in the office at the time? All these questions would be asked and although the answers may not prove intent, the fact was Clive was still dead and he David was responsible. Clive’s father would never forgive him for that however the accident was explained.
What could he do? Flee the scene now seemed to be the obvious answer. Close the safe, clean up a little and walk out of the door, make it appear that he had never been here. Let someone else discover the body was the decision he came to.
There was very little mess for him to clean up; he had been wearing gloves throughout. Closing the safe and replacing the picture he walked out leaving the office door open behind him and decided that it might be prudent to exit the building through the rear alley fire door. As he pushed the safety release bar the fire door swung open to the outside; who was stood there with his hand raised and about to knock? Brian. In his hand he had four packages that he was about to deliver to Clive.
“David!” Brian had a surprised look on his face, he was expecting Clive.
“Brian!” David had the same surprised look on his face but for a totally different reason. All his plans to flee the scene had gone up in smoke. It could now be proved he had been on the premises at the same time as Clive had died.
Making a quick decision he grasped Brian round the shoulders and pulled him into the building.
“What’s happening?” Brian protested, he normally just handed the packages over and left without comment.
“Come in. I’m in trouble.” David ushered Brian across the main room and re-punched the office door keypad and opened the door to reveal Clive’s lifeless body slumped on the floor.
“What’s happened here?” Brian questioned as he knelt down to examine Clive. “Is he dead?” he asked the obvious question.
“It was an accident.” David stated we were having an argument and he hit his head on the side of the desk.”
“Rather you than me to be in this predicament. When Jake finds out it was you who killed his son, your life won’t be worth living no matter how well in you thought you were with him.”
“But it was an accident. David pleaded. “An accident! What can I do?”
“If I were you I’d make myself scarce and get out of the country. Cos wherever you are in this one, you’re a marked man.” Brian was stating b the obvious.
“If you say nothing I could pay you.” David bribed. ”I could just walk out of here and you have never seen me.”
“What’s it worth?” he replied meaning he had a price.
“Would twenty grand do it? I can get it out of the safe for you right now. There may be more. There is also some stash” David added, meaning drugs “that is if you help me.” David had come round to the idea that to involve Brian financially made him more accountable to himself.
“Get the money and stash out. I have a better idea.”
They both began discussing and refining a plan of action and began to act on it.
“Where is your car? I didn’t see it in the front car park.” Brian asked.
“It’s two streets away in a cul-de-sac. I didn’t want it to be noticed.”
“Wonder why.” Brian remarked, then said “Look for Clive’s car keys in his pockets and I’ll drive his car from the front round to the side alley, whilst you open the safe and take out all the money, not forgetting any packages” Brian suggested.
David did as he was bid. He certainly didn’t like the idea of rummaging round in a dead man’s pockets but needs must. He found the keys and handed them to Brian. Then he remembered the photograph Clive had taken of him as he was looking into the safe. He found the phone that had fallen under the desk and clicked on the ‘gallery’ app where all photos were stored. The last photo taken luckily did not depict David caught in the act, he must have moved just at the exact second, only the right hand wall with the open safe was shown. He erased the photo before placing the phone back into Clive’s jacket pocket
Whilst Brian was away David opened the safe and found an old plastic supermarket bag into which he stashed the money and cocaine package, leaving the safe door slightly ajar. Then he unlocked the Yale latch of the club’s front door but leaving it still closed as if someone may have exited that way. He waited for Brian’s knock to signal him to open the rear fire door. Together they manhandled Clive’s lifeless body out of the club and into the boot of his own car. Closing the self-locking fire door securely behind them, they both drove off; Brian in his car and David driving Clive’s car, each to their separate destinations as agreed, to rendezvous later that evening; it was now just before four o clock in the afternoon.
As David began to drive off he pulled both sun screen visors down and sat well back into the driver’s seat, he did not want any CCTV road video camera recording and identifying him driving Clive’s car.
After a few minutes of driving David felt sudden body warmth, sweating profusely he turned on the car’s air conditioner to try and cool down. The worry in his mind had been transferred into body heat. Many times he’d seen American gangster films where mobsters had stashed dead bodies into trunks of a car; he particularly remembered Martin Scorsese’s film ‘The Goodfellar’s’ where the supposedly dead body being transported had not been quite dead and was hammering on the boot lid to get out. Was Clive really dead? Every time his car hit a pothole he wondered if the bump was the suspension bottoming or was it Clive banging to get out.
Reaching the North Shields Dock car park rendezvous he parked up, as agreed with Brian, at the furthest point from the exit and as near to the river as possible.
As he waited for Brian in the quiet car park he mentally listened for any noises emanating from the boot; he could hear none.
Sitting there and thinking things further about the plans he and Brian had made, he decided to refine it a little and to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. David reached across to the passenger seat for Clive’s laptop and opened it up. Taking out a small pen drive memory stick he inserted it into the laptop and began to copy on to it the many sadistic pictures and videos that the laptop contained. He intended to leave the memory stick in Clive’s pocket for the police to find. At a later time he intended dismantling the hard drive of Clive’s laptop and physically destroying them both; thereby only he would have a copy and access to the details of the various bank accounts it held
From this point on, whatever the future held for him, at least Detective Superintendent Willis and the other men who could be identified would be brought to justice and their evil ways curtailed.
Brian was late it was well past seven o clock the time they had agreed to meet. Had he reneged on their deal and decided to tell all to Jake. He now was in Brian’s hands.
Brian had driven from the Craven Gate club to the Hedge building and parked up outside. He used his mobile to phone a number he had given to be used only in the case of emergencies. A man’s voice answered and Brian explained how he had been to the Craven Gate club to deliver packages but there had been no answer to his many knocks. The man asked where he was now, Brian told him. He was told to wait and he would be phoned back. Five minutes later his phone rang and when he answered it he was given an address of a supermarket car park in Sunderland with full instructions on where to park; someone would be there to meet him and how they were to identify themselves. He was to hand over the packages. Brian did exactly as he was ordered and the handover of the packages took place.
By half past seven he was pulling into the North Shields Dock car park to meet up with David,
David had been seriously debating with himself; should he just dump the body here and drive off picking his wife and child up to flee the country? He had enough money in the carrier bag and in his floor safe to ensure a getaway; he was now almost sure that Brian had not kept his promise to help him. A light reflected in his interior mirror denoting that another car had entered the car park. Was it Brian, the police or even worse could it be one or more of Jake Hedges henchmen?
As Brian parked up just to the side of Clive’s car David gave out and audible sigh of relief. Good old Brian, he thought, I knew he wouldn’t let me down.
Brian had chosen an ideal spot for their intended misdeed; it was the side car park for the Newcastle Amsterdam ferry and mainly used on Fridays and Sundays. It was now dark and the river Tyne being in low ebb had very little river traffic.
If events had turned out differently, David mused as he got out of the car; tomorrow evening at five he would have been here ready to board the DFDS ferry to Amsterdam with his wife and child to start a new life somewhere abroad.
Together they both manhandled Clive’s body from the trunk and carried it to the water’s edge. Unbeknown to Brian, David took out the small pen memory stick and placed it into Clive’s jacket pocket. When the body was washed up somewhere the police would discover it and view the contents, then taking whatever action they do.
Slowly they both allowed the body to slip from the low parapet wall into the water; coincidently as it was falling, a phone began to ring from inside of one of Clive’s pockets. The ringing ceased almost as soon as the body hit the icy cold water and disappeared within the depths.
“Let’s get out of here and park up somewhere else so we can divvy up the loot.” announced Brian, as they moved towards his car. They had decided to leave Clive’s car in the car park and hopefully, when it was found, it would tend to look as if Clive had absconded abroad with money from the safe. David remembered to remove Clive’s laptop and take it with him to be dismantled later
To Brian, thought David, the whole episode had just been another night’s work but he definitely agreed with his suggestion that they got out of there.
Later in a McDonald’s car park they examined the cash in the carrier bag it totalled up at just over fifty six thousand pounds.
Why had Clive seen fit to have so much money in a club safe and where had it all come from? All these questions were running through David’s head. All Brian was interested in was what his share of the loot would be and what were they going to do with the two drug packages.
It was agreed that Brian would receive the twenty five thousand pounds and that he would also take the packages, David would keep the rest of the money.
Before Brian dropped David off near his own parked car they had discussed plans as to their future conduct, agreeing that, for the sake of their alibi, they had not met at all this day. They also agreed not to lavish spend money, it could cause unwanted attention.
“David we have had a bit of a situation at the Craven Gate club, will you meet me there?” It was seven o clock Friday morning and David was still abed, Bert had phoned him at home.
What does he know? He asked himself, am I falling into a trap by meeting Bert at the club and were they in wait for him? Have they already got at Brian and made him own up? But if he did not turn up it would look dry suspicious, he had no choice but to fall into the trap, if indeed it was a trap.
“Yes of course Mr Bert I will see you there in an hour.”
Bert was already at the club when David arrived and who was also in attendance? Brian!
“When did you last see Clive?” Bert asked him.
David pretended to think a little. “Two days ago, Wednesday.” he answered “I was with Tony when we met him for the delivery here.”
“What has happened?”
“Clive seems to have gone AWOL no one has seen him since yesterday morning. His partner says that was the last time she saw him. Brian was supposed to have met him here in the afternoon but there was no here.”
“Maybe he’s sleeping off a bender or something.” David suggested.
“No I don’t think so” Bert began “when Colin opened up the club last night the club front door was unlocked and Clive’s office door was wide open. Someone had left the wall safe opened and all the money and other contents are missing.”
“This is serious business.” David said “Have you called the police?”
“We’d rather keep them out of our affairs for the moment.” Bert quickly answered I want you David to take over the temporary running of the club and I want you take an inventory of anything that’s missing?”
“I didn’t have access to the wall safe in the first place so I cannot verify that anything is missing. “David answered “Clive never trusted me with the safe security number.”
“Yes I understand that but can you make an inventory of everything in the club then I can make a valuation if we decide to sell. Can I also ask you to re-programme a number for the safe now and then let me know the number?” Said Bert “then from now only the two of us will be able to open the safe.”
“Yes I’ll do the safe now and get an inventory drawn up as soon as I can.” David agreed.
“I’m leaving Brian here as your right hand man he has my orders to help you in any way he can. If you hear of any news about Clive I want to be the first to know about it, or any other news you get for that matter. I now have to break the news of Clive’s disappearance to Jake Hedge and he’s not going to like it, some heads are likely to roll.”
David went to the safe and punched in a few numbers that could reset the code. “Any preference of numbers you want me to set?” he asked Bert.
“No, just any numbers that you want and then write them down and give me a copy then only the two of us know it.”
David did as he was ordered and handed the paper to Bert, who then left leaving David and Brian alone.
“Looks as if we got away with it” Brian whispered.
“Let’s not count our chickens” David also quietly replied.
“Well Bert’s not calling the police. I think he suspects that Clive’s done a runner with all of the money.”
“Don’t forget they have a senior policeman in their pockets, Jake will order him to organise an undercover enquiry.” David reasoned.
Most the police can find is the car in the car park, the body will be washed out to sea by now.”
“You forget the Tyne was in ebb at the time, with the incoming tide it might even wash the body upstream.”
Brian nodded agreement. “Anyway we are together again, just like old times” he said.
David wasn’t sure if Brian’s idea of their getting together again was such a good thing, the past hadn’t always worked out right for the best.
At nine o clock the two cleaners entered the club, David decided to start as he meant to carry on, in no uncertain terms he told them that until further notice he was the new manager of the club and that if they wanted to keep their jobs then the work they did would have to vastly improve. He reinforced it by saying that when they had finished at noon he had instructed Brian to inspect their work; if it was not satisfactory then they had to do it all again or look for a new job.
All the while he remonstrated with the cleaners Brian had folded his arms nodding his head in agreement.
Most of the day David busied himself with taking down details of the contents of the club, Brian was on hand counting articles whilst David recorded them.
At 5-30 Alan the head barman arrived for work. David briefed him about the current situation and informed him that he was now the new temporary manager of the club until further orders. He told him that from now on all persons who looked under twenty one would have to prove identity and if they couldn't then they were not to be admitted. He also gave Colin a pep talk about his other waiters in that unless they did their job properly and efficiently then they would be out. He also gave him a promise that if and when the turnover picked up and the club began to pay its way then there would be pay raises all round. Again Brian stood on hand to show his support.
David told Brian he could stand down until eleven o clock but he would be needed from then until just after three am in the morning.
David went home to appraise Jayne about the situation at the club only giving here the official version of events.
“Does this mean we won’t be leaving the country after all?” She asked. She seemed a little relieved.
David assured his wife that sometime in the future he would be leaving the business and then they could start anew but that was on hold for the present time.
Arriving at nine that evening Ronnie, Clive’s minder, was on hand he wanted to know what had happened to Clive. David couldn't tell him much more than he already officially knew. David did inform him that as the new head of the club he would not tolerate any illegal activities within the club. He expected him to make sure all the other security staff were aware of the new rules and any failure by him or his staff to uphold these rules then his job was on line
David’s first night as manager proper went uneventfully. Hopefully the staff were working together and being under new management and wanted to keep their jobs.
Saturday morning nine o clock David’s phone rang, he had hoped to have a long lie in after such a long day yesterday, it was Bert calling asking him to call in around mid-day he had something to discuss.
“I noted in the safe when I was there a number of brass keys similar to this one” Bert held up a medium sized brass coloured key.
“Yes, they are two and still in the safe. I have noted them down in the inventory you asked me to prepare. I do not know what the keys are for though.”
“They are for safety deposit boxes at the Barclay’s Bank in Newcastle” Bert revealed.” I have telephoned the bank manager there, we are old friends, and I have told him that you will be coming into his bank sometime on Monday morning and you will need his help in accessing the two boxes. I want you to open each box in turn and report back to me the exact contents. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes of course” answered David “I will ring him first thing Monday morning to make an appointment. Do you want me to do anything with the contents?”
“No just take note of everything in the boxes that’s all.”
“Have we any news on Clive’s disappearance.” David asked
“No one appears to have seen him since midday Thursday. If you hear anything you will let me know won’t you?”
“I did have a telephone call this morning saying that the police have just found Clive’s empty car outside the ferry terminal in North Shields.”
“The ferry terminal, doesn’t that ferry go to Amsterdam? Surely Clive hasn’t gone to Amsterdam on holiday without telling anyone? His father certainly won’t like that.” David tried to ask questions and add comments that an innocent party might say.
“I don’t think that’s the case here. I think here is something much more sinister to Clive’s disappearance.” Bert replied then looked down to the papers on his desk and picked up a pen; it was a sure sign that their meeting was over.
Over the weekend, according to Alan, trade in the club was more down than usual. David put it down to the restrictions he had put in the place about underage admittance. David decided that he could not possibly be in the club 24/7 so decided that he let it be known that he would usually be in his office from ten in the mornings until noon and the pop in during working hours for a few hours at differing times. His idea was that none of the staff would know when he was coming in and hopefully they would be on their toes at all times. He instructed Brian that his hours were now from eight in the evening until the club closed at around three the next morning. When he was out of office Brian would be in full charge.
Monday morning, from the club office, he telephoned Mr Critchley the manager of the Barclay’s Bank who was expecting his call. Arrangements were made for him to visit the bank at two o clock in the afternoon.
Just after his call to the bank manager one of the cleaners popped hear head round the open office door and said that there was a police officer outside who would like to see him. David was just in the process of saying “show him in” when a plain clothed man brusquely brushed past the cleaner and entered the office. David, although he had never seen this man before recognised him immediately; he was the man in the vile videos who he now knew to be a policeman. In the videos this man had been dressed in various fancy dress costumes but now he wore a plain dark grey suit, white shirt and a blue and white striped police federation tie
The police officer stated rather arrogantly “So you are the new manager of this place?”
“Excuse me!” replied David rather indignantly pretending not to know who the intruder was. “Who are you and what right do you have to burst into my office like this?”
“I‘m the police.” The man said.
“Isn’t it normal to show identification on introduction?” David bounced back.
“Been watching a lot of TV police shows have we?” said the man as he reached into his inside pocket for his warrant card. “I’m Detective Superintendent Willis of the Northumbrian Police.” He flashed the card rather quickly and was about to re-pocket it when David said.
“Can I see that properly so that I can read it? One can never be certain of imposters.” the officer showed him it again this time allowing David time to study it. “Yes, Superintendent Willis, what can I do for you?”
“I’m making inquiries about the disappearance of Clive Hedge.” He replied. “What can you tell me about that?”
“Little more than you probably already know.” David began. “The last time I saw Clive was last Wednesday late afternoon and as I understand it many people had seen him and been in contact with him after that time. Other than that I know nothing. Does that answer your question?”
“I did not ask you for an alibi for yourself only what you know. Have you something to hide?”
“Is this a proper police investigation?” David asked. “As I understand it Clive’s disappearance hasn’t yet been officially reported by his father. With his car being found at the ferry terminal he might have gone on holiday without telling anybody.”
“His disappearance hasn’t been officially report as yet. I’m just making enquiries as a friend of the family.”
“Then why didn’t you say so before you burst into my office unannounced? So then this is an unofficial visit and you are enquiringly as a friend and not a policeman?”
“You are a cocky little git. I think I might take you down a peg or two and teach you who I am, don’t you dare get on the wrong side of me” he threatened.
“Superintendent! I know a little more about you than you give me credit for. I know about your underhand dealings with Clive and Jake Hedge and I will say no more on that one because it is none of my business but I advise you also not to get on the wrong side of me!” David emphasised the word me.
A look of deflation appeared on the Detectives face. “I think I had better tell Mr Hedge how you have been very uncooperative with my investigations.” He said as he turned about and made to leave the office.
“Yes Detective you do as you see fit and I will say pretty much the same things when I visit Jake later on this evening in his apartment, only I will put my slant on it, as I’m sure you will put yours.” David had purposely used Hedge’s first name and inferring that he visits Jake regularly in his apartment.
David had thoroughly enjoyed his little repartee with the detective, in his past dealings with policemen he had always been on the back foot but today he stood with his feet firmly balanced. He rather enjoyed a little power now and again.
Because the Superintendent was still going about his business it meant that the Police had not found the body of Clive and the memory stick in the pocket.
“Welcome to Barclay’s bank Mr May.” said the manager as he held out his hand to shake.
“Thank you I’m pleased to be here” replied David as he took the proffered hand.
“My name is Ian Critchley, and I’m the manager. Mr Higgins has been in touch and told me the reason for your visit and has asked me to give you my every assistance.”
“Thank you Mr Critchley.” David responded, he quite liked the idea of a bank manager deferring to him. Jake Hedge was obviously a very important customer at this bank for the manager himself to attend to this more mundane business.
“Would you come this way?” The manager then led him through to an inner room and then down a short flight of steps to a basement area. Once through a normal sized steel door and a left turn, across the room David could see a very large safe shiny steel safe with a door which almost took up the whole wall. To the left a further room was protected by a wall to wall thick stainless steel grill. Mr Critchley produced a key and they passed through it. Turning left and through another thick steel door they entered a room that had small, medium and some larger type, oblong steel boxes set into the wall. Each box had a denoting number and two key apertures. The manager inserted his own key into one of them and invited David to unlock the other with the key in his possession. He did so and the manager slid out the steel drawer. Mr Critchley then carried the box to an adjoining private room and placed it on the table, as he was taking his leave he said to summon him with the red side button when he was needed.
After he had left David opened the lid of the box and was flabbergasted with its contents. The box was crammed full of fifty pound notes all bound in wads of Ten thousand pounds. Taking each wad out in turn he flipped through each wad then counted the wads. In total David counted Five Hundred thousand pounds in that one box alone. The box could not physically contain any more money. After noting down in his notebook the amount and box number David closed the box and pressed the red side button summoning assistance. The same procedure was enacted for the second box.
Opening this second box a cloth wrapped parcel lay on top. As soon as David picked it up even without unwrapping it he knew it to be a revolver. He un-wrapped the cloth but took great care not to touch the pistol with his bare fingers. It was a Smith & Wesson .38 calibre revolver which looked in perfect condition. David rewrapped the cloth, placed it to one side then inspected the other contents. A small square box contained twenty five rounds of ammunition, obviously for the revolver. There were numerous documents that denoted deeds to property he took note of them all. Ten varied amounts of bearer bond certificates denoted a total sum of One hundred thousand pounds. The box also it contained Seven thousand pounds in various large denomination notes.
David returned all articles to the box and again rang the bell to summon the manager to return the box. He informed Mr Critchley that his business was now over and was soon exiting the bank having completed the task he had been assigned.
In total the two boxes contained five hundred and seven thousand pounds in cash and One hundred thousand pounds in bearer bonds; these were bonds that legally belonged to the person who was in possession of them.
The next day Tuesday he reported to Bert exactly what he had found in the safe deposit boxes. Bert did not at all seem surprised at the amount.
“What have you done with the keys?” he asked
“I have left them in the safe as before. Is that OK?” David answered.
“Can you bring them to me at your next visit David? I’ll be in touch if there is any news and circumstance change.” Their meeting was over.
David nodded and as he was leaving the office Bert said “Oh! By the way David Mr Hedge has mentioned that you might like to pop up and see him sometime later this week.”
“I could go up now if you want.”
“Mr Hedge is busy most of this week but he should be free on Friday early evening?”
“Yes, ok I’ll call in and see him on Friday around six if that’s convenient. “
Most of that week passed uneventfully in the club other than Bert ringing up to say that Clive’s body had been found floating on the Jarrow Bank side of the river.
When he told Brian about the body being found, Brian remarked that David had forecast correctly that the body, due to the tides, would appear upstream.
Friday at six as arranged David called on Jake Hedge He didn’t know what demeanour to expect him to be in. He half suspected that Jake would not want to be in a social mood and probably not want to see him. He was surprised when Jake greeted him quite openly with no outward sign of grief, very unlike a father who had just lost his son.
“I’m sorry to hear of your bad news Mr Hedge” was David’s opening comment. ”I didn’t get chance to know your son in the short time I have worked for your company. You have my deepest condolences.”
“Thank-you David. I’ve been around life now for a long time and I always thought that nothing could surprise me anymore but the experience of a father losing his son is something one never thinks about. It is usual for the father to go first.”
David nodded rather than speaking agreement.
“Come let me get you a drink.” Jake was in a genial mood again.
Jake handed David his usual glass of Glen Fiddich with his left hand and David noticed a rather strange tattoo between the left thumb and forefinger of that hand, it was of a dove which is quite common as a tattoo in that place, but what was unusual was that the dove had a mini swastika in its beak. The reasoning behind such a tattoo was beyond David but he felt as if he had seen the tattoo before but could not be quite sure where. Perhaps he had noticed it on earlier visits to Hedge and it had committed itself to his sub-conscious memory. He thought no more of it and accepted the drink with grace.
“This drink is telling on me.” David muttered a few drinks later. “I’m a little hungry perhaps I should go home early and get my evening meal.”
“There are some small Marks & Spencer mini pork pies in the fridge they will put you on.” Jake said inviting him to go and help himself. Opening the fridge he reached out for the packet of pies Jake had suggested, selected one, shut the fridge and returned to the room.
“Tell me, how you are going on David and how is your family?” Jake seemed genuinely interested. David told him that all was well with his family and hoped that Jake could meet them sometime. David wasn’t sure he would want his family meeting up with Jake but he felt that was what Jake wanted to hear.
Jake began to give David advice how he should look after his family and how he realised the many mistakes he had made in not looking after his own family properly. What he would do if he had his time all over again. The more he drank the more maudlin he became. Suddenly he said “He drowned you know?”
David, at first, had no idea who Jake was talking about, said “Who?”
“My son” he said, with tears beginning to well up in his eyes. “He drowned in the River Tyne.”
David could hardly believe what he was hearing. How Clive could have drowned? He was certainly dead when he and Brian dropped him in the river but he could hardly tell Jake that.
“So his demise was an accident?” David said quietly trying to comfort him. “Has it been confirmed?” David asked, eager to gather more information, hoping against hope that if had Clive drowned then police might treat it as misfortune and if they did he was home free.
“It’s unofficial as yet but they have done an autopsy at the Royal & General and it confirmed the fact that my son had river water in his lungs which proved that he had breathed in the water before his death and drowned. The official report will come out tomorrow.” By now Jake had his head in his hands hiding his face.
David had to contain himself from physically reeling back with the news that Clive was not dead when he entered the water. Did the shock show on his face?
Suddenly David felt very sorry for Jake, a father who had lost his son but at the same he time felt a little panicky. If the police had no direct evidence of foul play then they would have to treat Clive’s death as an accident but if it could be proved otherwise then it would be murder
As he was being driven home by Jake’s bodyguard Oh-Oh, David was very quiet he had a lot on his mind for he now realised that he had become a murderer. Initially it was an accident and he should have reported it as such and Clive’s life could have been saved but by disposing of the body in the Tyne, a live body, then he was guilty of murder. How low had he become? He was now no better than Clive or Jake. Although there had been no intent at the time three people had lost their lives mainly due to him, four if you counted George.
David had another sleepless night.
Saturday morning Bert rang to confirm the news about Clive’s drowning and that David’s temporary manager-ship of the night-club might be a little longer than they at first thought. David had earlier explained to Bert how takings were down since he had curtailed certain actions within the club and suggested that they revamp the club to bring it more up to date. Bert now gave him almost carte blanch to do whatever he deemed necessary.
David was expecting the police to call to interview him again but this time it would probably be an official enquiry. The weekend came and went without anything happening of note other than the clubs over the bar takings seemed not to have not suffered too much due to his insistence that only appropriate customers be served. Could it be that Clive had been syphoning off a small percentage of the clubs takings and depositing the money in the bank accounts that he had discovered in the files on his computer? He could not prove the matter so realised there would be little point in informing Bert and even much less Jake.
Tuesday morning around eleven David was in the Craven Gate Club office looking through trade quotes to redecorate the main club room when a knock came to the door, he looked up and said “Come in” expecting one of the cleaners needing something.
The door open and two civilian dressed men waked in and the first one said “I’m Detective Inspector Clarkson and this is Detective Constable Parkin we are both of the Newcastle police.” As they were introducing themselves both were producing warrant cards to prove their identity. “Can we have a word with you sir?”
“Yes of course Inspector please pull up chairs and sit down. How can I help you?”
“We are investigating the death of Mr Clive Roland Hedge. What can you tell us about it?”
“Very little other than what I already told your Detective Superintendent Willis.
“Superintendent Willis is neither a detective nor involved with this case, are you sure you have the right man?”
“Well he came in here in plain clothes in a very brusque manner demanding what information I had. I told him that the last time I had seen Clive was nearly two weeks ago, on Wednesday around six in this club. I was in the company of one of our other employees whose name is Tony. I don’t know his surname at this time but I could get it to you quite easily if needs be. Although, as I understand it, many people had seen him well after I had.”
As the Detective Inspector was listening to what he had to say the Detective Constable was writing in his notebook.
“Can you tell us anything about Mr Hedge’s demeanour before his disappearance?”
“Yes how was he acting, was he worried about anything, did he say that anything was troubling him?
“No not at all, as far as I’m concerned he appeared quite normal right up until the last time I saw him although having said that I hardly knew Clive and I would not be the person to whom he would confide anything.”
The policeman nodded. “So from around six on a week last Wednesday evening you haven’t seen him, spoke to him on the phone or had any contact with him, is that correct?”
“You also say that Superintendent Willis has also visited you about this matter. Are you sure it was the superintendent?”
“Yes, he didn’t at first show me his identity card, like you both did when you first arrived; also unlike you his manner was very brusque and very offensive. Only when I asked him to confirm who he was did he produce his Warrant Card and even then he only gave me a fleeting glimpse of it.” David had decided to lay it on thick about Willis’s threatening behaviour. “All the time he was here he was threatening me how he would close this place up unless I co-operated fully with him and told him all that I knew.”
Again the Inspector was nodding “I don’t understand why Superintendent Willis should come to see you, he is not directly involved with this case of sudden death.”
“Sudden death I thought it was a simple case of accidental drowning?” David asked.
“Who told you that?” The Detective Constable in the background asked.
“Clive’s father Jake Hedge, he told me that the autopsy report had confirmed that there was river water in his son’s lungs confirming drowning. I naturally assumed Clive had had an accident.”
“Yes part of that is true” agreed the Inspector “but we have to follow all lines of enquiry at this stage and we cannot confirm or deny that the death was an accident.”
David nodded in understanding.
“Well that’s about all Mr May” the detective said as he stood and proffered his hand across the desk for David to shake. David took it as the detective said. “If there is anything further we need to discuss, we will be in touch. I’ll leave you my card and if there is anything more you might remember you could give me a ring.”
“Of course Inspector I will certainly do that.”
As the two detectives left David felt a little relieved the interview could not have gone any better. They hadn’t asked him any awkward questions probably because they were unable to confirm where Clive had received the injury to the side of his head. The autopsy would prove that the injury had been received before death from drowning. Hopefully the police would naturally assume that Clive had slipped from the river bank side and concussed his head before entering the river, probably on the concrete bank somewhere downstream. All in all quite a reassuring Tuesday morning.
It had been decided, with Bert Higgins agreement of course, that the club should be modernised and brought more up to date. Much of that week David spent arranging the many differing building contractors needed to re-design, re-decorate and re-illuminate the club premises. The club would be closed the following week. David was also busy in having advertisements inserted in the local newspapers, The Evening Chronicle, the News Post Leader, the Local Free Paper and having leaflets printed, advertising a grand re-opening on the coming Friday night. David was determined that the club, this time, would be operated properly and above completely board.
Twice that week, mostly because he had been summoned, David visited Jake Hedge in his apartment. David was hoping to be kept up to date about any information surrounding Clive’s death. Because Jake knew nothing further little more could be added. During the visits as the evening went on, Jake grew more depressed, the main reason being the loss of his son.
Many times David felt the urge to tell Jake about his son’s predilection to underage sex and of the many parties that had been videoed proving this. His better sense of judgment decided against it, knowing full well, nothing could be served by doing so.
The rejuvenation of the Craven Gate Club went without a hitch mainly due to David’s attention to detail. At the Friday evening grand opening even Jake and Bert put in an attendance and were much impressed.
Slowly but surely trade began to pick up at the club. David was now able to announce a small general pay increase to all the staff and cleaners. Brian had become head of security and had two other bouncers within his responsibility. The club, he had decreed, was now drug free area and anyone involved in the distribution or use would be barred from the club forever.
As the weeks passed by the club grew in popularity and for the first time in its life the club was in a healthy profit. David was quite proud of his achievements up to now but one thing disturbed him; why was there no news about the police finding the memory pen drive in Clive’s pocket, surely some rumour would be around by now. Had the police found the pen drive? Had the river water erased all the data from the drive? Had it fallen out of Clive’s pocket and was now at the bottom of the Tyne? If the pen drive had been lost how could he make sure the persons responsible for the molestations of young girls were brought to the attentions of the authorities? All these questions and more coursed through his mind.
During one of David’s many visits, Jake appeared more inebriated than usual and began to tell David about the power he held within the area and how there would always be others trying to usurp his position. He talked about the threatening overtures from Luke Coredder who was head of the so called ‘Gateshead Mob’ and how Coredder was always trying to infringe on his side of the river. He explained how he was forever having to take physical action to keep the gang in check. He reiterated that he would do whatever necessary to maintain his position and that meant everything and anything to anybody and everybody.
“Although I have no direct evidence that the Gateshead Mob were involved in Clive’s death if I ever get any there will be a gang war, I promise you that. Having said that I have my spies’ out.” he emphasised.
Was he was trying to impress David or warn him of the consequences if he was crossed, it was hard to tell. He further described that he regularly had to order beatings, and occasionally a killing, to people who crossed or disrespected him. A number of names and instances were mentioned but they all meant nothing to David until Jake mentioned the beating that had once gone wrong and felt remorse. As he rambled on Jake recalled how he once wanted a favour from someone who had worked for him before but how that person had not very forthcoming. He had gained information that Luke Coredder had gotten to this person and was about to work for him. When his men had spoken to that person and propositioned him he had threatened to tell the police and his probationer about their approach. Jake had ordered that the person be severely warned of any such consequences. Unfortunately the ‘heavy’, he said, had gone too far and the person had died. Jake went on to explain that it was only afterwards that the information Jake had received had been a mistake and the man had not been in the pocket of Luke Coredder. Jake offhandedly said that he felt sorry for the man and what had happened, as an afterthought he said, “Well for about ten seconds at least.”
“David you have got to be hard to succeed in this game.”
“So how did the accident occur?” David asked.
“I don’t remember exactly he was knocked over by a motor bike or something but the accident had proved fatal.”
At the mention of a motor bike accident David’s brain lit up. Was it the beginning of last year? Who was it? And more importantly was it his murdered friend George, the one he had hoped to go into a computer business together?
David had tried to prompt further confirmation but Jake seemed disinterested in continuing with that subject any further. “It’s now closed.” He insisted.
Two weeks later as previously arranged David was visiting Jake Hedge and as he passed by Bert’s office, Bert called him in.
“David we need more money cleansing.” Bert Higgins began. “Jake and I have discussed it and the success of Craven Gate club now seems an ideal outlet. Starting from next Monday we want you to permeate ten grand a week into the accounts. Can you do that for us?”
“But Mr Higgins I ….”
“Bert, please David when we are together my names Bert.” Bert interrupted.
“Yes of course Bert, but please the club is doing so well without it being tainted with illegal cash. It’s making a very good profit and I have made sure that everything about the club is strictly legal. I think we would be wrong to spoil it like this.
“We David, who is this 'we' you are talking about? This is a decision that has already been made by Mr Hedge and that decision will be carried out by you.”
“I don’t want to appear as if …”
“David.” Bert held his hands up as he interrupted him “I’m sure Mr Hedge would not want to use strong arm tactics David but please be aware and assured he would.”
David realised it was fruitless to protest any further he certainly did not want to get on the wrong side of Jake Hedge or even Bert. “Yes of course you are right Bert I arrange to do as you ask from next Monday onwards.”
As her left Bert’s office to visit Jake’s upper floor David realised that he had now seen the dark side of Bert and now fully comprehended that he was not his own man but totally at the beck and call of the Hedge organisation.
“There you go David.” Jake Hedge handed him the usual tumbler of Glen Fiddich. ”Get that down your neck and tell me how you have been, I haven’t seen much of you of late.”
David updated Jake on past events at the club and how well and profitable it now was. He was hoping to make a point about what Bert had said about how he had to pass outside money through the clubs accounts and how he might convince Jake to reverse his decision. But before he could, Jake himself brought up the subject and how he was satisfied that the club was now ripe to absorb extra cash, David held his tongue.
“Has there been any update to Clive terrible accident?” David asked, expecting that any information he received might forearm him.
Jake told him that the police had informed him that the inquest on Clive would be held this coming Wednesday; that he personally suspected that the Gateshead mob had something to do with Clive’s death but as yet he had no real evidence. To David this was good news if Jake suspected an outside influence in the death of his son it relieved a little pressure from himself.
“Here let me freshen that up for you.” Jake said as he reached over, with his left hand, to take David almost empty glass. As he did so David glimpsed, once again, Jake’s hand tattoo a dove with a mini swastika in its beak. Once again tried to jog his memory where he
had seen such this unusual tattoo before, but again he put it to the back of his mind as he handed Jake his glass.
David now steered the conversation to things that he regretted in his life; describing a few of his own hoping that Jake would then open up so that he could probe deeper about the murder of his friend George Samuels who after orders from Jake had been mowed down by an unknown motor-cyclist.
“Nay lad, I regret nothing in my life. I would if I could but I cannot. There are of course instances where I might have made a different decision than I did but looking back is for losers.”
“What about that man who you order a beating to but he ended up dying last year, surely you regret that.”
“As I said at the time, I regretted it for all of ten seconds; did I say ten seconds when `I really meant five? A mistake was made he probably deserved it I don’t know.”
Inside David was feeling intense. How could George possibly have deserved death? Jake's feelings about another human being were that of a man swatting an annoying fly.
“That’s the second time you’ve brought up the subject of the fellar who got run over by a motorbike. Did you know the man involved?”
“No of course not I was only interested that was all.” David tried to make his reply of only a passing interest but was reminded of Jake’s very agile mind and memory. He must always be on his guard aware of what he was saying. He was anxious that Jake did not find out about his solid friendship with the murdered man, making it look as if he was out for revenge.
As he lay abed that night David was unable to sleep thinking about his dead mate George and how he hadn’t deserved to die at the whim of Jake Hedge. Then he asked himself if he was still out for revenge and could he, should he take retaliate and if so how?
The tattoo! He almost sat up in bed in surprise as he remembered where he had originally seen the tattoo on Jake’s hand. He was now almost sure that it was in one of the vile pornographic videos he had discovered on Clive’s laptop computer. At the time he had deleted all reference to the videos that had been downloaded from Clive’s laptop to his own computer at home but he had kept a copy of them on a memory stick now held in the club office safe.
The first thing he did that morning was to retrieve the memory stick from the safe and insert it into the office computer and began a search for the individual video. Sure enough there it was; this was the video that had been taken at a fancy dress party and most of the guests had been wearing elaborate dresses with masks. A man with a dove tattooed hand was shown mauling one of the very young victims and the owner of that tattoo could only be Big Jake Hedge.
What to do with this new found knowledge was now his new dilemma, just of late, he thought, I seem to be stumbling from one crisis to the next.
The obvious option he had was to anonymously inform the police by sending them a copy of the video and a note stating who the owner of the tattoo was. He considered the consequences of that action. The police would have evidence of Jake’s guilt and he would be charged but Jake’s vast wealth would ensure he could afford the very best lawyers and receive the lowest possible sentence of only a few years and just serving half of it inside. Jake would still have all his resources and would commit them into finding out who shopped him. He himself would be directly in the frame.
That option, in his own mind, certainly would not avenge the death of his best friend George. Had he the balls to take thing further and even if he had what could he do?