St Helens Police Station
The man sits nervously in an interview room. He has been sitting there for half an hour and nobody has come anywhere near him. He is beginning to regret coming forward. They are treating him like a criminal. All he wanted to do was to tell them what he saw a couple of weeks ago. That is all. He thought it might be important but if they aren’t interested, he will just go home and forget all about it.
He makes his mind up and heads for the door. Just as he is about to grasp the door handle, it opens to reveal a portly man in his early forties, balding, with a walrus moustache, wearing a slightly faded blue suit and a waistcoat.
He introduces himself as Inspector Lamplight. ‘You aren’t leaving, are you?’ Lamplight asks, staring as if such a thought would be beyond comprehension. He studies a note he is holding. ‘You are Mr Jack Moss I take it. I understand you have information for us. Has anyone offered you a cup of tea?’ Mr Moss shakes his head and says he is fine.
They sit on either side of a table littered with burn marks from cigarette stubs. Lamplight refers to his note again. ‘From what the desk sergeant tells me you have information regarding the murder of Mr Jenkins at Bluebell Farm. Is that correct?’
Moss nods vigorously. ‘It’s what I saw really, more than anything else.’
A constable enters the room with a notebook and sits in the corner. ‘You don’t mind if the constable takes a note of what you say I hope.’ Moss nods in agreement.
‘In your own words Mr Moss, take your time and tell us everything, no matter how insignificant it may seem.’
Moss sits back, closes his eyes for a moment and begins. ‘I knew Arthur Jenkins reasonably well. He always struck me as a decent chap. I felt a bit sorry for him after his wife walked out on him. I think there is a son somewhere too who left and never returned. Anyway, I used to go to the farm every Friday for half a dozen eggs and a bit of chat. He had a shed which he called the farm shop, but it was a bit of a joke really. There was only ever spuds there: a few caulis, carrots, stuff like that, and of course eggs. He would make tea and we would sort the world out for half an hour. I often used to wonder how he made a living from it. Now we know I suppose.’ He frowns and looks meaningfully at Lamplight.
‘Do carry on please, Mr Moss,’ murmurs Lamplight.
‘Well anyway, six weeks ago I went to visit my daughter in Scotland and did not return until the 8th and on the following day I decided to drive over to Bluebell Farm to buy eggs with the intention of going to the shops after that. I had nothing in after returning from Scotland, you see.’ Lamplight nods patiently.
‘Well, anyway, I had just about reached the farm and realised that I only had a few pennies on me and decided I would need to go to my bank in St Helens, so I started the car again, reversed and turned around when I heard a bang. It sounded like a shot, which is not completely surprising because there’s a lot of shooting around there – rabbits, that sort of thing. The only difference is that this was a bit muffled which I thought was a bit strange because it sounded like it was coming from the farmhouse. I was about to drive away when I saw a figure in my rear-view mirror. There was something furtive about the way he was moving.’
‘It was definitely a man you think?’ interrupts Lamplight.
‘No doubt about it,’ Says Moss.
‘Could you describe him?’
‘I was curious and turned round to get a better look. The man was half running in the snow and slipping now and then, almost falling. I couldn’t see his face which was half covered with a brown woolly hat, the kind of thing that skiers wear.’ He stops and looks thoughtfully at the ceiling.
‘He was wearing a camel-coloured duffle coat and jeans, I think. It was difficult to tell.’
‘What about his height?’
Moss shrugs. ‘About average I would say, about five foot ten or so, something like that.’
‘What happened after that Mr Moss?’
‘Well, as I said, he was looking around and acting a bit strangely and heading up the road in the opposite direction to me. There was a car parked there which I hadn’t noticed before and he climbed into that.’
‘Tell us about the car if you can please?’
‘It was too far away to get a proper look, but it looked like a Ford Anglia.’
‘Are you sure?’ asks Lamplight sharply. ‘It couldn’t have been a Rover?’
‘How can you be so sure?’
‘Because the latest Anglia has that inward sloping window. Quite distinctive. It was light blue as well. I do remember that. He got in and drove away. And that’s it,’ he says with an air of finality.
Lamplight sighs. ‘I suppose it’s asking too much if you noticed the licence plate?’
‘Moss shakes his head. ‘Too far away I’m afraid inspector.’
‘What did you do then Mr Moss?’
‘I drove into town and changed my dollars. While I was there, I did some shopping which included eggs, so I didn’t bother going back to the farm. I bumped into people and went for coffee and forget all about the farm. Then the following day I travelled to Caernafon to visit my son and I only got back a couple of days ago.’ He pauses and strokes his forehead.
‘You do get about,’ murmurs Lamplight/
‘Then somebody told me about poor Arthur and the drugs. At first, I couldn’t believe it. Arthur involved in the drugs business. Who would have believed it? That must have been how he made his living obviously.’
‘Would you wait here Mr Moss while the constable types up your statement. Thank you for coming forward.’
When he steps back into his office, Ernie James, the desk sergeant joins him.
‘What did you make of him Harry? Genuine do you think?’
‘I have no doubt of it, Ernie. He saw Jenkins’ murderer all right, but if anything, it makes the case even more complicated because it could not have been Danforth in the blue Rover who was the killer. I think I’ll invite Wilder over. He has been connected to this case from the very start and I can’t help feeling that he is connected in some way.’
‘You don’t think he had anything to do with it surely.’
‘No, no, no, not in that way. I just think we need to put our heads together.’
Keith Wilder is shown into Lamplight’s office wondering what the summons was all about. Lamplight had been strangely reticent on the phone when suggesting that there have been developments that put a new light on the case which he believed Wilder would find interesting.
When he had arrived, Ernie James had given him a conspiratorial wink before showing him into Lamplight’s office. ‘You are in for a surprise Keith,’ he had said grinning hugely.
A few minutes later, Lamplight arrives holding two sheets of paper, sits down, places them on his desk and stares at them without saying a word. Finally, he flings them at Wilder saying: ‘Have a read of that Keith and tell me what you think.’
Wilder reads Mrs Moss’s statement and an expression of incredulity transforms his face. When he finishes, he passes them back saying: ‘Is he for real? He has made all this up surely.’
Lamplight sighs and lights up a Capstan, wafting the noxious fumes in Wilder’s direction who begins spluttering, waving the fumes away. ‘Those bloody fags will kill you one of these days inspector.’
‘Oh, he’s for real alright!’ says Lamplight, ignoring the remark. ‘It rather changes things, doesn’t it? There can be little doubt now who Mr Jenkins’ killer is, and it could not be the driver of the blue Rover.
‘Or the man we chased at the funeral,’ says Wilder.
‘So, if duffle coat is the killer, why did the other man run. And if it comes to that, why was he even at the funeral? What was his connection to Jenkins? Could he have been the Lime Street killer perhaps?
‘All particularly good questions and ones I will be discussing with DCI Willis a bit later. Also, my Super has become interested and is demanding action to bring this saga to a close.’
Lamplight shakes his head, stands up and walks to his office window and stares out at the car park moodily. ‘I told him that one of the problems we have is establishing motives for both killings. Nothing was stolen from Jenkins’ house as far as we could see. So, why was he murdered? Did he disturb a burglar? Is that who Moss saw? We have been trying to dissect his life to find out what made him tick but there is precious little. He rarely went out, appeared to have few friends. Whoever called at the farm went there for eggs or spuds.’
‘Or weed,’ interjects Wilder. ‘Don’t forget that.’
‘I haven’t laddie,’ barks Lamplight. ‘Our drugs people are looking at that to see if they can find a link. We are pretty certain, for example, that drugs were the reason for the Lime Street killing and we suspect that both crimes are connected.’
‘Can I use the fact that you have a new witness who may have seen Jenkins’ killer?’ asks Wilder.
‘Yes, providing you do not give his name. You can also ask anyone who saw a light blue Anglia on the morning of January 11 in the vicinity of Bluebell Farm to come forward.’ Wilder nods.
‘There is one other thought I would like to share with you,’ says Lamplight returning to his desk and sitting down. He gives Wilder a quizzical stare and forms a bridge with his hands. ‘I was thinking about the second man, the one we chased, in view of this development and it occurred to me that he may not be interested in Jenkins at all.’
Wilder stares at him, a puzzled frown on his brow. ‘Why else would he attend a funeral if he had no connection to the deceased.’
‘Because I think it entirely possible that the person he was interested in was you.’