CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1) (10 page)

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
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As Woods neared Hawes his phone
bleeped informing him of a text. He passed it to Barnes and asked her to read
it.

“It’s from Sharron asking if it’s convenient to
ring.”

“Call her back and put it on speakerphone.”

Barnes complied.

“I’ve been to Cliff Crest Residential Home and
viewed the CCTV footage with the Duty Manager. Broadbent was found dead at
10.48 a.m., but was alive at 10.00 when his morning tea was taken to his room.
There’s nothing out of the ordinary on the footage for that morning up until 10.22
a.m. when a grey Volkswagen Polo enters the car park and leaves 21 minutes
later. There’s no footage of anyone entering the building by the main entrance
during that time, but the manager says some visitors get in through the dining
room doors, which aren’t covered by cameras. The Volkswagen is registered to
John Thompson whose mother-in-law is one of the residents. . .”

“You’re going to tell me he didn’t visit the home
that morning,” Woods said.

“Correct, I’ve just interviewed him. He works at
Wakefield Council and was in work that day, with his car in the work’s car park;
HR and his boss confirmed this. I’ve got the footage of the Volkswagen from the
home and I’m going to get it enhanced, but there are definitely two people in
it, a man driving and a woman passenger.”

“Okay, thanks for the update,” Woods said, yawning.
“Keep me informed.”

Barnes terminated the call. “Looks like another
clone.”

“This is getting out of hand; all I need now is
Jacobs telling us that Bulmer’s death is connected.” Twenty-five seconds after
Woods stopped speaking his phone rang.

“Speak of the devil,” Barnes said, answering the
call; again she put it on speakerphone.

Woods listened with dismay as Jacobs broke the news
that he’d contacted the Spanish authorities, who had e-mailed him the report
into Christian Bulmer’s death, including photographs of the fishing boat he’d
supposedly fallen overboard from. Jacobs confirmed that when he’d enlarged one
of the photographs, it had clearly shown MDXVI stencilled on the cabin door
window.

As Barnes ended the call, Woods pulled into the side
of the road.

“As of now we’ve got two murder investigations and
two suspicious deaths. The only links are similar Roman numerals and Pauline
Crean, whose husband died two years ago. What are the odds on his death being
suspicious?”

“Look at the numerals: 1516, 1316, 1116 and 916. All
the deaths so far occurred in that descending order. Maybe there’s a clue.”

Woods yawned again. “You could be right.”

“But are we missing deaths?”

“We need to speak to Mrs Crean. Listen, I’m tired
and I need to have a quick shave. I’ve got a portable razor in the glove
compartment; could you drive?”

Barnes agreed and they changed seats. “It can’t be
far now,” she said. “I think we turn right just as we enter Hawes, and then
it’s up a lane somewhere down there.”

Fifteen minutes later they arrived at the farmhouse.

“Is this where she lives?” Woods asked, looking
around in amazement.

Barnes pulled up in front of an impressive pair of automatic
wrought iron gates. There was a metal pole with an intercom mounted on it and
she lowered her window and pressed the button.

“Hello,” a male voice said.

“Hello, this is Detective Sergeant Maria Barnes, and
Detective Superintendent Greg Woods. We’re from the West Yorkshire Police and
we’d like to speak with Mrs Pauline Crean please.” She held her ID badge up at
the camera on the gatepost.

The gates opened slowly and she drove in up to a gravel
parking area adjacent to a string of four stone built garages. Woods looked
around at the large Victorian stone detached farmhouse, the cobbled courtyard, stables,
barn, ménage, and the neatly fenced paddocks beyond. Everything was immaculate.

As they got out of the car he pointed at the black
Range Rover, parked next to a silver Mercedes four-by-four, “Look at the
registration plate.”

“CXV1,” Barnes said. “That’s 116; are you thinking
what I’m thinking?”

They walked up to the entrance and as Woods went to knock
on the door it opened. A smartly dressed man appeared. “Jonathan Plant,” he
said holding out his right hand.

 

Chapter 7

Friday 25
th
May.

 

Woods and Barnes were shown into
the drawing room at the rear of the property.

“Pauline’s just taken the dogs out in the fields;
she’ll be ten minutes. I’ve telephoned to let her know you are here. Can I get
you a coffee?”

“Yes please, milk and two sugars,” Barnes replied,
noticing Woods gazing out of the French doors at the stone flagged patio and
expensive ornamental plants.

“What about you Superintendent?” Plant asked.

“Black coffee, no sugar.”

Plant disappeared, presumably into the kitchen, and
Barnes went over to the window admiring the neatly fenced paddocks. There was a
further gravelled parking area on which stood a two-tone black and silver
Scania horsebox, complete with living accommodation. “This is how the other
half live,” she said quietly.

“Did you see the ornaments and sculptures as we
walked through the hallway?” Woods whispered.

Barnes nodded. “She must be absolutely loaded. Who’s
he?” she mouthed pointing in the direction Plant had gone.

 Woods shrugged.

“Here you are,” Plant said, as if he’d been looking
for them. He handed the coffees over. “Please make yourselves comfortable.”

They settled on the cream leather sofa, Barnes next
to Woods; she placed her cup down on the large black marble coffee table and
Woods did likewise. “Do you live with Mrs Crean?” he asked.

Plant who was sitting opposite smiled. “No, I’m just
staying here for a few days.”

In the background there were the sounds of someone
entering the farmhouse, and then scuffling paws skidding on the solid oak
hallway floor as the three Labradors bounded in and made a beeline for Barnes.
“Hello,” she said, stroking the excited trio.

Barnes caught sight of Woods’ eyes widening as
Pauline appeared at the door, resembling a model from an up-market equestrian
magazine; she was wearing spotless cream jodhpurs, shiny black leather riding
boots and a fitted designer shirt. Her long flowing auburn hair accentuated her
tall slim figure. It was unmistakeable; it was the appearance of wealth. “Right,
that’s enough boys… In your baskets,” she commanded. The dogs scurried off.
“Hello,” she said smiling, “I’m Pauline Crean; I understand you would like to
talk to me.”

Both detectives stood up, shook hands with her and
introduced themselves.

“You have a really nice home Mrs Crean,” Woods said,
sitting back on the sofa.

“Thank you, but please call me Pauline,” she
replied, her warm friendly tone complementing her appearance.

“Would you like me to go see to the horses?” Plant
asked.

“No, of course not,” she replied, sitting down next
to him. Then, looking over at Woods, she asked, “I’m intrigued, what can I do
for you?”

“We’re investigating two murders and two suspicious
deaths and we understand you knew the four deceased.”

Barnes took out her notebook and pen, and prepared
to make notes.

“I know a lot of people, Superintendent; could you
give me their names?”

“Christian Bulmer; Jim Broadbent; Abdul Hussain and
Paul Mateland.”

Pauline frowned. “Yes, I knew them, but it was a
very long time ago. I knew three of them had passed away recently, but I was
told Broadbent had been seriously ill, Bulmer had got inebriated and drowned,
and I read in the newspaper that Hussain hanged himself from Scammonden Bridge.
I’m a little perplexed - which two were murdered?”

“Hussain and Mateland.”

“Oh, to be honest I’m not surprised Mateland was
murdered, he upset everyone he came into contact with, and as for Hussain, well
the less said about that snake the better.”

“I understand you worked for both Bulmer and
Broadbent.”

“Yes, at Strynes.”

“Was that straight from university?”

“Yes. Broadbent got me the job; he was a close
friend of my parents, he’d known me since I was a child. He co-founded Strynes
with Bulmer. Originally they were based in London and were quite successful,
then in the 80s decided to open a branch in Leeds. The idea being that
Broadbent continued to run the London office and Bulmer the one in Leeds. I’d
recently qualified and they were looking for a talented lawyer to assist in the
new office; he put my name forward to Bulmer.”

“What about Shelly?” Barnes asked. “Did she work
there?”

Pauline frowned again. “If you know about Shelly,
you must have really been delving back into my past.”

“Part of the investigation into Hussain’s murder,”
Woods said. “So did Shelly work with you at Strynes?”

“No, they only needed one solicitor at that time and
Broadbent made out he was doing me a big favour.” She stopped speaking and gazed
out of the window.

“What is it, Pauline?” Plant asked, turning towards
her and placing his hand on hers.

“Really he was trying to buy my silence,” her voice
turned acidic, “and make amends for his disgraceful sins.”

“What had he done?” Woods asked.

Pauline sighed and took a moment to frame her words.
“I was only discussing this particular demon last week and coincidently
Hussain’s demon. I thought I’d finally conquered them both.”

“Would you like to explain?” Barnes said quietly.

“No doubt you’ll know about Hussain and what he did
to Shelly.”

Woods leaned forward. “We’re building up a picture,
but can we first concentrate on Broadbent?”

“Broadbent abused the trust my family and I had
placed in him, in the most despicable and unspeakable way he could. I was only
fifteen and what he did will stay with me for the rest of my life…” She swallowed.
“Is that enough, or do you want a diagram?” she snapped.

“He abused you?”

Barnes was staggered by Woods’ insensitivity, and
watched Pauline glare at him with hate-filled eyes. “Yes Superintendent, he
abused me. And I hope he’s rotting in hellfire.”

There was a long silence, where it appeared no-one
knew what to say next. Barnes looked down at her notepad, but was overwhelmed
with emotion and couldn’t write anything. She was having difficulty focusing.
She looked up at Pauline who was red-faced, then across at Woods, who finally
appeared to realise the situation his crassness had caused. He glanced across
at her and mouthed “Are you okay?” She nodded and looked away.

“You never mentioned anything about this to me,”
Plant finally said quietly.

Pauline took a deep breath. “Before today I’d only
discussed it with two other people; my Consultant Psychologist, who I told last
week, and Gerrard.”

“Do we need to have a break?” Woods asked.

“Good idea,” Plant said. “I’ll get some fresh
coffees; anyone care for biscuits?”

“Yes please,” Barnes replied, wiping her eyes,
“Could I use your loo, Pauline, I need to freshen up?”

“Of course you can, Maria.”

Pauline stood up. “There’s a cloakroom just off the
hallway,” she directed Barnes. “I’ll help with the drinks darling; no doubt
you’ll want to know who Shelly was.”

While Barnes splashed water on her face and
freshened up in the cloakroom her mind raced, trying to unravel the complexities
of what they had just been told. Pauline definitely had a motive re Broadbent,
but was she the kind of person to get involved in a murder? She appeared warm,
friendly and sincere. And what about the other murder victims; what had they
done to her? Barnes dried her face, composed herself and went back into the
drawing room where refreshments were being served. As she took two digestive
biscuits from the saucer and picked up a coffee Woods was already speaking. “I
can see how distressing this is for you, Pauline, but when did you tell Gerrard
and how did he react?”

“I’m assuming you know Gerrard is no longer with
us.”

Woods nodded.

“Well, I told him about twenty years ago; he wanted
me to go to the police, but said if I didn’t he’d understand, and be there for
me. Just like he always was.”

Woods waited a moment. “Moving on to Hussain, I
understand he worked with you at Strynes, but what I’m not sure about is how he
became involved with your sister.”

Pauline explained about the work’s Christmas party
and the guilt she had associated with bringing the two of them together. She
went on to speak about Hussain’s betrayal and dishonesty, and the devastating
effect it had had on her sister and ultimately herself.

“Have you had any contact with him since you left
Strynes?” Woods asked.

“No, never.”

“What did Gerrard think about him?”

“He disliked him, both for what he did to Shelly and
for the consequential distress he caused me.”

Barnes was busy taking notes. Her focus had returned.
She wrote
‘clear motive’
on the page she’d started for Hussain, and
placed a tick against it.

“Could we move on to Bulmer; did you have any
unpleasantness with him?” Woods asked.

“This is going to sound awful, Superintendent, but
yes I did, and I had real trouble with Mateland.”

Barnes’ features tightened.
I can’t believe this
.
Again on the pages for Bulmer and Mateland she was ready to write motive and
place a tick against it, but waited to hear the details.

“Can we start with Bulmer?” Woods persisted.

“Bulmer had a liking for alcohol and instead of
working spent most of his time either fishing or drinking at the bar, leaving
me to do all the work. Nevertheless, in the face of adversity I somehow managed
to build the business up and everything was fine until I discovered I was pregnant,
expecting our first child. Gerrard and I were over the moon and as his business
was taking off we’d discussed me going part time. . .”

“What did Gerrard do?” Woods asked.

“He manufactured and supplied equipment to the
petrochemical industry, in the end he’d built up a multi-national empire.
That’s where all this came from,” she pointed her finger around the room.

Woods nodded an acknowledgement. “Sorry, you were
saying.”

“When Bulmer discovered I was pregnant and thinking
about reducing my hours he was furious. It was back in the 80s and you didn’t
have the protection you have today. Then, out of the blue he accused me of
taking backhanders; he said he was terminating my contract. I was astonished; there
wasn’t a grain of truth in the accusation, but I couldn’t prove my innocence
because he’d persuaded some client to say they’d been giving me money on the
quiet. The stress of all this became unbearable and sadly I had a miscarriage.
In the end I resigned, I just couldn’t face taking him on in court.”

“What did Gerrard think to all this?”

“He wasn’t very happy and blamed Bulmer for the
death of our unborn child.”

Barnes ticked motive on the Bulmer page. She looked
at Plant who’d placed his hand on Pauline’s and was comforting her. “Did you
know any of this?” she asked.

“No, I had no idea. I’ve only known Pauline for the
past few months and we’ve never discussed things like this.”

Pauline smiled and kissed him sincerely on the
cheek. “I’m sorry darling; this was all such a long time ago, you shouldn’t have
to listen to it, you’ll be getting the wrong idea. I promise you I don’t go
looking for unpleasantness, but when you have this sort of lifestyle you can
easily get people’s backs up.”

“Can we move on to Mateland?” Woods said.

“If we must; you know he was a prat?”

“I’d rather not comment… but, can you explain how
Gerrard caused the scars on Mateland’s face?”

She sighed. “After I’d left Strynes, Gerrard and I
moved to Penistone and for a while I stabled my horses on the same farm that Dawn
Mateland used for hers; that’s how I first met him. No-one at the stables liked
him; he was perpetually obnoxious to everyone. Anyway, he must have thought I
had a proverbial screw loose because he made a pass at me. Could you imagine
having anything to do with something like that?”

Barnes held back a smile.

“I told him where to go and he didn’t take too
kindly to it; consequently he  caused all sorts of trouble at the farm; lying
about me, trying to have me barred, spilling contaminates on hay bales and
horse feeds and trying to lay the blame on me. It was nonstop hassle. Fortunately
the farmer was well aware of his antics and didn’t take any notice of the accusations,
and everyone else at the stables didn’t believe a word he said. But, then,
things took a sinister turn when he started threatening and stalking me. He’d
follow me every time I left the stables. I was petrified, and I felt so
intimidated. That’s what spineless men like him do for kicks, isn’t it?”

Barnes nodded in agreement.

“So what did Gerrard do?” Woods asked.

“He hatched a plan to trap him. We agreed that after
leaving the stables one evening I would drive down one of the nearby single
track roads. Then as Mateland followed me, Gerrard would drive our truck in
behind him. I was to stop at a pre-determined spot and Gerrard would pull up
trapping Mateland in. I know it’s not funny, but when he realised what was
happening Mateland was terrified and locked himself in his Land Rover. It was in
the days before mobile phones, so he couldn’t summon help, and what he didn’t
appreciate was Gerrard had a key - somehow he had found the serial number and had
one made. You should have seen the look on his face when Gerrard calmly walked
up to the Land Rover door, unlocked it and tore it open. He dragged Mateland
out, roughed him up, smashing his face into the windscreen. That’s how he got
the broken nose and scars on his face.”

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
13.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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