CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1) (4 page)

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
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“Does
the camera at 39 record activities on this bridge?” Woods asked.

“Only
the half over the southbound, that area of dense trees down there.” Greenwood
pointed half a mile down the northbound embankment. “They block its view of
this half.”

“How
convenient,” Barnes said.

Greenwood
then turned around and pointed up the carriageway. “Can you see the green paint
marking on the road surface, about 250 yards further on? That’s where
Mateland’s car veered off through the traffic cones, across the inside lane and
up the banking. Can you see the marks on the tree? Well, it hit that and then
flipped over and rolled back down onto the shoulder. The drain cover was
embedded in his chest when he was pulled from the vehicle.” Greenwood stopped
speaking.

 “Go
on,” urged Woods.

“Well,
we first checked out the cage in here,” he pointed to the internal structure. “It’s
intact, there’s no evidence of it being tampered with, so we thought the drain
cover had been thrown off the top, bearing in mind it would take a couple of
people to throw something that weight and size. But we’ve had SOCO checking and
there’s no evidence of anyone having been up there, so now we’re thinking more
along the lines of someone running from the side, across the inside lane and
throwing the drain cover at the vehicle, over the top of the traffic cones.”

Woods
shook his head. “I don’t think that happened.”

Greenwood
appeared puzzled. “So what’s your theory?”

“Look
at the cones,” Woods said, spinning round and pointing down the carriageway. “They’re
all evenly spaced, apart from that one.”

Both
Greenwood and Barnes peered at the cones.

“Which
one?” Barnes asked.

“That
one, with the bit of reflective tape on the top. Mick, get someone to measure
the exact horizontal distance from this edge of the bridge to the top of that
cone, then measure the height from this rail” — he was holding the cover plate
over the joint between the two different square meshes — “down to the
carriageway and then subtract the height from the ground to the centre of
Mateland’s windscreen.”

“Okay,
but what’s that going to prove?”

Barnes
answered, “if Mateland’s car was travelling at 50mph you can work out how far
it’s travelling per second. If you know the exact height the object has to fall
you can calculate how many seconds it will take. Therefore you can get the
exact distance the vehicle has to be from the bridge when the object needs to
be released. Simple, just like you.”

Woods
was smiling. “It’s nice to know someone else is on the ball.”

Greenwood
shouted one of his colleagues across and asked for the measurements to be taken.
He then turned to Woods, but before he could speak Woods asked him to get a
maintenance crew up on to the bridge.

“I get
where you’re going with this, but the cage hasn’t been touched, look, all the
security fixings are intact, you can’t undo any of these bolts without damaging
them. There’s no evidence of tampering.”

“Look
up here,” Woods pointed to the 75mm square mesh caging, “the paint’s slightly
cracked; it looks to me as though this has been bent up.”

Greenwood
appeared dumbfounded. “So what you’re telling me is someone placed a marker on
one of the cones at the exact point where you’d need to release an object to
smash through the windscreen of a vehicle travelling at 50mph. They’ve
dismantled the caging, dropped the drain cover, and reconstructed it using new bolts
that have a pin which snaps off at the required torque. And then they’ve
painted the bolts to cover their tracks.”

Woods
nodded.

“So
was Mateland the target, or unlucky to be travelling up the motorway late last
evening?”

“I
think he was the target.”

“What if
he’d have been in the outside lane?” Barnes asked.

“Look
at the central reservation. There’s an identical piece of reflective tape on
the barrier; exactly in line with the cone. This wasn’t just chance. It was
murder.”

 

 

Pauline Crean was reading the Yorkshire
Post newspaper and relaxing in her suite, at the private Country Club Rehab
Clinic, which was located in the Lake District, about three miles out from Lake
Windermere. The clinic offered help with a wide range of psychological and
mental health related issues. Treatment programmes were tailored to individual
patient’s needs, and delivered in a safe, secure and caring environment -  which
the clinic stated would ensure a speedy recovery. The mission statement read
that the clinic would empower patients to take control of their lives by
providing the highest quality of care and support to promote positive outcomes.
There were a range of treatment options available, which included counselling,
acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, detoxification, massage, dietary
advice, reflexology, reiki, shiatsu and exercise.

Prior to checking in,
Pauline had met on four separate occasions with Dr Damien Rosco, a personal
psychologist based at the clinic, and after discussing the issues affecting her
it had been mutually agreed that she would benefit from a full week’s programme
of treatments. Although expensive, she considered the £1,500 per night price
tag to be worthwhile, provided at the end of it she could return to a more
normal existence. She had arranged for the dogs to go into kennels, and for
Lisa, the teenage girl from the neighbouring farm, who usually helped with the
horses, to look after the stables in her absence.

After several therapy
sessions Pauline was beginning to regain some of her old self-confidence and
all the early signs were in favour of a positive outcome. However, as she was
reading the morning paper, she suddenly inhaled sharply and slowly reread the
article that had caught her eye.
I can’t believe it, after all these years
he’s finally done the right thing and committed suicide… If he’d done that
thirty years ago Shelly would still be alive.
She placed the paper on the
coffee table and folded her arms; tears were streaming out of her eyes.

 

 

“Shall I go and help
them work it out?” Barnes asked, looking over at Greenwood and his colleague,
scribbling away on a piece of paper. “I bet they’ve had to google it.”

“No,
let them figure it out. Then they’ll know how to do it in the future,” Woods
replied, still watching the motorway traffic and lost in thought.

“You
really think so?”

“No,
but that’s what I’d like to think. You can check their calculations.”

“That’ll
go down well with the Adonis.”

“All
right, Clever Clogs, what’s standard gravity?”

A
crooked smile slowly materialised on her face. “9.5 metres per second squared,”
she said, scrunching up her nose.

“It’s
actually 9.8 metres per second squared,” Woods corrected.

“I
know that, I just wanted to make sure you did. It’s 9.80665 to be precise.”

Woods
laughed out loud. “Yes it is, point taken.”

“You’ve
laughed and smiled more today than I’ve seen in the last month. Usually you’re
angry all the time.”

“I’m
not angry,” Woods protested. “I’m permanently irritated.” He smiled again, “but
today’s different.”

“Oh,
here’s Einstein,” she said. “He must have finally figured it out.”

Woods
looked up to see Greenwood approaching. “You’re right Superintendent. The cone
is 25.727 metres away from the face of the bridge. The distance the object had
to fall was 6.5 metres, which would take it 1.151 seconds, and a vehicle
travelling at 50mph would take 1.151 seconds to travel 25.727 metres.”

“Bingo,”
Barnes said.

“Do
you want to go over the figures with them, Maria?” Woods prompted.

“I’ve
just done it, they’re correct: 50mph is 22.352 metres per second, multiply by
1.151, equals 25.727 metres. Do you want me to use a calculator?”

“No,
I’ll take your word for it,” Woods said, amazed by her mental arithmetic.
“Right Mick, where’s that maintenance crew? We need to rip this bridge apart.”

“On
their way,” Greenwood replied. He turned to Barnes, but she was walking away.
“Maria,” he called; either she didn’t hear or pretended not to.

Fifteen
minutes later the crew arrived, bringing a compressor, generator and a
selection of air tools. Woods explained he wanted the
steel
cage structure dismantled on the bays over the northbound middle and outside
approaching lanes.

After three minutes the
eight bolts holding the cover plate over the middle lane bay had been removed.
“These have come out really easy,” the engineer said. “We’ve got a special tool
with serrated teeth, which we hammer on to the bolt heads, but these are new
bolts, and look this paint is fresh, it’s hardly set.” He handed them to Woods,
who placed them in an evidence bag.

“Where would you buy
the tool with serrated teeth?” Woods enquired.

“From the company who
manufacture the security bolts.”

“Have you got their
name?”

The engineer went to
his van and brought an invoice with the company logo on. Woods gave it to
Barnes, asking her to make enquiries regarding recent sales of the tool. Finally
the cover plate was removed exposing the joint between the lower 25mm mesh and
the higher level 75mm mesh. Greenwood then tried to bend the 75mm meshing up,
but two metal tie straps on the columns were holding it at each end. One of the
maintenance crew quickly snipped the tie straps. “These are new too,” he said,
handing them to Woods.

Greenwood then managed
to bend up the whole section of square meshing. “I see what you mean,” he said
to Woods. “You could easily drop a drain cover straight off here.”

As the engineers worked
on the bay over the outside lane, Woods went to the cover plate which had been
propped on the opposite side of the bridge. “What’s this?” he asked.

“No idea,” the engineer
said, just as the adjacent cover plate was removed and brought over.

“Look it’s on that one
too,” Woods said.

The engineer got closer
and examined both plates. “This is new paint. It looks exactly the same as that
on the fixing bolts.”

“Take the cover plates
off the two adjacent bays,” Woods said, frowning, “and let’s have a look at
them.”

Ten minutes later the
plates on the bays over the inside lane and the central reservation were
removed. “Nothing,” said the engineer.

Greenwood was busy
photographing the evidence. “So why paint CMXVI on the back of the plates?” he
asked Woods.

“Good question. Is John
Wright at work today?”

“No, didn’t you know? He
was suspended a couple of weeks ago. Mateland was having him investigated for
misconduct. Something about botching up an investigation. John told me it was
all bollocks, and that there was no evidence whatsoever, he said Mateland had
invented it to get him off the team.”

Woods spun his head and
looked at Barnes.

“Something about
protocols,” she said, scrunching up her nose.

Chapter 4

Wednesday 16
th
May –
Thursday 17
th
May.

 

Detective Superintendent Greg
Woods and Detective Sergeant Maria Barnes arrived at PC John Wright’s house
shortly after two o’clock in the afternoon. At Barnes’ insistence they’d called
for a sandwich on the way. Her hunger surprised Woods, as she’d already
devoured a large bacon, sausage and tomato bread roll at around ten o’clock,
and her slight build and delicate frame suggested her calorie intake was
minimal. Disproving his assumption she’d just munched her way through a six
inch oven roasted chicken breast sandwich, and was sipping the last remnants of
a large Coke as they pulled up.

“Where do you put all those calories?” he asked.

“I go out running, go to the gym, swim and keep fit.
I burn it off. I don’t know how you survive not eating all day. Don’t you ever
get hungry?”

Woods shrugged. “Not really. It’s something I don’t
get hung up on. I’ll have some cereal in the morning and eat when I get home at
night.”

They got out of the car and walked up the path.

Wright was waiting at the door watching them
approach. “Hello Superintendent.”

Woods asked if they could go in and they made their
way through the house and out onto the patio where Wright appeared to have been
sitting enjoying the afternoon sunshine.

“I suppose you’ve heard what’s happened to
Mateland?” Woods said, as they seated themselves around the patio table.

“Mick Greenwood telephoned this morning.”

“News travels fast.”

“Good news definitely travels fast.”

“Why is the death of Mateland good news?”

“Oh come on, everyone in the Force knows what a prat
he is; I bet you can’t find one person who’s got a good word to say about him.”

“What about his wife?” Barnes interjected. “Does she
have a good word to say about him?”

Woods shot her a glance, but did not speak. Normally
he might have snapped and made some derogatory comment at an officer
interrupting his line of questioning, but on this occasion he approved and
there was the hint of a smile.

“You did see us, up by the bridge that day. I wasn’t
sure you’d recognised me.”

Barnes nodded.

“Did you tell Mateland?”

“No! Why would I tell Mateland? And what was there
to tell? You could have just been talking.” Woods saw her lips seal tightly as
if holding back a smile.

“Well someone told him, and you don’t exactly have a
reputation for being tight mouthed. Do you?”

“I don’t have a reputation for screwing around
either,” she snapped.

“All right Maria,” Woods jumped in. “Did Mateland
confront you about it?”

“No, he never said a word to me; I didn’t know he
knew. I was called into his office one afternoon and told, pending an
investigation, he was suspending me. I was dumbstruck. I didn’t know it at the
time, but he’d had it out with Dawn — his wife — that morning; they had a
blazing row and he ended up knocking her about. She was in A&E when he was
suspending me.”

“Is she okay?” Barnes asked.

“Yes, but it’s no thanks to Mateland. He’d told her
he was sacking me and if she was thinking of leaving him for me, she’d better
think again as I wouldn’t have a future in the Force.”

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we
practise to deceive,” Barnes quoted.

“So where were you yesterday evening at around 9.00
p.m.?” Woods asked.

Wright laughed. “You honestly think it was me on the
top of the bridge smashing a drain cover through his windscreen? I might have
smashed my fist through his ugly face for what he did to Dawn, but I’m not
stupid enough to do him in. It was probably kids acting about.”

“It wasn’t kids acting about, it was murder.”

“Murder!” Wright echoed, appearing shocked.

“So where were you yesterday evening?” Woods asked
again.

“Here watching TV.”

“Can anyone verify that?”

“No, I live on my own. My wife left me eighteen
months ago.”

“What significance has CMXVI to you, or Mateland?”

“What?”

“CMXVI. They’re Roman numerals. Nine hundred and
sixteen.” Barnes said.

“I’m not sure; it’s something I know nothing about. As
for Mateland, ask Dawn.”

“When were you last on that footbridge?” Woods
asked.

“I’ve never been on it.”

“So there won’t be any footage of you, recorded by
the traffic camera at Junction 39?”

“No. I’ve never been on the bridge, honest. Dawn and
I go up there. . .”

“To talk,” Barnes interrupted.

“Maria,” snapped Woods.

“We go there to be alone, and we’ve never gone
anywhere near the footbridge.”

Woods leaned back in his chair and ran his fingers
through his bristle hair. “What’s standard gravity?” he asked.

“Err, the stuff that keeps us on the ground,” Wright
replied, looking puzzled.

“Right, we’ll need to take your computer and any
mobiles you have. And I don’t want you contacting Dawn Mateland until we’ve
spoken with her. Understood?”

“There are some intimate texts between us on the
phones and the same goes for e-mails.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not interested in that sort of
thing,” Woods said.

Wright handed over two mobiles and a laptop and
disconnected the computer. “You won’t find anything incriminating.”

“That’s what they all say,” Barnes said, placing the
seized items in sealed plastic bags.

They carried the evidence out to the car and placed it
in the boot.

“Come on, we need to get over to Penistone and
interview Mateland’s wife,” Woods said, jumping in the car. “While I’m driving
can you ring McLean and tell him to get hold of all the CCTV footage of
Mateland travelling to and from work over the past month. I’m interested in the
motorway cameras, and the cameras at the Traffic Unit where he was based up at
Junction 41. I’m looking for anyone taking a particular interest in his
activities.”

“Do you think Wright had something to do with this?”
Barnes asked.

“Do you?”

“I don’t think he’s smart enough.”

“To be honest, neither do I, but we’ll have his
landline, mobiles and computer checked out first.”

“It’s funny that Greenwood’s first reaction was the
bridge cage was intact, with no signs of tampering. He never considered anyone
might dismantle the cover rail, bend up the meshing and then reconstruct it.
Just because there were no marks on the bolts, he totally dismissed the
possibility they might be new and newly painted.”

“Well he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer,”
Woods pointed out.

“So what drew your attention to the possibility the
cage may have been dismantled? Was it the reflective tape?”

Woods nodded slowly. “And the fact that the cone was
out of sync with the others. I concentrated on the traffic and, because of the
average speed cameras, ninety-nine per cent of vehicles are travelling at
50mph. I imagined dropping an item on random cars as they passed the marker,
and each time I got the impression it would have gone straight through the
windscreen. Then, I closely inspected the caging and spotted those tiny cracks
in the paintwork where the meshing had been bent.”

“I’m impressed.”

“The question is, who would go to the trouble of
disguising their actions, selecting the most difficult bridge that you could
imagine, and then leave a calling card in the knowledge it might never be
found? If it had been up to Greenwood we’d be looking for someone who’d thrown
the drain cover from the side of the carriageway.”

“Maybe he,” she paused, “assuming it is a he.”

Woods waited. He sensed she was concentrating.

“Half of the bridge is unseen by cameras.”

“True.”

“The roadworks are keeping the speed of vehicles at
50mph.”

“Yes.”

“And there are only two lanes open thus reducing the
number of lanes the target vehicle would be in.”

Woods looked away. He was impressed with her
deductions but there was something troubling him. “But why paint CMXVI on the
back of the cover plates?”

“That’s a good question, but, for what it’s worth,
here’s my theory. Because Mateland was a police officer they knew the detective
investigating his death was likely to be one of the better ones who would
eventually work out how it had been committed and find the numerals; but just
in case, they left a subtle clue, i.e. the reflective tape. Think about it,
they could’ve easily removed it after coming down off the bridge. They’d
covered their tracks up there, why leave the reflective tape?”

“They’d have been seen by the queuing traffic.”

“Yes, but there would have been several vehicles
stopping and a number of people trying to assist at the scene. All our killer
needed to do was come out of the darkness down the banking and onto the
shoulder; no-one would think he was anything other than one of the drivers
who’d stopped further up the carriageway. He could walk to the cone, pretend to
be straightening it and remove the tape.”

“What about the bit on the central barrier?”

“Likewise, he could’ve gone over to the barrier,
removed the tape while chatting to some of the drivers who were queuing, then disappeared
off into the darkness.”

“But what’s CMXVI to do with this?”

“Solve that and you solve the crime.”

Woods sighed, and rubbed his chin. “I like your
reasoning; nevertheless I’m not totally convinced. Get the names of the drivers
who stopped at the scene from Greenwood, have a chat with them and see if they
saw anyone up on the bridge. Reconstructing the cage and painting the bolts
would have taken a while.”

“No problem,” she replied, keying Greenwood’s number
into her phone.

 

 

During the journey to Penistone,
Barnes had contacted both Greenwood and McLean. While speaking to Greenwood
he’d informed her that when finishing off and reopening the footbridge, an
elderly gentleman, out walking a dog, had approached him with information about
a man taking measurements and photographs of the footbridge a few weeks
earlier. She had relayed this to Woods who immediately asked her to ring McLean
back and instruct him to visit the man and obtain a full detailed description.
Barnes was awaiting McLean’s call back.

It was almost 5.00 p.m. when the detectives finally
arrived at Dawn Mateland’s house; a modest detached property on the outskirts
of the small market town, eight miles west of Barnsley and seventeen miles
north-east of Glossop. They were invited in and provided with refreshments.

“I wouldn’t say she’s acting much like the grieving
widow,” Barnes whispered as Mateland went out to fetch some biscuits from the
kitchen.

“I’m sorry to bother you at such a traumatic time,”
Woods said, when she returned. “I know it must be difficult for you, but I need
to ask you some questions. Paul’s death is being treated as murder.”

“You don’t have to apologise, Superintendent. It’s no
secret that I despised him and although this may sound heartless, all I’m
feeling at the moment is relief that he’s out of my life.”

Woods frowned. “I see. Err, I understand there’d
been a disagreement between you and Paul recently and. . .”

“A disagreement; if you call ending up in A&E
with two broken ribs a disagreement, then yes we had. I suppose you’ve been
told about John.” She looked straight at Barnes.

“Can we concentrate on Paul first?” Woods said. “Can
you think of anyone who might have wanted to harm him?”

“Can you think of anyone who wouldn’t?”

Woods hesitated. “I… I know he wasn’t everyone’s favourite
person, but there’s a difference between disliking someone and murdering them.”

“Come on Superintendent. Paul had the extraordinary
ability to get under people’s skin; he upset, distressed and irritated almost
everyone he ever came into contact with. He must have been the most complained
about police officer in the Force, not only by the public, but other police
officers. I understood he was only promoted to inspector to get him out of the
way of the public into that traffic office, behind a desk. Everywhere he went
trouble followed, none of our neighbours will speak to us because he’s caused
so much trouble around here. He was a nightmare to live with.”

“So why did you stay with him?” Barnes asked,
looking for an answer other than the obvious.

“Why do women suffer domestic violence and stay put?
It’s the same answer. Although this time I was trying to get away from him, but
look what he did,” she lifted up her top and showed the bruising around her
ribs.

Barnes sucked the air in through her teeth and
grimaced. “You could’ve reported him,” she said.

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
3.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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