While he condescended to make a written record of Marty’s responses, he seemed to have already made up his mind. ‘Why did you withhold this evidence?’
‘I’ve told you already. I didn’t receive the calls. Ask Councillor Winterbotham; I was with him that night. At the time of the alleged calls I was having a drink with him.’
‘Don’t you worry; I’ll talk to him all right. But I want to make it clear. Aiding and abetting a criminal act is a serious offence.’
Marty saw red. ‘For the record, DI Hillock, that is a prejudgement. Councillor Winterbotham is an upstanding member of the community ... and his wife is a cousin of the Chief Constable.’
Hillock just smiled. ‘I’m sure the Councillor is, but I wouldn’t want him to feel pressurised into covering for you. Do we understand each other?’
The second interview started well enough. The DI showed him the Councillor’s statement transcript.
“DI Hemming invited me to participate in a crackdown on illegal prostitution in the north Bristol area. I had been lobbying him for several months; as I have a keen interest - a crusade you might say – to take women off the streets. We had some success – a few girls were cautioned – we finished up in Cloud Nine massage parlour where DI Hemming began checking work permits.
After that, we had a few drinks at the bar. DI Hemming had been on duty eighteen hours – he had been taking Adrafinil to keep awake, but he fell asleep in an armchair.
There was no rush – I was having a bit of banter with one of the girls – but then his phone rang. He had two calls. While he said the tablets were legal, I didn’t want him to get into trouble, and I was a bit worried myself about having to explain why I was in a massage parlour, so I erased the calls.”
Marty gave a sigh of relief. ‘That’s it then.’
DI Hillock fixed him with a stare. ‘Not quite. I leant on him. You know he’s not a well man; must be the polluted air in Bridleton. It attracts a lot of scum.’
Marty shifted uncomfortably in his seat. ‘What’s that mean?’
‘I told him it was a criminal offence, blah, blah ... I said if he was being pressurised in any way, I would take care of it.’ He leant back, and sneered. ‘And do you know what, he coughed; seems like you have a video of him in a compromising situation. I told him I’d protect him from any media leak if he retracted his statement ... which he’s considering.’
‘So what have you got to say for yourself now, Ex-DI Hemming?’
‘For the record, I deny any complicity.’
DI Hillock started to gather up his documents, preparing to leave. ‘Well that won’t be good enough.’
‘Maybe this will change your mind.’ Marty had come prepared for the worst. ‘I had an “off the record” chat with a couple of your business acquaintances. It seems like you owe several grand to the Creek brothers, as well as owing a few favours ... turning a blind eye ... that sort of thing.’
DI Hillock stopped. ‘How the fuck ...’ he began, but Marty interrupted.
‘Just so we understand one another, I didn’t answer those calls because I’d snorted smack ... I was high as a kite. How the hell was I to know she’d be killed?’
There was a long silence, which DI Hillock broke.
‘The Creek brothers ... it was all legit. No deal.’
‘I’m sure your DCS wouldn’t see it that way.’
‘So, call me.’
Marty could see the sweat appearing on DI Hillock’s forehead. No wonder he was a poor poker player. He relaxed; it was a foregone conclusion.
And it was. DI Hillock huffed and puffed, but eventually mucked his hand.
‘It would seem you got lucky this time, DI Hemming.’
The final interview was with the DCS and Kathy Carmichael, the Personnel Manager, present. The DCS opened up the discussion. He nodded towards DI Hillock.
‘I would like to record my appreciation for DI Hillock’s comprehensive investigation into the allegation of misconduct by DI Hemming. Perhaps you’d like to briefly take us through it, Andy.’
Andy detailed the “facts” in his brisk no-nonsense style. He pointed to the report summary. A vital piece of evidence is missing: the phone from which the calls were made. Allegedly it got lost by DS Steel and DC James. Unprofessional behaviour merits disciplinary action.’
The DCS snorted. ‘God help us.’ He waved a hand. ‘Go on.’
Also, taking into account Councillor Winterbotham’s statement, in which the Councillor regretfully admits deleting the calls made to DI Hemming on the night of Candice’s murder, I consider there is insufficient evidence, on the balance of probability, to indicate the concern is substantiated.’
The DCS was not so easily convinced.
‘Why would he do that?’
‘It’s in the report, Sir. For some misguided reason, he thought he was protecting DI Hemming from allegations of misconduct. Ironically, that’s what happened.’
Kathy intervened. ‘Misconduct?’
Andy didn’t falter. ‘DI Hemming was taking “stay-awake” Adrafinil tablets. The Councillor erroneously thought they were illegal, but they are not on the Home Office prescribed list of prohibitive drugs.’
‘More to the point, Adam,’ said Kathy, ‘are DI Hemming’s eighteen hour shifts. I would expect that DS Steel and DC James are also working excessive hours. Apart from the cost, if it’s prevalent, we really need to address that issue.’
The DCS scratched his chin. ‘Kathy, this is a murder enquiry. Fatigue is normal, but our failure to make a breakthrough on Operation Venus is another issue. However, I’ll have another look at our resources.’
He turned to Marty. ‘I have heard Andy’s debrief and read his summary, and I would concur with his conclusions. You will be relieved to hear that I do not recommend that the matter should proceed to a formal disciplinary hearing.’
The DCI tapped the table, and looked around. ‘While DI Hemming has been exonerated from blame on this occasion, we should remember a young girl died that night. I don’t want any more misunderstandings, omissions, or other alleged transgressions. Is that clear?’
Marty put on a chastened look. ‘Crystal, Sir. Thank you.’
The way he looked at me. The DCS was no fool – he smelt something wasn’t authentic.
And he’d have to watch his back. Accidents could happen.