The attacker could be linked to Operation Venus; which was taking on nightmare proportions, as if new tentacles were growing everywhere. The “hand in the woods” murders were the latest to be added; DNA evidence just in had identified that these and the Venus killings were carried out by the same perpetrator.
From the Chief Constable down through the ranks; the implications were horrific. The killer had struck against two members of the public; not prostitutes, just an “ordinary” couple going about their business. At the operational meeting that morning, the CC announced that he would be holding a news conference later that day. Paul could imagine the Argus headlines.
No one is safe.
Paul concentrated on the tapes; scenes of debauchery, there was plenty of that. But the initial excitement soon became sleazy and tedious - mooning at the cameras seemed to be a great laugh - and he focused on the previous night’s tapes. On one, he caught sight of Sam walking past the “Vatican” on her own – she was heading uphill towards the multi story car park – but she quickly moved out of camera range. He carried on watching for a while; there were at least half a dozen men who could have been her attacker.
What had she said? He had scarpered when a gang of yobs approached. Paul rewound the tape to when he first saw her, and started again. He reckoned the yobs would be heading for the “Vatican” – trying to gate crash, or just cause trouble by hassling partygoers; maybe even hoping to get a leg-over.
He spotted a gang of four swaggering downhill. They seemed to be hurling abuse at someone behind them. Their blurred faces came into view. He froze the frame; no one he recognised, but their “uniforms” were a dead give-away. The Seagulls from Harmony Estate: sporting designer gear, courtesy of illegal earnings from pushing drugs. He looked at the respective time frames. Sam going out of range at 11:47: gulls coming into view at 12:32. He rewound the tape back and watched it again. This time, he eliminated the “possibles” to two men. One wore a suit and kept glancing at his watch as he hurried up the hill.
The other man seemed to be middle-aged, swarthy build, respectable clothes, and not appearing to be in any rush. Paul could only see the back view; he tried to get a good picture, but the man never turned to face the camera. Had the man been inside the club? Paul switched tapes and ran them through. In the specific time frame, one tape had been overwritten; a couple of others featured clubbers mooning at the cameras. Futile; the man wasn’t captured on tape.
Maybe the Trannie would recognise him - although he wasn’t holding out a lot of hope. It had happened too quickly, it was dark for Christ’s sake. She only saw his black pupils boring into her brain; couldn’t remember if he was tall or short, fat or thin - how could she when the fucker had half-blinded her with his fists? No chance of DNA identification; stupid bitch had shoved her soiled clothes in the washer and had taken a bath before coming in to the nick to complain.
He’d also have to show the scene to Jackie – good opportunity to make it up with her. He gave Reilly the tape and told him what he needed – pronto.
He located the file on Jackie’s desk. Neglected. He had been so wrapped-up in the “hand in the woods” slayings he hadn’t pursued the lead. With confirmation of the DNA evidence, Boyson became his immediate priority. To stay in Forsyth’s best books all other investigations, including his undercover enquiry into the two “Aitches”, would have to be put on the back burner.
His breakthrough came one hour later, after he had sifted through the overflowing in-tray on Jackie’s desk. At the bottom of the pile he found one scrawled message from the front desk: Leyhill had belatedly provided details on Boyson’s probation officer, a Mr. Williams, living a few miles outside Bridleton. Paul immediately sought out Hillock, but the DCI wasn’t in his office; out on an all-day enquiry, according to his calendar.
DCS Forsyth gave the all-clear. ‘Keep it low key. Boyson is only a possible ... but this attack on the woman is a lead we need to eliminate. Go and talk to this Mr. Williams, see what you can learn.’
After several phone calls and an abortive trip to the house address, Paul eventually tracked down the elusive Mr. Williams at the Job Centre in the centre of town. He was working alternate days helping young offenders to seek placements – mostly as volunteers in Charity shops. He seemed an approachable person; early thirties with a pony-tail and glasses.
They sat down in an interview room, and Paul explained why he was there: investigating an attack. ‘Mr. Williams. We’re trying to track a Daniel Boyson ... do you know him?’
The reply was immediate. ‘Call me Ray ... everyone does ... Boyson ... it’s been a long time since I heard that name.’
Ray took the cue. ‘Daniel ... how shall I put it ... had difficulties. But he pulled himself together at Leyhill. He had quite a talent for printing.’
Ray smiled. ‘Daniel was sent down for raping two women. He had charm and dressed well but he blamed them for leading him on, and that attitude never changed. But when he got out, I helped him set up a job as a self-employed printer.’
‘Do you know where he lives?’
Ray shook his head. ‘Sorry ... but I know where his garage is ... that’s where he kept his equipment.’
Paul looked at him. ‘Could you show me...?’
Ray stood up. ‘Give me ten minutes to clear up, and I’ll be with you.’
While he waited, Paul stretched, and peered through the glass. Outside, there was an assortment of people reading the various job vacancies’ boards. Some seemed in high spirits, others had miserable faces: expectations raised, expectations dashed. Ray was gesticulating to a punk with pink hair, and pointing to the Mickey-Mouse wall clock; probably re-arranging an appointment.
Someone peered in at him; a woman carrying a clipboard with a young girl in tow. She gestured to see if he was staying put or leaving. He waved them in, got up and opened the door.
He wandered over to a notice board. Christmas closing times were prominent: nearly two weeks off; he’d be lucky to get two days off. Not that he fancied spending it with his mother and Daisy – he really ought to get his finger out and contact Jackie...
‘Okay, I’m ready.’ Ray clapped him on the shoulder. ‘Car’s out the back.’ He led the way through the alley by the side of the Job Centre to a small staff car park behind and unlocked a black Mini that needed a clean.
Paul hauled himself inside. ‘My car’s at the multi story. Drop me there, I’ll follow.’
The garage - one of several in a row - was behind a block of flats near an industrial estate. A letting agent’s sign - Surelet - indicated that two lock-ups were available for rent. Ray pointed to the one on the end. ‘That’s it.’
It was shut. Paul tried turning the handle. Locked, it wouldn’t budge.
‘What the fuck you doing?’
Paul turned to see a stocky man wearing greasy overalls. Worse, he was carrying a cosh.