“You can go in now, Detective Constable”
I checked myself for any unfastened buttons, pieces of lint, anything that might distract them or make me look even worse than I felt, then turned back to the clerical officer.
“Thanks. Wish me luck”
“You’ll be fine. They’re not as bad as people think”
Yeah, right. I entered the little room, and there were two of them, of course, as well as the Federation rep on my side of the little table. Two men facing him, one in his late forties or early fifties, the other around ten years younger, both of them looking as if they were made for the suits they wore rather than the other way round. The younger one looked at me, offering a vague species of smile.
“Detective Constable Sutton?”
“One of them, yes. Diane Sutton”
“One of them? Ah, yes. Your husband will be on the list... Blake?”
“Yes. Also DC Sutton”
Shut up, woman. Don’t volunteer anything to the IPCC. Make them ask the questions.
“Very good, may I call you Diane? I am Malcolm Noble, and this is Kingsley Dawes, and we are from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, as I am sure you are aware. You will be familiar with your Federation representative Elwyn Rogers? Yes?”
I nodded, and he tweaked his smile again.
“Please take a seat, Diane”
He indicated the only one remaining, as I realised he was simply proceeding with the first-naming without waiting for my answer. Let it go, girl. P, P.
“We are asking about…”
He went on and on about the formality of the interview, as I sat there, numb, still in shock. I realised it had to be done, but I was still in that other place, the tiny closed room of shock and pain. Police, Professional, girl. Hold it together for them.
“Were you involved in the investigation involving…”
I was only half hearing the questions, and realised I had to concentrate, or I would end up in an even deeper pile of shit than I already dwelt in. We worked through the murders, the mutilations, all the arsons, every bloody one, and they even covered the ‘delivery’ in the stone circle.
“Diane, you reported that you met Carl Morris. Can you summarise for us?”
I took a long, slow breath. “It was after the attempted murder of a friend of mine, Paula Cairns”
Noble exchanged a glance with Dawes, who nodded, and then Noble frowned, only slightly, in my direction.
“Diane, perhaps we should offer a little piece of advice, and that is in this instance a simple one. Please be so kind as to offer us complete answers rather than partial ones. Our aim is not to find ways of punishing you but to establish what exactly happened on a particular Saturday night. We are informed that Ms Cairns wasn’t the only target. Is that correct?”
“Um. Yes. But the gun was a reactivated one, and the second round jammed”
“And you were the target for that round?”
I shuddered at the memory, Paula collapsing, the moped pillion fumbling with what had seemed like a cartoon gun, the black dot of its muzzle swinging past me.
“Yes. Or so the shooter said in interview”
“Thank you, Diane. It does actually do you credit that you seek to belittle your own role. Now…”
Tag-team style, they talked me through my meeting with Pig and the subsequent delivery up of the culprits, the murders, the arson attacks, and an awful lot of probing about any possible contacts I may ever have had with Pig and his boys.
“What did you know about the Culhwch Motorcycle Club before you met Mr Morris?”
“Nothing, really. Our team was dropped right into this one. I had some slight knowledge of how the politics worked, but I was never associated or acquainted with that scene. My teenage years were sort of interrupted, and then I was at University and then Cwmbran”
“I was raped at sixteen”
“Ah. Of course”
He looked briefly at his file. “Ashley Evans. Also guilty in re Paula Cairns, I believe”
I could feel a snarl building, and fought it back down.
“Yes, along with so many others”
He looked at Dawes again, who pushed his glasses back up his nose before leaning towards me, ever so slightly.
“Given that commonality, Diane, and in your opinion, could there have been any collusion or other association between the attempted murders and former councillor Evans?”
It was out of my mouth before I could stop it.
“To be honest, I hadn’t even thought of that aspect!”
Noble smiled, a little bleakly.
“Honesty is what we seek, Diane. Your opinion now?”
I shrugged. “I really don’t know. I suppose there could be an association, but, to be as honest as you are asking, the motive seems quite solid for Elmi and his boys. Are you saying you have more info on this one?”
Dawes just raised an eyebrow.
“We merely seek to keep options open, Diane”
Fuck. He might want me to be honest, but he wasn’t keeping up his end of the bargain, not in a month of bloody Sundays. I made a mental note to do a little off-record digging when I got back to the office.
Noble held up a hand.
“Diane. Helicopters. Please explain”
“Ah. Necessity, really, and favours. We’d received intelligence from reliable sources that the Culhwch and the Brawdoliaeth were effectively at war, and that weapons were being moved into the area. Firearms, that is”
“Yes. We have the NCA reports already”
“Indeed. Then we had a snout---er, a Humint source, in a prison. Our LIO collated that stuff for us, and it was a pretty clear picture. There would be some sort of open conflict. We spent some time collating the data, the info, intel… anyway, the picture we got pointed to one weekend and two possible venues. Audiences, to be honest”
Noble was terse.
“Um, yeah. Yes. Lots of what these people do is about face, and it’s face within a particular community. Look, I spent a long time on a previous case, a series of attacks on gay men---”
Dawes smiled, far more warmly this time.
“Ashley Evans, once more. You make waves, Diane”
“Well, yeah. Had to be done. Anyway, I was thinking a little while ago. The communities, the pink one and the biker one, they’re both exclusionary. They work to keep straight people out, in all sorts of ways. Real in-group behaviour. Pig---Morris, yeah? He and his kind want to be dominant, and they want their own community to know it. To bloody well witness it. Sorry”
Noble took over.
“Hence the locations you were observing?”
“hence those locations. Watching the clubs’ own premises wasn’t an option”
“And why not?”
“Having two of them tap on your car window and offer you a cup of tea and an apology for being out of doughnuts is not a good thing”
Was that a little crack in Noble’s control? He didn’t let it get in his way.
“Helicopters, Diane. They seem a little excessive”
“Having a bag containing a man’s severed head, hands and privates pulled out of the sea off Weston is rather more excessive, I would argue”
“Point taken. Talk me through the helicopters”
“Right. Two of our boys are ex-military, and they had some contacts. We looked at the most likely site for any incident, and both access and lying-up places were not easily available. The site was a nightmare, in fact. Rob knew some boys in Sennybridge, and Chief Inspector Cobner knew some others in Hereford, and Rhys had contacts with the Empire Test Pilot place, and that is what we came up with. Best solution to a crap problem. We, er, embedded some firearms officers of our own into the team, and set up some carriers as near as we could get them without showing out too obviously”
“Bradley Cobner, of the CTSFU?”
“Yes. Them. He organised the close surveillance for us, Rhys’ mate supplied us with a chopper, Rob’s lot up Sennybridge another, and we sat and waited for it to kick off”
“Special Reconnaissance Unit, Regiment, whatever. Sneaky bastards. Sorry”
“No need. I think that was a pretty fair assessment of their abilities. So, you set everything in place at where, exactly?”
“Field outside Efail Isaf. Boring few hours sitting in uncomfortable seats, as the SRR called in their sitreps. We could hear the band they had in the marquee over the radio. They sounded rather good”
“I am sure, Diane. Now, why did you select that event to stag?”
“Where to start? It was a team discussion, I suppose. One factor was location. It was on Brawdoliaeth turf, and we expected any attack would be by the Culhwch, as the body count was against them just then”
“You expected the Culhwch to attack the Brawdoliaeth?”
“We didn’t expect anything. We just knew something was building, and balance of probabilities, isn’t it? Culhwch hitting the Brawd seemed more likely”
“So, in simple terms, what then happened to confirm that deployment decision?”
Don’t lose it now, DC Sutton. Police, Professional.
“That was the problem. Not confirmation, exactly. It was the boys from the SRR who stirred things up, when they pointed out they hadn’t spotted a single Brawdoliaeth patch anywhere on site”
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