As before a collaboration with @bruce2990 – Read Part 1
The keys rattled and the big blue door swung open as @crimsolicitor was let into the custody block for what was the fifth time that day. The smell always caught him as he came round the corner. Every custody block has its own special blend of a very familiar smell; unwashed people, smelly shoes, microwave curries and the cheap air freshener they use to hide all the smells.
“Did you get far then?”
“Far enough to be annoying…” said @crimsolicitor.
It was one of the few pleasures the Detention Officers had. Let you leave the station and then call you back almost straight away. Bonus points are awarded if the lawyer managed to get all the way home, and then call them back, and extra points if you managed to time it right so that they didn’t even manage to get out of their car.
“Suppose you want another brew then? Custody records are just printing off.”
“Please, proper tea, not that rubbish you serve to the guests. Whose dealing with these two.”
“Dunno, someone from CID and Child Protection. I think Gruff was about before.
“Thanks, can you tell him I’m here. I’m sure he wants to go home, he usually does…”
The block was quite busy, with a steady turnaround of the usual stuff. Thirteen hours into a twenty-four hour slot @crimsolicitor had dealt with six other so far, all of whom had now gone. Now, at eleven o’clock at night the block was beginning to fill back up. There were two sergeants at the desk, each with a prisoner, and another in the holding cell. In front of one stood a tall man, military bearing. One of the Kings’s Men brought in as part of the ongoing investigation into what really happened to Humpty Dumpty on that wall.
The other, a slightly shorter, older man in a very expensive suit was having an argument with the Sergeant.
“I want to see my solicitor in person, get me Mr Rumpole her now, I don’t want to talk to him on the phone. That’s ridiculous, who made up that rule.”
The Sergeant, who was well used to his guests getting a bit chopsy and apparently knowing their human rights, sighed. “Well, wasn’t me that’s for sure. You are of course entitled to speak to a solicitor who will give you free and independent advice. However, as you are here for a non-imprisonable offence then at this stage you only get telephone advice. I’m sure whoever speaks to you will be fully trained to speak to you.”
“Trained, I don’t want trained. I want qualified and I want them to know what’s going on. How do I know that the person that speaks to me knows what he is doing, and isn’t just one of you upstairs. I’m a very important man you know.”
“We are all important men sir, and I’m afraid that it’s unlikely that you will even speak to Mr Rumpole, initially it will be an advisor from the call centre. Of course, if you want to pay him privately, we can get hold of Mr Rumpole directly.”
“That’s madness, so I’m entitled to have legal advice, free of charge but only on the phone and not from my own lawyer?”
“At present yes, soon that rule might apply to anybody who is arrested not just for those that are here for minor offences.”
“That really is just the thin end of the wedge, next you will be telling me I have to pay for a lawyer in court!”
One of the Detention Officers handed @crimsolicitor the custody records for his clients, “Government Minister apparently, been chucking his papers all over The Great Woods when he was taking his morning constitutional. Arrested for littering under the “Take Your Confidential Waste Home And Shred It Act” . Bit’s of paper everywhere. The Bears were not amused at all apparently, been phoning into Chief Constable all day, wanting to know why there are so few police on the street. Burgled they were few months back and now this. Chief explained that it was due to cut backs, had to prioritise resources but they were not happy I can tell you.”
The Custody Sergeant turned in his seat and looked at @crimsolicitor.
“You doing both of them are you? Isn’t that a conflict, Husband and Wife?”
“I can’t tell until I speak with them can I? If there is I will let you know don’t worry.”
“Won’t make any difference anyway, you will only tell ’em to make no comment.”
“You know that’s wrong Sergeant, I can’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to. If I did, do you think I would be hanging round police stations for £150 a case. If there is a conflict then I will make sure that someone else covers one of them”
Please don’t let there be a conflict @crimsolicitor thought. If there was he wasn’t going to get paid for seeing one of them, or worse case, both.
“Well make it snappy then, tick tock custody clock!”
“Not my clock sergeant, you haven’t been waiting for me all day. Anyway, I’m sure if necessary, the officers can persuade the Inspector to give them more time, after all CID always conduct expeditious investigations, and they haven’t just left my clients to sweat a bit have they”
The sergeant raised an eyebrow and turned back around to deal with the littering Minister.
Taking the custody records with him and his all important mug of tea @crimsolicitor sat in the little consultation room and scanned through the custody records of this clients. Arrested at ten o’clock this morning that meant they had been in for thirteen hours, but that wasn’t unusual. Nothing jumped out at him, no health markers to be worried about, no drugs issues and both of them in custody for the first time. Neither had asked for a telephone call and there was a mark up for a s18 search but nothing marked up. The record stated that the children had been reported missing by their parents but information was given that they had last been seen taking them out and returning without them. No immediate harm to life or limb interview done so what did they have to hold them?
Twenty minutes later DC Gruff came down together with another officer @crimsolicitor had never seen before.
“DC Gruff, how are you?
“Busy as ever, you know how it is, budget cuts, red tape and idiots who think they know the job better than us. Been here for twelve hours so far, and no end in sight at the moment. That half hour for the Queen becomes longer and longer every day!”
“This is PC Tag from the Child Protection lot,” Gruff said pointing at the officer with him, “She was destined to be a copper, it’s the hair you see?”
@crimsolicitor looked bemused, which was not uncommon.
“See, it’s a coppery ginger, so she had to be a ginger copper!” Gruff said laughing at his own joke. Well he had to, no-one else ever did.
“Ignore him, he can’t help it, someone dropped him on his head when he was little.” Turning pointedly to Gruff “And it’s DC Tag, pleased to meet you”
“So who’s going to tell me what my client’s have done or rather what you think they have done and what you have you been doing for the past thirteen hours? I assume you haven’t found them yet?”
Gruff sat back in his chair, and started stroking that beard of his. “There’s no written disclosure on this one right, so pay attention.”
He relayed what had been said by the two defendants in the missing persons report, how Hansel and Gretel had gone off yesterday morning to explore the forest and how when they had not returned by dinner time they had phoned the police. That the kids were good children and knew what time to be home. How PC Plod listened to what they said, or rather what the Mother had said, whilst the Father was looking a bit gormless in the background and kept muttering about Boris and that something seemed a good idea at the time. They had told him, how they wondered how long they should wait before making a press release appealing for information and whether the newspapers still gave the parents of missing children mobile phones.
PC Plod had listened to all of that and taken it all down, whilst thinking just what he needed a couple of kids missing in the forest. They probably weren’t missing at all, just drinking cider and smoking weed. Still he took the details down and was just about to come back to the police station when he was accosted by a neighbour with the biggest mouth he had ever seen, he says, mouth like a Cheshire Cat. Anyway, this neighbour Cheryl or Cherry or something.”
“Cheri” DC Tag said.
“Whatever, names not important, she said that the lot of them went out yesterday morning with a picnic basket and the cat, but only your two came back in later. She thought that was funny because she likes cats does Cheri and wondered where it had gone. She didn’t think much else of it after that, as she saw the cat last night in her garden with a patent shoe apparently stuck up its whatnot. This morning she sees Plod, asks him whats going on and he tells her about kids going missing”
“So you have no idea what happened then, and they could be just missing. Are you searching the woods?”
“Of course we are, we’re not bloody daft you know. We’ve had a team out looking all day, all special every one of them. But it’s dark now, and we can’t afford batteries for the torches so they are probably packing up now but we will start again tomorrow.”
“What about the house, you searched it? Did you find anything.”
“Well, we didn’t find any bodies if that’s what you mean. Nothing really, although PC Plod says there wasn’t a lot of food in the place and he saw a lot of bills.”
“So what’s your thinking at the moment”
“I don’t know yet but I smell something bad here and I’m going to get to the bottom of it.”
“Something bad?” said DC Tag, “Are you sure you didn’t tread in something left by Wolfie’s goat?”
“Oh very droll, everyone’s a comedian round here!”
“Droll or Troll?” asked @crimsolicitor remembering Gruffs little incident a few months back. DC Tag giggled, as Gruff opened the door, “I’ll get your clients shall go?”
@crimsolicitor then sat down to advise his clients. He told them from the outset what information the police had in relation to the offence they had been arrested for. How he wasn’t there to make anything up for them, and that if they were to admit anything to him during the consultation that amounted to them being guilty of an offence he couldn’t then help them plead not guilty if the matter went to court. He also warned them that the police already had one version of events from them, the misper report, and that if what they said now was different then the police might wonder why. Finally he explained that they did not have to tell the police anything at all, but if they later went to court and then gave a version of events the Judge might tell the jury that their evidence was unreliable.
Dave gave a version of events which was exactly the same as the misper report, but he did keep saying that they didn’t eat that much anyway, and hide and seek was always such a tricky game.
Sam was much confident, “Have they found my darling children yet? Oh, this is so bad, so bad. I think I will phone our friends friend when I get out, Adam. He’s such a clever man, he has lots of experience in lots and lots of things, he offers special advice to some of Dave’s colleagues. Although I think he’s abroad at the moment.”
Sam asked “What did Dave say what happened?”
@crimsolicitor knew that this was the tricky bit. He could not tell Sam anything that might help in the two of them making up a story together. So he did, what he always did in those circumstances, asked Sam to tell him what she said happened and then he could talk about what Dave had said. To his relief, and that of his billing targets, she gave an account the same as Dave’s. How the children had gone out yesterday morning to look for conkers in the Enchanted Forest, and they hadn’t come back by tea time like they were supposed to. She said she was so very worried, as Hansel did like his food, and he had only taken a tuna paste sandwich with him.
On what the two had said, there was no conflict and more to the point if they were right, no offence. @crimsolicitor advised both clients to give their versions of events, and at the end of the interview it was likely that they would be bailed to come back to the police station. Until the children were found there was not enough evidence to charge them, even on a threshold test…
After interview, the custody sergeant bailed them both, “No conditions but don’t go leaving the country if you know what I mean”
“Leave the country, of course not my children are missing. I will not be going anywhere. You should be out searching for my children, not arresting me and my poor husband. You know what? I have no confidence in the Home Secretary to improve the police.”
The Custody sergeant, looked up and shook his head, “You and me both madam, you and me both”
To be continued…