(3) HK Mosh

The grey light of a drizzly December morning was only just starting to break across Nottingham when Acting Detective Inspector Paul Quinn was accused of murder.

Or maybe it was the Nottinghamshire Police Force in general. The crowd’s chants were angry and loud, belying its small size, and the words ‘Pigs!’ ‘Scum!’ and ‘Filth!’ were interspersed with the word ‘Murderers!’ plural, so probably the police in general.

‘What the bloody hell are we supposed to have done now?’ Detective Constable Knowles, next to Paul, rolled his eyes. Paul hooked his hands underneath his stab vest and shook his head, having no idea. There hadn’t been any recent cell deaths that he was aware of. Jeering crowds were a common response to any major police operation in Radford, but they weren’t usually accused of murder.

Paul and DC Knowles stood in a typical Radford street, grim at the best of times and worse right now. They were watching as four officers from the Territorial Support Group struggled to wrestle Brendan Bailey from a run-down semi towards a prisoner transport van. Two doors up and across the street, four more Territorial Support Group officers were manhandling his brother Kevin, who was shouting and screaming fit to wake the dead, although ‘You fucking fuckers fucking!’ was as coherent as he’d managed up to now.

The Baileys were mid-level enforcers for one of the Radford gangs, who’d taken one corner shop owner late on his protection payments up into the Peak District late at night and smashed his kneecaps with a hammer. How they expected him to pay up when he was in a wheelchair Paul wasn’t sure, but the Baileys were mid-level enforcers for a reason; they were vicious bastards, but they weren’t too bright. They hadn’t realised that Nottinghamshire Police’s Major Crimes Unit had a tracker on their car and a bug inside it. The whole trip had been recorded – including their words as they’d taunted the shop owner, and then his screams as they’d taken the hammer to him.

Vicious bastards though they were, Force Intelligence thought that the Baileys weren’t trusted with guns, so Paul had opted to use the Territorial Support Group as muscle for the arrests. There were eight of them, four for each Bailey, dolled up to party in body armour, flame-proof coveralls and visored helmets, with the long rigid Monadnock riot batons. They’d crunched through the doors of the Baileys’ council houses with battering rams, and then the crowd had spilled out into the street, and the usual invective had started up soon after.

Murdering pigs!’ someone hollered at them.

‘They look pretty alive to me,’ Paul observed. The TSG officers had manoeuvred Brendan Bailey through the front yard of his house, but were struggling to get him through the gap in the low stone wall enclosing it – it didn’t really qualify as a gate. A woman about Brendan’s age wearing a dressing gown and carrying a hairdryer stormed out of the front door, shepherding a girl who looked nine, maybe ten. Paul sighed and rolled his eyes, expecting yet more abuse, but when it came it was directed at Brendan.

‘Go on, piss off, you bastard!’ she shouted at him. Brendan started hurling threats back at her, but his partner didn’t seem too bothered. She grinned, pointed at him, and cooed to her daughter, ‘Wave goodbye to Daddy, Chardonnay!’

Paul felt a momentary spurt of sympathy for poor Chardonnay, who tried to hide behind her mother’s dressing gown instead, but being taunted about his daughter seemed to give Brendan the strength of five men; he suddenly roared and smashed one of the TSG officers holding him against the stone wall and made for Chardonnay. The other one tried to haul him back by his arm as Brendan surged forward, but there were four of them on him in total and before he could go two steps they’d slammed one baton into the back of his knee and another across his shoulders.

Brendan went down, still roaring but hoarsely now. The Sergeant from TSG darted across from where he’d been supervising Kevin Bailey. ‘Arm and a leg each, lads,’ he told his officers, and they lifted Brendan, now on his front, clear off the ground.

‘Too early in the bloody morning for this bollocks,’ Knowles grumbled. Paul grunted acknowledgement, thinking In coffee I trust.

They tried to steer Kevin Bailey into the back of a prisoner transport van, but he braced both his feet against the door seal and pushed himself backwards, landing in a heap on the two TSG officers trying to force him in. They dragged him upright again; the TSG Sergeant appeared, Brendan Bailey now securely in the other van, pulled his riot baton out, and jabbed Kevin in the solar plexus with it. Kevin gasped and started sucking air, and by the time he’d recovered enough to start effing and jeffing again, he was the van and the cell door was shut.

Paul wondered how the crowd would react, but with the excitement over they seemed to be drifting back into their own houses, although he still caught the odd shout of ‘Murderers!’ sent their way.

He stifled a yawn, having been up since five-thirty to finish prepping and resourcing this raid. His stab vest was making his shoulders ache, he’d left his High-Vis jacket in his locker so the rain was soaking through his shirt, and now DC Knowles had started making complaints about the naming of Chardonnay Bailey that he would never have dared say to Brendan Bailey’s face – ‘What’s next? Pinot bloody Grigio?’ By the time he’d set the search teams to work on both Baileys’ houses, he’d half-forgotten the crowd and their unusual chants.

 

Acting Detective Inspector Quinn, please report to Deputy Chief Constable Falconer’s office.’

The voice crackled through the tannoy at Sherwood Lodge Police HQ, grating across Paul’s ears.

DI Quinn to the Deputy Chief Con.’

Paul stretched himself out from behind his desk, raising his arms into a yawn. On top of the early start, it had been his turn to work through the weekend and he was getting to the stage where he wasn’t human without two strong cups of coffee before nine.

‘Been a naughty boy, Quinn?’ asked DI Turner, one of the other two Inspectors with whom he shared his office. Paul breathed in deep before he answered, reminded himself that he’d received the George Medal for bravery. He could deal with an obnoxious, casually racist little shit like Turner.

‘Not that I know of. I’m a bona fide police hero, remember?’

A reminder that Paul had the GM and Turner did not usually shut him up. Indeed, he was already turning green with envy as Paul left their office.

An unscheduled meeting with the Deputy Chief Constable was enough to make Paul nervous, however. The DCC had almost no role in day-to-day operational policing. One of the Assistant Chief Constables looked after the four local policing divisions, the Territorial Support Group, the Firearms Unit and the Roads Policing Unit; the other Assistant Chief had Major Crimes, Public Protection, Counter Terror and Force Intelligence. The Deputy Chief Constable mostly oversaw the civilian admin side of things, surrounded by beancounters and public reactions worms; his busy schedule was not lightly altered.

But one of his biggest jobs was as the Chief Disciplinary Officer, to whom Professional Standards answered. When officers were being given gold stars for good attendance, they saw a Superintendent. When they were being put on the naughty step, it was straight to the Deputy Chief Constable.

‘Inspector Quinn? He’s expecting you,’ the DCC’s secretary said when Paul arrived in his outer office, waving him straight through. Paul was suddenly horribly aware of how he was dressed; a suit jacket over a Wales rugby shirt.

Not what officers wore to meet the Deputy Chief Constable.

The secretary got up to the open the door to the DCC’s inner sanctum, and he rose to greet Paul. Alex Falconer was one of those Chief Officers who actually looked like a Chief Officer; silver hair close-cropped, lean body held ramrod straight, blue dress uniform ironed, pressed and creased until it had surrendered; even the braid on his cap was polished. Paul had last worn his dress blues to receive the GM from his own Chief Con, and he’d never looked as good in them as Falconer did. Falconer’s nickname on the force was Famine – the two Assistant Chief Constables were Plague and War, and Death was the Chief himself.

‘Inspector Quinn, come in and have a seat,’ he said, offering his right hand to shake and gesturing to a chair with his left. Paul noticed someone else sat to the right of his desk, a Superintendent he only vaguely recognised also wearing painfully smart number ones.

His knees started to wobble. He had absolutely no idea what he’d done, but it looked serious.

‘You’re not a Nottinghamshire officer, are you Quinn?’ asked the DCC, after they’d shaken and he’d sat down.

‘Er, no sir. I’m on secondment to the Major Crimes Unit from the North Wales Force Major Incident Team.’

‘Yes I thought you might be Welsh,’ Falconer nodded at Paul’s shirt. Paul closed his eyes, thinking if you’d given me notice, I’d’ve dressed better. ‘So, what exactly are you doing in Nottingham, Inspector?’

‘Acting Inspector, sir. My Chief Inspector back at Colwyn Bay wanted to move me on, but North Wales has no slots for a DI just now, and she thought it would be beneficial to my professional development to spend time with a different police force dealing with different challenges. Organised Crime Groups are not a major strategic threat to North Wales Police, but they are for the Nottinghamshire Police Force. She felt it was something I needed more experience of before I advanced permanently to Detective Inspector.’

‘And what’s your understanding of the extent of organised crime in Nottingham now, Inspector?’

‘Well sir, since 2005 the threat from OCGs in Nottingham has receded somewhat,’ Paul said delicately. He did remember hearing in 2000 that Nottinghamshire Police were ordering all uniformed officers patrolling beats in the St Ann’s and Meadows areas to qualify as Authorised Firearms Officers and wear sidearms on routine patrols, but that was about as much of the story as he knew. ‘I understand that gun crime is still higher than the national average and there are still dangerous Organised Crime Groups based in Nottingham, particular in the northern and central areas of the city.’ Although Nottingham had now passed the title of England’s Shootiest City to Manchester and was also in danger of falling behind London.

‘And which, Inspector, would you say was the most dangerous OCG currently operating in Nottingham?’

Paul didn’t even have to think about that. ‘The Rathbones.’

Falconer and the Superintendent looked at each other. Paul wondered again who he was.

‘DI Quinn, have you met Superintendent Stamford?’ And now Paul knew where he recognised the Super from. Cormack Stamford ran Nottinghamshire’s Professional Standards Directorate, the Dark Side, the Judas Division. The Complaints.

‘No sir. As I’m still technically a North Wales officer, the investigation into my shooting of Alexander Kirk was carried out by North Wales Police. I’ve had no cause to come to the attention of Nottinghamshire PSD.’

‘Excellent,’ said the DCC without any sort of enthusiasm. He nodded at Stamford.

‘Inspector, what I’m about to tell you is classified for reasons of internal security,’ Stamford intoned in a thick Irish accent. ‘It is not to be shared with your colleagues in the Major Crimes Unit, and certainly isn’t to be discussed with officers from other forces.

‘Operation Malachite is an ongoing initiative between the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, the Force Intelligence Units of the five forces contributing to EMSOU, and the Firearms Units of the said five forces,’ Stamford went on. Paul nodded. The East Midlands Special Operations Unit was the current form of the old regional crime squad. It provided the East Midlands forces with capabilities like undercover officers and surveillance specialists that they couldn’t afford on their own. ‘The objective of Operation Malachite is to detect and proactively prevent gangland violence, including murders.

‘Last night EMSOU received intelligence that Andy Callis, a prominent member of the Rathbone family, was going to commit a gangland murder in the Hyson Green area of Nottingham.’ Paul nodded again. He knew who Andy Callis was, of course, a nephew of James Rathbone, the oldest of the two Rathbone brothers. ‘This intelligence was passed onto the Nottinghamshire Force Firearms Unit as a matter of priority. As a result of this intelligence, officers from the Force Firearms Unit were scrambled to carry out a real-time intercept and prevent Callis from carrying out the attack.

‘Two Paladin Units were deployed and at seven fourteen a.m. they sighted a Mazda RX-7 known to be used by Andy Callis leaving the St Ann’s area of Nottingham via the B686. On the orders of the Strategic Firearms Commander they executed a hard stop of this vehicle on the B686 next to King Edward Park. Shots were fired, and Callis was killed.’

A sandbag suddenly swooped towards Paul Quinn’s head like a great black crow.

And he realised what the crowd in Radford had been chanting about.

‘We’re issuing a statement in the next few minutes,’ said Falconer, ‘And we’ve voluntarily referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission as well. Obviously, this incident will have to be investigated by the Professional Standards Directorate, but as you’ll be aware PSD isn’t exactly our largest unit.’ Actually, Paul had no idea how large PSD was; the Complaints were always portrayed by the High Hiedyins as omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, and woe betide any copper who put one toe over the line. They were the rubber-heelers; you never heard them coming.

‘Yes sir,’ he said instead.

‘We will need assistance from other officers in the force,’ Stamford clarified in case Paul hadn’t understood just how he was being set up. ‘You’re not a Nottinghamshire officer, but you’re firearms-trained, and you’ve been decorated for your part in an officer-involved shooting.’

‘Yes, sir,’ Paul agreed hollowly. North Wales had more than its share of Irish paramilitary drug runners, and there was such a high chance of them being armed that firearms always had to be taken on stakeouts. Paul was one of a number of detectives from the Force Major Incident Team to have been given firearms training to take the pressure of providing an armed surveillance capability off the armed response teams.

And he’d rammed home to Nottinghamshire that was only on loan when he’d opted to receive the George Medal that Stamford was referring to from his parent force.

‘Then you’ll be ideal for this investigation,’ Stamford went on. ‘Besides, if your DCI back in Wales wants you to further your professional development, you can’t do better than a stint with Professional Standards. Great box to tick on your CV.’

 

They’ve done bloody what!’ the DCI back in Wales shouted when Paul told her the news. ‘Sweet Jesus Christ on a moped Paul I wanted you to get experience investigating organised crime, not stitching up other coppers!’

‘It’s an order straight from the DCC, Jen, I can’t exactly refuse it,’ Paul said. Jenny Brown was the officer who’d wrangled him the secondment to Nottinghamshire in the first place, sweetening the pill with the Acting DI position. He’d locked himself in the toilet to call her while he tried to get his heart rate down. He felt like he’d just sprinted a mile, hadn’t felt this bad since…

Since the day he’d shot Alexander Kirk to death in Lincoln.

What does Callum say?’ Callum would be Detective Chief Inspector Callum Dale, Paul’s notional CO in the Nottinghamshire Major Crimes Unit.

‘I haven’t told him yet, I assume the DCC will do that for me,’ Paul said. ‘It’s not like Dale can overrule the Deputy Chief though.’

I’ll speak to the Chief here, see if he can’t get you reassigned back to real police work,’ Jenny said. ‘For God’s sake Paul, be careful. Armed Response are the last lot you want after you. Know how many questionable police shootings there’ve been in England and Wales since the firearms policy changed in ’91?’

‘Well… there’s de Menezes, obviously,’ Paul said. ‘Azelle Rodney, Harry Stanley…’

Too bloody many. Know how many Authorised Firearms Officers have gone to prison, or even to trial over them?’

‘I’m guessing not many,’ Paul said.

None that I know of,’ Jenny said. ‘Mate, it’s a hiding to fucking nothing.’

‘The dead guy’s a major player in a Nottingham crime family,’ Paul said. ‘Sounds like it’ll be open and shut.’

I hope for your sake that’s true,’ Jenny said. ‘Tell you what though Paul, if you’ve gone over to the Dark Side, you might want to scrub up a bit, lose the footie strips and get a real shirt on under your jacket. Can’t exactly uphold all their double standards if you’re dressed like a football hooligan due in court.’

 

Paul borrowed a spare shirt and tie from DCI Dale. He straightened the tie as he left Force HQ and walked towards his Golf, having to admit that dressing sharp did feel good. He’d have to do it more often.

He’d quickly skimmed the files of the six officers involved in the PSD office whilst someone dragged in a desk for him to use, his heart sinking all the time. These weren’t just Authorised Firearms Officers, they were Specialist Firearms Officers, the Armed Wing of the Armed Police. These were the ones who crossed-trained with the SAS and shot suspected suicide bombers in the head without warning. As close to Special Forces as the police ever got. They were few and far between; London had seventy, Nottingham fourteen. They were superbly trained and equipped. And now they’d killed a man.

The file on Andy Callis was considerably thicker than that on any of the SFOs, and the intelligence report that had caused the Strategic Firearms Commander to scramble them hadn’t even been added yet. He was twenty-eight, with a three-year stretch for ABH behind him. The Rathbones had fingers in every pie in north Nottingham; drugs, reset, scrap metal theft, prostitution, and of course guns. They owned pubs, bars, car parks, pool halls and scrapyards. Andy Callis was family, the son of James and Matthew’s younger sister. He was one of their top enforcers, behind only James’ son Tommy, with whom he was supposed to be tight. James Rathbone was the biggest gangster left in the city after the breakup of the main gangs in 2005, or at least the biggest the police knew about; he’d taken over the old Badlands in St Ann’s and was trying to expand his operation to Hyson Green. There were a few men in Hyson Green that Paul could think of who’d have a thing or two to say about that. Probably one of them Callis had been going to see when he had a fatal encounter with a police bullet.

He arrived at the scene of the shooting on Carlton Road, half expecting to see Callis’ Mazda riddled with bullets from a massive shootout, but it was entirely intact; two black BMW X5s were parked haphazardly on its offside, unmarked Armed Response Vehicles. A blue Scene Of Crime tent had been put up next to the Mazda’s passenger door, with Callis presumably under it. The forensics unit, Paul noticed with a jolt, seemed to be from Staffordshire.

‘Your DCC called us in to prevent a conflict of interest,’ said the crime scene manager when Paul asked him about it. ‘We’re close enough to get here quickly, but we’re not a neighbouring force so we don’t have close ties to any of your officers.’ It made sense, Paul had to admit, although if the DCC had wanted to avoid a conflict of interest he could have called the Derbyshire Constabulary. The rivalry between the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire forces made that between North Wales and Cheshire look like two six year olds squabbling over football cards.

‘Wise of him. What do you know so far?’

The CSM explained their findings. And, for the first time, Paul started to feel uneasy.

Each officer had been equipped with an MP5A3, the single-fire variant, and a Walther P-99 pistol. The only gun that showed signs of having been discharged was the P-99 carried by Sergeant Jack Morton. Unusual that Morton should choose to engage Callis with the pistol, not his more accurate MP5.

But the headline news was that no firearm had been found anywhere near Andy Callis.

Paul ordered a fingertip search of the crime scene for fifty yards in every direction. The Crime Scene Manager scowled at him even though he had to have known that this was coming. Paul went back to his Golf and frowned at the second ARV, Morton’s car.

 

Next up, the footage from the dashboard cameras on the X5s. The lead car was call-signed Paladin Zero-Alfa – all Armed Response Vehicles were known as Paladin units in Nottinghamshire Police jargon so that everyone else could identify them easily over the radio. Zero-Alfa had loitered in a side street in St Ann’s waiting for Andy Callis’ Mazda to drive past before setting off in pursuit, initially covertly. It was seven fourteen on a Tuesday morning in December. Last night’s rain twinkled bright orange under the streetlights, there was no sign of dawn just yet. Nottingham was quiet but getting busier.

Following the suspect onto Carlton Road.’ That was the driver, PC Clarke. A few moments later, the Tactical Firearms Commander leading the operation, Inspector Templer, came up on the radio.

Charlie-Mike from India-Juliet 6-0, Callis is southbound on Carlton Road. Traffic’s starting to build, what’s our order, over?’ Charlie-Mike was the callsign for the Force Control Room.

Paul watched Callis, his car twenty yards ahead driving through the sodium-orange pools of light and dirty puddles of water. Seconds away from death. Paul didn’t really feel anything. He’d seen videos of a person’s last moments on Earth before and usually they tugged, hard, at his heartstrings. But he knew too much about Andy Callis for that, too much to feel a great deal of sympathy for him.

The radio crackled with the voice of the Strategic Firearms Commander, who led the Firearms Unit and had Gold command responsibility for this operation.

India-Juliet 6-0 this is Charlie-Mike actual, Jericho, over.’

And there it was. The Nottinghamshire Police code for unlock guns and fire up the roof. North Wales used ‘Brimstone.’

Go, go, go! Tommy unlock the Fives, get ready to deploy as soon as we stop!’ Templer shouted. Paul saw the speed increase, blue flashes reflecting off the windscreen, heard the siren screaming. A line of parked cars appeared ahead next to King Edward Park and Templer started shouting again. ‘Here, Clarke! Hard stop, hard stop!’

The X5 swerved right into the oncoming traffic lane and for a moment drag-raced the Mazda, until the parked cars reared up ahead. Brakes squealed, the X5 juddering to a halt. Doors slammed.

Armed police! Put your hands where we can see them! Don’t move, don’t –

Two gun shots cut the speaker off. Paul watched on for a few seconds, someone shouted that they were applying first aid and Templer reported the shooting to control.

Next, the video from the other Armed Response Vehicle. Almost identical to the first, only this time Paul could see Templer’s X5 racing off after Callis’ Beamer and when PC Clarke overtook it to force the hard stop PC Fox, the driver of the second ARV, swung right to go bumper to bumper and block off Callis’ retreat. The result was that the dashboard camera was facing the wrong way to catch the shooting.

The camera’s audio didn’t seem to have been functioning, so there was no record of any conversation inside the second ARV. Paul made a mental note to check the vehicle’s maintenance log, see if any problems with the camera’s audio feed had been noticed.

He took a moment to look around the PSD office. His intake at Bruche Police Training College had had the fear of God put into them about the Complaints; put one toe out of line, one pair of handcuffs too tight, one patrol car one inch over the line of the parking bay and the Complaints would swoop in with the righteous certainty of avenging angels on the Rubber Heels of Justice, vaporise your warrant card on the spot and personally escort you to the Ninth Circle of Hell. He’d been terrified onto the straight and narrow on the spot; so had most of the rest of his intake.

Anyone who’d dared to test them had probably found that the avenging angels were more like paper tigers. Nottinghamshire’s rubber heelers were sixteen strong counting Superintendent Stamford-like-the-stadium. Half of them were over the hill and over fifty, oozing their way to thirty years’ service, maximum pensions and cosy retirement in the elephant graveyard of police careers. The other half were unspeakably young, dressed to meet the Queen and spending most of their time discussing how long until they could sit their next examination for promotion.

Catch a cold? This lot couldn’t detect their way out of a wet paper bag.

 

Callis’ driver, Stephen ‘Ste,’ Pearce, had been handed over to MCU, who didn’t seem to have any desire to share him. Tuesday turned to Wednesday, and Paul’s request to speak to him seemed to be at the bottom of their list. He was being questioned by MCU1 – Paul’s team was MCU3, and although DCI Dale had promised to try and stick a rocket up the DCI from MCU1, he wasn’t hopeful. No unit went out of its way to help the Complaints.

He visited the morgue that morning, standing at Stamford’s shoulder whilst the pathologist shook his head and muttered about how they couldn’t rush him, not if they wanted accurate results.

‘Look, we’re not interested in which drugs he was on or whether he was a secret homosexual,’ Stamford snapped. ‘Just tell us about the bullet wounds.’

‘I observed two wounds, which I believe were caused by full-jacket 9 by 19 millimetre Parabellum rounds,’ the pathologist said. ‘One entered the decedent’s head just above the left temple, the other three inches above it in the centre of the cerebrum. Death would have been almost instant. I doubt he ever knew anything about it.’

‘I’m sorry, did you say the impacts were on the left side of the decedent’s head?’ Paul asked.

‘That’s where his temple and cerebrum are located, Inspector,’ the pathologist said.

Head shots?’

The pathologist sighed in annoyance.

Outside, Paul got in front of Superintendent Stamford and looked him straight in the eye.

‘Head shots?’

‘I heard it too, Inspector.’

‘When policy is to aim for the centre mass?’

‘The written statements from the Specialist Firearms Officers are due in today,’ Stamford said. ‘We’ll compare them to the eyewitness statements our officers have taken from the bystanders and the crime scene report, and if there are any inconsistencies we will tease them out. Thoroughly, slowly, and by the book.’

‘Yes sir,’ Paul agreed, thinking again of Stamford’s elite team of internal investigators.

‘It does seem… odd, that an experienced firearms officer like Sergeant Morton would choose to aim for the head, I’ll grant,’ Stamford said. ‘There are occasions where that’s policy though.’

‘Under Kratos protocols, sir, to deal with suicide bombers, I’m aware,’ Paul said. ‘I wasn’t aware that the Strategic Firearms Commander had decided that Kratos protocols applied to this operation though, sir. And I’m not sure what reason Morton would have had for believing that Callis was wearing a suicide vest to escalate to Kratos protocols.’

‘We’ll know when we ask him,’ said Stamford. He marched off through the hospital corridors, fixing his peaked cap to his head as he did so.

Paul wasn’t riding with the Superintendent and didn’t go after him straightaway. Instead he stood outside the morgue doors and thought.

He wasn’t cool with investigating his own, not by a long shot, and especially after Lincoln he knew how tough the Armed Response Unit’s job was. If anyone had asked him, he’d have said that the AFOs and SFOs had the toughest job in the police and he had nothing but respect for them, and maybe the public should just lay the fuck off them. After all, who was going to come and save them when the Mumbai attacks came to Britain?

But things weren’t right here. It was a puzzle and the pieces were out of place. Morton had used his sidearm instead of his more accurate carbine, and had aimed for the head, not the chest. Callis’ gun, if he’d had one, hadn’t been found. There was no audio from the dashboard camera in Morton’s vehicle. Despite himself, Paul could feel it sucking him in, the desire to set the pieces right and complete the jigsaw, even though he didn’t know the picture and suspected he wouldn’t like it.

 

The written statements from Templer’s team were delivered by their Police Federation representatives that morning, given twenty four hours after the event as was procedure. Paul went back to supervise the crime scene. Reduced daylight had delayed his fingertip search, Staffordshire weren’t exactly pulling out all the stops to speed things up and hadn’t sent arc lights for the previous night, but by lunchtime, one of their Scene Of Crime Officers had found a gun.

‘It’s a Browning Hi-Power,’ Paul said, after he’d shown off his own firearms training and made it safe; ejected the magazine and the round in the chamber, and put the safety on just to make extra sure. ‘Standard Army issue, probably been stolen from a barracks.’ He inspected the chamber and handle. ‘Serial number’s filed down but if you can raise it we might be able to trace it back to which barracks.’

‘We’ll give it a go, mate,’ said the SOCO holding the evidence bag.

‘Now,’ said Paul. ‘A better question is this. What the hell’s it doing here?’

The gun was several yards inside King Edward Park, which put it several yards away from Andy Callis’ body.

Twenty-three feet to be precise, once CSI Staffordshire had measured it.

 

Paul wanted eyewitnesses. Unfortunately, finding such rare and mysterious creatures was not a particular strength of the Complaints.

He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when Constable Townsend tried to approach a couple of primary-school-aged kids hanging around on rusty-looking BMX bikes by the shops up the road. PC Townsend (Complaints officers didn’t get to call themselves ‘Detectives,’) looked like a police officer trying not to look like a police officer, and the kids were off up the road like a streak of lighting in Notts County shirts the second they saw him approach.

‘Absolutely bloody useless,’ PC Conspicuous spat after the kids had shaken him off. ‘Little twats should be in school anyway.’

‘Leave it with me,’ Paul said, already mentally dusting off his Chester City shirt. He’d seen those particular children hanging around the scene during the day a few times. The incident had happened so early in the day that most potential witnesses had been asleep, so the Complaints’ canvas up and down Carlton Road hadn’t achieved much. But Paul wondered about the two kids; awakened by the sirens and engines maybe. Seeing the shooting. Maybe.

One thing was certain; he wasn’t flavour of the month with Staffordshire’s grumpiest Crime Scene Manager.

‘No, Inspector, I had no idea you were a secret Taff,’ he huffed when Paul revealed his home force. ‘Please tell me how that will help me do my job?’

‘Call the North Wales Crime Scene Investigation Unit, ask for Assistant Director Owens,’ Paul said calmly. ‘Ask him to explain how to do the photo thing.’

‘The photo thing?’

‘That’s correct,’ Paul said, not sure of the technical term that the CSI Unit used. Crime scene photography was North Wales’ speciality. In fact, they were so good at it that their lab could recreate a crime scene, fully manipulable and in 3D. The more questions Paul had about the death of Andy Callis, the more he thought he needed to see the crime scene from every available angle.

 

His conversion to the Dark Side had earned Paul no friends in the canteen at Sherwood Lodge; everyone was sitting at least ten feet away from him when he went to grab a brew and a Danish that afternoon.

He used the time to read through the written statements from all six Specialist Firearms Officers involved in the operation – they came with the callsigns that they’d used during it attached, because that’s how they’d be referred to in any interviews. The statements from Inspector Templer (India-Juliet 6-0) and PCs Clarke and Watson (IJ 6-4 and 6-5) in her car weren’t especially interesting or relevant; they’d engaged Pearce, not Callis, and had subdued him without firing a shot, a model hard stop. The statements from Sergeant Jack Morton (IJ 6-1) and PCs Fox and Cafferty (IJ 6-2 and 6-3) were on the whole rather different. They were both interesting and very relevant.

‘Do you want a sign saying “Beware, toxic waste?”’

Paul looked up, recognised Charlie Dennis, who along with himself and Adam Turner made up MCU3’s three Detective Inspectors. ‘Sure you want to join me, Charlie? I might infect you with my newfound self-righteousness.’

‘Hell, you didn’t ask to be transferred to the Judas Division,’ Dennis said, pulling up a chair next to Paul. ‘You are coming back to do some real police work though, right?’

‘That’s the plan,’ Paul agreed. ‘How are things going with Pearce?’

‘He’s not saying anything according to the gossip from MCU1,’ Dennis inclined his head. ‘They found a reactivated starter pistol in his gaff as well as some crack and they’ve pulled his calls and text history from his mobile service provider. Hopefully he’ll have texted James Rathbone, something like “The highly illegal drugs you asked for have arrived and I shall now deal them on your behalf and share the profits with you, as you have instructed.”’

‘Here’s hoping,’ Paul smiled. Yes, if only the villains were really stupid.

‘Saw this, thought you might like it,’ Dennis smiled back, passing Paul a cartoon clipped out of the force’s monthly newsletter. Paul laughed – it showed a Chief Inspector shouting I’ve had just about enough of your take no prisoners attitude! at a junior rank.

‘Paul, just so’s you know, you might want to watch your footing,’ Dennis said, suddenly serious. Paul snapped back to reality, shifted in his seat to face Dennis.  ‘Word on the street is, James Rathbone’s boy, Tommy, is hopping bloody mad about Callis, talking up some nuclear-level payback.’

‘Like what?’

‘Starting a riot, maybe taking out a cop as revenge,’ Dennis said. ‘And the Rathbones have people on the inside as well. Watch your back.’

 

Paul was almost ready to start some rounds of interviews with the SFOs. But first, there was one more piece of the puzzle he was looking for. He’d been surprised to learn that he enjoyed dressing snappily, the two suits he’d bought from George at Asda looked good on him, but they were also not really going to work for this next job. It was back to the sports kits, in this case a Chester City strip. Nice and neutral for this part of the UK.

The two kids were back hanging outside the shops the next morning. Paul judged them to be nine or ten, young enough to be on the radars of some of the gangs who’d start to use them as runners or drugs mules before too long, on the grounds that the police were less likely to stop and search a child. They’d be seduced by the glamour and the shows of power, the fast cars and occasional glimpse of a gun, the promise of girls. The ones who showed the right kind of violent streak might even get to join one properly.

‘Think they’ll talk to you?’ PC Townsend scoffed at Paul when he announced his intentions. ‘They’re allergic to cops, those runts.’

‘Watch me,’ Paul said. A black man in a football shirt and jeans; instant anti-histamine. To be on the safe side though, he hopped the fence into King Edward Park and backtracked a hundred yards or so, so that he wasn’t approaching from the crime scene tape. He crossed the road and walked slowly down towards the kids, keeping his hands in his pockets and looking as casual as possible. The kids mounted their bikes but didn’t push off; instead they regarded him curiously, like a pair of cats deciding whether he was worth running from.

‘All right, lads,’ he said once he was close enough. One of them starting edging away, but the other, apparently braver, seemed to see him as a challenge and straightened up.

‘Aren’t you a copper?’

‘So they tell me,’ Paul agreed.

‘We don’t talk to coppers,’ the braver one said. Paul laughed and slouched against the shops, chipped and worn red brick terraces that looked like they’d been there since the dawn of time. It put some distance between him and the kids, but he was fairly sure he could grab at least one of them if they tried to run.

‘Then we’ve got something in common then, they don’t usually talk to me much,’ he said.

‘Cause you’re a… cause you’re black,’ the talker said. Paul decided that it was a good sign he’d decided not to use any kind of racial epithet.

‘Something like that,’ he agreed.

‘Come on Darryl, let’s get out of here,’ the other one said. Darryl looked at his friend but didn’t move.

‘I’ve seen you two around here a fair bit,’ Paul said. ‘You keep coming back to have a good old look.’

‘So fucking what? It’s a free country, isn’t it?’ spat Darryl.

‘It is, but give us a chance,’ Paul smiled disarmingly. ‘You know what happened here, right?’

‘Pigs shot someone,’ Darryl said.

‘Yep. See, you two keep coming back here,’ Paul said. ‘I’ve got to wonder why. And what I’m thinking is, you maybe saw what happened here Tuesday morning.’

‘Darryl…’

‘We don’t talk to fucking pigs!’ Darryl said, and he spat on the ground in Paul’s direction. Paul didn’t move.

‘Yeah, but come on, guys,’ he said. ‘This time it is the pigs who shot someone. Telling me what happened, that’s hardly grassing, is it? At worst, you’re grassing up the filth.’

‘Why the fuck should I?’ said Darryl.

‘Did you see what happened?’ Paul asked. Darryl suddenly bit his lip and looked the floor, looking every bit his age. Paul wondered again how old he was. Certainly not a day older than ten, a lot tougher on the outside than on the inside.

‘Tyler’s mum chucked him out, said he was doing her head in,’ he said. Paul judged from the moan that Tyler was the other boy. ‘He called me up and we met here.’

‘So you saw it?’

‘What do I get if I tell you? What’s it worth to me?’ Darryl asked, leaning forwards belligerently. Paul took his hands out of his pockets and shrugged.

‘Besides the satisfaction of knowing that you assisted the police with their inquiries? I don’t drag you back to school,’ Paul said.

They made to mount up but Paul was faster, grabbing Darryl by the wrist before he could kick off. Tyler pulled his bike to a stop again, hovering uncertainly.

‘Your call, Darryl.’

 

Paul returned to the crime scene doing his best not to grin like a Cheshire Cat at Townsend. The kid was young and might learn yet.

A man was hanging around the blue and white tape. He was in his late twenties and wore a few rings on his fingers and an expensive-looking gold chain around his neck, although over it he was wearing an office shirt and some casual jeans. Tommy Rathbone, playing the part of the local businessman and entrepreneur. He diverted to intercept Paul before he could cross the tape.

‘Police harassing children now, Inspector Quinn?’ he said. Paul tried to catch the eye of the on-duty uniform but he was pointedly looking away.

‘Police looking for witnesses, Mr Rathbone,’ he said pleasantly, keeping the creeping sensation of fear in his stomach down to a few butterflies with considerable effort. ‘I don’t suppose there’s any point asking how you know my name?’

‘You’re out of your depth here, Taff,’ said Rathbone. ‘You’re a country boy, and this is my town. You should remember that.’

‘I’ll remember it,’ said Paul, locking eyes with Rathbone. ‘Now can I suggest that you, Tommy, with the greatest of respect, get to fuck.’ He pushed forwards past Rathbone.

‘It’s a question of blood, Inspector!’ Rathbone shouted. ‘Remember that too!’

 

He did what he was supposed to do in the event of a credible threat to his personal safety, and reported it to his Commanding Officer.

Unfortunately, that was now Superintendent Stamford-like-the-Stadium.

He didn’t even stay in his office when Paul had finished relating what Tommy Rathbone had said – he’d made it clear that he had a meeting to go to when Paul walked in, and he was not to be delayed by a trivial little thing like a major gangland enforcer issuing thinly-veiled threats to one of his officers. Paul found himself struggling to keep up with the Superintendent as he powered down the stairs, pronouncing that he hardly thought it likely that the Rathbone brothers would sanction an attack on an anti-corruption detective.

‘My concern, sir, is if our enquiries produce an answer that the Rathbones don’t like,’ Paul said. ‘Major Crimes have some concerns about the temperature on the Nottingham estates, there was an ugly crowd out in Radford on Tuesday not much more than an hour –’

Stamford came to a juddering halt with a thunderous frown, on the landing outside the second floor corridor. ‘You’ve been speaking to Major Crimes?’

It took Paul a moment to realise why Stamford was reacting poorly to this. ‘Socially, sir, yes. I haven’t discussed either the Callis shooting or Operation Malachite with any Major Crimes officer.’

‘Quinn, until we hear otherwise, you’re Professional Standards. We don’t socialise with officers we may end up investigating.’

Paul, if he was honest, could see the sense in that policy. But Stamford’s response had irked him, the focus on a social chat with another officer rather than Tommy Rathbone, and he couldn’t help but pick at it. ‘I’m sorry sir, I hadn’t realised that our investigation would widen to include Major Crimes Unit. Are we now postulating that Major Crimes detectives were covertly present at the Callis shooting? Is there reason to suspect involvement by Major Crimes detectives that I should be aware of?’

Keep your fucking voice down!’ Stamford snarled in a harsh whisper, baring his teeth. Paul had, quite deliberately, spoken rather loudly. A few people had stopped to stare. ‘Not at this time,’ Stamford said, trying for a more reasonable tone. ‘But it’s the appearance of impropriety, Quinn. PSD must be above suspicion, and must be seen to be above suspicion.’

‘Yes, sir,’ Paul agreed. Stamford made to move off again. ‘And Tommy Rathbone, sir?’

Stamford opened his mouth to reply, but a familiar, very welcome voice cut across him. ‘What’s this about Tommy Rathbone?’

Detective Chief Inspector Callum Dale, his rasping speech a mixture of Scouse and twenty fags a day, skin crawling with bright red capillaries that looked like they might burst at any moment. Suddenly appearing in the corridor next to Superintendent Stamford as if by teleportation, although it wasn’t a great shock. MCU were based on the second floor.

‘Internal Professional Standards matter, Chief Inspector,’ Stamford said curtly.

‘Very good sir, although as organised crime is a matter for Major Crimes and not Professional Standards, I’d appreciate it if you could forward any intelligence or information you’ve received about Tommy’s activities to us. His reaction to his cousin’s death is an ongoing concern for us,’ Dale smiled blandly.

Paul saw the opening and dived for it. ‘Permission to share my information about Tommy Rathbone’s activities with Major Crimes Unit 3, sir?’ he asked Stamford. Stamford scowled, backed into a corner and knowing it.

‘Very well, carry on Inspector,’ he ground out. He stalked off down the stairs to his meeting, tucking his cap under his arm as he went.

‘Wanker,’ DCI Dale murmured after he’d done. ‘What’s the word on Tommy Rathbone then, Paul?’

Paul suggested Dale’s office. Dale led him through the main MCU3 incident room, where Andy Callis’ death was not exactly being mourned – someone had pinned up a publicity shot of the Firearms Unit posing with their MP5s aimed, and scrawled What’s that coming over the hill, is it a Mazda, is it a Mazda underneath it. Dale got his secretary to bring them a cup of tea, and asked Paul what he’d learnt about Tommy Rathbone. The DCI listened attentively, and when Paul had finished, he steepled his fingers and nodded. ‘We’ll have a chat with a few of our contacts, see if we can’t get the message across to Tommy that attacking a cop’s a very bad idea,’ he said. ‘How are you finding the Complaints?’

The knowing way he said it had Paul pausing over his answer. Dale didn’t give him chance to think of anything to say before he ploughed on anyway. Telling Paul about the DS and four DCs he’d had under his command when he’d been made DI for Nottingham Central in 2000, whom everyone knew were taking bribes – the DS and four DCs that he’d reported to Superintendent Stamford, only for the Complaints to piss about for two and a half years finding reasons to fudge and delay.

Telling him about the meeting he’d attended at a Travel Lodge in Worcestershire in 2002 – him, the Chief Constable, the Assistant Chief Constable (Crime), one of the Detective Supers from MCU, and about twenty other officers. A new squad, the Chief said, to go after the biggest gang in Nottingham and bring them down. Only the most trusted officers on the force. Dale, looking around, realising that the ‘Most trusted officers on the force,’ apparently didn’t include the Deputy Chief Constable, any of the division commanders, or the CO of the Major Crimes Unit. Of the 2,000 men and women under his command, the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire was sure he could trust fewer than 25.

‘Know how many bent coppers from back then went to prison? Or got the sack?’

‘I know there were a few bent coppers convicted after the biggest gang got broken up…’

‘You can count them on the fingers of one hand. Beat cops, no detectives, nobody who’d ever made rank,’ Dale spat. ‘We know how much that gang was spending on bribes, we know how much the cops that got jailed were taking, there was a big discrepancy. We know that the blokes they jailed for corruption couldn’t have passed on some of the things that were leaking. As far as I know, Stamford never really looked into it.

‘As far as I know, no one really wanted him to.’

‘So… what are you saying?’

‘That DS, and one of the DCs, they’re retired now, full pensions of course. The other three bent bastards are still serving. One of them’s still Nottingham CID,’ Dale said. ‘What I’m saying is, they might make a lot of sound and fury, but the Complaints are completely fucking useless for catching anything other than paperclip thieves, and I think that’s how the brass likes them.’

Paul thought again of PC Townsend. He might not have been able to catch a murderer if one threw himself into his car pre-cuffed, clutching a full confession signed in blood. But Paul could picture him presenting Spreadsheets to the brass explaining why everyone else’s detection rates were crap and he should be promoted to make sure that they improved. ‘Maybe they’ve asked for me so that they’ve got actually got a good detective this time?’

‘That’s it, positive spin,’ Dale said with a wan smile. ‘When are we getting you back?’

‘Interviews with the officers involved start in…’ Paul checked his watch, ‘Thirty minutes. I’m hoping that once we get past those, Stamford might cut me loose.’

‘He already looks like he’s getting over you,’ Dale observed with a grin. ‘I’ll try and have a word with the Deputy Chief Constable, make sure he knows that you’re only pissing about in PSD temporarily. You’d better get going though. I hear someone nabbed some paper out of the office photocopier. Sounds like a job for the Complaints…’

Paul stuck two fingers up before he left.

 

‘Professional Standards Directorate interview with Specialist Firearms Officer India-Juliet 6-2, conducted Thursday 11th December at twelve oh-four, present DI Quinn and PC Townsend, India-Juliet 6-2, and 6-2’s Police Federation representative, PC Jane Bradley.’ Paul enunciated the formalities into the tape recorder.

The PSD interview room was very different from the dark, claustrophobic environments he was used to; it was more like a conference room, light and airy, white walls and a plush carpet, even the chairs were comfortable. PC Fox, aka Specialist Firearms Officer India-Juliet 6-2, was still fidgeting nervously, tugging at the collar of his dress uniform shirt. There was a line of sweat around his forehead where he’d taken his peaked cap off. Paul was oddly relieved that the Complaints made the rank and file uncomfortable. If they only knew…

Fox confirmed that he’d been driving Paladin Zero-Bravo, the second Armed Response Vehicle, that it was a BMW X5, which was Nottinghamshire’s standard unmarked ARV, and that they’d waited on Hooton Street for Callis to appear.

‘What time did you sight the suspect?’ Paul asked.

‘Zero-Alfa sighted the vehicle, sir. They began to tail him and India-Juliet 6-0, acting as Bronze Commander in Zero-Alfa, ordered us to follow,’ Fox said. ‘6-0 confirmed our orders with the Strategic Firearms Commander, and the Jericho order was issued.’

Paul explained for the tape that Zero-Alfa was the other Armed Response Vehicle, and that India-Juliet 6-0 referred to an Inspector who was the Tactical Firearms Commander with Bronze Command responsibilities on the op. He could not, of course, name any of the officers on the tape in case it was released into the public domain.

‘I engaged the blue flashing lights and two-tone warning siren on the vehicle,’ Fox continued. ‘6-0 ordered us to execute a hard stop manoeuvre.’

‘India-Juliet 6-2 has already explained all this to PSD in his written statement,’ PC Bradley added. Fox was wearing his dress uniform; regulations prevented Bradley from wearing hers whilst she was on Police Federation business, and so she was wearing a conservative dark blue blouse that looked a lot like a dress uniform. Paul wondered whether or not that was a conscious decision on her part.

Fox agreed that the Zero-Bravo vehicle commander was a Sergeant using the callsign India-Juliet 6-1. Paul nodded.

‘Ok 6-2, see, there’s something that I feel the need to clarify here. At what point did 6-1 give the order for the gun cabinet to be unlocked?’

‘Sir?’

‘Armed Response Vehicles are fitted with a locked gun safe containing the Heckler and Koch MP5A3s for each officer, as well as the Walther P-99s at the discretion of the Strategic Firearms Commander,’ Paul said. ‘I understand that because of the nature of the operation the SFC had given permission for sidearms to be worn in the vehicle, what I’m interested in, 6-2, is when 6-1 gave the order to deploy MP5.’ Fox looked at Bradley, who nodded to him.

‘Shortly after I engaged the emergency lights and siren, 6-1 ordered MP5 to be deployed.’

‘Is that normal?’

‘Sir?’

‘How does this fall under the Regulation Fifteen notice India-Juliet 6-2 has been supplied with, Inspector?’ asked PC Bradley.

‘I’ll get to that, Constable. 6-2, is it normal for the vehicle commander to deploy MP5 whilst the vehicle is still in motion?’

‘The decision when to deploy MP5 is delegated to the vehicle commander by the Jericho order, sir,’ Fox said. Paul said nothing, just sat back and raised his eyebrows. ‘But normally the vehicle would be stopped before the gun cabinet is unlocked.’

‘Yes, the third crewmember hands out the MP5s to the other two officers after the vehicle is stopped so that their operation of the vehicle is not impeded,’ Paul said. ‘Why did 6-1 order MP5 to be deployed with the vehicle still in motion?’

‘He did not explain his order, sir, and I did not ask for clarification,’ Fox said.

‘Would it surprise you to learn that 6-0 did not order her crew to deploy MP5 until after the hard stop had been executed?’

‘I can’t comment on 6-0’s orders sir, I wasn’t in her vehicle.’

‘You’re an experienced firearms officer, 6-2,’ Paul said. ‘Why, in your opinion, would 6-1 order MP5 to be deployed early when 6-0 did not?’

‘I would not care to speculate, sir.’ Fox said, staring straight ahead at a space somewhere over Paul’s head. Paul recognised the look. He’d used it himself when getting a roasting from senior officers.

‘Indulge me,’ he said.

‘Inspector, it’s inappropriate for you to ask 6-2 to comment on orders issued by a superior officer that he did not himself witness. Don’t answer that,’ PC Bradley said to Fox. Paul ignored her and watched Fox instead. The silence quickly became too much for him.

‘I would not care to speculate. Sir.’

 

Paul grabbed a quick coffee in the PSD office in the break between interviews. The TV on the wall was showing BBC News 24, which was unusual in itself; normally it was tuned to Sky Sports.

‘Unconfirmed reports suggest that Andrew Callis, the man shot by police in Nottingham on Tuesday, may have been unarmed,’ the anchor was saying.

‘Fuck’s sake,’ Paul murmured, screwing his eyes shut. When he opened them, a reporter was interviewing Tommy Rathbone, or ‘Cousin of the victim and local businessman Thomas Rathbone,’ as he was introduced. The scene of the shooting was still sealed off, but apparently a shrine to Callis had been erected anyway – Tommy stood in front of a pile of floral tributes, even a couple of teddy bears. Paul had seen this before. A very similar shrine had appeared on a street in Lincoln eighteen months ago, after he’d killed Alexander Kirk.

‘The police have executed, brutally executed, my cousin,’ he said. ‘An unarmed man who wasn’t accused of any crime. We’ll fight tooth and nail to get justice for Andy. Whatever it takes!’

‘Well, it’s all going to fucking kick off now,’ said PC Townsend with indecent relish.

 

‘PSD interview with Specialist Firearms Officer India-Juliet 6-3, conducted Thursday 11th December at one forty-nine p.m. Present DI Quinn, PC Townsend, India-Juliet 6-3, and 6-3’s Police Federation representative, PC Simon Tolliver.’

India-Juliet 6-3: PC Maurice G Cafferty, ex-RAF, nine years in the police, two as an SFO. Paul walked him through the initial stages of the operation, from the sighting of Callis’ vehicle to the start of the pursuit.

Cafferty maintained that the MP5s were deployed soon after the Jericho order was received.

‘Did that strike you as odd, 6-3? Procedure is not to deploy MP5 until after the vehicle has stopped.’

‘We were executing a hard stop manoeuvre against a suspect with a history of violence whom Intelligence believed to be armed, sir,’ Cafferty said. ‘It made sense to me to have the MP5s deployed in advance of the stop, in case the suspect resisted arrest.’

‘You were already equipped with your Walther P-99s,’ Paul said.

‘I’m sorry sir, was that a question?’

‘Just an observation, Constable,’ Paul said. ‘So, you believe that 6-1 ordered MP5 to be deployed early so that you were prepared in case you encountered resistance from the suspect?’ Cafferty blinked, suddenly aware that he’d been trapped. There was a quick whispered conversation with Tolliver, the Fed rep.

‘In my opinion sir, his decision made sense for that reason. I would not care to formally speculate on the reasons behind 6-1’s decision.’

Paul allowed that, more interested in when Cafferty had handed out the MP5s – as soon as he was ordered to, Cafferty said. So Morton had his MP5 with him as the vehicle stopped.

‘And yet,’ Paul frowned, ‘6-1 didn’t engage the suspect with his MP5, did he? He used his P-99. Why was that, do you think?’

‘You would have to ask 6-1, sir,’ Cafferty said.

‘I intend to, 6-3,’ Paul said. ‘Could I direct your attention to the screen, please?’ The PSD interview room had a plasma screen on the wall overlooking a table. Paul switched it on, and the display on a laptop computer in front of PC Townsend appeared on it. ‘For the tape, the screen is now showing image KCV-23. This is a diagram of the positions of the vehicles after the hard stop was executed on Carlton Road. Your vehicle, Zero-Bravo, is parked diagonally across the rear of the suspect vehicle with the nearside, passenger side doors towards the pavement, correct?’

‘Agreed, sir,’ Cafferty said. Paul nodded to Townsend, who tapped his laptop. Two dark blue crosses appeared next to the nearside doors of Zero-Bravo, marked IJ-61 and IJ-63.

‘Do we agree, Constable, that these crosses are an accurate indication of the position of yourself and 6-1 when the shots were fired?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘You were by the rear nearside door, and 6-1 was by the passenger door?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Ok, PC Townsend?’ Another cross, this one dark red, appeared next to the outline of the Mazda, on the pavement, next to its own passenger door. ‘Do we agree, 6-3, that that’s more or less Callis’ position at the time the shots were fired?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Ok then. PC Townsend?’ Townsend tapped his keys again. The diagram dissolved, and was replaced by a panorama of Carlton Road. Paul looked at it. The North Wales Crime Scene Investigation Unit had done a wonderful job; the six SFOs were represented by computer-generated blue figures, Callis and Pearce by red ones. Apart from the fact that it was daylight, not night time, the photo fit showed Carlton Road as it had been just before Sergeant Morton opened fire. ‘We’re now showing you image KCV-24, a 3D rendering of the crime scene. See, thing is, 6-3, there’s something that’s bothering me,’ Paul said. ‘PC Townsend, show the view from 6-1’s position.’

Townsend manipulated the image so that it rested just about where Sergeant Morton’s eye line would have been. The red CG figure that represented Andy Callis was half-obscured by the body of his Mazda.

‘Now, show us the view from 6-3’s position,’ Paul said. The image lifted and rotated a little. ‘6-3, do you agree that this more or less your view at the time the shots were fired?’ Cafferty looked at his Fed rep, who nodded.

‘More or less sir, yes.’

‘Ok then 6-3, then perhaps you can explain why it was 6-1 who fired and not yourself when, from what I can tell, you’ve got a better shot,’ Paul said.

Cafferty swallowed and looked at his Fed rep. He suddenly started clicking the plastic ID card in his station lanyard in and out of its holder. ‘I… I…’

‘I’m afraid PC Tolliver can’t help you here 6-3, it’s a valid question under the Regulation Fifteen notice and I need it answered,’ Paul snapped.

‘I may have… been impeded leaving the vehicle, sir,’ Cafferty eventually said. That, Paul believed.

‘Were you impeded because you were deploying MP5 as the vehicle stopped, Constable?’

‘MP5 was deployed during the pursuit on Carlton Road, sir,’ Cafferty insisted.

‘Then how were you impeded?’ Paul demanded. Cafferty didn’t answer straight away, and Paul leaned in. ‘How exactly were you impeded leaving the vehicle, Constable?’

‘I may have tripped on the door sill as I exited the vehicle sir. This impeded my leaving the vehicle and meant that I was not able to open fire with 6-1. Sir.’

‘You may have tripped, Constable? How many times have you left an ARV in a hurry without tripping?’ Paul said, unable to keep a scoff from his voice.

‘It can happen, sir,’ Cafferty said, putting a scornful stress on the ‘sir.’

‘Conveniently the one time your team leader decides to discharge his sidearm,’ Paul said. ‘So –’

‘There’s nothing convenient about this, Inspector, so please watch your language,’ said PC Tolliver.

‘Noted. So, 6-3, you wouldn’t have been able to see if Callis had a gun or not, would you? If you were impeded?’

Like Fox before him, Cafferty stared at a space just over Paul’s head.

‘I observed the suspect with a firearm before I left the vehicle, sir.’ he said. ‘I wasn’t however, able to assist 6-1 with his engagement because I was impeded.’

‘Because you tripped.’

‘Yes. Sir.’

 

Paul didn’t go back to the PSD office straightaway, instead he darted off to the toilets to call Jenny back in Colwyn Bay.

‘You’ve got to promise not to shout at me…’

What’ve you done?’ Jenny asked. ‘Is this about the shooting investigation?’

‘I know you told me to be careful, but… Jen, there’s something not right about it. Too many things don’t stack up,’ Paul said. ‘I can’t not follow it through.’

You wouldn’t be much of a detective if you could leave it, to be fair,’ Jenny allowed. ‘Look, I’ve never worked the Complaints so I can’t give you much guidance, but what I do know is that nicking villains is hard enough. Nicking coppers… Lord have mercy.’

‘Can I run what I know by you? Make sure I’m not going mad?’ Paul said. Jenny agreed, so he talked her through his evidence. The evidence that he would be putting to Sergeant Morton later that afternoon.

Ok, it sounds dodgy, I’ll allow,’ Jenny said when he’d finished. ‘You know, that can all be explained away, and a Firearms Officer will be an expert at explaining things away.’

‘Yeah well, like I say, I can’t not follow up,’ Paul said. ‘Not until I know, anyway. Seriously now, when I’m done with this you’re driving down here and we’re getting mortal,’

The hell with that, I’m not driving out to that desert! Drag your lazy arse back up here and we’ll have a proper night out,’ Jenny chortled. ‘You should – yes, it’s Paul.’ Paul heard someone talking to Jenny on her end. ‘Mate, I think you should stick the news on,’ she said, her voice dropping an entire octave to Deadly Serious.

The news was already on in the PSD office when Paul got there, however. It showed three riot vans bombing down the M1 on blue lights, South Yorkshire Police livery. It took Paul a moment to work out what was going on, by which time the shot had switched to an aerial view of central Nottingham.

‘Oh shit.’

‘That’s about right,’ PC Townsend said gleefully. ‘Whole fucking city’s gone to hell.’

‘Is this about Callis?’

‘Maybe when it started,’ Townsend said. ‘Already looks like it’s more about Calvin Klein, Samsung and… is that John Lewis?’ he added, laughing at his own joke. Paul recognised the scene now, the smashed windows belonged to the Victoria Centre where it backed onto Milton Street, frightened Christmas shoppers being directed away from the crowd by the few high-vis police jackets forming a sort of line. Two seemed to be limping. None were in riot gear.

How did it happen?’

‘Crowd marched on Central Station on Maid Marian Way demanding justice for their Andy,’ Townsend said. ‘Territorial Support Group pushed them back, so they decided to smash up the city centre instead.’

‘Now they’re smashing up cars on some of the estates as well,’ another PSD officer supplied. ‘So, as you saw on the news, the police just called 999.’

‘Jesus.’ Paul rubbed at the bridge of his nose, wondering if this was his fault. It couldn’t be, right? Tommy Rathbone had probably found his information in the same place as Paul, and Darryl would have spoken to him eventually, and far more readily than he would speak to the police. But would Tommy have thought to speak to Darryl if Paul hadn’t?

‘DI Quinn?’

‘Sir?’ Superintendent Stamford had emerged from his office.

‘The DCC wants to see you immediately.’ Paul cringed internally. So Stamford had decided to lay all the blame at his door? Easy done, Paul supposed. Pick the black guy who’s not even a Nottinghamshire officer anyway and point at him when things go wrong.

‘Yes sir.’

‘He’s in the Control Room,’ Stamford added as Paul left.

The Control Room was chaotic when Paul got there. The call handlers and dispatchers were all shouting over each other and the TV screens on the walls showed various crowds, some swinging baseball bats and scaffold poles, some throwing bricks. Some throwing petrol bombs. In the centre of it all, stood on the dais overlooking the call handlers and flanked by a couple of Chief Inspectors, the Deputy Chief Constable. He was clutching a phone to his ear. Paul walked up to him and stood as straight as he could, but Falconer didn’t appear to notice him.

‘St Ann’s is a no-go and we’ve had to retreat in the Meadows and Radford,’ he said. ‘I appreciate that sir, I’ll hold things down until you’re able to make it back.’ Paul realised that he was on the phone to Death himself, the Chief Constable. ‘I’ve asked for reinforcements from neighbouring forces, but frankly sir, right now our best bet is that Inspector Rain moves in and bloody sharpish… fifty-fifty chance tonight, the Met Office says.’

Inspector Rain, of course, was the best urban pacification officer on the force.

‘Lincolnshire say they’ve transitioned a full serial into riot gear, they can deploy in an hour,’ said one of the Chief Inspectors the second Falconer hung up with the Chief Constable. ‘Warwickshire and Northamptonshire are getting teams together too, but it’ll take them a while to get here.’

‘What about West Mids? Any word on the Operational Support Unit?’ Falconer asked. Nottinghamshire Police’s Territorial Support Group was a very small riot squad. The nearest big one was OSU, with the West Midlands force.

‘Two serials heading out in the next twenty minutes, but it’ll be two hours before they can do any good, sir,’ said the other Chief Inspector. She paused. ‘Should we think about calling in the Army?’

‘No. Not yet,’ Falconer said after a moment. He scanned the Control Room, and appeared to notice Paul for the first time – he nodded a quick greeting at him. ‘As you were, Inspector Quinn. We’re setting up a conference video call with the Nottingham City Council – they’re demanding a briefing on the investigation into the shooting, and since three of them sit on our own dear police authority, and their city’s gone completely to shit tonight, I think it might be best to show some willing.’

‘Yes sir,’ Paul agreed, unsure what else to say.

‘Superintendent Stamford tells me you’re his man on the case, so I’d like you to help me and fill in the blanks, as it were.’

‘Absolutely sir,’ Paul swallowed, thinking well at least he’s not blaming me for it.

Yet.

It took time to set up the video call, partly because many of the councillors were having to make their way to the council offices very carefully, during which time Paul watched the feed from the East Mids helicopter, swooping back and forth over the city. A couple of panda cars burned on a street in St Ann’s where they’d been overtaken by rioters. A pub in the Meadows burnt fiercely, the fire brigade unable to move in until the rioters were cleared out, the police unable to do anything but stand off and watch. Another crowd surrounded a bus, even smashing a couple of windows with a scaffolding pole before a police support unit from Leicestershire arrived and pushed them back far enough to get the civilians off. They were at least in urban pacification gear – Paul could still see a lot of Nottinghamshire Officers in their Day-Glo yellow operational uniform jackets.

Eventually one of the control room screens switched to displaying the City Council chambers. A pall of smoke tinged purple-orange by the streetlights rose up behind the councillors as they interrogated Deputy Chief Constable Falconer – Falconer had donned his dress tunic for the event. The first twenty minutes or so Paul wasn’t needed; he sat to one side whilst Falconer outlined Nottinghamshire Police’s response plans for an outbreak of violence in the city, which essentially boiled down to asking their proper hard cousins from the West Midlands Operational Support Unit to come round and thump the rioters.

‘And what about the investigation into the Callis shooting, Deputy Chief? How is that progressing?’

‘For that sir, I’ll direct you to Detective Inspector Quinn, who we’ve seconded to the Professional Standards Directorate to assist their investigation,’ Falconer said. Paul stood in view of the screen, cleared his throat, and started talking about forensic opportunities and eyewitness accounts.

‘Yes, yes, all very well, Inspector,’ said one of the councillors. ‘But we all saw the statement given by Mr Rathbone to the news earlier today, and what we really need to know is this: can we say hand on heart that Callis was armed when he was shot?’

‘I don’t want to comment on an open case, sir,’ Paul replied, suddenly aping the look that Cafferty and Fox had given him and staring into space over the monitor displaying them. ‘It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to do so.’

Hand on heart?

 

The rain eventually swept in at two at night, and drove the rioters from the streets. The Chief Constable appeared the next morning in front of the cameras, trying his best to give a full-on fire-and-brimstone promise of retribution against the rioters that his nasal voice undermined somewhat.

And Paul got ready for his big moment as an internal investigator.

‘PSD interview with Specialist Firearms Officer India-Juliet 6-1, conducted Friday 12th December at eleven thirty-seven a.m., present DI Quinn, Sergeant Nick Walcott, India-Juliet 6-1, and 6-1’s Police Federation representative, Detective Sergeant Isabel Berkeley.’

The man of the hour. Sergeant Jack Morton, thirty-six, fourteen years in the police, seven in Firearms, dark hair cut short back and sides, toned and muscled under his dress uniform. He’d taken the time to crease his trousers, press his tunic, polish his fob watch chain, and had almost been marching when he walked in. Paul’s first thought was Army groupie, and Lord knew there were enough of those in the police, but he quickly realised that Morton had been warned that the Complaints were on the warpath. He was doing everything completely by the book.

Morton confirmed that it was his signature on the booking-out form for the P-99 he’d used. Paul showed him a photo of the P-99 that he had handed over to the Scene of Crime Officers, and Morton agreed that the serial number on it matched that on the booking out form. Paul showed him images of the bullets that had struck Callis and explained that they had been confirmed by ballistic analysis to have been fired from Morton’s sidearm. DS Berkeley interjected to say that Morton was the only officer to have fired and that he’d used his P-99, and that no one was disputing those facts. Paul reminded her that it needed to be on the record.

Morton agreed that he’d heard the name Andy Callis before, linked to several acts of gangland violence, including two murders, but that they’d never met personally. He described the siting of Callis’ vehicle leaving St Ann’s and the beginning of the pursuit.

Now, for the fun and games.

‘Ok 6-1, see, here’s where I start to get a bit lost,’ Paul said. ‘I’m hoping you can clarify things for me somewhat, help me see what’s going on.’

‘I’ll do what I can to help, sir.’

‘I’d appreciate that, Sergeant,’ Paul said. ‘When did you give India-Juliet 6-3 the order to deploy MP5?’

‘Immediately 6-2 engaged the blue lights and siren, I gave the order for MP5 to be deployed.’

‘Why then and not when the vehicle had stopped, as per standard operating procedure?’

‘SOP gives the vehicle commander discretion as to when MP5 is deployed. Given that the suspect we were apprehending had a previous history of violence, I felt it necessary to have MP5 ready for use as soon as the hard stop manoeuvre was executed.’ Morton said. He said it calmly, and reasonably. None of the defiant anger Fox and Cafferty had shown when Paul had questioned their actions. Morton had the certainty of a man who believed his actions were right.

‘Why, in your opinion, did 6-0 feel able to wait until the hard stop was executed before deploying MP5?’ he asked.

‘Our appreciation of the threat must have differed,’ Morton said.

‘6-1 can’t reasonably be asked to comment on the decisions of 6-0, who is his superior officer, and who was in the other vehicle,’ Berkeley added. ‘That’s inappropriate, Inspector.’

‘Noted,’ Paul glanced at her briefly. ‘So, MP5 was deployed with the vehicle in motion. You had your MP5 in your hands when the vehicle stopped?’

‘Yes sir.’

‘And yet you engaged the suspect with your P-99 sidearm,’ Paul observed. ‘Why didn’t you use your carbine?’

‘The MP5A3 has a higher muzzle velocity than the Walther P-99,’ Morton replied. ‘There were potentially early morning joggers and dog walkers in King Edward Park adjacent to the hard stop; I identified a risk that my rounds might pass through the suspect and strike a bystander, and acted accordingly to minimise that risk.’

‘You feared that your rounds might pass through the suspect,’ Paul repeated. ‘Were you expecting to discharge your firearm, Sergeant?’

‘I always act as though I will have to discharge my firearm, sir,’ Morton replied steadily.

‘Ok, let’s go back to this point about the MP5’s muzzle velocity being higher than the P-99’s,’ Paul said. ‘You mentioned this in your initial statement as well. Would it surprise you to learn that I researched this?’

For the first time, Morton looked uncertain. Only for a moment, just a second where his face cracked a mite, and then he was back staring Paul down.

‘You introduced yourself as Detective Inspector sir. Complaints officers aren’t part of CID and aren’t granted Branch Detective status, so you’ve been seconded in from another unit, most likely Major Crimes. It doesn’t surprise me at all that you’d be thorough.’

‘Thank you, Sergeant. So, as I said, I looked up the muzzle velocities of the MP5 and the P-99. They’re barely any different, I think the P-99 is slower by eighteen metres per second. Hardly noticeable in terms of the risk of a round passing through the suspect and striking a bystander.’

‘Nevertheless, sir, I identified a risk to the public. I did what I could to minimise it,’ Morton said after a moment.

‘You engaged the suspect. 6-3 did not,’ Paul said. ‘I’m going to show you a 3D reconstruction of the crime scene, image KCV-24.’ Sergeant Walcott, standing in for PC Townsend because of his higher rank, manipulated the scene to show first Morton’s view of Callis, then Cafferty’s. ‘I’m a bit confused again here, Sergeant. You’ve opened fire, 6-3 hasn’t, and yet from what I can see, 6-3 has a far better shot than you.’

‘I had a clear view of the suspect’s head and upper body, sir.’

‘Yes, but most of his body was obscured by his vehicle. 6-3, on the other hand, could see all of his body. Why did you fire, Sergeant?’

‘As I left my vehicle, I observed a firearm in the suspect’s right hand,’ Morton said. ‘This firearm was aimed at myself and potentially then India-Juliet 6-2, driving my vehicle. I decided that the only way to neutralise this threat was to open fire.’

‘And you aimed for the head,’ Paul said. ‘See, now, if you were ex-SAS or something I could maybe understand that, I know that Special Forces are trained very differently to police Firearms Officers, even SFOs. But you’ve never served outside the police force. And we definitely don’t teach our officers to shoot people in the head.’

Paul left it at that, let the silence stretch out. Morton was aware of what he was doing, of course, it showed in the way he locked eyes with Paul. But silence made everyone feel uncomfortable, even Specialist Firearms Officers, and after a moment Morton realised he wouldn’t stare Paul down. But he was too experienced to fall into the trap.

‘I’m sorry sir, I didn’t hear a question.’

‘Procedure is to aim for the centre mass, Sergeant, not the head.’

‘Procedure is to shoot to stop the threat, sir. The suspect’s chest was partially obscured by his vehicle. There was a clear visual contrast between his head and the dark clothing he was wearing, and the range was fifteen feet. The shots were both highly achievable.’

‘Two shots, both aimed at his head,’ Paul said. ‘You made sure, didn’t you Sergeant?’

‘Are you questioning my use of force, Inspector?’

‘I’m definitely querying it.’

‘Yes sir, and I would cite my common law rights to use lethal force in defence of myself and others, the Criminal Law Act 1967 which allows me to use reasonable force in the prevention of crime, and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which allows me to use reasonable force in the execution of my powers…’

‘Yes Sergeant, and in return I cite Schedule 1 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which lays out that no more force may be used than was absolutely necessary at the time,’ Paul said. ‘A non-police firearm was recovered from the scene. What firearm would you say we recovered from the scene, 6-1?’

‘Inspector, if a non-police firearm was recovered from the scene then it’s not up to 6-1 to guess as to what it was. You need to disclose that,’ Sergeant Berkeley said.

‘The item reference number is PQ-3, but I intend to withhold disclosure of the type of firearm until 6-1 tells me what kind of firearm he saw in Callis’ hand, for a reason which will become apparent,’ Paul said.

‘It’s not acceptable –’

‘I’m happy to answer that question,’ Morton said, laying a restraining hand on Berkeley’s shoulder. ‘The gun I observed in Callis’ hands was a Browning Hi-Power, of the type issued by the British Army as a standard sidearm. I would guess that this weapon was stolen from a barracks by a soldier with links to organised crime.’ Paul nodded to Walcott, who tapped at the laptop.

‘For the tape, on screen now is Image 1 of item PQ-3, a photograph of PQ-3 taken in situ after the item was detected. 6-1 is correct, PQ-3 is a Browning Hi-Power, and forensic examination of said firearm is continuing to determine its provenance.’ Although Paul would lay pennies to pounds that Morton was right; stolen Army guns were a major source of firearms in the UK. ‘Where do you think this gun was found, Sergeant?’

‘Would not care to speculate, sir.’

‘We are now going to show Image 2 of item PQ-3. Image 2 shows the find in context, in particular its location relative to the vehicle Callis was travelling in, and the position of his body. 6-1, can you describe the position of the firearm relative to where Callis was shot?’

Morton looked at the photograph, and then at Paul. His face was stony; his eyes had become chips of ice.

‘It appears to be in King Edward Park, some distance from Callis’ body.’

‘Twenty three feet, to be precise,’ Paul said. He paused to let that sink in. ‘Was the firearm in Callis’ hands when you opened fire?’

‘Yes sir.’

‘Had Callis thrown the firearm into King Edward Park before you discharged your weapon?’

‘No sir.’

‘Did you, or a member of your team, throw the firearm into King Edward Park?’

‘No sir.’

‘Then how did it get there, 6-1?’ Paul asked. Morton locked eyes with him, held his gaze without blinking. Until Paul had to physically force himself not to look away first.

When Morton spoke, however, it was calmly, levelly and reasonably again. ‘When I fired, I hit the suspect in the head. The brain injury caused a muscle spasm in his arm, resulting in his throwing the firearm involuntarily after death.’

‘I’d like to direct your attention now to statement PQ-9. PQ-9 is a witness statement given to me by an eyewitness on Wednesday,’ Paul said.

‘I don’t see the witness’ name here,’ Berkeley said, casting her eyes over the form.

‘That’s being withheld whilst an application for witness anonymity is made under the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Act.’

‘Why –’

‘Because, Sergeant Berkeley, I believe there is a significant likelihood of witness intimidation occurring,’ Paul snapped at her. ‘This witness states that as soon as he exited the vehicle, Callis threw his firearm into King Edward Park, and that the gun was out of his hands when you opened fire.’

‘The eye witness is mistaken sir,’ Morton said. ‘The exchange occurred very quickly – Callis left his vehicle and span to fire, I identified the threat to myself and to 6-2 and discharged my weapon twice, as per protocol, and as the rounds struck Callis, they caused a hand spasm. This caused him to throw the gun into Kind Edward Park almost simultaneously to my weapon being discharged, thus misleading the eyewitness.’

‘Callis span to fire?’

‘Yes sir,’ Morton agreed. ‘That’s why my rounds struck the side of his head, just above the temple and midway across the cranial cavity, rather than head-on. That was going to be your next question, sir?’ he asked. He was smiling apologetically as he said it, and his voice hadn’t altered a semitone. It was his eyes that told the story, boring into Paul’s like lasers. Paul forced himself to keep cool only with the greatest of effort.

‘Did you intend to kill him?’ he asked, after slurping down some water; the interview room was getting very hot.

‘I fired to stop the threat sir, following my training and the guidance issued to all armed officers on the use of force,’ Morton said. Paul swallowed, and wondered where to go next. He’d very much hoped that Morton wouldn’t be able to recognise the firearm; he should have known better. Firearms Officers were trained to assimilate, process and assess large amount of visual data very quickly. Even if Morton had only glimpsed the gun, he would probably have seen enough to identify it. And Browning Hi-Powers were very common.

‘6-3 states that he was impeded when he tried to leave the ARV,’ he tried next. ‘Did you see what impeded him?’

‘My focus was on the threat sir, which was to my immediate left in my eight to ten o’clock position after the vehicle had stopped. 6-3 was in my six o’clock position, well out of my line of vision. I could not say why 6-3 was impeded.’

‘This is really a question for India-Juliet 6-3, Inspector,’ added Sergeant Berkeley.

‘Was 6-3 impeded because he was at that time deploying MP5?’

‘No sir,’ Morton said. Paul heard some flint in his voice now. He wondered whether this was because Morton was genuinely angry that his integrity was being questioned, or because he thought he needed to sound angry.

‘Was 6-3 engaged in deploying MP5 at the time Zero-Bravo stopped because you had given no order to deploy it earlier?’

‘I ordered 6-3 to deploy MP5 during the pursuit on Carlton Road.’

‘6-1 has already answered this question, Inspector,’ said Berkeley.

‘Did you engage the suspect with your P-99 because your MP5 was still locked in the ARV’s gun cabinet?’

‘No sir. I engaged with my P-99 because I identified…’

‘Because you identified a risk to potential early morning dog walkers and joggers from the higher muzzle velocity of the MP5,’ Paul said. ‘Even though it’s only slightly higher.’ Tension built up from his knees through his stomach. He knew what his next question was, knew what he had to ask, knew what the answer would be. But he had to ask. He had to know.

‘6-1, did you engage with your P-99 rather than your MP5 because you had decided to kill Callis earlier that morning, during the briefing with the Strategic Firearms Commander?’

Berkeley opened her mouth to object but Morton cut her off.

‘I categorically deny that allegation, sir.’

‘Inspector, that’s not at all within the remit of the Regulation Fifteen notice you’ve served 6-1 with. If you want to pursue that line of questioning you need to caution 6-1 and wait for him to retain counsel,’ Berkeley chipped in, going progressively redder as she spoke.

They were right, but Paul had started now. He was committed to the line of questioning; no chance now to back down.

‘Did you engage with your P-99 because your MP5 was still locked in its gun cabinet, because you had already decided to kill Callis?’

‘I really don’t have to answer that,’ Morton said.

‘No, he doesn’t. And if any further questions you have are related to premeditated murder, then I’ve explained what you need to do. You should be aware that the Police Federation will defend India-Juliet 6-1 vigorously and completely,’ Berkeley snapped, gathering up her pen, folder and clipboard. Morton also made to stand.

Paul felt the blood rush into his head and carried on regardless.

‘Did you ask 6-2 and 6-3 to fabricate a story about deploying MP5 early, with 6-3 tripping as he left the vehicle, to throw suspicion away from your actions?’

‘We’re done here,’ Berkeley said. She went for the door and held it open for Morton. Paul had one last throw.

‘Did you aim for the head because you had already decided to kill Callis?’

But Morton had already walked out. Paul was aware that the PSD Sergeant was staring at him open-mouthed.

He threw his pen across the table.

Shit.’

 

Paul had barely managed to hand a copy of the tape over to a still-furious DS Berkeley when Superintendent Stamford appeared and ordered him into his office.

Any doubts Paul might have had about how much trouble he was in were dispelled when Stamford stormed in behind him and ordered him to shut the door and remain at attention.

‘I never authorised that line of questioning!’ he bellowed. The Super was pacing a groove in the carpet behind his desk; the IPCC Commissioner who’d been supervising the inquiry sat next to him staring at his pacing feet. ‘You had no business accusing Sergeant Morton of premeditated murder!’

‘Sir, there are numerous breaches of protocol which occurred –’

‘Of protocol, yes!’ Stamford said, running a hand through his hair. ‘None of which adds up to a Specialist Firearms Officer deciding to carry out an extra-judicial execution of a suspect! Christ, when the DCC hears about this he’ll bloody have kittens!’

Paul stood his ground. He fixed his eyes on a point somewhere above Stamford’s head, the same way Fox, Cafferty and Morton had, and kept his answers short.

‘Based on the information I received, it was a valid line of questioning, sir. I had a solid legal and evidentiary basis from which to ask those questions, which I demonstrated during the interview.’

‘Information you received? You mean from this little squirt of a nine year old who should have been in bloody school anyway? And you can forget about that anonymity application incidentally!’ Stamford picked up a manila file folder and slapped his desk with it to emphasise the point.

‘The evidence indicates that Callis was unarmed when he was shot, sir. Darryl Knight’s testimony is corroborated by the position of the gun within King Edward Park –’

‘We hear all this, Inspector, and you’ve raised some troubling points,’ said the man from the IPCC now. ‘But Sergeant Morton deals plausibly with all your lines of inquiry, and can lay out sound operational reasons for departures from protocol. And there is no – no – reason to suggest that Sergeant Morton deliberately set out to kill Andy Callis.’

‘Yes, sir,’ Paul agreed heavily, staring at his feet, knowing he was defeated and having no idea how he could undefeat himself. He wasn’t entirely sure what he’d expected when he’d asked Morton that question. He’d known on some level that Morton wasn’t going to crumble beneath his questioning and tearfully admit to premeditated murder, but he’d still asked anyway.

And dammit, it was a valid question. If Morton hadn’t been a cop Paul would have arrested him as soon as he tried to shut down the interview.

‘SOCO still haven’t completed their ballistics report,’ Stamford rambled on. ‘We’ll hold a progress meeting when they’re done.’

And there you had it, the true nature, as Paul now knew it, of the Complaints. Why go hell-for-leather after a bent cop when you could find a few forms to hide behind?

 

For Paul, it wasn’t enough. He had to know for sure, and that evening, without any real plan in mind for what he’d do when he got there beyond a dramatic confrontation, he drove out to Morton’s flat. But he had to know. Had to look Sergeant Jack Morton in the eyes and get him to answer.

It was a half-arsed plan that was unravelling by the time he arrived outside Morton’s door, starving hungry and a little bit lost. Morton lived out in Long Eaton, which Paul had never visited since it was both the lowest of low crime, and actually in Derbyshire anywhere. He couldn’t even tell for sure which of the flats in the building was Morton’s; he guessed from the ‘Flat 4,’ part of his address that it was on the first floor, but the one he thought Morton lived in wasn’t showing any lights.

This was something you never saw on Midsomer Murders, the detective going to confront the murderer only to have to come back again the next day because he was out for the evening. The radio started playing the X Factor winner doing what sounded like a cover of Hallelujah. That wasn’t exactly Paul’s thing – he stabbed on his Hot Fuzz soundtrack, thought of Nicholas Angel growling ‘This is something I have to do myself,’ and felt a bit more like a real copper again.

After twenty minutes Paul decided he could risk grabbing a bite to eat and doubled back to a Co-op he’d passed on the way across. He picked up a chicken curry roll and a can of Coke, and jumped when his phone bleeped. He was almost scared to look at it in case Stamford had somehow got wind of his moonlighting, but smiled when he saw the text ID. Sandra Hendriks, PC Hendriks as she was now, North Wales’ finest. Less than a month into her Probation, texting him to share the Dingbat puzzles her Sergeant had decided to set the new Probationers as a quick test of lateral thinking.

This text read TRLANOSLSATTION. Paul thought about it during the trip back to Morton’s flat on Rankin Drive and had it by the time he’d passed a parking spot and turned around to get into it. Lost in Translation.

A few seconds passed, and another text from Sandi, Liverpool 4 – 1 Aston Villa, Chelsea 4 – 1 Everton, Man United 4 – 1 Birmingham, Man City 4 – 1 Arsenal, West Ham 4 – 4 Fulham. Paul smiled and replied All for one, and one for all. He followed it up with I hope you’ve already solved these yourself, Constable, to which Sandi replied <innocent face>. Paul smiled wider despite himself. He hadn’t been sure that Sandi would stick it through police college until the day she’d graduated, but he was glad that she had. She was smart and keen to learn, and he was positive that she’d make a great detective one day. If life hadn’t already crushed that out of her.

Movement in the rear-view caught his eyes. Sergeant Morton in a sweatshirt and tracksuit bottoms kicking it from a steady jog to a fast sprint finish, decelerating to a stop in front of his flat and bending over, hands on knees whilst he breathed in deeply.

Paul got out of the Golf.

‘Sergeant Morton!’

Morton saw him, and his eyes went wide.

‘Absolutely not,’ he said. ‘I’m not saying a word to you without my Fed rep,’

‘Like this is going to be on the record,’ Paul scoffed. ‘My word against yours? Your Fed rep’ll laugh me out of the court.’

‘Ok then, Inspector,’ said Morton, stuffing his hands in his pockets and regarding Paul warily. ‘What do you want?’

‘I want to know, one way or the other,’ Paul said. ‘I want you to look me in the eyes and answer my question. Firearms Officer to Firearms Officer. Did you murder Callis?’

Morton looked up and down the street, sighed and shook his head. Paul expected him to tell him to go fuck himself, but to his surprise Morton said, ‘You’re not from Nottingham are you, sir?’

‘No, Sergeant, I’m not,’

‘So, you won’t really know what I mean when I start talking about the bad old days, will you, sir?’

‘Honestly, Sergeant, I know the rough outline of it all, and obviously we all heard about the decision to have regular armed patrols on some estates, but Nottingham’s quite far from my regular patch,’ Paul said. ‘Our major organised crime concerns have always been local affiliates of the Liverpool gangs, and the drugs corridor along the North Wales coast.’

‘Right,’ Morton said. He laughed, utterly humourlessly. ‘Do you know, Inspector, where the biggest of the gangsters back then went wrong?’

‘Putting out that hit on that old couple,’ Paul said. ‘That’s –’

‘That’s what Major Crimes and the East Mids Special Operations Units got him for, but that wasn’t his mistake, wasn’t why he got nicked. He got nicked because he was too obvious about who he was and what he did, too in-your-face about it all. He’s driving round town in an expensive German car with a personalised number plate, gunning down anyone who crosses him, and people started to notice. Suddenly we’re Shottingham, the most dangerous city in the country, a city where parents won’t send their kids to uni in case they take a bullet for their trouble. The only fucking city in the UK where the police carry guns on regular patrol because it’s not safe for them to be unarmed,’ Morton said bitterly. ‘God knows how many bent cops in Nottingham in his pocket, that’s not counting anyone at Sherwood Lodge, and everyone knew it. The whole fucking country knew it!

‘And that’s why they went for him like they did. Everyone knew he ran the city, so the powers that be had to stop him, because villains don’t scare our bosses, Inspector, not one bit, but five minutes of bad publicity turns their nice blue trousers shit brown.’ Paul couldn’t dispute the observation about the Chiefs, and Nottingham had gotten more than five minutes of bad publicity. It was a hell of a soapbox Sergeant Morton had built for himself.

‘But he’s behind bars now,’ he said. ‘Violent crime’s down three-quarters. We did it.’ Well, word was Nottinghamshire was going to fail its next Force inspection because they didn’t arrest enough twelve year olds for playing football without due care and attention, and loitering on street corners with intent to scowl, and no one in Major Crimes quite knew what to make of that, but still. They’d done it.

‘Did we?’ Morton asked. ‘You know what the Rathbone family’s territory looks like, right?’

‘Of course,’ Paul said. ‘We’re running a lot of operations against them –’

‘They’re getting to be as big as any of the old gangs,’ Morton said. ‘But see, the Rathbones are smart. They threaten, they intimidate, they smash up pubs and shops and they break kneecaps, but they don’t use violence if they can avoid it, they don’t drive around in Porches with vanity plates and they don’t use guns unless they absolutely have to. And you know something else? It’s working.’

‘We’re –’

‘Look at our strategic priorities list. Where, anywhere on there, does it say bring charges against high-value targets within Nottingham organised crime?’

‘It doesn’t,’ Paul said quietly. The force’s strategic development plan included a lot of fluff and guff about developing community relations and enhancing neighbourhood provision, and precisely nothing about making a serious effort against organised crime.

‘The Rathbones stay below the surface, they stay in the dark where the public don’t see them and the bosses can pretend not to, and they control just as many people and ruin just as many lives as anyone ever did in the bad old days,’ Morton said. ‘And as long as they keep on doing it quietly enough, no one at Sherwood Lodge really cares.’

‘I get what you’re saying, Morton,’ Paul said. ‘What does this have to do with Andy Callis?’

‘The Rathbone brothers’ nephew? Their big enforcer? The bloke who smashes those kneecaps for them?’ said Morton. And now he locked gazes with Paul, right in the eyes. Paul stared right back, and saw the same thing he’d heard in Morton’s voice during the interview.

Righteous certainty.

Brakes squealed.

‘Let’s just say –’

But Paul never heard what Morton would just say about Andy Callis, because he’d turned at the sound of the squealing brakes. Saw a black sports car tearing up the street towards them, something poking out of the passenger’s window.

Down!’ he shouted, and he hit the pavement, heard the shot ring out, heard the glass shatter. Morton had hit the ground too, no holes in him that Paul could see. He heard the sports car accelerate away. ‘Call triple-nine now!’ he barked at Morton, and he got up and ran towards the Golf.

Didn’t even have to think about it. He jumped into the driver’s seat, gunned the engine and flipped on the blues and twos. The Hot Fuzz soundtrack began playing the most inappropriate song imaginable. The sports car, it looked like an Audi TT, turned right out of Rankin Drive and Paul sped after it, stabbed the CD player off, trying to negotiate the turn and call it in at the same time.

‘1337 to Charlie-Mike, status zero status zero! Shots fired at an officer on Rankin Drive in Long Eaton – shit!’ he almost lost control of the car and had to saw on the wheel to get it back, into the skid whilst the Golf fishtailed. Had to keep the accelerator jammed to the floor to match the TT. ‘I need any available Paladin units immediately!’

1337 from Charlie-Mike, all received, what’s your location in Long Eaton, over?’ Paul reached for the radio but had to drop it again to overtake a parked car. The TT suddenly span left and Paul followed, making up ground on the turn – slow in, fast out was the drill but the TT driver didn’t know that and lost shape on a poorly executed handbrake turn. ‘1337 from Charlie-Mike, state your location, over?’

Paul checked the Sat-nav. ‘1337 Northbound on Curzon Street, I’m in pursuit of a black Audi TT, registration – fuck!’ The Audi swerved out to avoid a parked car, forcing a Vectra coming the other way up onto the curb. Paul followed it round, losing ground – Curzon Street was long and straight and the Golf couldn’t match the TT for speed even with the pedal slammed to the floor.

Paladin 2-9 to 1337, all received, maintain your pursuit, we’re seconds away, over.’

And there it was, turning onto the north end of Curzon Street in a blaze of blue light and angry electronic warbling, a big black BMW X5, the Armed Response Vehicle. What the bloody hell it was doing in Derbyshire, and Long Eaton of all places, Paul didn’t have time to wonder, because the TT slammed on its brakes, rocking to a stop inches from the X5’s front bumper. The Firearms Officers piled out, MP5s up and aimed, but the TT started reversing and they couldn’t shoot at a fleeing vehicle.

So Paul swung his Golf broadside across the road. Something flew out of the TT’s passenger side window, and then it slammed into the Golf arse-first.

The impact threw Paul into his door and his right arm went numb. Another Firearms Officer clattered into his bonnet and aimed an MP5 across it – Paul shook his head to clear it, saw another unmarked ARV blocking the street to the south.

He pulled his warrant card out, got his door open and took a couple of staggered steps out, shouting ‘I’m MCU! I’m MCU!’ holding the warrant card up like a stop sign. One of the Firearms Officers aimed his MP5 at Paul for a second, examined the warrant card, nodded at him, and ran to the rear of the Golf.

Shouts filled the air.

Armed Police! Everybody get back!’

‘Call an ambulance!’

‘There’s been a car accident!’

Keep your hands in view! Do not look at me!’

Paul shook his head, got some of the cobwebs cleared out. The Firearms Officer who’d taken up position by the rear of the Golf had run forward with his MP5 slung and his cuffs out, suggesting that whoever was in the TT was in a position to be safely detained. Paul marched over to his boot, popped it and pulled his stab vest on.

Nice big blue rectangles with POLICE written in them, nice silver Inspector’s pips on the shoulders. Seemed like the Inspector’s pips made him the ranking officer present.

The Firearms Officers had two men on the floor by the TT, cuffed hand over hand behind their backs. Paul didn’t know one of them. The other was Tommy Rathbone.

‘What’ve you nicked them for?’ he asked one of the Firearms Officers.

‘Unlawful possession of a firearm and conspiracy to murder, why?’ the Firearms Officer said. Paul nodded, crouched down in front of Tommy Rathbone, jammed his warrant card in the man’s face, and said the words.

‘Thomas Rathbone, I am Acting Detective Inspector Paul Quinn, based at Sherwood Lodge Force Headquarters, and I am further arresting you for the attempted murders of Jack Morton and Paul Quinn, contrary to the common law. You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you fail to mention when questioned anything you may later rely on in court, and anything you do say may be taken and given in evidence.’ He pointed at the other man, probably Tommy’s driver. ‘I’ve no idea who the fuck that is, but re-arrest him for aiding and abetting attempted murder, Jack Morton and Paul Quinn,’ he ordered the Firearms Officer kneeling next to him. The Firearms Officer started saying the words.

‘You’re standing in another man’s grave, Inspector,’ Tommy Rathbone spat from the floor. Paul leaned in close and hissed in his ear.

‘Going after a cop, Tommy, bad fucking move.’

And then the first charge against Tommy sunk in. Paul found the senior Firearms Officer, a Sergeant, and asked him what they were doing there. Not that he wasn’t grateful and all…

‘Not sure I can say too much about it, sir,’ the Sergeant said. ‘Something called Operation Malachite, but I don’t know if I can even tell you that Operation Malachite exists…’

‘I’m aware of its existence, Sergeant,’ Paul reassured him.

The joint operation between the East Midlands Special Operations Unit and the Firearms Unit of its five contributing forces to detect and proactively prevent gangland violence. With, apparently, a highly-placed source in the Rathbone organised crime group, who’d known when Callis had set out to kill, and when Tommy Rathbone had decided to avenge his death, eye-for-an-eye style.

The Sergeant apologised for being late – they’d lost Tommy when he made them on his drive in, and a request for air support had been denied because the helicopter was up over the city proper in case the rioting started up again. It was only when Paul radioed in that they’d been able to get back on Tommy’s tail. The Sergeant was relieved to hear that Tommy had missed; the mess was now small and containable, rather than career-ending.

‘You found his gun?’

‘Smithy!’ the Sergeant called to the officer searching the TT. ‘Any sign of the gun?’

PC Smithy shook his head. Paul snapped his fingers. ‘I saw something get chucked just before he rammed my car. He might have thrown it out.’

‘We’ll get looking,’ the Sergeant promised. More sirens sounded, a whole convoy of blue lights roaring up from the other end of the street – two panda cars and a fire engine were parking up behind the ARV. He wondered why on earth they’d got the fire brigade out of bed for this, but then he heard the conversation someone was having on their mobile behind him – ‘I think there’s two people been hurt, there’s already police here but they don’t seem to be helping them,’ – and realised that someone had called in a Road Traffic Collision. Long Eaton being in Derbyshire, the call had gone through to their control room.

Derbyshire, of course, weren’t in the loop.

The Sergeant ran off to reassure the new arrivals that they weren’t needed, and Paul got the other Firearms Officers searching for the gun. Someone asked how long they’d be.

‘Quick as we can, sir, but there is a live firearm on site, so please keep well back until we’ve found it and made it safe.’

He swapped over the Firearms Officers guarding Tommy and his driver for two regular Derbyshire PC Plods. If Tommy tried to run, he could always be pepper-sprayed.

Happily be pepper-sprayed.

He joined in looking for the gun. But by the time he found it, a Specialist Firearms Officer was already holding it.

 

By the time DCI Dale arrived, Curzon Street had turned into a blue-lights convention; Nottinghamshire police to bring in Tommy Rathbone, Derbyshire police, fire and ambulance responding to a non-existent Road Traffic Collision and now standing around looking for something to do, Paul was sure that someone had called Mountain Rescue and the Coastguard so that they didn’t feel left out. Dale hopped out of his car and nodded at Paul, walked over to Tommy, being held by a uniform whilst they backed up the van.

‘Tommy fucking Rathbone,’ he said, grinning widely. ‘You’re a very silly boy.’

‘Piss off,’ Tommy spat. ‘I’m going to have you all for this, you’re all going in my little black book.’

‘Looking forward to getting to know you better, Tommy,’ Dale said, patting him on the shoulder. Tommy seethed, and the uniform holding him twisted his handcuffs to calm him. Dale came and stood by Paul, who was leaning against the boot of his Golf. ‘Nice job, lad.’

‘Boss,’ Paul nodded his head.

‘The Rathbones’ll be shitting kittens tonight, and we got Tommy going after a copper. Dead to rights. Bloody good job, Paul.’

‘Thanks, boss,’ Paul said. ‘Boss, I’m about done with the Dark Side. Can I come home?’

‘I’ll speak to the Deputy Chief Con, but hopefully it won’t be a problem. I hear Stamford-like-the-stadium has gone off you now anyway,’ Dale said.

‘Speak of the devil,’ Paul nodded, to where his new Commanding Officer was picking his way between a few thumb-twiddling firefighters, taking care not to put his brightly-polished shoes into anything that might smudge them. He stood with his hands behind his back in a passable imitation of standing at attention as Stamford stopped in front of him, just as the Superintendent would want. ‘Sir.’

‘Inspector Quinn,’ said Stamford. His face was flushed and two-steps-off-a-coronary red. ‘And just what were you doing out here?’

‘Evening drive sir, clear my head,’ Paul said. ‘I had no idea I was driving past Sergeant Morton’s flat, although, as we’ve both agreed, it was lucky that I was.’

Stamford caught the slight emphasis on ‘as we’ve both agreed,’ it seemed, because he went even redder, and Paul was sure he could see faint steam coming from his ears.

‘And you effected this arrest how?’

‘Well sir, that would have been the Specialist Firearms Officers –’

‘How fast did you travel during the pursuit of Rathbone’s vehicle?’ Stamford growled.

‘My maximum speed was fifty four miles per hour, after we had turned onto Curzon Street,’ Paul said steadily. No point lying about it – the Golf was a police vehicle, it was fitted with a black box as well as the blues and twos. Paul’s speed would have been recorded the whole time.

‘You’re trained to what standard of driving, Inspector?’

‘Standard driver, sir,’ Paul said.

‘And you’re aware that you are not therefore trained or qualified to exceed the signposted speed limit by more than twenty miles per hour, blue lights or not, Inspector?’

‘Well I am now sir,’ Paul said brightly, because of course he’d known. ‘Thank you for informing me sir, I’ll never do it again under any circumstances whatsoever sir.’

‘I’m going to enter a verbal warning onto your record,’ Stamford barked, his face screwed up and furious. ‘For causing unnecessary risk to civilians and a suspect.’ When Paul continued staring at attention he snapped ‘Well, Inspector? Any comments to make?’

‘Sir, excuse me for one moment sir,’ Paul said. He turned to one of the uniforms, one of the ones from Nottinghamshire. ‘Constable, can I borrow your cap?’

‘Sure,’ said the uniform, tentatively passing it to Paul. Paul jammed the cap onto his head, faced front and pulled his right hand up into a salute.

‘Sir, I acknowledge the verbal warning. I decline to make any comment on it at this time but will respond in writing within the regulation ten working days, and officially request a transfer back to the Major Crimes Unit. Sir.’ The days when the police were required to salute senior officers were long since passed, but Paul had still been taught to do it at training college, and he had at least done it properly.

‘What the hell are you doing, Quinn?’ Stamford demanded.

‘Can’t salute without headgear sir, as I’m sure you know,’ Paul said, tossing the cap back to the uniform, who scraped his jaw off the floor. ‘Will that be all, sir?’ Stamford stared between him and Dale, fists clenching and unclenching whilst his brain worked overtime on a comeback. Eventually he settled for a scowl and turned and strode off.

‘And my transfer, sir?’ Paul called after him. Stamford waved a hand over one shoulder.

‘Take that as a yes then,’ Dale said.

‘Good,’ Paul said, thinking that he was done with the Complaints. A gun cop might have executed a suspect? Find forms and regulations to hide behind, fudge, fudge and fudge again until nobody could tell what the truth was anymore anyway.

A detective went four miles per hour faster than he was trained to go during a pursuit of a violent, armed suspect? Start tossing around the rule book and the verbal warnings, flex the disciplinary muscles, make a lot of noise and look busy dealing with a miscreant. The Complaints weren’t really there to catch bent coppers; just to give the impression that they were.

And the Complaints were missing a whopper. Of that, Paul was absolutely certain.

Morton had scooped Tommy’s gun up from where he’d thrown it and had it aimed straight at Tommy by the time Paul had noticed him. Heart knocking a million miles an hour, Paul started to edge between him and Tommy.

‘Render that firearm safe please, Sergeant.’

Nothing was going to happen. Tommy Rathbone was cuffed and on his stomach, there was a cop next to him, two dozen witnesses had gathered, and there was no way Morton was going to shoot him now. But Paul looked into his eyes, and he saw it again.

That righteous certainty.

‘Sergeant Morton, please make the firearm safe,’ he ordered again, as firmly as he could. Morton finally looked away from Tommy, turned to Paul. Paul opened his mouth to speak again, but Morton now released the magazine from the pistol, pulled the slide back to eject the round in the chamber and put the safety on as well, just to be sure.

Then, during the chaos whilst they tried to persuade the Derbyshire emergency services to kindly sod off out of their way, Morton had come over to him and, once they’d agreed their story as to why he’d been there, said, ‘You should have let me,’ and walked off.

Maybe it was a good thing. That was far above what they paid Paul Quinn for. Maybe it was a good thing, although he couldn’t really see how it was. What if every police officer just started killing off people they thought were villains?

Because he was absolutely, positively sure now that Morton had seen Callis throw his gun away and had put him down anyway. And as much as none of the people who mattered, people like Stamford and Falconer and the Chief Constable, cared about the Rathbone family as long as they kept themselves out of the headlines, neither did they care about Morton killing them. As long as he, too, kept himself out of the headlines.

 

If you’ve enjoyed this story, then please check out the other stories featuring Paul Quinn and Sandi Hendriks. They can be found by clicking on the Short Story link above, and either follwing the drop-down menu or selecting the Short Story page itself, https://attemptedmurder.uk/shortstories/. If you like this, or any other story, please help the site grow by Sharing far and wide!

 

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