Security At A Price

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It started last summer. Young Jimmy Parker was attacked while doing his paper round early one Friday morning. Two teenagers knocked him off his bike and stole his phone. The newsagent called the Police, but they didn’t come, said they were over stretched and just gave out a crime number. Jimmy’s Dad and Uncle decided to get involved and two weeks later the same two teenagers were taken to hospital with serious head injuries. Justice was done and more importantly was seen to be done.  The Parkers were never questioned by The Police.

A few months later Mrs Garland at Number 46 opened her front door to a man who said he’d come to read her Electric Meter. Once inside he pushed her to the floor, ran upstairs and searched her bedroom. He left with her jewellery box and a few hundred quid that she was saving for Christmas presents for the grandkids. She wasn’t seriously hurt, just shaken up. She called her son and he called The Police. They took a statement from Mrs Garland and said they would “Investigate.”

After six weeks and with no progress in the investigation, Mrs Garland’s son paid a visit to the Parker family and asked if they could help track down the burglar. He offered to pay for their time and they agreed. Ten days later a local drug addict was found dead in an abandoned flat with a needle hanging out of his arm. The “Official” cause of death was an overdose.  The same day Mr Parker turned up at the Garlands house and returned her jewellery box.

Over the next six months the estate dealt with its own problems. No one called The Police anymore they went straight to the Parkers. Terry and his brother Steve became the local Security. The estate became a crime free area. No more petty crime, no muggings, no burglaries, nothing. It got to the point where the local Police didn’t bother patrolling the area, no point, nothing happened.

Then we all got a leaflet through our doors asking us to attend a meeting at the local community hall. It was from the Parkers.

Terry Parker spoke about how the estate had changed dramatically over the past few months and how it was again like “The old days”. You could literally go out now and leave your front door open and be confident that everything would be fine. You could walk down the streets any time night and day and be safe. We all agreed. Then he mentioned something that took all of us by surprise.

“So…in order to keep our estate safe and secure and free from crime, there has to be a cost. I want to ask you all to pay twenty pounds a month, that’s just five pounds a week, the price of a good pint. This will enable us to buy a car and patrol the estate night and day.”

There was a stunned silence. No one had expected that we had to pay for our safety. It made perfect sense of course. It was a big estate and there was only Terry and Steve Parker to cover it all.

After much deliberation it was decided that we would need time to think it over and we would meet up again in two weeks. Terry and Steve Parker agreed with the decision and also stated that they would be taking some well earned holiday during that time.

The next two weeks were carnage. Cars were broken into, tyres let down, windows smashed, there were five muggings in just one night and our local supermarket was looted. The next meeting couldn’t come soon enough.

It was a packed hall that greeted Terry and Steve Parker that night. They were welcomed back from holiday like heroes returning from the war.

Forms were completed, Bank details were given and Terry Parker even had his own Credit Card machine at the ready to take payments.

Parker Security Ltd (PSL) was soon up and running. Two brand new Land Rover Discovery’s patrolled the estate but not by Terry and Steve Parker, they were too busy, but by two large Russian gentlemen.

A few people on the estate were against it and decided not to pay their twenty pound a month. Coincidentally these were the only people who were the victims of crime over the next six months and it wasn’t long before they were asking the Parkers if the could join the scheme. Terry and Steve agreed but said because they’d joined late they had to pay the premium rate, which was fifty per cent extra. It was their own fault of course, they should have taken the Parkers up on their offer when we all did.

But now I’ve got a bit of a problem. I was made redundant two weeks ago and I’m going to struggle to pay the monthly security fee. I called the Parkers this afternoon and told them the situation. They said they’d be round tonight to “pay me a visit and sort things out”. That was nice of them, so I’ve put the kettle on and put some biscuits on a plate.

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Monroe ( 10)

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Frank returned to his bottle of wine and poured another glass. As much as he wanted to go to the scene of the fire and speak with the Officer In Charge, he knew he couldn’t. This wasn’t his case anymore. Jackson had been very clear about that. They’d shook hands and made a deal. Frank would stay away in return for information about Thomas Sago. That was it. Case closed as far as he was concerned.

But…he couldn’t keep his mind off it. Every thirty minutes he’d find the local news, either on the TV or local radio and get an update about the fire. He turned in for bed at midnight, with a belly full of wine…and still no take away.

He was up at six, scrambled three eggs and set them on two slices of crisp toast. Black coffee and a cereal bar finished off his breakfast and he was ready to go. He was at his desk by seven thirty feeling refreshed and eager to face whatever the day threw at him. Taking the afternoon off was a good idea, he’d needed that, although he could have done without the phone call from Jenny. It was then that he remembered the piece of paper in his inside pocket. Fuck he was supposed to do it last night. No worries, he’d do it now, get it out of the way before Jenny had a fucking heart attack. He was just about to type in the details when he heard a familiar voice from behind him.

“Morning Frank, I wondered if we could have a chat?”

He turned round to see Jackson standing at the door. Frank smiled.

“Well good morning Jackson, wish I could help but I’m afraid I’m no longer on the case. We had a deal…remember?”

Jackson smiled and Frank knew immediately that this time it was genuine.

“Well how about we have a talk and maybe we could strike up another one. What do you say?”

Frank stood up and walked toward Jackson.

“Come on, there’s a good cafe just round the corner. Coffee?”

Jackson did as he was told and followed Frank to a small cafe a few seconds walk from the station.

A young Polish girl brought them over two coffees and Frank looked at Jackson.

“Okay before we start, can you give me an honest answer to two questions?”

Jackson nodded. Frank leaned forward.

“Where have you come from? I don’t mean as in are you a fucking alien, but just now, where you travelled from, where you based?”

Jackson responded without hesitation.

“Flew into City Airport from Belfast. That’s where my office is. Either there or London. But my home is in Belfast. Second question?”

Frank thought that made sense. Belfast is a forty-five-minute flight from City Airport and the flights start coming in around 6.30am, a quick Black cab and he’d be at Limehouse in ten minutes.

“What the fuck is your “REAL” name?”

This made Jackson burst out laughing.

“Frank, I’ll tell you the honest answer. My dad got me the job back in 1998, I was only twenty-five and I was the new kid in the department. However, my Dad was a very senior member of the service and his name was Jack and EVERYONE knew him. So whenever anyone asked who I was, people would say “Oh him, he’s Jack’s son.” And it stuck, everyone, including my wife, call me Jackson. My real name is Hubert, so as you can imagine, I’m quite happy with Jackson.”

They both laughed and drank their coffee. Jackson continued.

“So here’s my new deal Frank. How about we work together on this one? You and your team work as “special advisors” helping us with local information about Sago and Doctor Jeremiah? Perhaps together we can find out who’s responsible for what’s going on?”

Frank didn’t want to seem too enthusiastic but secretly he was excited by the proposition.

“What about my boss, what if he doesn’t agree?”

Jackson shook his head.

“His agreement is just a phone call away.”

Frank didn’t need time to think about it, he wanted to be involved.

“Okay. Deal. Now tell me about Doctor Jeremiah.”

Jackson stroked an imaginary beard on his chin as if he was thinking.

“I’m going to talk about him in the past tense because the remains of a body they found in the burnt out house at just after four o’clock this morning is almost certainly his. He was from Tanzania and his real name was Michael Kojo. His father was an advisor to the President and a very much respected official in the Government at the time. However, Michael Kojo was gay and was caught in a very compromising situation in the capital city of Dodoma. Being gay in Tanzania is a serious offence and Michael was facing life imprisonment. He father approached us and we struck a deal. He would keep us informed of what was happening within the Tanzanian Government and we would get him out of the country and set up in the UK. He came to me in 1995, he was a religious man and so we set up a small Church for him. To be fair to Michael, he built the thing up to what it is today, yes we help him with funding from time to time, but he’s grown the congregation to around 300.”

Frank was intrigued by the news about Doctor Jeremiah. He wanted to know the answer to one more question.

“How many of his congregation were ex Boco Haram or linked to any other terrorist organisation?”

Jackson once again didn’t hesitate and opened up his brief case. He handed Frank a file.

“Just two Frank. One from Boco Haram and one from Al Shabab in Somalia.”

Frank shrugged his shoulders.

“So why not just round these two guys up and move them to a secure location?”

Jackson frowned.

“We tried Frank, but both have been missing for the past twenty-four hours. Neither of them turned up for work yesterday morning and their flats are empty. Just like Thomas Sago’s, there was no mobile or laptop found. So whoever killed Sago and Jeremiah and took the other two, may have access to some pretty sensitive information.”

Frank was confused.

“Like what?”

Jackson leaned forward and spoke softer.

“Look, I’m not the only one that does what I do. It’s estimated that there are around 200 people like Sago here in the UK. Some in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. There are Doctors, Nurses and Solicitors, all have been of service and then set up in the local community. Some of them have been here for a lifetime. As I said to you before we keep our eyes on them for a short while and then they’re on their own. Trying to contact all of them would be impossible. We need to contain this quickly before we have bodies turning up all over the place.”

Frank wondered how that could possibly happen.

“But how do they find each other, they’re told to keep their heads down, surely they would just keep themselves to themselves?”

Jackson smiled.

“Human nature Frank. Eventually they get lonely, homesick. They think they’re safe and then start digging hoping to find someone from their home country that’s in a similar position to them. There’s a network in place that’s very difficult to stop.”

Jackson looked at his watch. I’ve got a flight to catch Frank. But I’ll be in touch. He handed Frank a post-it note.

“I bought a cheap pay as you go phone at the airport this morning. Here’s the number. Call me anytime. You’re the only one that’s got it, so whenever it rings I’ll know it’s you. Expect a call from your boss today saying that you’re back on the case.”

Jackson stood up, shook Franks hand and walked out of the cafe. Frank saw him flag down a Black cab and was gone. He finished his coffee and slowly walked back to the station. As he walked through the door he was greeted by a worried looking Mark.

“You forgot your phone Guv, we’ve been trying to contact you!”

Frank was worried. What the fuck was the problem? Another body?

“Okay, I’m here now. What’s up?”

Mark blurted it out all in one go.

“It’s your ex. wife Guv, she’s been going fucking mental on the phone. Something about a payment for the school?”

 

Monroe ( 9)

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The team weren’t best pleased about handing over the case to Anti Terrorism, but Frank explained there was nothing they could do about it. Thomas Sago was a “wrong un” from Nigeria who’d eventually got his comeuppance over here. Time to get started on another case. Gangs were running rife all over London and kids were being knifed every day so there was no shortage of cases to get stuck into. Each member of the team had a job to do and they got on with it.

Frank hadn’t had a day off in over four months and decided to go home for the afternoon open up a bottle of wine and chill listening to either John Coltrane or Miles Davis. It sounded like a plan but in reality he knew he’d be asleep within ten minutes.

Back at the flat he kicked off his shoes and opened the fridge. A bottle of white Rioja was calling his name. He took a large wine glass from the cupboard then pulled the cork from the bottle and poured. It was ice cold and that first sip made his whole body tingle. He was about to sit down when his phone rang. It was his ex-wife, Jenny. This wasn’t going to be a nice call, she only ever contacted him if there was a problem. He answered.

“Hi Jen. You okay?”

He was convinced he already knew the answer to that question.

“No I’m not. I’m fucking fuming. I’ve just had the school on the phone, you didn’t send the cheque for Sophie’s trip to Switzerland. They said if they don’t get it by the end of the week she can’t go. You know how much she’s looking forward to it. You promised you’d do it and once again you haven’t. Typical you that is, always saying you’re going to do something and then not doing it. Just the same when we were married, time after time you said you’d be somewhere and then you wouldn’t show up because you were too busy or just forgot. It’s not good enough Frank it really isn’t.”

Frank had stopped listening after he heard her say “fuming”, while Jenny was having her rant, he’d taken a cheque book from a drawer and written a cheque.

“Jen, Jen, Jen, calm down. I’ve got the cheque here. I’ll drop it at the school first thing in the morning. Promise. Okay?”

“Well you make sure you do. You know how much it is don’t you or have you forgotten that as well? It’s £1250, and you make it payable to the School Council, not Mister Higgins like last time. You will do it Frank won’t you? ”

As always Jenny knew how to press Franks buttons and suddenly he snapped.

“Look I said I’ve got the fucking cheque here. I WILL take it to the School in the morning.”

But Jenny had to have the last word.

“Good. Or your daughter will be let down…again!”

She hung up. Frank walked over to a pile of vinyl records next to a turntable on an old wooden sideboard. He chose one, looked at the cover and smiled.  Miles Davis, “Quiet Nights”.

He very carefully took the record from its sleeve and placed it on the turntable. “Wait till you see her” began to play. Frank sat down with his glass of wine and remembered a time when Jenny wasn’t quite so angry. They’d met when they were both twenty-four, he was just a Constable back then and she worked for an Insurance Company in the City. Two years later they were married and just twelve months later along came Sophie. That was sixteen years ago. Sophie was only eight when they divorced. His fault of course, he was ambitious and wanted to climb the ladder fast, and he did. But it came at a price. It cost him his family.  He was away from home so often that Jenny found comfort with someone else. He wasn’t angry, how could he be? It happens. His biggest regret was that Sophie knew her stepdad better than she knew him. Oh well, no point in worrying about things you can’t change. He took a big gulp of wine and let Miles do his magic. He could feel his eyes beginning to close, he put his glass on the floor and fell into a deep sleep.

It was three hours later when he woke up. It was already dark outside and his belly thought his throat was cut. He was hungry. He picked up his wine glass and poured a refill. A new Thai restaurant had opened at the end of the road, he was wondering whether to walk down there or order a takeaway. He switched on the TV, the six O’clock news had just begun. The wine tasted good, no longer ice cold, it was fresher and sharper than before. The sips turned into gulps and soon it was gone. Now he had a dilemma. It was only six thirty and he’d already drunk a bottle of wine. Should he open another or go out and eat. No “Fuck it”, he’d order a takeaway and relax indoors.

He walked to the fridge and took out another bottle. He pulled out the cork just as the local news came on.

“Huge disruptions in East London tonight as a massive fire engulfs a house in Forest Gate. Police fear there may be a number of casualties.”

He looked at the screen, he recognised the road.

His phone rang. It was Mark.

“Guv, you watching the TV? It’s that Doctors house, in Claremont Road.”

Frank stared at the screen, the whole place was alight.

“Yes Mark watching it now.  No point in going down there, nothing we can do. Besides, it’s not our case anymore. Have a good night Mark, see you in the morning.”

Frank hung up, then quickly dialled another number. A familiar voice answered.

“Hello Frank, didn’t expect to hear from you. What’s up?”

Frank tried hard not to gloat.

“You know the good Doctor from the Ministry Of Divine Miracles and Manifestations? The one that you couldn’t tell me about because of National Security?”

Jackson’s voice sounded intrigued.

“Yes?”

Frank went straight to the punch line.

“Well his house is burning to the ground as we speak and it’s likely that he’s still inside.”

Frank heard only two words before the phone went dead.

“Oh Fuck!”

 

Monroe (8)

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After just four hours sleep, Frank was back at his desk in Limehouse by 7 am.  One of the guys from the Special Firearms Unit brought him a bacon sandwich left over from their nightshift. Frank washed it down with three mugs of hot black coffee. By 8 am the rest of the team had arrived, all anxious to see what the mysterious “Jackson” had to say for himself.  They all had their theories, the most common one being that “Jackson” was a “Spook”. Someone from the intelligence services that shouldn’t really exist, but did.

At 8.15 Frank looked out of the third-floor window and saw a Black Cab pull up outside the main entrance.  A tall, heavy-set man dressed in a long grey coat and carrying a briefcase got out and paid the driver. Frank, as always, ignored the lift and walked down the six flights of stairs to the reception area just as the door opened. The overweight man in the grey coat looked at him and smiled. He thrust out his hand.

“Frank Monroe. Nice to meet you.”

It wasn’t a question, he obviously recognised him. Frank found that slightly creepy. He shook his hand and returned the smile.

“You’ve got the upper hand, you know my name. What’s yours?”

Again the man smiled.

“Just call me Jackson, everyone does.”

Frank wasn’t convinced by either the fake smile or the obvious false name, his patience was wearing thin.

“Okay, there’s a small meeting room on the second floor, let’s set up there and then perhaps you can tell me what the fuck’s going on.”

Jackson ignored Franks comment and walked towards the lift. Now it was Franks turn to lie.

“Out of order I’m afraid. Got to take the stairs. Don’t worry, it’s only four flights.”

A few minutes later Frank and a slightly out of breath, red-faced Jackson sat opposite each other at a desk on the second floor.

Sandra appeared carrying a tray with a jug of water and two glasses. She placed it on the desk in front of them. Frank was impressed by her timing, but knew the real reason she’d popped her head in was so she could see Jackson’s face close up. She would now go away and see if she could find him on any of the Intelligence Service Websites.

“Thanks Sandra.”

Jackson reached over and poured himself a large glass and drank it down in one. He waited for Sandra to leave then opened up his briefcase. He took out a brown paper file. Frank recognised a small black and white photograph of Thomas Sago on the front. Jackson began.

“Okay Frank time to answer some of your questions. I’m going to be as honest as I possibly can with you so that you fully understand the sensitive nature of what’s just happened. I work for a Unit that’s closely attached to the Secret Intelligence Services. We help replace people back into the community once they’ve been helpful with certain “sensitive” information.”

He looked at Frank when he said the word “sensitive.” Frank new exactly what he meant.

“So you’re a handler.”

Jackson didn’t look comfortable with Frank’s response.

“Your words Frank, not mine. Some years ago Thomas Sago was very important to the Intelligence Services and gave us some valuable information. In return we helped him settle back into society. I helped him get a job and a place to stay. Once that was done I kept my eye on him for a while and then he was on his own. Unfortunately, it would seem that his past caught up with him and he suffered the consequences. The case will now be closed on the grounds of National Security. That’s it Frank. That’s the story of Thomas Sago.”

Jackson opened up his briefcase and put the folder away. Frank noticed smugness on his face that he didn’t appreciate.

“What do you mean that’s it? That’s far from fucking that’s it. Who killed him, who chopped his fucking fingers off and stuck them in his mouth? Was it Boco Haram for turning supergrass? Or was it revenge for some of the atrocities he helped carry out?”

Jackson looked surprised. He wasn’t expecting Frank to know that information.

“You’re well informed Frank, how did you know about his involvement with Boco Haram?”

Now it was Franks turn to look smug.

“It’s called good old fashioned police work. Something that you lot seem to know fuck all about!”

For a good ten seconds there was silence. Jackson sat back in his chair. Then suddenly he raised his hands as if in surrender.

“Okay, okay, Frank. Let’s start gain, call a truce. I’ve looked you up, I know you’re a good copper. I’ll tell you about Sago and his involvement with  Boco Haram and in return you just let this one go. Agreed?”

Frank realised he was in a no-win situation.

“Fine by me.”

Once again Jackson opened his case and took out the file on Thomas Sago. This time he opened it and showed Frank a photo. It was a group of black men, dressed in combats each carrying a rifle.

“Second man from the left is Sago. This was taken in 2009, just outside a village in Northern Nigeria where 350 men woman and children had just been slaughtered.”

He pulled another photo from the file and handed it to Frank. This one was more graphic. Three black men were standing over five dead bodies like trophy hunters. He recognised one of the men as Sago.

“You see Frank, Thomas Sago became quite a celebrity within Boco Haram between 2009 and 2013. Not many knew his real name, he was simply known as Awon Eranko which means The Beast. It’s likely he was responsible for the torture and killing of well over 500 people.”

Frank was eager to know more.

“So how the fuck did he change into a mild-mannered school teacher from Clapton in East London?”

Jackson laughed.

“In 2013 Boco Haram were on the run. They were being hunted down by not just the Nigerian Government but secretly by us and the US. Basically, we’d all had enough of their bullshit and it was time to take them out. Sago was captured along with a number of others, he was due to be executed but wanted to do a deal. He said he would show us where the last strongholds were in return for safe passage out of the country. His information led to pretty much the end of Boco Haram in Nigeria. He came to me in 2014. He was a bright kid, a real academic, quick learner. I pulled a few strings and got him the primary school job. He knew that he had to keep his head down or someone was likely to take it off. “

Frank was keen to know about the Church.

“And what about Doctor Jeremiah. Is he also ex Boco Haram?”

“Frank, I can’t discuss the good Doctor, let’s just say we look after his little religious group with a bit of funding here and there.”

Frank shrugged his shoulders.

“Okay, but who killed him?”

Without hesitation Jackson replied.

“Definitely not Boco Haram. This was a revenge killing for what he’d done in Nigeria.”

Frank looked surprised.

“How can you be so sure?”

Jackson pulled another photo from the folder and gave it to Frank. He took one look and suddenly Thomas Sagos killing made sense. Sago was dressed in full combat gear holding a pair of wire cutters. Beside him was a man strapped to a chair his hands covered in blood. On the floor next to the chair were the man’s fingers. He handed the photo back to Jackson.

“You see Frank it was his favourite form of torture.”

The folder was put back in the case and Jackson stood up ready to leave.

“That’s it Frank. You’ll get a call from your boss soon to say the case is being handled by the Anti Terrorist Unit. So stop digging and make sure your team do the same. Deal?”

Frank nodded.

“Deal.”

They shook hands. Frank led Jackson back down the four flights of steps and out the front door of the station. Now all he had to do was convince the team that it was all over. His mobile rung. It was his boss.

“Hi Frank, look there’s been a development on the Sago case. Looks like he was some kind of escaped criminal from Africa and on the most wanted list. Anti Terrorism are taking the case over and are arranging for his body to be taken back overseas. Sorry Frank but as far as you’re concerned the case is over.”

 

 

Wilder v Fury.

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My view on this great fight!

It’s less than twenty-four hours since I watched one of the best Heavyweight contests in a long time.

The Bronze Bomber v The Gypsy King, come on, it sounds like it’s straight out of a feature film!

The Bronze Bomber is a black American from Alabama whose real name is Deontay Wilder. He won the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics as an amateur. He’s now 6ft 7inches, unbeaten in 40 fights and won most of them by knocking his opponents senseless. He’s the first American to hold the Heavyweight crown (WBC version) for nine years since he won the title in 2015. He’s a rag to riches story that has made him an American hero. Don’t get me wrong, he’s good, really good, and once he hits you, the lights go out and you fight no more.

The Gypsy King is a white Englishman whose real name is Tyson Fury from Manchester. He was born 12 weeks premature and weighed just 16oz at birth. His family are from the travelling community and have a great tradition with fighting. So his Dad decided to call him Tyson, after Mike Tyson. This scrawny kid grew into a 6ft 9inch Goliath and quickly set about making a reputation for himself in boxing. No one really took him seriously until 2015 when he was thrown in to fight the great Wladimir Klitschko, the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He beat Klitschko over twelve rounds and suddenly the world stood up and took notice.

So both their Worlds took on a new meaning in 2015. Wilder became WBC Heavyweight Champion and Fury took the other belts (WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO). But instead of the worlds colliding back in 2015, they took completely different directions.

Deontay Wilder kept fit, trained hard, chose his opponents carefully and knocked them all out. For the next couple of years, he was on top of the World, fighting regularly and making his reputation as a good World Champion.

Tyson Fury went on the piss! Big time. He ballooned in weight, found a liking for the Columbian marching powder, and drank himself into oblivion week after week. During this period he also decided it would be a good idea to make homophobic remarks on live television.  Eventually, before he was stripped of his title by the authorities, he decided to vacate his titles. But by 2016 it was too late and he was suspended from boxing. His habits had got out of control. The next two years saw rumours of comebacks but nothing really happened. Then in early 2018 Fury got his licence back. He was clean, tea total, focused and ready to make a comeback. He trimmed down and lost eight stone!

Since winning the WBC title in 2015, Deontay Wilder had seven fights winning them all in style. Tyson Fury had just two. He’d been away from the ring for thirty months and yet a match was set between them both to take place on December 1st 2018. Surely there could only be one winner?

So I paid my £19.95 and sat up all night to watch what some thought would be a one-sided contest. My son decided to go to LA and watch it live (oh to be young again.).

Fury is a madman (his words, not mine). He has no real style. He’s clumsy, awkward, sometimes he’s a southpaw and sometimes he’s orthodox. He must be the most frustrating person on this planet to fight against. But he’s also talented, clever, fast and cunning.

Wilder is the thing that we all love. A fighter with a punch that will take your head off. He’s also quick and awkward to fight, punches seem to come from nowhere and suddenly you’re gone.

It started at 5.00am this morning (UK time). For the first eight rounds Wilder could not get near Fury. He tried a number of times but kept missing. All the while Fury was scoring points, good combinations that reminded Wilder that he was in the ring with a really good boxer. By the end of the eighth round I had Fury winning six of them and Wilder (possible two). The ninth saw Wilder land with a chopping right that caught Fury behind his ear. He went down, but was up quickly and carried on. Wilder tried to finish the job but Fury was just too clever and slipped the punches easily. By the end of the eleventh and with only one more round to go, Tyson Fury (The Gypsy King) was well in front on everyone’s scorecard. Even the American TV company Showtime had him so far in front that Wilder would need a knockout in the last round to win.

The last round was one I wanted to watch from behind the sofa and with one eye shut. We all knew that Wilder would come out and swing punches from everywhere and if any of them landed then all Tyson Fury’s work would be in vain. If he could just hold on for one more round he would be the new Heavyweight Champion of the World.

The 12th round was like something out of “Rocky”.

Just thirty seconds in and Wilder hits Fury with a left, right combination that makes his eyes roll to the back of his head and he falls like a dead man to the canvas. Oh no, it’s all over. Tyson Fury is comatose on the canvas. His eyes are open but he sees nothing. The ref starts his count. He gets to seven and Fury sits up like a mummy in a coffin. At eight he’s on one knee and at nine he’s standing! How the fuck has he done that? The ref asks him if he’s okay. Tyson just nods. The ref asks him to move from left to right to prove that he understands. Fury does.

All this time Deontay Wilder is celebrating his victory, convinced he’s just won the fight. The look on his face when he realises that Tyson Fury is able to continue is priceless. The ref says “Box on.”

They do and within twenty seconds Fury hits Wilder with a peach of a shot that stops him in his tracks. Suddenly both fighters are in danger of falling over.

I swear if my old Nan was still alive she could have got in that ring and pushed them both over. That’s how tired they both were. That’s how much they had both given.

The bell rang. It was over. Everyone agreed Tyson Fury was the new Heavyweight Champion of the World.

But hold on a minute. We’re in America, fighting an American Champion, a national hero, someone that makes the American Boxing Industry millions of dollars a year. That can’t be allowed to happen.

And it wasn’t.

The three judges gave their scores. Canadian Judge says 114-110 to Fury, Mexican Judge says 115-111 to Wilder. The UK Judge says 113-113. So the result is a draw.

I’ve watched the fight again and there is NO dispute that Fury won 7 rounds of the 12. No doubt at all. Some ex-boxers and experts say he won more, but he definitely won at LEAST 7.

Rematch? You betcha arse there’ll be a rematch. Can’t wait…

Monroe ( 7)

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The Traffic Warden was still there when Frank and Mark reappeared from Doctor Jeremiahs luxury house. Frank pressed a five pound note into his hand.

“Cheers mate, buy yourself a beer or something.”

Before he could even realise he’d been given a tip, Frank pulled away and headed for Limehouse.

Mark couldn’t wait to ask the obvious question.

“So come on then guv, what did the note say?”

Frank gave him the paper. Mark read it out loud.

“Jackson. 88457 389820.”

Mark was confused.

“That’s it? Just a name and a number? Doesn’t even look like a phone number to me.”

Frank had a hunch about the number but kept it to himself for now.

“Me neither. Give Sandra a call, give her the info and ask her to find out what she can before we get back. But tell her not to ring it!”

Mark did as he was told. Fifteen minutes later Frank and Mark were back at Limehouse with the rest of the team. It was time for the six o’clock meeting. Frank told them what happened in Forest Gate with Doctor Jeremiah Matthews. He looked at the team.

“So, questions?”

Terry was first.

“Doctor Jeremiah, suspect?”

Both Frank and Mark shook their heads. Mark replied.

“Definitely not, when the guvnor told him that Sago was dead, he was genuinely shocked. Right guv?”

Frank nodded, then looked over at Sandra.

“So what can you tell me about the number?”

Sandra had a confused look on her face.

“Well to be honest guv, it doesn’t exist as a phone number. There are NO numbers that begin with 88. Unless of course it’s on a secret network. And those DO exist. Best thing to do is try and call it?”

Frank smiled.

“Exactly what I was about to do.”

He dialled the number. It rang. He looked at the team.

“It’s ringing!”

A male voice answered.

“Who is this?”

Frank replied.

“Is that Jackson?”

There was a pause. Frank thought he could hear the sound of keys on a computer being tapped. The voice continued.

“What can I do for you Detective Inspector?”

Frank was impressed and slightly taken aback by that. But didn’t react.

“It’s about Thomas Sago.”

Again a pause. Then a denial.

“Never heard of him.”

“That’s not what Doctor Jeremiah says. He said I should call you.”

“Why?”

“Because Thomas Sago was brutally murdered at his home this morning.”

This last comment made the voice react more openly.

“Listen Frank, put a lid on this till I get to you tomorrow. I’ll be with you at Limehouse at 8.30. Okay?”

Frank never was good at taking orders, especially from someone he didn’t know.

“And why would I want to do that?”

The voice was firm and direct.

“Because I’m a lot further up the food chain than you Frank. So I’m asking you nicely. If you say no, I guarantee in five minutes you’re phone will ring and It’ll be your boss taking you off the case. Now do you understand?”

As much as Frank wanted to tell this guy to stick it up his arse, he was intrigued, he played along.

“Okay, I’ll do what I can. See you in the morning.”

The call ended, both hanging up at the same time. The team were anxious for Frank to give up the information. Again he looked at Sandra.

“How long was that call?”

As always, Sandra knew the answer. “No more than forty seconds.”

“How is it possible that the voice on the other end knew my name, my rank and my location in that short space of time?”

Now they all looked at Sandra.

“It isn’t guv. Even if you were expecting the call you’d have to have certain things in place first.”

Frank nodded. “That’s what I thought. Well, whoever this Jackson guy is, he’s coming to see me tomorrow. Let’s hope that throws up some answers. But enough for one day, time to get over to the Sports Bar and watch the mighty Hammers. I don’t know about you lot but I could do with a Beer and a Burger.”

West Ham lost 2-0 away to Fulham. Frank paid the tab at the end of the night and was back in his flat by 10pm. He couldn’t sleep, his brain was trying to process too much information. Thomas Sago had been dead for twenty-four hours and all he had was hunches. Tomorrow morning he was meeting someone called Jackson, obviously not his real name, and Frank was already convinced he wouldn’t like him.

 

Monroe (6)

Vastagh_A_Lion_and_a_Lioness

 

Frank was on his way to 62 Claremont Road, Forest Gate, the home address of Doctor Matthews of the Ministry Of Manifestations and Divine Miracles. He’d asked Sandra to get Mark to meet him there.

He drove past the old Boleyn Ground, what used to be the home of his beloved West Ham United. Now partly demolished. He tried not to look, it was like seeing your family home being vandalised.

Forest Gate was in East London and wasn’t a posh area, bur Claremont Road certainly was. Every house was detached and at least 5 bedroom. When he parked his car outside number 62 he saw Mark waiting for him.

There was a traffic warden hovering on the opposite side of the street. Frank got out of the car and walked over to him. He showed his ID.

“I’m going to be an hour. No ticket. Okay?”

The warden just shrugged his shoulders and grinned.

“Okay with me. But I’ve got other places to go. If another warden comes along and gives you a ticket, nothing I can do, not my fault.”

Frank noted his tone and expression. What he was really saying was “I don’t give a shit who you are and I certainly don’t take my orders from people like you. Frank ignored the Wardens comment.” He calmly called over to Mark.

“Take this guys badge number down, if we’ve got a ticket when we come out, phone his boss, find out where he lives then charge him with obstructing Police business. Okay?”

Mark did as he was told all the while trying not to laugh. He looked back at the Traffic warden whose whole demeanour had now changed and was walking closely behind Frank like a well trained Police dog. He stopped at the car and almost stood to attention beside it.

“I’ll wait here until you come back. That okay sir?”

Frank smiled.

“Good man.”

He took Mark to one side.

“Right, so has Sandra brought you up to speed?”

Mark couldn’t contain his excitement.

“Bloody hell guv. Thomas Sago a fucking terrorist? Really?”

Frank laughed.

“It’s just a theory! Let’s see what the Pastor has to say about it.”

The large double iron gates were closed but not locked. Frank pushed on one and it opened. The pair of them walked up the gravel drive to the impressive front door. Mark looked at Frank.

“What do you reckon guv? Million? Million and a half?”

Frank already knew the answer. Sandra had sent him a text when he was on his way. The house next door sold the year before for £1.4m.

“Yep, something like that. Doctor Matthews is obviously very good at his job!”

He rang the doorbell and waited. Nothing. He rang again. This time they could hear a voice from behind the door.

“Hold on, hold on. Just a minute.”

The door opened and a tall, black, grey haired man wearing what looked like a pair of yellow and green floral curtains stood before them. A huge open smile appeared on his face and his voice boomed.

“Gentlemen. Welcome to my house. What can I do for you today?”

Mark was lost for words but Frank was quick with his ID.

“Detective Inspector Frank Monroe. Doctor Matthews?”

His big impressive smile never wavered.

“Yes, yes. Please come in. Always a pleasure to see our servants of the law. This way.”

He ushered them into a grand hallway. There were pictures and statues of Lions everywhere.

“This way. This way.”

He led them into a room the size of Frank’s entire flat and gestured them to sit down. Every chair was covered in either leopard or tiger print material. As Frank sank into an extremely comfortable armchair he made a mental note of everything he’d seen so far. If the house was worth 1.5million then the furnishings inside were probably worth the same. The Ministry Of Manifestations and Devine Miracles was either doing very well or had another source of income. Before he could explain the reason they were there, Doctor Jeremiah surprised him.

“I assume you are here about our application to purchase the old building on Forest Road? It used to be a Milk storage facility but was closed over a year age. I know it would mean a change of use but we would obviously be willing to pay handsomely for the privilege of making it our new place of worship. It seems a great shame to leave such a beautiful building empty.”

Frank almost burst out laughing. Doctor Jeremiah obviously thought they were here to ask for a “back hander” to let them use the old Milk Depot for a new Church. He interrupted the Pastor who was in full flow.

“No, no. That’s not the reason for our visit today. It’s about Thomas Sago.”

For the first time the smile disappeared from Doctor Jeremiahs face. He looked worried.

“Thomas? Why, is he in trouble?”

Frank considered the Doctors answer. It seemed genuine enough. He decided to tell the truth and once again gauge the reaction.

“I’m afraid Thomas Sago was found dead at his flat in the early hours of this morning.”

The Doctor slumped into a chair, he looked mortified.

“Oh dear Lord. He seemed such a strong healthy young man. Do you know the cause of death. Was it a heart attack?”

Once again Frank pulled no punches.

“No it wasn’t natural causes. He was brutally murdered.”

The colour drained from Doctor Jeremiahs face, suddenly he didn’t look just upset, he looked genuinely scared.

“Have you spoken to anyone? “

Frank wasn’t sure what he meant by that remark.

“Like who?”

The Pastor chose his words carefully.

“The authorities?”

Mark blurted out exactly what Frank was thinking.

“We are the fucking authorities!”

Doctor Jeremiah walked over to a desk in the corner of the room. He scribbled down something on a piece of paper and handed it to Frank.

Frank took the note and read it. Just a name and a number. He looked up at the Pastor and shrugged his shoulders.

“And?”

Doctor Jeremiah was already opening the door for them to leave.

“I can say no more. You must go now.”

Frank and Mark reluctantly stood up and walked towards the door. As they passed the Pastor, Mark couldn’t help but have the last word.

“Okay, but we’ll be back.”

Doctor Jeremiah shook his head.

“No, no you won’t.”

Mr Russ.

IMG_2356

I don’t have any War Medals from relatives. Dad did National Service in 1950, but was too young to serve in WW2. My Granddads were too young for WW1 but did their bit in WW2 but both of them on these shores, one in the Home Guard and one as a Local Air Raid Warden. Great Grandfathers fought in WW1 but I have no idea where their Medals are, probably lost over the decades. The only Memorabilia I have is from an old next door neighbour. Mr Fred Russ.

In 1960 Mum and Dad moved into a small two up two down council house in East London. Our neighbours on either side were Miss Garland, a widow who had lost her husband in WW2 and Mr Russ, a widower whose wife had died due to illness.

My earliest recollection of Mr Russ was from about five onwards.  We had a tiny garden with small fences on either side. So when I was out there playing, Miss Garland would offer over a slice of her glorious homemade cake and Mr Russ would stop tending his Chrysanthemums and take time to talk to me. He was a retired Carpenter and would make me the best bow and arrows a boy could wish for. He became a third Granddad. We all called him Mr Russ, even mum and dad, never Fred, it was almost like a mark of respect for a man who’d survived two world wars. He had no children and his only living relative was a sister who lived in Wickford.

Miss Garland was a bit reserved and liked to keep her privacy.  But Mr Russ was more outgoing, he liked to chat, play cards, gamble, in fact all the things my dad liked, so although there was a big age difference, they became mates. Every few weeks Mum would invite him to Sunday dinner and once we’d finished and everything was cleared away, we’d all sit down and play cards. At just six years old I could play, Solo, Whist, Rummy, Newmarket and Pontoon and loved every minute of it. After cards the stories would start. Dad would recall how he and his brothers and sisters would huddle under the kitchen table as the bombs fell around them. Mum would talk about the shelter at the end of their garden and how they would listen to the explosions outside never knowing if they would still have a house left when they came out. Mr Russ’s stories were more vague, although he spoke of the First World War he never went into detail, just that he’d fought in France with the Royal Field Artillery. He always said he was one of the lucky ones. He’d survived.

He gave me my first “Real” books. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson and John Halifax Gentleman by Mrs Craik. Both beautiful leather bound books that I still have today.

By the end of the sixties are houses were to be demolished and new Tower Blocks were being built. Mr Russ moved into one of the new flats and Mum and Dad were given a house on the other side of town. We still saw Mr Russ every week. Sometimes we’d visit him to play cards and sometimes he’d come to us for Sunday lunch just like he’d always done.

In 1972 and at the age of 77, Mr Russ decided the flat was becoming too much for him and asked Mum to look into getting him into an OAP home. Six months later he moved into a home in Dagenham. Dad drove over to get him most Sundays so he could have a big roast and after (as always) the cards would come out.

On one such Sunday while Mum and Dad were in the kitchen washing up, Mr Russ asked me to fetch his coat.

“I have something for you.” He said with a grin.

I did as I was told and fetched his coat. From the inside pocket he produced a small box and a leather wallet. He handed both to me.

“Take these up to your bedroom and look at them later. I have no use for them anymore.”

Once again I did as Mr Russ asked. But as soon as Dad took him home I couldn’t wait to see what he’d given me.

In the wallet were 10 photographs of Mr Russ in WW1. Most in uniform, some with other soldiers and a couple of him looking very grand in a straw boater. In the small box were his medals and cap badges from the RFA.  To a 14 year old boy these were like treasure. I’ve kept them safe ever since.

Mr Russ died in 1974 at the age of 79. I think of him often and last week at the 100th Anniversary of the end of WW1, I took them out of their box and once again remembered a true gentleman.

I’ve tried to find out more about Mr Russ’s war years but a lot of information was lost in a fire at the archives some years ago. I only know he was a Gunner between 1914 and 1918. On the back of the photograph I’ve included are the simple words “To Mother, Love Fred”

Monroe (5)

Nigerian_Army_Boko_Haram_demonstration

Both Frank and Terry looked at the photo of Thomas Sago on the whiteboard and then back to the video. Yep, it was him. No doubt about it.

Sandra looked anxious, Frank could tell she had even more information to give them. She continued.

“So, The Ministry Of Manifestations and Devine Miracles is a Christian organisation that meets every Sunday morning at a School Hall in East Ham. They read bits of the Bible, sing a few Hymns, say a few prayers and generally have a good time. The leader of this group is Pastor Jeremiah Matthews, also known as Doctor Jeremiah. And the billing address for the mobile is his home in Forest Gate. So it would seem that Thomas Sago and Doctor Jeremiah spoke to each other at least twice a week. And…one last thing. In Thomas Sago’s file was his Bank details. I obtained his last 6 months statements. A payment of £1000 goes out every month to another account. And that is the account for… The Ministry Of Manifestations and Devine Miracles.”

Frank leaned back on his chair, there was a lot of information to take in and digest. After a few seconds he stood up and started pacing. The team knew this as the “Frank Monroe Strut”. He always did this when he was about to come up with one of his famous theories and most of the time his hunches were right. Terry and Sandra waited anxiously. Frank stopped walking and began his speech.

“This new information throws up a number of questions that we need answers to. Sandra write these down please.”

She was already one step ahead with fingers poised over her keyboard.

“Where was Thomas Sago between 2001 and 2015? When did he come to the UK and how did he get here? Is he an illegal? Where did he get his fake documents from and why didn’t the school do their proper checks? Why does he contact Doctor Jeremiah twice a week and why does he pay him £1000 per month? If we can answer just a couple of those questions I betcha we’ll be close to finding out who was responsible. Sandra, do you know who was responsible for the killings in Nigeria in 2000? What religious group or organisation?”

Sandra did.

“Nigeria is a vast country and made up of several provinces. There has always been conflict between Christians and Muslims throughout each province. In 2000 the Muslims tried to introduce Sharia Law into one of the provinces. The Christians rose up against it and there were mini-wars going on everywhere. After tens of thousands of deaths over a couple of years, a new Muslim group emerged. Boko Haram. They’ve been active ever since.”

Terry was keen to add something.

“Isn’t that the organisation that kidnapped those school girls in Nigeria a couple of years ago?”

Sandra nodded.

“Yep. In 2014 they kidnapped 300 school girls in Northern Nigeria. They’re part of ISIS.”

Frank was off again on his “Strut”. They were about to hear his words of wisdom.

“His parents go missing in 2000, probably killed by a Muslim group in one of the uprisings. He also goes missing at the same time because there is no information on him anywhere, but he’s not dead, he turns up 15 years later in the UK. So what do you do when you’re faced with a violent fanatical group whose already killed your family and is intent on killing you?”

He looked over at Terry for an answer.  He quickly replied.

“You go into hiding. Lay low. Try to get away, try to get out of the country before they track you down?”

Frank agreed.

“Yes, that would make sense, or…”

This time he looked at Sandra, confident she would have another answer. She didn’t disappoint.

“Or join them.”

Frank clapped his hands.

“Yes, you either run away or join them. These groups like to take away young men from their families and radicalise them. What if Thomas Sago was one of them?  He fights for Boko Haram, they become a powerful force taking over huge areas of the country. But then things start going wrong. The Government starts fighting back. Sandra, can you have a look and see what’s happening with Boko Haram now?”

She didn’t need to. She knew the information already.

“The suffered massive defeats in March 2015 and retreated back into the mountains.”

Frank looked at both of them.

“The same year Thomas Sago arrived in the UK.”

The room fell silent. After a few seconds Terry put another theory forward.

“So he returns to the UK. Gets some forged documents and lands himself a job as a school teacher. He keeps himself to himself because he doesn’t want anyone to find out he’s here. So why does he join the Ministry of Manifestation and Devine Miracles.”

Sandra knew the answer.

“Because the last place you’d expect to find a Muslim extremist is in a Christian Church!”

 

 

Monroe ( 4)

BiBle

Terry Walters was ambitious. A Detective Constable at thirty-four with his sights set firmly on being a DCI by the time he was forty. That was now just three years and two promotions away. He’d asked Frank twice to put him forward for Detective Inspector but on both occasions Frank had declined saying he needed more experience. He hoped the Thomas Sago case would be the one that made Frank sit up and pay attention.

But his hopes were quickly dashed. The victims flat had CCTV on the main entrance but it hadn’t worked in four months. The maintenance company were full of apologies and said that lack of funds was to blame. People in the block just weren’t paying their service charges and so cuts had to be made. He was hoping to have some luck from the local council cameras. But he didn’t hold out much hope. Their quality wasn’t great and it very much depended on what direction they were facing on the previous night. He called Frank.

“Hi Guv. No joy with the CCTV at the flat. They haven’t worked for months. I’m gonna copy what I can and take it back to the office. Might get lucky and see the victim entering the building with someone, albeit fucking months ago.”

It was a blow, but Frank didn’t want to deflate Terry’s ego.

“Okay. Try the council option and then get back to the office. Let’s hope the other two have got some good news.”

Frank was with Joe Newbury. The death had been identified as unnatural and the Coroner had asked for an autopsy to take place the following day. The forensic team had finished and the body had been taken away to the morgue.  It was 1.15 and the two of them were sitting in The Gun pub just ten minutes from Limehouse. Frank took a sip of his beer eager to find out what Joe Newbury had found.

“So go on then Joe, what we got?”

Joe put down his pint.

“Now, of course, we need to wait for forensics and the pathology report. But he had a tiny puncture mark on the side of his neck and a small bruise. I’m guessing he’s been stuck with a needle which has rendered him unconscious, dragged onto the bed and then attacked with the secateurs. But Thomas Sago is a big lad. Six feet and about sixteen stone so getting him onto the bed would have been a two-man job. This isn’t a random act of violence or an argument that got out of hand, this is a planned and organised killing. As you know Frank, once you’ve got more than one person involved you’ve got conspiracy.”

Frank took in the information. The only thing that surprised him was what Joe said about two or more people being involved.

“And what about the crime scene? The flat? What can you tell me about that?”

Joe took a long slug of his beer before answering.

“Your guys are welcome to go in there anytime now Frank, were finished. But you won’t find much. The guy lived like a monk. One cup, one plate, one knife and fork. No radio, no TV. The only thing in his fridge was a bottle of milk and a couple of chicken fillets. No beer or wine, in fact, no alcohol of any kind. No crisps or biscuits or cake, just a bag of rice and some noodles. No family photos anywhere, no post or letters. In fact, the only thing we did find was an old Bible on his bedside table.”

Frank seemed to be pleased with the last bit of information.

“Well at least we know he’s religious and as it’s a Bible and not the Koran I suppose we can assume he’s a Christian?”

Before he could say anything else his phone rang. It was Sandra. She sounded excited.

“Guv, I’ve found him. I’ve found Thomas Sago on Facebook. But not on his own site, on someone else’s. And guess what? There’s a video of him on there. And there’s more. A lot more.”

Frank pushed his beer to one side and stood up.

“Good work Sandra, I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

He looked over at Joe.

“Sorry mate got to go. See you at the autopsy tomorrow?”

Joe nodded.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world!”

By the time Frank got back to Limehouse Terry and Sandra were waiting eagerly. Mark was still at the school interviewing the staff.

Frank laughed out loud when he saw the huge smile on Sandra’s face.

“Sandra Bennett I haven’t seen you look this pleased with yourself since the canteen incident.”

Frank was referring to something that had happened way back when Sandra was still in uniform. A senior officer had grabbed her arse in the canteen. She turned round quickly and kicked his legs from under him then stamped on his hand breaking three of his fingers. It was the talk of the station for months.

Sandra smiled and blushed all at the same time.

“Okay, okay, enough of that Guv. I’ve got lots to tell you.”

The three of them sat side by side and Sandra began.

“Terry sent me over the personnel file from St Leonards School on Thomas Sago. His CV said he was born in Lewisham. Not true. He was born in Lagos Nigeria. He said he went to Deptford Green School, again not true. He went to school in Nigeria until he was 18. He said he went to Essex University in Colchester. Not true, he never attended, he shows nowhere on any of the University records.”

Frank interrupted.

“So where did he go to University? Nigeria?”

Sandra couldn’t wait to answer.

“No. He seems to drop off the planet from the age of 18 until he resurfaces in the UK in 2015.”

Mark was confused.

“So where the fuck has he been for 15 years?”

Once again Sandra answered quickly.

“From his Nigerian birth certificate I found out the names of his parents. I searched to see where they are now. In 2000 they were reported as “missing.” That’s a nice way of saying “dead”.  Between 1999 and 2001 something like 10,000 people were killed in riots between Muslims and Christians in all parts of the country.”

Now Frank spoke.

“And we know that Thomas Sago was a Christian, so presumably his parents were as well.”

They both looked at him wondering how he knew that for sure. Frank responded.

“There was a Bible beside his bed. Great work Sandra, so what about Facebook?”

Sandra put her hands up in front of her.

“Slow down Guv. There’s a lot more to come. On his file was a contact number. A Vodaphone mobile. I managed to get all the numbers made to and from that phone over the past three months. He rarely ever used it. But…one number comes up frequently. Twice a week to be precise. So I found out about that number and it belongs to The Ministry Of Manifestations and Divine Miracles.”

There was a brief silence before Terry said the obvious.

“The fucking what?”

Sandra smiled as she repeated it.

“The Ministry Of Manifestations and Divine Miracles. So I found their Facebook page and bingo there’s a video of one of their sermons on there from last year. And guess who’s in the congregation singing his heart out?”

Frank guessed the answer.

“Thomas Sago by any chance?”

Before she said anything else she went straight to a Facebook page on her laptop and pressed play on a video link. It lasted for twenty seconds. It was a large congregation singing in what looked like a School hall. And there he was, right in the front row. Thomas Sago.