Monroe (5)

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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!”

 

 

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Monroe ( 4)

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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.

 

 

Monroe ( 3)

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Mark Latham arrived at St Leonards primary school at 10.55. He walked up to a small reception area and waited for a small middle-aged woman to stop shuffling papers. She looked miffed at being interrupted and spoke abruptly.

“Yes?”

Mark smiled.

“Can I speak with the Headmaster or Head Mistress please?”

The woman looked at him with contempt. She responded as though telling off a naughty child.

“We don’t have one of those at this school. What we do have is a Principle, also known as Head Of School.”

Mark was in no mood to receive a lecture on political correctness. He didn’t get to bed until after midnight and was up again at 5.30. He desperately needed coffee and a bacon sandwich but there was no time, Frank wanted results. He chose his response carefully, speaking slowly but firmly. At the same time he pushed his ID along the counter.

“Okay, let me start again. My name is Detective Mark Latham and I would like to speak to either Mister or Mrs Head Of School. Now please.”

He emphasised the word “Now.”

The woman’s attitudes changed in seconds.

She pressed a button on an intercom system. “Mister Clark there is a Policeman here to see you.”

Within seconds a very nervous grey-haired man was rushing towards him.

“I’m Rob Clark, Head Of School. This way please.”

He ushered Mark into a small room behind the reception area. They both sat down. Rob Clark’s voice was shaking.

“How can I help? What’s the problem?”

Mark tried not to laugh it was obvious that Mister Clark thought he’d been caught watching porn on his laptop.

“It’s about Thomas Sago.”

You could feel the relief in the air when Rob Clark heard the reason for his visit.

“Oh. Thomas Sago? I’m afraid he’s not in today. We’ve tried contacting him but with no response. I’ve had to get another teacher to cover his class. Unusual for him, he’s a very reliable young man.”

Mark took his time before delivering the bad news.

“Look, Mr Clark, Thomas Sago was found dead at his flat early this morning. We’re investigating the circumstances around his demise and I need to see all the records you hold for him.”

Rob Clark’s face went a strange shade of grey. He put his hand to his mouth.

“Oh my god. That’s awful. Of course, we’ll help in any way we can.”

He picked up the phone on his desk.

“Joanne, can you get the personnel file for Thomas Sago and bring it over to me. Quick as you can please.”

There was a short period of silence before Mark started the questions.

“What can you tell me about Thomas?”

Mr Clark shrugged his shoulders.

“Not much. I interviewed him for the position. He had a good CV. Seemed competent enough and to be honest we desperately need teachers, so he got the job. Bit of as loner, never came to any of the staff functions after work. But his work was good, he was thorough, the kids liked him.”

Mark listened closely. It was the second time Thomas Sago had been described as “a bit of a loner.”

“Was he close to any of the other teachers? Obviously I’ll have to speak to each of them, but anyone in particular I should start with?”

Before Rob Clark could answer, the door opened and the same grumpy woman Mark had encountered on reception placed a file on the desk.

“The personnel file for Thomas Sago sir. Is everything okay?”

He dismissed her with a wave of his hand.

“Yes it’s fine. Can you organise the staff to be available at lunchtime? The Detective would like to speak with them.”

He looked over at Mark.

“Is that okay?”

Mark nodded and then looked at Joanne.

“You first. I’ll need to speak with you first. Be back here in fifteen minutes.”

He did that for two reasons, first because the School Secretary usually knew all the gossip about everyone and secondly he wanted to make the grumpy old cow sweat for a while.

 

Sandra Bennett stared at her laptop. Thomas Sago wasn’t on Facebook, never had been. He didn’t have an Instagram or Twitter account either. It was unusual for a man of his age not to use social media. Two years ago she’d done a course on Computer Forensics.  She’d made friends with a guy that worked for Barclays. He was an absolute genius when it came to computers. He could hack into any site and showed her a few different techniques. She couldn’t believe how easy it was to get peoples personal information. It had come in handy on a number of cases and she was confident of finding out about Thomas Sago. But so far she was drawing a blank.

She googled the name of the school he worked at. There was a list of teachers and his name was mentioned but there was no photo or background history on him.

She couldn’t find him in the birth records in the UK for his date of birth. This meant that he was probably born outside the UK. Sago was a very popular surname in Japan, but he definitely wasn’t Japanese! But it was also popular in Nigeria. That seemed more likely.  After thirty minutes she found him on a Nigerian Genealogy site. Thomas Jonathan Sago, born in Lagos on 21/3/1988. She also had the names of both parents. After another few minutes she found him on the attendance records of Latmos Comprehensive School in Alimosho which is forty miles outside Lagos. But the information ended when he left the school in 2006 at the age of 18.

To become a Primary School teacher he would have had to get a degree. So where did he go to University?  Nigeria or the UK?

She was beginning to get somewhere at last. Her phone rang. It was Mark.

“Hi Sandra, I’ve got his mobile number from the school records. It’s 07786 487261. He’s been at the school for two years. I’ve also got a copy of his application form. Loads of info on that. I’ll take photos and email them over.”

She punched the air.

“Cheers Mark. You’re a star.”

She knew immediately that 07786 numbers were allocated to Vodaphone. In just a few minutes she’d be able to see all calls made to and from that number in the last few days. Before she had a chance to search it she noticed she had mail in her inbox from Mark.

It was Thomas Sago’s application form with all his personal details. She printed off the pages and began to read, all the time cross-referencing with various web sites. None of it made sense.

In fact, the more she found about Thomas Sago the more of a mystery he became.

 

 

Monroe ( 2)

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The Metropolitan Police were going through change. Lots of local stations were closing, being sold off and converted into flats others were being completely demolished and new homes were being built on the land. Government cuts were forcing the closures and good Officers were being displaced.

Frank and his team used to be in Hackney, when that closed they moved to Dalston. That also closed and they were told to go to Bow. Frank was having none of it, he knew that Bow was already overcrowded so headed for Limehouse.  All the way there Terry kept saying that Limehouse was shut, sold off, no longer owned by the Met. But Frank knew otherwise. It was being used as a base for the Specialist Firearms Unit, known as SCO19. Sure, it was in the process of being sold, but that could take months, maybe even longer. It would make the perfect base for the four of them. When they turned up Frank found the Officer in charge and told them they’d been sent there by his Detective Chief Superintendent and all they needed was a couple of offices just for a few weeks. The guy looked genuinely pleased to see them.

“Thank fuck for that. This place is like the Mary Celeste. My lads have got the ground floor but the rest of the building is empty. Help yourself to whatever you need.”

So Frank and his team set up on the first floor. Just the three of them in an area the size of a five a side football pitch. That was four months ago and no one had questioned it since. Frank told his boss that Bow had sent them there because of “overspill”.

The team wasn’t massive. Just three Detective Constables and Frank handpicked them all. Terry and Mark did all the leg work and Sandra sorted out the paperwork and admin. Not because she was the only female in the group but because she was super efficient at it. She was also the smartest out of the three of them with an IQ of 140. He liked his team, they were all local, all brought up in East London and when you’re trying to solve crime in this area that’s exactly what you need.

He’d called a meeting for 10.00am. He wanted to see what information they’d recovered and could they make sense of what looked like some kind of ritual killing.

Frank stood up in front of a large whiteboard. It was blank apart from an 8×10 photo of Thomas Sago in the top left-hand corner.

“Okay. Let’s see what we’ve got. Thomas Sago, 36-year-old Black Male. Mutilated in his own home. No visible signs of false entry. Fingers cut off and stuffed in his mouth…oh yeh and a pair of secateurs shoved into his ball bag. Questions please.”

Terry was the first to speak.

“Do we know what the cause of death was? Surely you wouldn’t die just because your fingers were cut off? Yeh it would hurt a bit and bleed like fuck, but it wouldn’t kill you.”

Frank nodded.

“Agreed. Even with the clippers stabbed into the poor fuckers nut sack it wouldn’t be enough to kill. So we’re waiting for the autopsy to confirm. But we do know he wasn’t strangled, stabbed or shot. So my guess is that he was drugged, passed out and then the perpetrator had a go at some advanced gardening. Maybe he bled out or maybe shock. Not sure.”

Mark Latham was anxious to speak up. Frank pointed at him.

“Sir, according to the neighbour, Thomas Sago had few friends. He was a bit of a loner. The guy also said that maybe he was a bit OCD? He caught him a couple of times counting the number of steps on the landing to the lift. The guy said he thought he was a bit strange?”

Frank was intrigued.

“Okay, tell me everything you’ve got.”

Mark took out his notepad and begun to read.

“I interviewed 12 neighbours over three floors. Apart from the guy opposite no one knew who he was. Even though according to the leasehold he’d been there for three years. He seems to be a guy that keeps himself to himself.”

Frank wanted to know more.

“Tell me word for word what his neighbour said.”

Mark read aloud.

“I’ve known Thomas Sago for two years since I moved into number 36. He was someone that I nodded to most mornings as we left our flats at a similar time. But he seemed quite shy. I caught him a few times counting the steps between his door and the lift. When he saw me he seemed embarrassed so I never mentioned it. I have a cousin with OCD and that’s the sort of thing that he does. The most he ever said to me was “Nice shoes.” I was wearing a pair of new Italian black leather shoes and he commented on them when we were together in the lift one day. I hadn’t seen him for about three days and then early this morning around 4am I heard shouting coming from his flat. I took my time and got dressed then knocked on his door to see if he was okay. There was no answer, so I went back to bed. But it played on my mind so I called 999.”

Frank listened and then asked Terry a question.

“So where we at with CCTV?”

Terry, who was much more confident than Mark, stood up and walked over to the whiteboard. This was his moment.

“The owners of these flats also own another twelve blocks in the area. CCTV is held at their head office in Loughton. I’m off there this afternoon. The local shops were a waste of time. CCTV cameras are everywhere but none of them work. But…local council have CCTV all around and I’ll be trying to source that data as soon as we finish the meeting.”

Frank looked at Sandra. He knew she was the smartest person in the room.

“Sandra, thoughts?”

Sandra was a red head and like most redheads she was fiery. This was a woman not to be crossed.

“My guess is that it’s a jilted lover. Either male or female. His fingers are cut, so that means he can’t play with anyone else anymore. His ball sack is now useless and would probably mean that he can no longer father children or produce testosterone. This renders his penis completely useless.  The fingers stuffed in his mouth means he can’t speak. Maybe it’s a way for his killer to have the last word? But…”

Sandra paused.

Everyone waited for her to carry on.

“Why kill him. Surely if this is revenge for something you’d want him to be alive and live with these injuries. That way you really would have made him suffer. “

Frank liked what he heard. It was smart, concise and to the point. Typical Sandra. But was it correct?

He brought the meeting to a close.

“Okay. There was no mobile or laptop found at the flat. Impossible for a man of his age and occupation not to have both so we can assume that the killer took them. Mark, go to his school, they must have contacts for him. Get his number and give it to Sandra, she can then get all the numbers it called and received over the past few days and weeks. See if he has a locker at the school bring back here anything that’s in it. Ask lots of questions…you know the routine. Terry, get the CCTV footage from everywhere you can, that’s gonna be crucial in this case. Sandra, go on line, see if he has a Facebook page, Instagram account, Linked In or whatever bollocks it’s called. I want to know everything there is to know about Thomas Sago by the end of today. And…I want us to have a Prime Suspect, so no pressure!”

They all laughed. Frank continued.

“Off you go. Another meeting back here at 6pm. West Ham are playing tonight and it’s live on Sky at 7.45. I’m going over to the Sports Bar in Canary Wharf to watch it. I’m buying!”

They all cheered apart from Sandra. She supported Millwall.

 

 

Monroe ( Part 1)

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Frank was awake. He’d been laying there in the darkness for over half an hour. The Smiths from the flat next door had woken him up having their usual early morning conjugals. He was never sure exactly what Mister Smith did but Mrs Smith was very vocal in her appreciation. She’d shouted the word “Yes” at least twenty times in the last five minutes.

The alarm clock beside him was showing 5.12am. He had a decision to make. Get up now, shower, dress, coffee and breakfast and early to the office, or try to get another couple of hours sleep and get to the office around nine. Didn’t really matter, he was his own boss and start and finish times meant nothing to a Detective Chief Inspector.

The decision was made for him. His mobile rang. He answered with just one word.

“Monroe.”

A young male voice was on the other end.

“Morning guv. We’ve got a dead black guy at 37 Arlington Grove, Clapton. Uniform are there and SOCO are on they’re way. I can have a car pick you up in fifteen minutes?”

Frank Monroe was already out of bed and heading for the bathroom.

“Okay. Call Mark and Terry and get them to meet me there.”

He was washed, dressed and waiting outside his flat in Woodford Green when his car arrived. An unmarked blue BMW. With blue lights flashing and the driver obviously trying hard to impress his passenger, Frank arrived at the address at 5.34am. He smiled when he looked at his watch. Just twenty-two minutes ago he was listening to Mrs Smith achieve orgasm, now he was about to walk into a bloody crime scene. And that is why he absolutely loved his job.

Two uniformed Officers stood at the entrance to the building. Frank showed his ID.

“Where is he?”

The older of the two Policemen spoke up.

“Third-floor sir. SOCO is there already.”

Frank nodded and walked past. The lift door was open but Frank took the stairs. He kidded himself that the exercise would do him good, the reality was he suffered from claustrophobia and was shit scared of lifts.

Outside the door of number 37 was another uniformed officer. Once again Frank showed his ID and walked past.

He heard his name called.

“In here Frank.”

Frank recognised the voice of Scene Of Crime Officer Joe Newbury. He walked into the bedroom. Joe was standing at the foot of the bed taking photographs.

“Morning Joe. So, what we got?”

Joe continued taking photos while he spoke.

“Black male. Thirty-six years of age. Name is Thomas Sago. Works as a Primary School Teacher at St Leonards just up the road.”

Frank was impressed.

“How do know all this?”

Joe put down the camera and smiled.

“His School ID badge was on his bedside table. It’s got his name, photo and date of birth on it.”

Frank chuckled.

“Who called it in?”

“Bloke from the flat across the landing. Said he heard raised voices about 4 this morning. He knocked on the door to see if everything was okay, but there was no answer. He waited a while then decided to call 999.”

“So time of death is about 4am?”

Joe shook his head.

“Nope, this body is stone cold and Rigor Mortis is already well advanced. This guy’s been dead for at least 6 hours.”

Frank was intrigued.

“So if the guy’s been dead from about midnight, who made all the noise at 4am?”

Joe shrugged.

“Not my department Frank. That’s for you to find out, that’s why they pay you that massive salary!”

They both laughed. It was an “IN” joke, neither of them knew exactly what the other earned but they were both convinced that it was less than the other.

Frank walked forward and took a close look at the body on the bed.

“Fuck me. What the hell happened here? Cause of death?”

The man’s naked body was laid out as though he was in a coffin. Arms folded across his chest but his hands covered in blood. His face was contorted and his cheeks were puffed out like a hamster.

Joe answered with an excited voice.

“Okay, I can’t touch too much until the forensic guys get here, but I can tell you this much. His fingers and thumbs have been cut off with a pair of razor-sharp garden secateurs.”

Frank frowned.

“Jesus. And what about his cheeks, why are they all puffed out? Has he got something stuck in his mouth?”

Once again Joe Newbury was keen to answer.

“Yes Frank. All of his fingers.”

Before Frank could react he heard voices behind him. It was his team. Two Detectives, Mark Latham and Terry Walters. Without even saying good morning, Frank gave them the details and instruction.

“Okay, we have a 36-year-old black male called Thomas Sago. Local primary school teacher. Estimated time of death is midnight. Mark, go to the flat across the landing and take a statement from the guy in there. He was the one that called it in. Make sure he’s absolutely clear about what he heard and what he saw and about exact timings. Also go to the flats above and below find out if anyone else heard anything and also what they know about this guy.”

Mark turned and left the flat.

“ Terry. Find out if these flats have CCTV, if they do find out who controls it and where the data is kept. See if there is any other CCTV available to us from the shops across the road or up the street.”

Terry nodded.

“Okay guv.”

Frank turned and looked at Joe. He was puzzled, there was a question he needed to ask.

“How do you know his fingers were cut off with garden secateurs?”

Joe pointed at the lower half of the naked body.

“They’re embedded in his scrotum Frank.”

Life In Ties.

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I stare at the back of the wardrobe door and admire my DIY skills. Two cup hooks, twenty inches apart and joined together with taut string. Hanging over this miniature clothes line are my collection of Ties.  Every style from kipper to bootlace and every colour from Banana yellow to Puke.

Far too many for a man that no longer wears them five days a week.

I slowly run the back of my hand along the line, spanning the decades.

I stop in the mid-eighties and hold bright red silk, my estate agent days. I remember paying seventeen pounds for it from a designer shop in Fulham. A small fortune back then, but it didn’t matter. I was a brash twenty-six year old with other people’s money to burn.

I continue on to 1990 and multicoloured paisley. Only worn once after one of the sales girls laughingly asked me if I’d just been sick. That hurt, I remember going into C&A at lunchtime and buying a new one. My wife Jane laughed when I told her. She said I was being too sensitive.

I smile as I touch 1992. “The Beauty.” Jane’s favourite. Black and White, Prince Of Wales Check. The day I bought it I asked her if she liked it. “It’s a beauty,” she said. I wore it for the interview for Sales Manager.  I got the job.

Blue and grey stripes from 1994, the one with THAT stain on it. The day that Linda Evans got me a bit over excited in the car park of Asda. I parked up in the far corner in my brand new Granada Scorpio. I told her to stop, but Linda never was one for taking orders. I told Jane I’d been eating ice cream. She never did believe me. I lean forward and sniff. Yep, still reeks of “Anais Anais” I’m sure Linda used to bath in it!

Then one of my most treasured. Orange and Black stripes from 1997. I‘d just been offered the job of Sales Director. I phoned Jane to give her the good news. She just said, “Oh great.”  Then hung up. We had a big row about it that night. She was convinced I’d always be away from home at “Sales Conferences.” I took the job.

1999 and the dark blue woollen one I wore to court for the custody hearing. Jane won of course, she said I was a serial adulterer who couldn’t handle responsibility. At the time I guess she was right. But I did get an agreement to see the kids every other weekend.

2003, Peach for my second wedding day. Tanya Roberts had been temping while my Secretary was on maternity leave. She was twelve years my junior but it didn’t matter, we were in love and wanted to spend our lives together. Tanya wore a stunning Peach wedding dress, so I bought the Tie to match. It was a great day, I just wished the kids had been there, but Jane wouldn’t allow it.

Red with white polka dots. 2006, the one I was wearing when Tanya called me to say she was pregnant. I was going to be a dad again at forty-eight. I also wore it twelve months later at Oliver’s christening. I turn around and look at a photo on my bedside table. It’s of Mum holding him on that very day, Dad’s standing behind her with a silly grin on his face. Very proud grandparents.

Red, White and Blue for Dads 70th Birthday party at the Golf Club in 2010. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy. Jane and the kids were there, first time I’d seen them in almost five years. She introduced me to her new husband. I noticed the kids called him Dad.

2014 and dark red with small gold flowers. I wore it when I met Tanya for lunch in the City. She’d called and said she wanted to meet up. She said she had something to ask me. We’d been divorced a year and I was hoping the question would be “Could we give it another go.” It wasn’t. She was asking for more money because Oliver’s school fees had gone up.

I stop at the black one.  2017. Worn at Dads funeral and then Mums just ten weeks later.

I close the door. Too many Ties and too many memories. I’ll sort them out another day.

Alvarez v Golovkin ( 2)

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Five years ago today I wrote about a fight. Mayweather v Alvarez.

https://www.abctales.com/blog/jolono/mayweather-v-alvarez

Alvarez was just 23 back then and very much “the new kid on the block”.  The young Mexican was unbeaten, talented, quick hands and was fast becoming a superstar. Mayweather was already a superstar. At 36 he was the biggest thing in Boxing.

That fight saw Mayweather give young Canelo Alvarez a lesson in Boxing. How to hit and not be hit back.

Fast forward four years. Mayweather has retired and Canelo has had 7 more fights and won them all. Surely now he is the master of his weight division and the best there is?

Not quite. During those four years another fighter has come along, had ten fights and won them all. He seems indestructible, throws punches from every angle, hard, accurate punches that wears his opponents down until they can take no more. He has a chin of solid granite. Hit him as hard as you can and this guy does not go down. Some pundits are saying that “pound for pound” he’s the best fighter on the planet. He’s from Kazakhstan and his name is Gennady Gennagyevich Golovkin nickname “Triple G.”

So, the Boxing world held its breath. Surely these two great fighters had to meet to find out who was the best Middleweight in the world today.

A deal was done and a date was set. Golovkin v Alvarez would take place in Las Vegas on 16th September 2017. I booked it on Pay Per View at a cost of £15, my son went one better. He managed to get a ticket and flew to Vegas to watch it live.

Surely now we’d find out who was the best? No we didn’t. After 12 rounds of great boxing it was declared a draw. A very, very controversial draw.

Most people who watched the fight that night (me included) thought that Golovkin had won the fight by three or four rounds. It was close, some rounds could have gone either way, but overall it was expected that Golovkin would get the decision.  One judge scored the fight to Golovkin, one judge scored it as a draw and the third judge ( obviously taking some mind altering drug) thought that Alvarez had won almost every round and gave him the decision by a wide margin.

So once again we had no outright answer. A rematch just had to happen. It was announced that it would take place in May 2018.

But in March 2018 it was discovered that Alvarez had tested positive for a banned substance called Clenbuterol  and would be disciplined by Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Alvarez defence was that Clenbuterol is widely used in Mexico by farmers to fatten up their cattle before slaughter. As a fighter he has to eat lots of Meat for protein and that’s how the substance was able to get into his system. The NSAC was lenient. Alvarez was given a six month ban, backdated to February  17th (The date of his first positive drug test). The May fight with Golovkin was cancelled and rescheduled for September 15th 2018.

Now, at last, finally we’d get to see who was the best. Once again it would be in Las Vegas and once again I paid my £17 for Pay Per View.

The fight was a classic. Rarely these days do you see two fighters stand in the middle of the ring, toe to toe for 12 rounds, each taking and throwing hard, accurate punches. Alvarez was cut early on just above his left eye. Golovkins face began to puff, swell and turn purple from the middle rounds onwards. When the final bell sounded both men lifted their arms in triumph.

The UK commentators gave the verdict to Golovkin, they also said this was the opinion of their American colleagues. I thought it was close but had Golovkin winning it by two rounds. A mate of mine, Caleb Traux (former Super Middleweight Champion) was convinced that Alvarez had won it by four rounds. That’s how close each round was.

When the judges scores were announced, two gave it as a draw and one gave it by two rounds to Alvarez. He was now the undisputed Champion. Or was he?

The official stats came out yesterday. Golovkin threw 879 punches and landed with 234. Alvarez threw 622 punches and landed with 202. If you break it down round by round, in eight of the twelve rounds Golovkin threw more and landed more punches than Alvarez. So surely the judges should have given the verdict to Golovkin?

But…the more powerful, eye catching punches were thrown by Alvarez. He was the fighter that was always on the front foot pressing the action, which made it look like he was winning.

My conclusion…is that I have no conclusion.

I am just certain of two things. One, both are great fighters that would hold their own in any era, whether it was with Hearn, Hagler and Duran, or Benn, Watson and Eubanks. And secondly, there with definitely be a third Golovkin v Alvarez fight. And once again I will pay my money and watch with anticipation…

 

Hello Mum.

A story told through four letters…

 

Hello Mum,

Happy Birthday for last month. Sorry I didn’t send a card, but you know what it’s like, we’re all so very busy these days.  Anyway, happy 70th.

I was going to get you some flowers delivered, but couldn’t remember what ones you liked. I seem to recall you hated Roses or was it Daffodils? Not to worry, I’ll bring some round next time we visit.

How’s Dad? I heard he’d had a fall, something to do with his knee? I’m sure you’re doting on him hand and foot, making him endless cups of tea like you always do.

I keep meaning to give you a ring but there’s a problem with our phone at home and the mobile’s always playing up. Something to do with network connection in our area or so the man from Vodaphone keeps saying. So I thought I’d send you a nice letter. Much better than nattering away on a bloody telephone for hours.

Your Grandson Stevie is 18 next week and wants a new car! They grow up so fast and want the world these days. They just don’t seem to understand the value of money at that age.

The car he’s seen is seven thousand pounds. Where on earth does he think we’re going to get that kind of money from?

So I was just wondering, as it’s his 18th, whether you’d like to contribute. He’d really love it!

We can put in a maximum of two thousand and maybe you could put up the rest?

Thanks Mum. You’ve got our Bank details haven’t you?

Anyway, got to fly, got a yoga lesson in half an hour.

Shame you don’t live closer or we’d always be round to see you, but it’s a good 15 minutes by car, and the new traffic light system by Tesco’s can be a nightmare in rush hour.

Thanks Mum.

Joan.

 

The reply.

 

Hi Sweetheart,

Got your letter yesterday, been trying to call you ever since but keep getting voicemail or answer machine, but then again I do know how busy you are these days.

Don’t worry about the flowers, they were Lillys by the way, they always make me think of funerals!

Dad’s knee’s got a lot worse. He now has to use a stick all the time, even around the house. But he’s being brave and keeps saying that you have to expect these things as you get older.

I do wish you and Dad would sort out your differences and get along better. It seems so silly to fall out over money. I know you’ll pay us back what we lent you for the kitchen extension but I also understand that these things take time and it was only 6 years ago. But you know your Father, he’s always been impatient.

Little Stevie popped over this morning, what a surprise. He’s such a good boy and so handsome, he’s going to break hearts is that one. Can’t believe he’s 18 next week. He said he is going out with his mates to celebrate on his birthday but wanted me and Dad to come over for Sunday lunch the week after. I said I’d have to run it past you first to just to make sure, as I know how busy you are.

By the way, I spoke to him about the car he wants. You got it wrong, silly. The car he wants is only three thousand five hundred pounds! So I remember in your letter you said you were putting two thousand towards it, so I gave him a cheque for fifteen hundred. I made the cheque out in his name so that if he changes his mind he can spend it on whatever he wants.

Hope that’s okay.

I paid the invoice for your Yoga lessons this morning. I notice there’s an extra charge now for Pilates twice a week. You really are keeping fit!

Love you.

Mum xxxxxxx

 

And the reply

 

Hello Mum,

Hope you’re well. Just a quick note to let you know that Stevie got his car. It wasn’t the one he had his eye on, that turned out to be too expensive, but he’s really pleased with this one. It’s made him realise now just how much things cost, what with insurance, MOT, petrol etc, but I know you’ll help out from time to time. He does so love his Nan and Grandad.

I saw you in Asda on Monday. You and Dad were at the checkout putting your shopping in the trolley. I was going to come over and say hello but I had Pilates booked and was already running late. Besides, you looked as though you were having a bit of a row, hope everything’s okay?

Got to cancel Sunday lunch unfortunately. This week has been manic. What with Pilates, Yoga and now Tennis lessons, I just haven’t had the time to do any housework. I know we have young Katia from Poland in for a few days a week to help out, but I seem to be exhausted. Us woman heh? Always on the go. The men don’t know they’re born do they?

Speaking of men, Brian has just got a promotion at work. He’s now Sales Director ( or something like that) for Europe. It means he’ll be away quite a lot, so the time we can all spend together as a family is going to be even more important now. But god knows how we’re going to afford a proper holiday this year. We’ve seen a fabulous apartment in Barbados that we could rent for a fortnight but not sure we’ll have the funds available. Don’t suppose you could have a word with Dad for me…please.

If we could add it on to the money we owe you for the kitchen extension then we could work out some kind of repayment plan.

Love you mum.

Joan.

P.S. Stevie may pop round tommorow to show off his new car. If you could give him a few pounds for petrol etc, that would really help.

 

And the reply

 

Hello Joan,

Got your letter this morning, by coincidence I was writing this as the post arrived.

Bad news I’m afraid, Mum had a massive stroke on Monday and has been in Hospital ever since. I’ve tried to call you over the past few days but just get machines, and you know me, I won’t talk to machines.

She’s in a bad way, can’t move or talk. Her eyes are open but there’s a kind of vacant look. To be honest I don’t think she knows who I am or even if I’m there.

Doctors say that she could remain like this for a long time. I’ve been at the Hospital every day to be with her, bit of a nightmare journey, two buses and then I get a cab for the last bit. Because of my dodgey leg I gave up driving some time ago, Mum’s done all the driving for the past six months.

We saw you in Asda. Mum insisted we go even though she wasn’t feeling all that well. You know what she’s like, didn’t want to turn up for Sunday lunch empty handed. Thought you might have come over and said hello, but Mum said you were probably too busy and in the end we had a bit of a row about it. She had the stroke in Asda car park. Doctors said that it may have been the strain of carrying the heavy bags to the car. I can’t carry a thing these days because of my damn leg.

Anyway, doesn’t matter about Sunday lunch now, although she was looking forward to it so much. She’d been going on and on about it for days. Even made a Trifle, she knows how much Stevie loves her Trifle.

Don’t worry about the money you owe us for the Kitchen, let’s call it quits and move on. But as far as anything else is concerned I think all our money now will be going on Mum. She’s going to need round the clock care and these things cost a fortune. But only the best for your Mum. Even if I have to sell the house and all our possessions. I made her a promise that she’ll have the very best.

Call me when you can and I’ll give you the Hospital details. If you’re not too busy maybe you could pop in and see her.

Goodbye Joan.

Dad.

 

Leave The Light On

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Sad tale. Get the tissues ready!

Two letters.

Hi Jenny,

It’s me. Please keep reading and don’t tear this letter up. I beg you.

Twelve years is a long time and I’m sorry. Sorry for so many things.

Sorry for leaving you the way I did. No note, no explanation, I just left. But I was in a bad way back then and I knew eventually that I’d drag you down with me. The signs were there. I used every day and you were starting to do the same, and you with our boy on the way it wasn’t a good thing. It wasn’t your fault, it was me that encouraged it and I thought that without me you’d stop. If I stayed I was certain we’d lose everything and I just couldn’t bear that.

Sorry for missing our boys entry into this world and not being there when things were hard for both of you.

Sorry for missing his birthdays, his first day at nursery and school. His first steps and first words.

Sorry for making you cry. You were the one that cried at every soppy film we ever watched together, so I can imagine how many tears you wept in those weeks and months after I left.

Sorry for not getting in touch during these past years. I just couldn’t, not until I was sure that all the scars had healed. It’s taken a long time for me to get myself straight and now, eventually, I think I have. I’m clean. Have been for the past two years. The journey’s been a strange one. I’ve lived on the streets, in squats, shelters and prison. I’ve begged, stolen and mugged. I found god once and then lost him again somewhere on the A13 near Whitechapel ( long story).

Sorry for taking the money out of the tin. I left with nothing but the clothes I had on. I had no idea where I was going or how I’d get there. The tin in the food cupboard had exactly seven pounds and thirty six pence in it. I took it for bus fare. Two pounds of it got me as far as Canning Town. I spent the rest on half a bottle of scotch. The next day I hitch hiked all the way to Hammersmith. I slept under the flyover for more than a year.
Sorry for all the shit you must have taken from your family. I knew they didn’t like me, that was obvious. They must have seen us as we really were back then. A couple of fucked up junkies. Me, the instigator of everything and you being pulled along with blinkers on. I can only imagine how many times your Mum and Dad said “You’re better off without him.” That must have been hell for you.

There are a million other things that I’m sorry for and I’d like to tell you face to face.
I’m close Jen. Real close.

By the time you read this letter I’ll be almost there. You may hate me and that’s fine. But if there’s a chance…even a slim one. Then I’ll take it.
Even if it’s just to say hello and give my boy a hug. Then that’s also fine.
Jen, remember when we first met and I would go out with the lads and say I’d be home late?
Remember what you always said to me? About leaving the lights on?
So, give me a clue. Leave the light on in the front room. If it’s on. I’ll knock. If not I’ll just walk away. Either way, I’ll understand.
Only one thing has kept me going through these twelve years. The thought of one day getting back to you and our boy.
Please Jen, leave the light on.

Rob.

And here’s the reply…

 

Dear Robert,

Your letter was forwarded onto me by the new tenants of Jenny’s old flat.
I have read it and notice that you say “sorry” eleven times. Thank you for that.
Jenny’s father and I are also sorry.
Sorry that we had to watch her fall apart after you left, just six weeks before the baby was due.

Sorry that we had to console her night after night because of her panic attacks and the relentless paranoia that she suffered. You were right about the crying. She never stopped.
Sorry that we had to call for an ambulance when she tried to take her own life by overdosing on the stuff you left behind.
Sorry that our beautiful grandson was called a “crack baby” and only survived three days after the birth. We called him Steven. The name Robert was never even up for discussion.
Sorry that you had such a hard time living rough. Jenny also had a bit of a rough time. After Steven died she became withdrawn and had to receive professional help. She spent a year in a Psychiatric Hospital and was forever dependant on medication. We visited her every day.
We’re also sorry that you couldn’t find the time to write or call her just to let her know that you were okay. She would have loved that. In the end she was convinced that you were dead and when that happened she just couldn’t bear to carry on.
Jenny passed away eleven months ago. We thought she was over it, but she hid her illness well. The Police contacted us early one Sunday morning. I won’t go into detail, but the Thames can be very cold in February.
You mention us in your letter and you are right. We always thought she could do better than you.

But you were her choice and we would have done what we could to see you both through your addiction. In fact on the day you left we were coming over to try to convince you to get help. We would have paid for any treatment you needed, but I suppose you had better ideas.
On the plus side, the letter you sent has answered one question that always troubled us. For ten years her electricity bill at the flat was enormous. Now we know why she kept every light on in the house twenty four hours a day.

Goodbye Robert.

 

 

 

Payback. 14 (Final)

pay-back

Two years earlier Frank McGinley attended an Islington Chamber Of Commerce dinner. It was there that he met the leader of Hackney Council, Ian Morgan. They soon discovered they had something in common, Paul Fletcher.

Ian Morgan confided in McGinley that he and Fletcher had an “Altercation” during a card game a few years previous. He never went into detail but implied that he had a deep dislike of Paul Fletcher.

This was music to McGinleys ears, especially when he found out that Councillor Morgan was the cousin of the Shadow Home Secretary.

For the next twelve months they met weekly for lunch and became firm friends. Morgan was ambitious and new that he would need the support of local business men if he was to stand for MP at the next election. McGinley promised to support him both publically and financially but he needed something in return.

He told Morgan about Terry Murphy and what Fletcher had done to him. Morgan agreed to speak with his cousin and see if an early release could be arranged.

McGinley also knew that Tom Marks controlled Fletchers finances. He had him followed and hey presto found out that Marks and Fletchers wife met once a week at a Hotel in Ilford where they took a room under the name of Venables.

McGinley paid Tom a visit one afternoon and told him he knew about the affair. It didn’t take Tom Marks long to switch sides. Not just because he didn’t want the affair to be exposed but because secretly he hated being bullied by Fletcher. McGinley was a business man not a bully. He’d worked hard to build his empire, Fletcher had just taken his from Murphy.

Tom told McGinley about DCI Cornwell, he gave Frank McGinley evidence that Cornwell was on the take, payment details into a secret Bank Account that Cornwell had.

Cornwell was paid a visit by McGinley and his sons. His choice was clear. Work for the Irish or face ruin. Again it was an easy choice. Cornwell disliked Fletcher with every ounce of his being, he was tired of being spoken to like a piece of shit, tired also of having to jump whenever Fletcher rang, tired of having to answer to his every whim.

McGinley told them all to act normal until he called them. He said it may take a while, maybe even a year.

Fourteen months later Terry Murphy was released from prison and the plan went into action.

————————————————————————————————————————————

 Tom Marks received a call from Frank McGinley. The call was short just two words.

“It’s done.”

Tom excitedly made a call to Paul Fletcher’s wife Jenny, in Portugal. She answered the phone.

“Hi babe, it’s me.”

“Any news yet?”

“Yes, it’s done. Frank McGinley  just called and confirmed, it’s over Jen.”

There was a silence, then Jenny spoke quietly.

“Is everything in place, you know, sorted?”

“Yep, Paul unknowingly  signed the will along with a load of other documents a week ago, he leaves everything to you, the deal is that you sell all the businesses to McGinley at a fair price, but you keep all the properties that Paul owned.”

“What about me and you?”

“We’ll have to wait a while babe till everything settles down, then we can move on.”

“So what happens now?”

“Well, in a short while, you’ll get a call from Cornwell telling you about the sad demise of Paul, he’ll say that it looks like Paul had too much to drink and fell into the large hole that was being dug for the swimming pool, he smashed his head on the hard-core at the bottom, you’ll be all upset and fly home, there’ll be an inquest of course but I’m assured by everyone concerned that it will come out as accidental death.”

“I love you Tom Marks.”

“Love you too Jen.”

Tom Marks smiled, he suddenly realised that he had finally got rid of that bullying prat Paul Fletcher, no more having to kiss his arse every time he called, no longer having to bite his lip every time he called him a cunt. In a years’ time he would leave his wife and kids and move in with Jenny. He’d strike a deal with his wife and she and the kids would want for nothing. He was also confident that Jenny would take on board Paul’s son Billy. She’d always known about Pauls other women, especially Kathy, oh yes, she knew all about Kathy.

—————————————————————————————————————————————

 It actually took eighteen months for everything to be sorted.

Paul Fletcher’s death was accidental. The coroner determined that Paul Fletcher had been upset by the death of his lover Kathy Jenkins. He’d was driven home from the hospital by one of his employees who confirmed that he had been distraught and was acting in a confused way. He had returned to an empty house where he had then drank approximately 40 cls of alcohol, more than half a bottle of whiskey, he had wandered into the garden and fallen into the large hole being dug for the swimming pool, the drop was twelve feet and he had landed head first onto the hard-core causing massive head injuries. Two of his employees who were sitting outside confirmed that no one had entered or left the building at this time. There was no CCTV footage as for some unknown reason the system wasn’t working that day.

It was thought that Ross King, a well-known drug dealer, was the victim of a contract killing, another dealer had recently been released from prison and many eye witnesses had confirmed that the two of them had had an argument in the Oporto Public house in East London just days before. Terry Murphy was the main suspect and it was thought that he had fled the country and was now living abroad.

Jenny Fletcher sold all Paul’s business interests to Mr Frank McGinley, a well- known and respected business man from North London. He made her a very generous offer of £2.4m, which she gratefully accepted. Mister McGinley also agreed to keep on all of Paul Fletcher’s employees, they were extremely grateful for his gesture. Jenny kept all of Paul’s property portfolio.

Tom Marks left his wife and two children and moved in with Paul’s widow, Jenny Fletcher, she had relied on him heavily during the inquest and a relationship blossomed, they planned to live six months in England and six months in Portugal. Jenny was distraught when she found out that Paul had a love child called Billy, but after finding out that his mother had been killed in a vicious attack and that Billy was now an orphan, she decided the most decent thing to do was for him to live with her and Tom, they adopted Billy.

DCI Cornwell was promoted to Detective Superintendent twelve months after Paul Fletcher’s death. The promotion was gained due to his relentless work in fighting organised crime in Central London. One of his biggest supporters in gaining promotion was Councillor Ian Morgan.

Councillor Morgan became Labour’s representative for Hackney in the recent by-election after the mysterious death of the previous representative. Councillor Morgan won the election and became Member of Parliament for Hackney; one of his biggest donations came from businessman Mr Frank McGinley.

Mr Ian Morgan M.P. never forgot the day he played cards with Paul Fletcher all those years ago when he was just a lowly surveyor on the council.