Authors: Roger Silverwood
ROBERT HALE · LONDON
, U.K. M
man was found shot dead in his first-floor flat, on Upper Sackville Street in the West End of London. He had been shot at point-blank range with clinical precision: one bullet .202 calibre straight through the forehead. There had been no report from the neighbourhood of a gunshot, so it was assumed that the pistol had been fitted with a silencer. On the body of the dead man, the murderer left a small white card with black printing, like a visiting card, that simply read: ‘With the compliments of Reynard.’ Also, pieces of orange peel were found at the scene of the crime, from which it was assumed that Reynard ate an orange after he had committed the murder.
That New Year’s Day murder was the twenty-second killing by Reynard using the same MO. The police had made no progress in identifying and apprehending the murderer. He was assumed to be a man, who worked alone. Many of the murders had been committed in London, but there had also been cases in other parts of the country and as far north as Newcastle-on-Tyne. In seven years, he had murdered more than eighteen men and four women that the police knew about. The motive for each murder was not known, although it was invariably established after their deaths that the victims had had criminal records or had been suspected of criminal activities.
The newspapers were having a field day. Whenever Reynard struck, the press, particularly the tabloids, filled their pages with every detail of the new crime and compared it with the earlier ones attributed to him, and gleefully published cartoons and disdainful copy, ridiculing the police force for their inability to bring Reynard to book.
Even in these sophisticated days of DNA, it seemed that there had never been any kind of substance, human fluid, matter or hair left behind at the scene, or anywhere else, that could be attributed to him. Every policeman in the UK was desperate to unmask and arrest him. Profilers at all levels had been making projections, but with such limited information their reports had not proved adequate.
Each of the forty-three forces, as well as the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) newly formed on 3 April 2006, was put on special watch for master serial murderer, Reynard.
The sky was as black as an undertaker’s cat.
The heavy steel gates at Wakefield Prison, a category A secure unit, rattled open and a Group 4 white van with two uniformed men in the cab, nosed its way out. It turned left onto Love Lane and made its way through quiet, deserted halogen-lit streets and shadowy shuttered shops towards the A642 and from there onto the M1.
The white van held two crooks, each locked in separately in the small, sweaty cages in the back. One of the crooks was Eddie ‘The Cat’ Glazer, a ruthless career bank robber and murderer, as hard-boiled as a ten-minute egg. He was serving thirty years for the manslaughter of a security guard in Sheffield in 2001. The other was Harry Harrison, a jewellery thief and confidence trickster: one of several thousand … too stupid to be honest … even more stupid to get caught.
The British penal system provided for the timely movement of prisoners from time to time, so that they did not get too knowledgeable about routines and develop such relationships with prison officers or others that they might begin to devise ways of escape.
Time hangs heavy in the cells. It’s the only commodity of which there’s an oversupply and prisoners have to do something with their grey matter when cooped up behind bars twenty-four seven. Some spend their time conjuring up schemes to acquire more drugs and money, others fantasize on how to get more women and enjoy better sex, but most all of them dream how to escape from the ungodly place.
There was hardly any traffic on the damp city roads that January morning at that unsociable hour. A lone taxi and an articulated ASDA lorry circled a roundabout as the powerful Group 4 van’s headlights picked its way out of the city and eventually joined the A642. The road twisted and turned, but progress was rapid. The van had travelled only two miles out of the city however, when, coming up to a bridge over a railway line, where the road narrowed, the van’s headlights suddenly picked out two cars in the middle of the road; they appeared to have been in a serious collision. They blocked the road so that it was impossible for the van to continue its journey. The headlights of both damaged cars shone brightly but futilely; white steam issued from under a mangled bonnet and black smoke still puffed out from one of the car’s exhaust pipes.
The security driver slowed and the van headlights picked out a man lying flat on the wet road by the open door of one car. Part of his head was in a dreadful state, covered with a red glutinous liquid. A woman in the driving seat of the other car was slumped awkwardly over the driving wheel, her hair sticking out in every direction.
The Group 4 drivers had a strict protocol to deal with situations of this sort. After all, this could be a mock event staged in an attempt to release their prisoners. They promptly checked that their cab doors were locked and immediately radioed the nearest police station, which was Wakefield Westgate, and informed them of the RTA and their situation. The duty police sergeant reminded them to treat the incident with suspicion and caution, and advised that an ambulance and police support would be despatched instantly and that their ETA would be 12 minutes.
The Group 4 men eyed the scene with concern. They saw the man on the road move slightly as if having now regained limited consciousness. They could hear him calling for help. They drove the van closer until the light beam shone directly onto him. He appeared to be in great pain and as he turned to face the van they could see his face was a gory mess. He was moving his head slightly from side to side, as if he wanted to say something, and then they heard a cry from the woman in the other car.
It was too much for the driver and his mate to ignore. They decided to venture out and see if they could assist them. They opened the cab doors and the next thing they knew they were flying through the air like pilots in ejector seats. They had been pulled out by a couple of huge men in balaclavas, jeans and trainers. When the policemen picked themselves up from the road, they were looking down the barrels of old Sten guns.
The two pretending to be injured, wiped the banana and tomato ketchup off their faces, pulled on balaclavas and dashed round to support the gunmen.
No words were used. Prods with the shotguns soon had the Group 4 men at the side door of the van, unlocking it. They pushed up the step. One of the heavies peered through a narrow slot into one of the cages.
Glazer peered back. He was holding onto the door and jumping up and down, his face was red, his eyes darting round in all directions.
‘Come on, Tony,’ Glazer screamed. ‘Hurry up! Come on!’
The key was turned, the door opened and he shot out as though he was at the end of a piece of elastic.
The woman leaped forward and wrapped her arms round his neck.
‘You’re out, Eddie. You’re out!’ she squealed.
She kissed him hard on the lips but he pushed her away.
‘Yeah. Yeah. Let’s get away from here.’
There was a loud knocking from the next cage.
The heavies rammed the two Group 4 men into Glazer’s compartment: it was a tight squeeze. They closed the door and turned the key.
There was more knocking and some yelling from the next cage. A voice screamed, ‘Let me out. Don’t leave me here!’
It was Harry Harrison.
Tony Glazer looked at his brother who said, ‘Let’s go. Leave the bastard there.’
The Glazers, Oona and the two heavies stepped down from the van.
Harry Harrison yelled through the peephole in the door.
‘I’ve got money, Mr Glazer. Honest. Ten thousand pounds stashed away. You can have it all.’
Eddie Glazer turned back and said, ‘Where?’
‘In Wakefield. Just let me out of here. You can have it all.’
Oona yelled, ‘Come on, Eddie. The cops’ll could be here anytime.’
‘You’d better not be kidding me. When can you get it?’
‘This afternoon. Come on, Mr Glazer. I never done you no harm, have I? We’re mates, aren’t we?’
‘You’d better be on the level,’ Eddie Glazer yelled.
Glazer turned to the heavy with the keys.
‘Right,’ he said with a nod. ‘Let him out, Ox.’
The door opened and out shot Harry Harrison. He closed it quickly and gave a big sigh.
‘Come on,’ yelled Tony Glazer to his brother.
‘You’re coming with us,’ Eddie said to Harrison grabbing him by the neck of his coat.
Tony Glazer’s eyes flashed. ‘We’ve no bloody room!’
‘He’s worth ten grand to me.
The gang left the van, its external side door open, swinging in the night air. They dashed down the banking to the rail track. A minute later, Eddie ‘The Cat’ Glazer was in a sidecar attached to a Honda 500 being driven alongside the railway track by his younger brother, Tony. Eddie’s wife, Oona, had her arms tight round his waist. Close behind them was another Honda motorbike with the two heavies and little Harry Harrison sitting precariously on the mudguard.
The two motorbikes noisily sprayed out silver grey gravel as they sped away into the night.
Simon Spencer looked round at the gloomy pub wallpaper, the scratched woodwork, the smeared dull copper work and the dusty tables strewn with empty bottles and dirty glasses.
‘Light ale,’ the bartender said, banging the bottle down in front of him. ‘That’s two pounds. Haven’t seen you in here before, John,’ he said pointedly with a sniff.
Spencer looked round at the quiet crowd of twenty-five or so drinkers; some were smoking cigarettes, standing around snatching teatime anaesthetic to bolster them up before going home to their nagging wives and irritating children for a boring evening watching repeats in front of the television, or mooching round houses, shops, offices, garages and warehouses looking for an unlocked door or an undemanding window to gain easy access, where, in the secret of the night, they might find something transportable and easy to sell.
Spencer glanced from man to man. As he did so, each in turn averted his eyes and sought cover by supping from a glass, taking the opportunity to turn away dragging even harder on his cigarette.
At length Spencer turned to the big tattooed man with the little gold ring in his ear and said, ‘I’m looking for somebody.’
‘No somebodies in here, John. All nobodies,’ the bartender said as he took the coins and tossed them into the open till drawer. He wiped the top of the counter with a dirty bar towel. His eyes narrowed. ‘What sort of somebody?’ he asked after a pause. ‘Has the body got a name?’
Spencer took his time. Spoke slowly, carefully choosing his words. He looked across the bar room, then nonchalantly said: ‘Oh, somebody … anybody, who wants to earn a few hundred quid. Easy like.’
The bartender blinked.
‘A few hundred?’
Spencer shrugged and picked up the bottle.
‘Everybody’s up for that, John, I reckon,’ the bartender added.
Spencer took another gulp of the beer.
‘It’s a special kind of man. A man who maybe wouldn’t mind … maybe … bending the rules a bit.’
The barman looked at him closely then shook his head thoughtfully.
‘There’d be nobody here interested in anything dishonest, John,’ he said warily.
‘Not dishonest,’ Spencer protested irritably. ‘Just a wee bit … out of the ordinary, that’s all. And why do you keep calling me John?’
‘I call everybody John, John.’
A man came up to the bar. The barman turned away to serve him.
Spencer shrugged and slowly finished the beer. He looked round at the other drinkers in the little bar. They deliberately turned away from him when they felt the possibility that a glance from him might change into a hard intrusive look. He slowly finished his drink. He wrinkled his nose. He was disappointed with his foray into Bromersley’s unfriendly grubby backwater alehouse. He pulled up his coat collar and strode out of The Fisherman’s Rest on Canal Street. This thoroughfare was a short, unmade road that ran parallel to Bromersley canal for a few hundred yards before it joined the main road. The canal was a smelly, slow-flowing stretch of water from which, he had heard, dead bodies had been fished by the local constabulary from time to time.
Spencer hardly gave the water a glance. His mind was on other things as he trudged his way along the path to the main road on his way to the bus station.
He passed ten terraced houses whose front doors abutted the pavement. There were ginnels at every second house to give access to the back doors. As he passed the last ginnel, he suddenly heard a scuffling sound and then a man’s soft whisper.
‘Hey, copper. What you doing slumming round here?’
Spencer turned and in the moonlight, saw a man in a suit, shirt and collar. In the crisp February moonlight he could see that he was holding something shiny and black in his hand and pointing it at him.
He didn’t like what he saw.
He put his hands up … because … he had seen old films in the old cinema picture show and he thought it was the sensible thing to do.
‘Who are you?’ Spencer said. ‘And what do you want?’
‘I ashed you first, brudder. I tell you, we don’t like plainclothes coppers creeping round our places. And you’re sure getting brave coming round here in ones.’
‘I’m not a policeman. And I can prove it, but who are you?’
The man waved the gun boldly. He didn’t believe him.
‘Oh yes? This ain’t no lollipop I’m holding in my hand, brudder. It sort of gives me an advantage, don’t you think?’