‘Yes, I’ve read it, Mr Watson. Appears you don’t have an alibi for last Friday night,’ said Carl. ‘Mind if we come in?’
‘Suit yourself. I’ve got nothing to hide.’
Carl stepped into the apartment and stopped. The floor was covered with stacks of newspapers and magazines, and large clear plastic bags full of bottles and aluminium cans.
‘We had a busy weekend,’ said Henry Watson. ‘I’ve only just finished bagging the stuff up to take to the recycling depot, so I hope you won’t be long, otherwise they’ll be shut before I get there.’
‘Is that why you have the van, the one out in the street?’ said Peter.
‘Don’t you have a parking space in the yard, Mr Watson? Looks like everybody else does. Why do you leave your van in the street?’ said Peter.
‘Doesn’t bloody fit under the carport, Inspector.’
‘He’s the Inspector,’ said Peter, pointing at Carl.
‘Who is the other part of the we you mentioned, Mr Watson? According to your statement you live alone,’ said Carl.
‘My son, Barry. He doesn’t live with me. He lives up at the Port; he gives me a hand on the weekends over summer.’
‘What’s he do during the week?’
‘He works at the old folks home, does the gardens.’
‘In the Port?’
‘No, the one over there.’ Henry pointed towards the beach. ‘Opposite the surf lifesavers.’
‘Did you see him last Friday?’
‘Yeah, we had a few drinks and a bite to eat at the pub after he finished work, then he went home and I came back here.’
‘What time would that have been?’
‘He left about nine,’ said Henry Watson.
‘So you were here alone after that?’
‘Yeah, that’s right. I got home from the pub about ten and went straight to bed. Didn’t hear a thing until me alarm went off in the morning.’
‘When was the last time you moved your van, Mr Watson?’ said Carl.
‘Do you always park it in the same spot?’
‘More or less.’
‘Do you lock it?’
‘I’m not that trusting, of course I bloody lock it.’
‘Does anybody else have a key to your van?’
‘Barry’s got a key.’
The sound of car doors closing came from the street and Carl’s mobile pinged. He looked at the text message and then took the search warrant out of his coat pocket.
‘What’s going on?’ said Henry Watson.
‘Whoever grabbed Karen Newhouse on her way home Friday night probably used your van as cover. I’m afraid you won’t be visiting that recycling depot today, Mr Watson, I’m impounding your van for a forensic examination.’
‘You can’t do that!’
‘This,’ said Carl, waving the warrant at Henry, ‘says that not only can I impound your vehicle, I can search your apartment and require you to provide me with a DNA sample.’
‘What for? I didn’t kill her.’
‘I never said you did. The DNA will tell us who raped her, Mr Watson.’
‘That wasn’t bloody me either!’
‘Giving us a sample is one sure way of proving that, Mr Watson,’ said Peter.
Henry Watson looked from one detective to the other, as two uniformed constables came into the narrow confines of his crowded apartment.
‘So, how’s this work, then?’
Peter opened his brief case and took the swab out of his buccal smear kit.
‘Just open your mouth, Mr Watson, and let me rub this on the inside of your cheek.’
While Peter was collecting the sample, Carl and the two uniformed constables started searching the apartment, looking for women’s underwear and a sky-blue bikini.
After collecting the sample, Peter dropped the swab into the glass tube in the kit, sealed the tube with a plastic stopper and enclosed it in an evidence bag, which he then labelled and placed in his brief case.
‘What are they looking for?’ said Henry Watson.
‘Afraid I can’t divulge that, Mr Watson,’ said Peter.
At the end of their short but fruitless search, Carl thanked Mr Watson for his cooperation.
‘When will I be able to use my van, Inspector?’
‘That will depend on what we find, Mr Watson.’
Carl turned to leave but stopped in the doorway, before turning back to look at Henry Watson.
‘By the way, Mr Watson, does your son own a van like yours?’
‘Yeah, he’s got a white one. We got a good deal when we bought them.’
‘Can you give me his address?’
‘Sure, but you’ll find him at the old folks home at this time of the day, if you want to speak to him.’
to be continued…