“And can you bring witnesses?”

“We can, sir, in due course.”

Gunn contemplated them both, aware of West watching him intently, and sensed that, for a reason which he couldn’t yet see, this was an important issue for the police. There was another point: the prosecution, in this case the police, could not be denied a remand to enquire into an alibi. If she were a good lawyer, the young woman certainly knew that as well as the police. So they were deliberately sparring, as if each was anxious to find out how far the other would go.

So Rapelli would have to be remanded. The only question was whether it should be on bail or in custody.

“How long do you say it will take the police to prepare their case?” he asked.

“About a week, sir,” Leeminster repeated.

“I can submit the defence now,” said Rachel Warrender. “I have my witnesses outside the courtroom.” She really was pushing hard, as if hoping that the police would yield, even withdraw the case, or at least withdraw their opposition to bail. When Gunn didn’t respond she went on with a touch of impatience, “If there are three witnesses who can state categorically that my client could not possibly have committed the crime since he was in another place at the time the crime was committed, surely that would justify a dismissal, your worship.”

Leeminster kept silent, leaving this to the court.

“No,” said Gunn, after a brief pause. “As it is a defence of alibi, the police will have every right to insist on a remand. When can you produce your witness, Chief Inspector?”

“I would hope within the week, sir, but I cannot say for certain until we have completed our enquiries.”

“And you still ask for a remand in custody?”

We do, sir.”

“On what grounds?”

“That the accused’s life could be in jeopardy, or alternatively that he could leave the country,” Leeminster stated.

Gunn did not speak immediately, but pursed his lips, leaned back in the beautifully carved oak chair and looked up at the intricately decorated ceiling. He was aware of the way everyone looked at him, knew that his decision would be as important to the police as to the accused and his lawyer. He, Charles Gunn, was suddenly and unexpectedly presented with a very difficult problem. He was quite sure that the police would not have asked for custody on any grounds unless they were convinced of the need, and the decision rested solely on him. With Farriman, stickler for the rule and regulation, breathing stertorously below him, West, the prisoner and this young woman staring at him intently, he felt very much on the spot.

Suddenly, he leaned forward.

“Mr. Farriman—”

Farriman climbed slowly, arthritis-bound, from his — chair, and his head and shoulders appeared over the front of the bench. He kept his voice low so that no one else could hear.

“Yes, your honour?”

“Is there any provision, Mr. Farriman, for hearing a witness in order to assess the advisability of bail or otherwise?”

“There’s no provision, sir, but I have known such an occurrence. I have indeed. There is no provision specifically against it.”

“Thank you,” said Gunn, sitting back, and linking his fingers together. “I would like to hear one of your witnesses, Miss Warrender, before making any decision. I trust,” he went on, peering down at Leeminster but more concerned with West’s reaction, “that the police have no objection.”

Leeminster, obviously taken off his guard, hesitated, then turned and sent a silent appeal across the courtroom to his superior. And on that instant, all eyes turned towards Chief Superintendent Roger West.

Chapter Two



Roger West had been virtually sure what would happen, and there was no reason for him to hesitate; yet he did. Magistrates, even considerate ones like Gunn, had a certain sense of their position and did not like to have their decisions anticipated. Moreover, it was never wise to look slick and over clever in front of the Press; further, he did not want to make Leeminster feel small. So he paused for a few seconds before mouthing “no objection” so that Leeminster could turn immediately and say, “I’ve no objection, sir.”

“Then if Miss Warrender will call a witness, we can proceed.”

Soon, from the well of the court, came a buxom girl in her early twenties, fair-haired, blue-eyed, fresh-com- plexioned. She wore a loose-fitting, loose-knit jumper in sky blue and a black mini-skirt which showed very long, very white legs, tiny ankles and surprisingly small feet. She took the stand, hesitating about taking the oath on the Bible, until Rachel Warrender said, “You are going to tell the truth, aren’t you?”

“I certainly am.” The fair girl’s lips had a tendency to pout, and were too-heavily lipsticked with bright red. “That is all you’re promising,” said Rachel. “. . . so help me God,” said the girl.

“Your name,” demanded Farriman, formally.

“Maisie Dunster of 41, Concert Street, Chelsea, S.W.3,” stated the girl.

Farriman wrote very slowly, very deliberately, and the court paused as if for breath.

“Very well—please proceed.”

“Miss Dunster,” said Rachel Warrender, “did you see the accused, Mario Rapelli, at all last evening?”

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