by Andrew Foote
"Thirty-eight million? No house is worth thirty-eight mill!"
"Maybe, maybe not, but it does explain how he's able to throw money around like so much confetti."
"Pip, Callum and I pretty much wrecked his 'copter, and made it so that Merc four-by-four on the website would need a total rebuild. He was more concerned about his wife's reaction to having her brand-new car wrecked, than the money."
"Surely he can't have made all his money by prostituting kids?"
"I told you, Callum recognised his voice on that phone message. He's into drugs on an industrial scale, and probably that company in Equatorial wherever is where he keeps it. We'll never know for certain.
Let's sleep on it and see if we come up with anything else come the morning. If not, I'm going to find me a straight copper and tell him what we know."
"Could I speak to Inspector Tony Bushby please? My name is Edward Anderson."
"Hold the line Mr Anderson and I'll see if he's in his office."
Five minutes later and……
"Inspector Bushby. How may I help you?"
"Hello Inspector. You might not remember me but my name is Edward Anderson. We met in St. Stephens Square last Christmas where I gave you a Bank Debit card and a mobile phone."
"I remember. What is it I can help you with son?"
"I have information for you, very sensitive information."
"About what may I ask?"
"I can't tell you that. I need proof-positive you're on the level first."
"I see. What do I have to do in order to gain your trust?"
"Not much. I know how much sat in the account that could be accessed by that card. I need you to prove to me that it was handed over to the right people and that it was all accounted for officially. Do that and I'll give you information that might give you both the person who made that threat to Vincent, plus a whole lot more."
"You must be very frightened about something."
"I am. If you're not on the up and up and the person I'm frightened off gets wind of what I need to tell you, then without meaning to sound over-melodramatic, you'll be looking at my dead body together with quite a few others.
Take me seriously. I'm not joking."
"Are you happy enough to come to Birmingham Central Police Station? I can show you all the proof you need right up to the signature of my Chief Constable, HM Treasury documentation where the moneys were lodged pending further investigation."
"Good enough. What day and at what time?"
"Whenever is convenient for you."
"Give me an hour?"
"I'll be here."
"So, let me show you evidence that I'm honest Tony, a career cop and not one who's on the take. This file should give you all the proof you need so read it and take your time."
I flicked through reams of documents, saw the exact amount which I knew as on the account, all signed off to the Treasury by the Chief Constable and witnessed by a high-ranking Treasury official.
"I'm satisfied and I'm sorry for being cautious, but once I explain things to you, I know you'll understand why."
It took me over an hour to tell him everything we knew, from Callum's participation with the parties, how he recognised the voice on the phone message, out trips to the house, collecting the kids and our taking Donny to safety. I also told him about the snuff arranged for Callum and his subsequent decision to seek sanctuary in London together with all the information we'd unearthed.
Inspector Bushby put his head in his hands.
"This is beyond my remit Edward. I have to pass this upstairs."
"Look Mr Bushby. We're all shitting ourselves. I'm scared of my own shadow and can't trust anyone except you. How can I be sure whoever you pass this on to isn't in cahoots with this Carl animal?
He organised a snuff for Callum. He'd watch a young boy get murdered just for money, someone that wouldn't hurt a fly, but then we come along with the beginnings of a case that could take him down for life. He wouldn't think twice about killing the lot of us. Not just Pip, Donny and myself, but all the boys that took part in those parties. He'd go to any lengths to cover his tracks, so you better make bloody sure that whoever you tell is kosher 'cos our lives are now your direct responsibility."
He nodded his understanding then lifted the phone.
"Chief Constables office? This is Detective Inspector Bushby, and what I have to talk to him about is of the utmost urgency, not to mention highly confidential."
It took a few minutes before he was connected, and although I could only hear one side of the conversation, Mr Bushby was bullish and wasn't going to be cowed down by his boss.
"Chief Constable? My apologies for calling you directly, but certain matters have come to my attention that made it necessary."
"No. Given the seriousness of this information, I don't feel comfortable going to my Chief Superintendent, the risks are too enormous, it has to be you Sir."
"All I'm able to say over the phone, is that it involves child prostitution and rape, possibly murder, a drug cartel, money laundering and there may well be more."
"Thank you Sir. I'll see you in fifteen minutes."
After he put the phone down, Mr Bushby looked at me.
"I've just committed a cardinal sin Edward. Going over the head of my Chief Super would, under most circumstances, get me pensioned out of the service so fast it would make your head spin, so I hope to God your telling me the truth."
"I swear. I would've brought everything with me, even Pip and Donny, but I had to be 100% sure about you first. You can have everything we've managed to uncover, we'll happily sign statements to confirm everything. Trust me, I'm not lying to you. We know what we know, but proving anything has to be down to you."
"Right then. Let us go into the holy of holy's."
Another hour to go through everything, but this time with the Chief Constable. He listened patiently and every now and again he'd ask questions. Once I'd finished, he stood up and walked to the window and looked out over the city.
"I probably shouldn't tell you this young man, but Carl Matterson is someone who's been on our radar before. I can't tell you the whys and wherefores, but it came to nothing. He's very astute, and on occasions we thought we might be able to bring charges against him but then the trail went cold.
We will need to see everything you have, and we will need statements from all of you, including this boy Callum. Are you in contact with him?"
"I can get in touch, but he doesn't trust uniforms, so whether or not he'll agree to talk to you is debateable."
"Try to persuade him. Tell him that if we're successful, he can live his life without looking over his shoulder ever again. Do your finest on him. We're not interested in anything he might have done in the past, this transcends everything.
When can we expect to have this information, and when are you willing to write your statements?"
"Tomorrow if that suits you. Callum might take longer to get onside."
"Good. Thank you."
He turned to Mr Bushby.
"What are you working on at the moment Inspector?"
"Run of the mill stuff Sir. Nothing I can't hand over to a junior officer."
"Then I'm seconding you to this office. Any dealings with these boys will be your direct responsibility, then depending on what we have, it might be necessary to set up a task force of which you will be a member. All officers chosen to work on this case must be fully vetted by you. Anyone with even the slightest connection to Matterson will be sidestepped. I want the best of the best working on this. I'll talk to the Serious Crime Squad Chief Super once we've finished here."
"Do you need a lift home son?"
"No thanks. I'm good."
"Then make arrangements with Inspector Bushby and let's get this rolling."
As soon as I was safely back in Digbeth, I got Pip and Donny together. We took mugs of coffee onto the wharf where we found somewhere to sit.
"How did it go?"
"Mr Bushby is straight down the line and I trust him. We then had an interview with his Chief Constable who I also think is on the level. He signed over the bank account to the Treasury people; that's as much as I could do to verify stuff. The thing is, he wants us to give statements. I knew he'd ask, but I never followed that through and Donny might be a problem."
Donny shrugged his shoulders.
"You mean I might get put into care, right?"
"Well, given your age and how and where we live? I would say it's a distinct possibility."
"If that's what it takes, I'm willing to do it. I want to make sure that Carl or his weird friends won't be able to touch any kid ever again."
"It hasn't come to that yet, so hold your horses.
Pip? What are your thoughts?"
"No-brainer. We go with it Ed."
"Thank you. I mean it. Thanks very much, but it still leaves the problem of how on earth we get Callum onside."
"I think you can safely leave that to me. He um…… owes me a few favours let's just say. He'll play ball once I point out his options, and no, don't ask what those are 'cos they go back to since before you came on the scene."
"I don't wanna know. Just get him here pronto."
A very pissed off Callum, together with Donny, Pip and myself walked the towpath into the city centre.
Two days had passed since that meeting with the Chief Constable and at least the last three of us on that list needed to kick-start this investigation. Callum had a different take on things though.
"You are seriously suicidal! We're fucking dead here, you do know that? Carl isn't known for his gentle side here? He'll take us out as soon as he realises someone's onto him!"
"Time bomb waiting to blow all of us to fuck.
Ed and I have left too many tracks, he was bound to catch on sooner or later what with Donny disappearing. I had a mate of mine sniffing around Stafford, the word on the street is that the place is crawling with Carl's heavies, they're turning every nook and cranny upside-down, threatening and interrogating every street kid they can find.
Callum my man? It's only a matter of time before they do the maths?"
"What do you mean?"
"They're systematically ripping Stafford apart, questioning every street kid they can find in an attempt to find out where Donny's taken himself off to. Not that I think it'll happen, but it would only take one of those lads to buckle under pressure and let on about what actually happened, and Ed and I are directly in the line of fire.
The most likely outcome is that once they realise that despite all their efforts Donny can't be found, they'll expand their search to Wolverhampton where there are kids that do know something other than rumour and speculation. Again, they'll hopefully keep their mouths well and truly shut leaving the only constant is all this being us, and we'd be a piece of piss to find."
"How would we? We've managed to keep a low profile up 'til now, so what's changed?"
"Nothing's changed, and that's our problem. If he is halfway suspicious of our involvement, he won't go harassing every kid on the streets, there's too many of them and spread over too wide an area. No, I reckon he'd target people who don't give a shit.
Where do all the dossers, alcoholics and druggies hang out? Farmers Bridge locks, that's where I kick off my investigation. We use that shortcut just about every day, we're known by those pathetic people, so it would only take a few bribes, free drugs, cash enough to stay pissed for a month, and they'll have all the information they need, if not leading them to our doorstep, but close enough to make life very risky if we stuck around."
"Very well. I'll give a statement, but then it's back to London for me."
The next morning found us handing over memory sticks containing all the information we'd managed to unearth. We gave our statements to Mr Bushby, mine was fairly straight-forward, whereas Donny's and Callum's took ages to do.
Donny talked to him about the possibility of being taken into care, but Mr Bushby told him that given the Social Services would have to inform his father, and as he hadn't so far been charged with any offence that would bar him access to his son, it was too dangerous as the address of his care home would become public knowledge thus exposing Donny to a frightening degree of unacceptable risk. No, he would sit tight with us unless something happened that made that impossible.
A month on and with no news from Wolverhampton, we began to relax, but some of our boys were starting to feel the strain and that resulted in about half of them giving themselves up to the care system. Summer was coming, and with warmer weather, most of those that remained took themselves off and disappeared into the city leaving just five of us to man the fort, Donny, Pip, Bubba, Ian and myself.
The place felt empty once they'd left, but the upside was that we didn't need to count heads each time one of them came and went.
Amazingly, Callum kept in close contact. London was starting to lose its appeal, and while he had found a steady boyfriend, he wanted to come back to Birmingham once, and all assuming the police managed to bring a successful prosecution that would see Carl safely locked away.
Pip and I had managed to get up and running, not just the workshop engine, but the boat was also looking good. We had managed to find two retired engineers that were capable of restoring the machinery upstairs which helped the boredom, but then three months in, we had some positive news which Mr Bushby explained to us over a mug of coffee.
"At first the powers that be, ergo the Chief Superintendent (Serious Crime Squad) thought about tackling this child prostitution head on. We have enough evidence to charge Donny's father, enough evidence to bring minor charges against Matterson, but what we most need is access to Wootton Park so we could carry out a search for DNA then we could marry them up samples found against those you believe were involved.
The problem with that, is it would alert Matterson to our interest in him, and given he's a slippery creature, he would probably skip abroad to where we think he keeps his fortune. Equatorial New Guinea and the UK Government don't have an extradition treaty, so if that's where he ended up, we would be powerless to get him back.
So, given the possibility we'd lose him, we looked at the drug angle.
As you know, we can't get access to his off-shore accounts, but what we could do is alert all the major clearing banks in Europe and ask them to report on any significant movement of funds from those accounts. We got lucky. I guess he thought he was being clever. He tried to make a substantial payment to an account in South America by channelling it through a Swiss bank.
The thing is, this might've worked until a year or so ago. The Swiss had always been very secretive about their banking practices and clients, but because of their strong ties to the EU, they had to change tack. This bank brought this transaction to our attention, and with help from the authorities in South America, we were able to discover who the money was going to.
Six weeks later, one of Matterson's many companies chartered a luxury yacht. We monitored said yacht's movements, radio transmissions and so on and it became obvious that it was on a drug collection run. As soon as it crossed into UK waters, Customs, HMRC and Drug Squad officers boarded her and found two things of significance. In the hold, they found uncut cocaine with a street value of over twenty million pounds, but in the stateroom, the biggest prize of all. Carl Stephen Matterson complete with his pet, a ten-year-old boy, a naked ten-year-old boy, a severely traumatised naked ten-year-old boy.
Now, due to the sensitive nature of our investigation, a blanket ban was put into place that prevented the press both here and abroad from reporting this incident. Matterson appeared at a closed session at Southampton Magistrates Court and is currently in custody awaiting an appearance at the Old Baily which is scheduled for next month. His wife and four of his operatives were also charged with various offences, and they too are in custody.
The youngster I told you about was assessed both for his physical condition, and also with regard to his mental state.
The medics are of the opinion that he's been subjected to rape and other awful sex acts over a number of years. He will recover physically, but how well he will do mentally is in the lap of the Gods together with the best doctors and health practitioners we can find.
We've managed to get our foot in the door, but there's a way still to go, and here's where you come in.
We need access to Wootton Park. You know your way around the house. You know the alarm code so it would be very helpful if you could meet us there tomorrow morning a seven o'clock."
"We'll be there, but can I ask you something? Are we out of danger?"
"Hard to say for certain Edward. You're definitely safer than you were forty-eight hours ago. He and his wife and colleagues are housed in separate prisons and all of them are in solitary confinement, but remember how worried you were about talking to me in case I was a bent cop? Well, unfortunately there are also bent prison officers so there's always a slim chance he might bribe one to get him a mobile phone. His cell is searched regularly, but nothing in life is guaranteed. Just keep a weather eye open until we've secured a conviction. Once we have that, I think he'll realise that it's only a matter of time before we have enough evidence to put him away for the rest of his natural life. No parole boards, no arguments."
"Good enough. It'll be nice not having to stay in the shadows. How's he going to plead?"
"Not guilty of course, although with so much evidence stacked up against him, nothing short of a point of law will get him off. We'll be taking every precaution, we'll have solicitors and barristers crawling all over this case to make sure it's as watertight as possible.
Assuming he goes down, what are you plans for the future?"
Bubba place his coffee on the table.
"Ronny wants to put me through catering college. He reckons I could make a fine chef one day."
"And you Ian. Going to take up boxing?"
"Actually, while I know I look intimidating, I have a soft centre. If I was young enough to go back to school, then I would, but instead I'll go to college and with luck, qualify as a teacher."
"Take my heavy goods licence. I love driving, it's all I've ever wanted to do."
"Definitely go back to school. Ed wants to go back to Solihull and get his place smartened up. We'll live there and with a bit of luck I can get a scholarship to Hatton Grammar, finish my education then see what happens."
"And you Edward. Got any plans of your own?"
"Similar. Finish my education, then I want to open this dump up as a Heritage Museum, run it as a charity for those kids living on the streets."
"Then I sincerely hope it happens for all of you. I better get away now before I get my arse chewed. I'll see you in the morning."
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