The Fanling Conspiracy

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TROUBLE FOR TYLER

Dylan came over to Ben’s flat. It was 11.00am. Tyler had been in custody for two hours. He had used his right to a telephone call to ring Ben at home, and explained what had happened. Ben simply did not believe it, and thought Tyler was playing a joke to get his own back at him. It was only after a few minutes of hysterical screaming on Tyler’s part that Ben realized he was being serious. He told Tyler to say nothing to the police and that he and Dylan would be down as soon as possible.

“What are we going to do?” said Dylan.

Ben was silent. Words did not begin to describe his feelings. They had sent poor old Tyler out to pick up some senile judge, who had been this morning been found stabbed to death, a short time after Tyler had left his apartment. Tyler had explained to Ben what he could remember. It did not even cross Ben’s mind that Tyler could have killed him.

“Let’s get down to the station”, said Ben.

“He’s been arrested on suspicion of murder, Ben!” Dylan was beginning to lose it.

“Look, for God’s sake, calm down! There’s obviously been a mistake here, we know that Tyler didn’t kill him. We’ll try and sort it out with the cops. He hasn’t been charged yet. Come on.”

The boys caught a taxi outside Ben’s flat to the police station in Wanchai. Both Ben and Dylan had been there many times on behalf of clients. They knew many of the cops there. They saw with relief that the Duty Officer was Tony Wong, whom they respected.

“Tony”, said Dylan, “what on earth is happening?”

“I don’t know too much, Mr. Roberts. Mr. Scott was arrested this morning for Judge Chang’s murder. Team number three are in charge.”

“Who’s the officer in charge?” said Ben.

“The O.C.? Bob Haynes.”

Ben and Dylan looked at each other. This was not good news. Haynes had had it in for the firm since the infamous Kai Tak drugs case two years previously, when Haynes had been the O.C., and Dylan had acted for the defendant. The guy had clearly been guilty but the judge had ruled the search of his premises illegal. Haynes had taken the blame within the department. Tall, hefty, with a face made bleary red from excess alcohol, Haynes was a cop from the old school, having worked in Hong Kong for over fifteen years.

“OK”, said Dylan, “we want to see Tyler.”

“Give me a minute, gentlemen.” Tony left the front desk and returned a couple of minutes later. “This way, gentlemen.” Ben and Dylan followed him to a small interview room. A few moments later Tyler was led into the room. A uniformed police officer sat down with him. Dylan glared at the cop.

“Excuse me, this man is our client, can we have some privacy, please?” The man made no effort to move, and Ben could see Dylan was going to explode. Ben had a quiet word with the officer, who grudgingly left the room. They were alone with Tyler.

Ben could see that Tyler was scared. Thankfully, he had been allowed to put some clothes on, thoughtfully collected by the arresting officers from his flat.

“We’re so sorry, Tyler, it’s all our fault”, said Ben. Tyler raised a weak smile.

“At least you stand a chance of winning the Tang Clan case now with Chang out of the way”, he said.

“That’s true”, said Dylan. Ben glared at him.

“Tell us again what happened”, said Ben. Tyler retold his story. Ben and Dylan could not help smiling when he described the judge in his wig and suspenders.

“So what time did you leave?” said Dylan.

“About 3.30am. I looked at my watch when I was trying to catch a cab.”

“And the cops arrested you at 9.00am, so the judge must have copped it say between 3.30am and 8.00am at the latest”, said Ben.”

“I guess so”, said Tyler. “Apparently they have an eye-witness to say they saw someone matching my description leaving the block of flats at around 3.30am. Someone dressed in a pair of underpants.” They all looked at each other. This was not good.

“But who would want to kill the judge?” wondered Dylan. There was a silence.

“But they can’t pin this on you, Tyler, they can only have circumstantial evidence”, said Ben.

“You know as well as I do, Ben”, said Tyler, “that murder defendants are often convicted on circumstantial evidence. The prosecution will say that I was in his flat only a few hours -maybe minutes, who knows? - before he was killed.”

“Don’t worry, Tyler, this’ll be all over soon, I’m sure. I don’t have to tell you to say nothing to the police?” said Ben. Tyler smiled again.

“I may be a crap lawyer, but I know that.”

“OK, we’ll come back tonight to see what’s happening”, said Ben. He smiled at Tyler. “It’ll be a good story for the best man’s speech if you ever get married. See you later.”

Dylan and Ben left Tyler in the interview room and bumped into Haynes outside.

“I trust you weren’t eavesdropping, Mr. Haynes. We wouldn’t want to get you into trouble again”, said Dylan smoothly. Haynes glared at him.

“We’ve got your firm good and proper this time, Roberts”, said Haynes, swaggering. “Scott murdered the judge, and we all know why.”

“Is that right?” smiled Dylan.

“Yes, that’s right. How is the Tang Clan case going, by the way?”

“Thank you for asking, Mr. Haynes, very well thank you, good of you to take such an interest in our affairs”, said Dylan. “And how is Mrs. Haynes? Oh, I forgot, she left you for Inspector Wilmot, didn’t she.” Haynes looked to be on the verge of violence.

“Just don’t leave town, Roberts”, he hissed. “ That goes for you too, McCann.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it. Nice as always to chat with you, Mr. Haynes, goodbye now”, said Dylan sweetly. They left Haynes fuming as they left the station. Despite his words Dylan was nervous.

“We could be in big trouble here, Ben”, he said.

“For what?” said Ben. “Conspiracy to bugger the judge?”

“Conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice perhaps. Wouldn’t put it past Haynes to charge us with that if he finds out the full story.” Ben was silent. That was a possibility.

“I’m going home”, said Ben. “Let’s go back at 8.00pm, I’ll meet you outside the station.”

“OK.”

Ben caught a taxi back to his flat. If Tyler was not released today he could imagine the next morning’s newspaper headlines. Haynes would make sure his mates at the papers found out about this. The murder of the judge would be front page news in any event. He cooked himself some spaghetti but could not eat it. He was worried, for Tyler, and for himself. Why did they ask Tyler to do something so stupid! He fell asleep in the armchair, MTV blaring out from the television. He was awoken by the telephone. He looked at his watch. It was late, 7.15pm, he’d better get down the station. He picked up the phone.

“Hello” he said.

“Mr. McCann? Superintendant Haynes here.” Ben knew it was bad news. Haynes sounded smug.

“Yes, Mr. Haynes, how can I help you?”
“I tried to speak to Roberts first, but his phone’s off. You’ll do.”

“Yes?”

“We found the murder weapon in a dustbin. The forensics are back. Scott’s prints are on the knife. We’ve just charged him with the murder of Judge Chang. Thought you’d like to know.”

“Thank you, Mr. Haynes. You do realize you’re making another big mistake?” There was a snort of derision from the other end.

“I repeat, don’t leave town, Mr. McCann.” He hung up. Ben looked at the receiver. This was turning into a nightmare.

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