Meanwhile news of the debacle at Boucher’s house reached Kubric via one of his informers in the police. He was not overly disappointed. At least the idiot was dead. Now he could move on, restructure his empire, build up trade again with new people. McVey, the alcoholic Scotsman, Hall, the English runner of whores, and now Boucher, the French butcher and cause of all the mayhem, were gone.
But his business was intact. Nothing had changed. People still needed their fix, supply had not been affected, and Cameron was already making progress assuring local distributors and dealers. Orders had not dropped off, in fact they had increased.
But he was short of security. That was undeniable. He needed muscle and fast. He had never got to the bottom of what had happened to Markovic, and it would be a few weeks before he would know whether trade on Boucher’s former patch was still under threat. The spectre of an organised gang invading his business remained. Boucher’s death did not mean that threat had miraculously receded, but he needed people on the ground to watch, talk to locals, understand the rhythm of the street, if he were to understand it.
He still had contacts in Bosnia, some of them with connections to the military, and he preferred to employ his own. He understood them, spoke their language, not just their idiom, and they were loyal. Life in England was very different to Bosnia. The money they could earn made the change attractive so there would be no shortage of people to choose from.
He dialled a number he knew by heart. ’zdravo prijatelju’ he said cheerfully when a familiar voice answered.
Cameron had instructed Foal to make the rounds, reassure dealers, check nests, count stock and supply, make sure cash was not going missing. It was a big job, a responsible job, and Foal was making a surprisingly energetic and impressive start. But Cameron was short of people and that made him vulnerable. If an organised gang made a move, there would be very little to hold them off. Security was his biggest concern, and it would be days before he could beef it up.
He was due to meet Kubric at one of Hall’s nests that evening. He wondered what arrangements Kubric was making. He guessed he would share his concerns about security when they met, and it would be interesting to hear what he had done about it.
Unbeknown to him, Giordano had ordered his arrest. But when officers had turned up at the address on file, he had not been there. In his new role, he had to travel a lot and he was not easy to track down. Giordano put out a general alert for him and his car, but thus far, he had managed to evade her net.
However, at about eight in the evening a traffic patrol spotted his car parked outside a large, detached property at the bottom of Billing Road East. The car was a modern black BMW 5 series, the house mock Tudor with eaves facing the road, white walls, a black timber arch above the front door, slate roof, and a high Laurel hedge obscuring the front garden. On the right- hand side, a garage stood at the end of a single-track drive leading to the entrance to the rear garden.
The patrol was ordered to observe from a safe distance and pulled into Cavendish Drive, some distance away but with a good view of the front door. Giordano advised Thomas and Grey that Cameron’s car had been spotted and they gathered in her office. ‘No sighting of Cameron?’ Grey asked.
‘No, just his car.’
‘But it’s not his house?’
‘No, it’s owned by an old man, nearly ninety years old. He’s in a home so the place is empty most of the time.’
‘So, we have to assume he’s in there.’ Grey said. ‘This man could be dangerous. We need to organise an armed team to assist with the arrest.’
‘I agree. Giordano, find out how quickly they can get there.’ Thomas said.
Giordano made the call. ‘They say up to an hour sir. They will call if they can make it earlier.’
‘Okay, let’s maintain surveillance until they’re ready. I think Grey and I should get down there and take charge of the scene. Giordano, keep the lines open.’ Thomas said, heading for the door.
Thomas and Grey hurried down the stairs and headed for his car in the car park. It was beginning to drizzle, but the air was warm, and the wind had died down. He zapped the locks and they settled in the cabin.
It was a very short trip to Billing Road East. They covered the distance in less than five minutes. Lights were on in the target house as they drove past, and they could see the patrol car in the near distance. Thomas pulled in behind it and climbed out of his car. The driver wound down his window and Thomas leaned in. ‘I want you to move up the hill, out of sight of the house. We will observe from here. I’ve ordered an ART, but they won’t be here for a while, so keep your eyes open.’ He said.
The driver nodded and drove off. Thomas climbed back in his car and rubbed his hands together. ‘They’re going to observe from the top of the road. We’ll stay her. Thank goodness it isn’t too cold.’
‘Amen to that sir.’
After ten minutes a Lexus IS saloon pulled in behind the BMW. A middle aged thick-set man hurried along the drive towards the front door. He rang the bell and was welcomed inside a few seconds later.
‘A visitor,’ Thomas said, ‘I wonder who he is.’ He picked up the radio and asked Giordano to arrange for the road to be blocked both ends, four hundred yards either side of the house.
Cameron looked pleased to see Kubric and ushered him into the back room. ‘Good to see you. We have a lot to talk about. Drink?’ He asked, pulling a shot glass down from a high cupboard. ‘I’ve bought a single malt, just for this occasion.’
Kubric nodded and said, ‘You’ve heard the news on Boucher?’
Cameron seemed surprised. ‘Boucher? No. What’s happened?’ He asked, handing the drink to Kubric. He took a sip and raised the glass. ‘Umm, very good. He was killed this afternoon. I sent some people to talk to him, but he resisted, pulled a gun on them. They had no choice.’
‘No doubt.’ Kubric took a long pull, almost emptied his glass. ‘Good riddance. He is responsible for all this chaos. But enough about him. Tell me how things are.’
‘Good. Foal is proving surprisingly effective. I’m confident that in a few days we will have everything under control.’
‘We are short of men though Cammy. We are vulnerable. This afternoon I called ...’ Kubric suddenly felt faint. He reached out to the worktop for balance, but somehow his arm did not react as he intended. The room was spinning, and he had broken out in a hot sweat. He was having difficulty breathing. The last thing he said before he collapsed was ‘Cammy, call an ambula..’
Cameron calmly knelt and took the empty glass from his hand. He smiled. The drug had taken less time than he had expected. Now it was time to fit the final piece of his jigsaw.’
Grey’s radio crackled into life. ‘ART ETA five minutes.’
‘Received. Five minutes.’ She said.
‘Okay. I think we leave them to it and bring up the rear. We don’t know what to expect, so that’s prudent.’ Thomas said.
‘Fine by me sir. I gave up playing the heroine when I was ten.’
‘Not sure I agree with that. You saved Giordano’s life.’
‘That’s a bit of an exaggeration sir. Oh, hang on the cavalry are here. They’re early.’
Two blue vans turned into Cavendish Drive and parked in front of Thomas’ car, the paintwork glinting under the streetlights and drizzle. Sean Shannon stepped down from the lead van and introduced himself to Thomas. ‘What have we got?’ He asked.
‘Suspected murderer. Could be armed, we don’t know. Possible drugs connection.’
‘I’ve looked at the plans. No egress to the rear so we’ll storm the front. Go in hard and fast.’ Shannon said. ‘Best thing for you is to hold back. Let us deal with it.’
‘We will. Do you need anything more from me?’
Shannon said, ‘No. Let’s get moving!’
He gathered his men in a circle, gave them final instructions, and they marched in a line towards the property. The lead man carried a Nigel, a sixteen-kilogram hardened steel battering ram which applied three tonnes of impact force, enough to break down any door. Those behind were weapons ready, guns held in both hands in a firing position. They stole silently to the front door and stood back to give the lead man room to swing. Shannon gave him a silent count of three before he swung the Nigel. It was like watching a golf swing front on, Thomas thought. High backswing, weight back and then forward, follow through to impact, and three tonnes of hard metal did its job amazingly quickly, but noisily. The door collapsed inwards with a loud crack and officers poured in screaming ‘Armed police!’
It was a difficult house to storm, lots of rooms, lots of furniture to hide behind. But Shannon’s team were experienced. They cleared one at a time in teams of three, shouting ‘Clear!’ as they progressed. After only a few minutes the downstairs was clear.
His men made their way slowly up the stairs, guns trained ahead, looking left to right with each step. They reached the landing and fanned out into each of the bedrooms. ‘Clear! Clear! Clear!’ Only the bathroom remained. The door was kicked open, guns raised at the ready, but there was nobody inside. ‘Clear!’ Came the shout.
Shannon trotted down the stairs and pulled off his helmet. His forehead bathed in sweat. ‘Nobody home.’ He said to Thomas, but Thomas was not paying attention. Instead he pointed to a door off the passage. ‘Cellar.’ He mouthed silently.
Shannon nodded and waved two men forward. The door opened inwards onto a steep concrete stairway. At the bottom, a light was on and Shannon saw shadows moving. ‘Come on out, armed police!’ He shouted. There was no reply. Shannon continued down until he was at the bottom, gun raised in both hands, safety off, ready to fire. He turned to the right and stared in disbelief. In the far corner a man was on his knees, trembling with his head in his hands. Shannon waved one of his men to deal with him. But it was what he saw in the centre of the room that made his blood run cold and would stay with him for the rest of his life. A hoist had been assembled, and from it hung a well-built man, shackled at the ankles with his hands tied behind his back. The man was upside down. His throat had been cut. Blood had splattered over the walls and floor, and dregs were still dripping from the open wound. A bloody knife lie on the floor underneath the body.
Shannon checked for a pulse but there was not one. He called Thomas who made his way down the stairs, half expecting what to see, but still sickened when his fears were confirmed. Grey did not venture down.
Cameron was led away by an armed officer and Thomas called for an ambulance and SOCO team.
It took two days to identify Kubric’s body. Another interview with Micky helped the team piece together who Kubric was and gave further fire to their theory that Cameron had been behind a take-over of a County Line Operation run by Kubric.
The final piece in the puzzle fell into place when a DNA sample from Cameron came back from the laboratory showing that he had murdered Markovic and Hall.
‘It makes sense, sir.’ Grey said when Thomas and Giordano joined her in her office. ‘Cameron had the brains, but Micky told us he had a heart of stone. He saw an opportunity and went for it. Probably planned it for months. First, he unsettled Boucher by supplying the Khans from McVey’s stock, but Markovic saw him. He had to silence him before he talked, so paid him a surprise visit. Markovic let him in, perhaps expecting him to do a deal. Cameron killed him in his usual perverse way, then set McVey up. He must have somehow discovered that Ronnie was a snitch and sent him the text. That got rid of McVey. Then he fooled Foal into taking money from Khan and took a video which he sent to Boucher, hoping Boucher would kill Hall. But he didn’t, so he did her himself. He must have imagined that Kubric would kill Boucher, mistakenly thinking he had killed Hall, and he was right. I’ve interviewed the two survivors of the hit squad we arrested, and they both say they were acting under Kubric’s orders. That left only Kubric to deal with, and we all know how he dealt with him.’
‘Quite a tangled web DI Grey, but you unravelled it with good teamwork. Well done both of you.’ Thomas said.