Having slept little during the night, Jane left the campsite hitching a lift back to Cape Town with the crew that had produced their dinner the night before. She was very concerned at what Eric Duncan had said and really wanted to know what evidence the detective had that made him consider Duncan a murderer. She boarded the first available flight back to Heathrow. On arrival, she made an appointment to meet with the detective the next morning.
After offering coffee, tea or whatever Tom Cranston the detective asked: “Well now Ms Anderson, what brings you here today?” “Actually it’s Mrs Anderson” replied Jane. She then proceeded to tell him of her relationship with Eric Duncan and about the concerns she had regarding his involvement in his wife’s murder.
“He told me you think him guilty and had vowed to prove it” she continued.
“Yes, that’s true” he detective responded. “But really I’m no further forward than I was at the time of the murder investigation.”
“He told me you followed him to and around Cape Town the last time he was there.”
“Yes, that’s true also. I wanted to upset his equilibrium” came the reply.
“And is that why you were at Heathrow again a few days ago?” she asked
“Yes, Mrs Anderson, but you still haven’t told me why you are here. Did Duncan say anything specific about the murder?”
“Well,” she said “we had both had rather a lot to drink and he wasn’t as careful in what he said as he usually is. He talked about his wife having had her throat cut from behind, with a kitchen knife. How would he know where the murderer was standing?
He also said there was little blood splatter which he said is usual when a throat is cut deeply and from behind. How would he know that?”
“I can only tell you that I am convinced he did murder his wife and to instil in you the need to be very careful around this man. By the way. Where is Duncan now?” said the detective.
“Somewhere on the way to Victoria Falls, I imagine. Unless he too, has left the safari; but I don’t suppose he has.
Standing, the detective said “Thank you for coming in today” and handing her a card said, “If you think of anything else please call me”. Then noting her details, he showed her off the premises.
As soon as she left he went to his computer and searched blood splatter and throat slashing on the web. Then he went in to see his superior.
At the time of the murder, they had no reason to search Duncan’s home and so hadn’t searched his laptop or the computer he used at the office. He wanted the Inspector to authorise two search warrants one for Duncan’s home and the other specifically and only for his computer at the solicitors’ office. The web searches, if indeed Duncan had searched for these particular items, had been made many months ago and probably would have been deleted by now. But the whiz-kids in their IT department would be able to find anything that had been there.
He then called Jane to find out when Duncan was due back. It was always better to present the search warrant to the property owner rather than risk a defence team claiming illegal search. The first warrant, for Duncan’s house, was not specific to the computer but the second one was. Because they would be dealing with a firm of solicitors, Cranston knew it was particularly important that the search be carried out properly and in accordance with the law. The warrant would specify the computer and give the reason for the search and the requirement to remove the computer from the premises. If the solicitors baulked at removing the computer, the police IT team could come to their office to carry out the search.
The Magistrate signed the warrants and Cranston felt elated. He thought after so many months of inactivity on the case they now had a possible clue. He was impatient to start but had to wait several days for Duncan’s return.
On that day he waited at the property and as Duncan emerged from the car he presented the search warrant. Duncan, of course, was livid. He insisted that nobody entered his house until he had called his solicitor so taking the search warrant from the detective, he made the phone call. His solicitor assured him that the warrant appeared to be in order and that Duncan should allow the police entry to his house. So begrudgingly, Duncan did so.
They found little of interest in the house except one officer noticed a clear plastic raincoat hung alongside other outdoor coats. But it looked out of place and also he thought that something had been wiped off the coat. Maybe it was just mud but they took it anyway. They left giving Duncan a receipt for the computer and the raincoat.
The next stop was the solicitors’ office. When they arrived Duncan had already been in touch with the practice manager so they were expected. Cranston told the manager why they needed to search Duncan’s computer. The manager told him that he was quite sure there was nothing to be found on the computer but reluctantly agreed that a member of their team could search the computer. Taking the computer and promising it would be returned as soon as possible they left.
It didn’t take long for the IT team to locate where Duncan had searched the web for both blood splatter and throat slicing. Duncan foolishly had not cleared these searches from his laptop and in a short time the police had found them. The raincoat, though it looked clean, showed signs of blood splatter when tested with luminal. They did not find anything on the solicitors’ computer and so that was returned the next day.
With this information, Cranston thought he had enough to arrest Duncan and charge him with his wife’s murder. Before doing so, he called Jane Anderson and told her what had happened following her visit. He thanked her but advised that she would most probably be called as a witness at the trial to attest to what Duncan had said. Could she come to the station to make a statement just as soon as convenient? She readily agreed and told Cranston that she had a call from Duncan following the visit of the police to ask her to meet for lunch. She had refused but said he didn’t sound his usual self. She thought he was worried at what the police might find.
So Duncan was arrested, Jane breathed easier and Cranston set to work to prove the case.
And the last words in this tale must go to Terry Hayes, an English-born Australian screenwriter, producer and author:
“Nobody’s ever been arrested for a murder;
they have only ever been arrested for not planning it properly.”
Terry Hayes, 1951 –
Faraway Places; It Begins; The Fickle Finger of Fate; Murderer vs Detective;
What Happens Next? ; Question Time