Chapter Six

Anna was on her feet the moment Tom sat down.

She always seems taller in court, he thought. With her shoulders back and her head up, she looks commanding, graceful—regal, that’s the word.

‘Your Honour,’ Anna began, ‘I wondered whether we might have a short break, so that I can contact Wormwood Scrubs and ensure the exhibits make their way to Mr Blake before we resume.’

Denham’s eyes narrowed as he considered her request. ‘Do you plan to use any exhibits now, in cross-examination?’

‘I do, Your Honour,’ she replied.

‘He must’ve prepared his case with his solicitors, or with you—no? He must’ve given instructions, examined the evidence, explained his position?’

Anna frowned: ‘Your Honour?’

‘Well, if he’s prepared for this trial properly, and if he’s been properly prepared, then none of these exhibits will be new to him, will they? You won’t be using anything he hasn’t already seen.’

‘Nnnn…,’ she hesitated. ‘No. But he’ll need to refer to them to follow what’s happening.’

‘Let’s see how we do, shall we?’ Denham nodded to himself, seemingly satisfied that he’d resolved the problem. ‘You can show him the exhibits as you go, and if it remains an issue, we’ll revisit it at lunch.’

‘Your Honour—.’ She stopped short. 

Out of the corner of his eye Tom saw her turn to him and mouth something. He ignored her, though, and stared ahead. He couldn’t afford for Denham to see him dissent—and nor could she. 

‘Ms Hart?’ Denham said, his tone almost cheery.

There was a pause. Tom could hear Anna steadying her breath, composing herself. 

And then she began: ‘Sergeant, I don’t propose to be long, but there are three points I’d like to explore with you, please.’

‘Certainly,’ Copley replied.

‘First, I’d like to take you back to what Mr Blake said regarding his mother. You’ve told the court that, on Kennington Road, he begged you to let him go, saying that he had to see his mother—yes?’

‘Yes.’

‘He said that she needed his help, correct?’

‘Correct.’

‘You’ve also said that he raised this in his interview that night, is that right?’

‘It is.’

‘And that he even asked you to visit her for him, on his behalf, yes?’

‘Well … he did, but …’

‘But you didn’t believe him?’

‘No.’

‘Why not?’

‘I’ve already said: we knew he had form, and he’d tried to trick us by walking off in the wrong direction. Besides, if he was really going to his mother’s, he should’ve said so as soon as he saw us.’

‘Well, in addition to telling you out on the street, I suggest that he explained the entire situation to you whilst he was in the back of the car being driven to the station. Do you recall that?’ 

There was silence. 

‘Maybe,’ he replied.

‘He told you that his elderly mother had rung him for help; that’s right, isn’t it?’

‘Possibly.’

‘That she’d fallen, woken on the kitchen floor, and was unable to get up—correct?’

‘He may have elaborated on what he’d initially told us,’ Copley conceded. 

‘And that she’d called for an ambulance but been unable to speak to an operator, yes?’

‘As I said,’ his voice was firmer now, ‘he may have elaborated on what he’d initially told us.’

‘Sergeant,’ Anna started slowly, ‘in the car, as you were driving, he gave you his mother’s address and asked if you’d send someone to help her—didn’t he?’

‘He might’ve done, but he’d already tried to deceive us once, so …’ His protest petered out.

‘So, he told you why he was outside,’ she held up her fingers to enumerate her points, ‘first, on Kennington Road; second, in the car; and third, in his interview. Correct?’

‘Possibly.’

‘And yet despite his account being consistent, and before even attempting to verify it, you proceeded to charge him that Tuesday night, yes?’ 

‘Yes,’ he stared at her, defiant.

‘Now,’ she pressed on without missing a beat, ‘although you spent time in hospital, you were kept abreast of the investigation into the infections, weren’t you?’

‘I was.’

‘So when Sergeant Goode looked into the whereabouts and wellbeing of Mr Blake’s mother, are you able to tell this court what he found?’

‘She died,’ he said blankly, as if he were stating the time.

‘It’s right, isn’t it, that she was taken to hospital on Wednesday morning and died that day?’ 

‘I believe so.’

She moved on: ‘I’d like you to turn to page seven of the exhibit bundle, please.’ She waited for Copley to find the page, then asked: ‘Do you recognise this document?’

His eyes scanned from left to right, before he said: ‘It’s a Contaxx data report, showing people’s details and statuses, including mine.’

‘And it’s dated the day before you arrested Mr Blake, yes? The Monday of that week.’

‘Yes.’

‘So what information do we have here?’

‘Well, if you look at my entry, for example, this little flag in the left-hand corner identifies me as a key worker. Then you’ve got my name, my date of birth, my address, my number, Contaxx ID, and my green Contaxx status on the right. And beneath that, in small print, is the date on which my status was last updated.’

‘And it says, doesn’t it, that your status was last updated on the Sunday, two days before Mr Blake’s arrest, on the Tuesday?’

‘It does.’

Where’s she going with this? Tom thought. What’s she getting at?

Ahead of him, Denham took off his glasses, wiped them on his robe, and popped them back on his nose. As he did so, he seemed to stifle a yawn. That triggered Tom, who clasped his hand over his mouth to conceal a yawn of his own. All of a sudden, the air felt hot and oppressive. He noticed that the light was coming in through the windows at a steeper angle than before, so he checked the time and saw that it was nearly eleven. His mind jumped to Sophie; he wondered whether she’d spoken to David about her visit to the cemetery, or replied to his text. He took out his phone, beneath his gown, and glanced down at it. Forty-eight minutes ago she’d written: No post yet.

‘Now,’ Anna continued, ‘next to the date on which your status was updated, in small print, we have the letters “L.T.”—can you see that?’

‘Yes.’

‘What does that signify?’

‘It stands for “live test”, and it means that my status is based on an actual test I’ve taken, rather than being a conclusion that Contaxx has arrived at after analyzing my data.’

‘So does this mean that when your Contaxx status was updated on the Sunday, it was updated on the basis of a test you’d taken that day?’

‘Precisely. We take two per week: Wednesday or Thursday, then Saturday or Sunday. My status would’ve updated automatically on the Sunday, after I’d taken my weekend test.’

‘What about PC Shah’s entry, what information do we have there?’

Copley went through the details: the data report displayed her name, date of birth, address, phone number, Contaxx ID, and then her green Contaxx status on the right.

‘And if we look at the date of her last status update, that was also the Sunday, wasn’t it?’

‘Yes.’

‘And she also has the letters “L.T.” beneath the date of that update, correct?’

‘She does.’

‘So like you, her update would’ve been based on a test that she’d taken that day.’

‘Yes.’

‘And lastly, let’s look at PC Scott’s entry. The details, please?’

Copley took a moment to respond. ‘It’s just the same,’ he said, frowning at Anna. ‘Name,’ he spoke slowly, ‘date of birth, address, phone number, Contaxx ID, and then his status on the right.’

‘We can see that his status is also green, can’t we?’

He was almost squinting at Anna now, and his assent was guarded: ‘Yes.’

‘And then beneath that, what’s the date on which his status was last updated.’

There was a long pause. 

Shit, Tom thought. How did I miss this? His heart hammered inside his chest.

‘Sergeant?’ Anna prodded Copley for an answer.

‘It’s … it’s …’

‘It’s four days earlier, isn’t it?’ 

‘Yes.’

‘So his status was last updated on the previous Wednesday, correct?’

‘Correct.’

‘Now, you’ve told us that when you have a test, your status updates automatically, yes?’

‘Yes.’

‘So the fact that his status wasn’t updated on the day that yours was tells us that he didn’t do a test that day, is that right?’

‘Yes.’

‘In other words, it tells us that he missed a test, doesn’t it?’

‘It looks like it.’

‘He took one on Wednesday but missed the next one, the following Sunday. Correct?’

‘As I say, it looks like it. But, I … I …,’ he stammered. 

Tom flicked through his bundle, searching for evidence that Anna had got it wrong; that PC Scott hadn’t missed a test.

Anna went on, all sweetness, all light: ‘Yes, Sergeant?’

‘Well there could’ve been an error registering Sunday’s test—something like that.’

Tom sat bolt upright.

Anna pounced: ‘So Contaxx is prone to errors, is it?’

Copley’s expression tightened; his cheekbones became prominent, his mouth thin. 

‘Sergeant?’ Anna harassed her quarry.

‘No,’ he said, sternly. ‘No it’s not prone to errors.’

‘Right. In that case,’ Anna said, ‘it’s possible, isn’t it, that PC Scott contracted the virus over the weekend, that it went undetected because he missed Sunday’s test, and that he then infected you—and Mr Blake—before displaying any symptoms?’

Tom leapt to his feet, desperate to shut Anna down. ‘Your Honour, My Learned Friend is a very able advocate, but she’s no doctor. Neither she nor Sergeant Copley are qualified to diagnose an absent colleague.’

Denham thought for a moment, pushed his glasses up slightly, and said: ‘Mr Wells, there’s a great deal of information regarding this virus that is common knowledge. One doesn’t need medical training to understand its basic characteristics. Sergeant Copley, if you’d answer the question.’

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘It’s possible.’

‘Just one more point, then.’ Anna opened her file and took out three sheaves of paper. ‘I have a separate exhibit which I’d like you to look at, please.’ She marched into the well of the court, handing one sheaf to Copley and another to Denham. As she returned to her place, her gown billowing behind her, she tossed the third to Tom. He saw the corner of her mouth curl, just a little: she had Copley on the ropes, and intended to knock him out. 

‘When you’ve taken a look, could you identify that, please?’

Tom leaned over and whispered: ‘What is it? I haven’t seen it!’

She hissed back: ‘It’s your document. It’s from your unused material.’

‘It’s,’ Copley began, ‘an incident log.’

‘Now if you look at the name in the top right-hand corner,’ Anna picked up her own copy and pointed, ‘whose incident log is it?’

‘Erm … Kavita’s. PC Shah’s.’

‘Is it just hers?’

‘Looks like it.’

‘Would she have been out on patrol on her own?’

‘It’s not ideal, but it can happen. I can’t … off the top of my head, I don’t know why she would be, but … it’s possible.’

‘In the top left-hand corner we have the day and the date, and it’s Monday: so one day after her status was updated, and one day before Mr Blake was arrested. Yes?’

‘Yes.’

‘And beneath that, on the left-hand side, we have a list of times, don’t we?’

‘We do.’

‘With each time correlating to a specific incident or entry, correct?’

‘That’s right.’

‘I’d like you to turn to the second page and read the entry timed nine twenty-three a.m..’

Copley studied it, holding it inches from his face. 

There was silence, before Anna said: ‘Sorry, Sergeant, if you could read it aloud.’

‘Certainly,’ he nodded. ‘Ushered homeless man from Tesco doorway. Had no ID, phone etc. Attempted to take his details but he became aggressive and fled. Unable to pursue.

Tom sank into his seat and took a deep breath. He tried to remember whether he’d seen the incident log within the gigabytes of unused material he’d received, and if so, how he’d managed to miss this. He thought ahead to his next witness, Professor Rowe, whose task would now be to mitigate the damage. At the very least, his expertise would lend the Crown’s case an aura of authority.

‘Sergeant,’ Anna continued, ‘were you aware of this incident?’

‘No.’

‘So you don’t know who this man is, or was?’

‘No.’

‘Now we established earlier that PC Shah had her last test one day before this incident, on the Sunday, with her status updating automatically then, yes?’

‘Yes.’

‘So it’s possible, isn’t it, that this unidentified, untraceable individual infected her on Monday morning, after Sunday’s test; and that the virus then went undetected until she’d transmitted it to you and you all developed symptoms?’

‘Well, we don’t know who he is, where he is, whether he even had the virus …’

‘Precisely. You don’t know, but it’s possible that he did have the virus, and that he gave it to her—isn’t it?’

‘This is the first time I’ve seen this,’ Copley held out the log, ‘so I don’t know what I’m supposed to …’ He shrugged.

‘It’s possible, isn’t it?’ She pressed him.

He raised his voice: ‘We don’t know whether this man had it, but we do know that Blake did.’

Denham screwed up his face in what Tom took to be disapproval.

Anna didn’t relent: ‘Would you agree,’ she asked calmly, unfazed, ‘that’s it’s possible?’

‘Yes,’ Copley sneered, crossing his arms. ‘It’s possible.’

Go to Chapter Seven

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