ROSIE BAUR, D.I. Chapter 26

5 Jun

26. A MOST UNHAPPY HUSBAND

It was a classic scene.

Miriam Buttery sat with an obvious amount of nervous arrogance at a table, facing Detective Inspector Rosie Baur and her sergeant, D.S. Peter Jenson. Next to her sat a solicitor, not the duty solicitor but one of her own choosing. His name was Ivan Papplewick and he was more used to house conveyancing that the criminal law, but it was he who had been chosen by the accused to defend her rights.

For Miriam Buttery was the accused.

“If you’ll bear with me, Mrs Buttery, I want to run through recent unhappy events that culminated in the death of your husband,” began Rosie.

Mr Papplewick looked bored, but made a one-word note on his pad. It read “fishing”, and he hoped it was right.

“On the night when your husband was killed your two children, now adult and living independently in Swanspottle, had visited you, as they did from time to time.”

Miriam Buttery nodded.

“Around nine in the evening you witnessed the door swinging open accidentally whilst your daughter Amelia Buttery was passing water in the lavatory. It’s something we all have to do, but it’s not always convenient for the bathroom door to swing open, and as Amelia was sitting on the toilet in a separate small toilet room with only that seat and a very small sink to keep her company, she must have felt uncomfortably vulnerable when that door swung accidentally open.”

“She pushed it herself!” snapped Miriam, “she’ll do anything to get her father to look at her and her dirty, dirty body! She’s a s**t, and that’s her mother talking, and mothers know these things! And there’s one thing there should be no room for on planet Earth and that’s s***s!”

Rosie shook her head. “As you know, while you’ve been waiting we used the facilities of a search warrant issued legitimately by Judge Parker to have a little look around your home, and one thing was perfectly clear at the offset, because we tried it: it’s impossible to reach that toilet door to push it from the usually seated position, not even if one held your nice clean toilet brush and pushed it with that! Yet it was discovered that the door has a faulty catch and is prone to flying open if it isn’t closed precisely. So it seems that the best explanation is that the door swung open accidentally and that your daughter had no control over it. Nor did she know that Mr Buttery would be in plain view should it fly open, and able to see her sitting there.”

“You seem to know everything,” grumbled Miriam Buttery, “but what’s that got to do with what happened to my Philip?”

“After exhaustive enquiries we have concluded that you have an irrational suspicion that there might be some sort of sexual relationship between your daughter and her father…” murmured Rosie.

“She’s admitted it, the w***e!” rasped Mrs Buttery, “she’s even spent more time in bed with him than any gal has the right to spend with a man!”

“That’s a big condemnation of your own flesh and blood…” put in Peter Jenson. “How can you be so sure that this perception of a physical sexual relationship that you are so convinced turned your husband against you actually happened?”

“She said it did!” spat Miriam, “she said that she loved her dad! She said it lots of times, and we all know what that means, don’t we?”

“I have twins at home,” murmured Rosie, “and they’ll both tell you that they love me and I’ll tell you that I love them, but I wouldn’t dream of having any kind of sexual relationship with either of them! A girl can love her father in several different ways, and not all of them are of a physical nature!”

“She’s a s**t!” barked Miriam, “and I wouldn’t let her set foot in the church, not even if she begged me?”

“This isn’t a religious debate,” Rosie told her. “Now let’s look at the evidence. Your husband was found, by you, not far from wheelie bins that had recently been emptied…?”

“I went out to put them back where they belong after the bin men have been round,” confirmed Miriam.

“And it was then that you found the mutilated body of your husband, eyes gouged with what we take as a spoon of some sort and a massive trauma to his head?”

Miriam nodded.

“So tell me about the eyes, Mrs Buttery. Why was he blinded when he lay on the ground, unconscious? Was it as punishment for what they had seen?”

“He was dead, so what would be the reason?” almost snarled Miriam Buttery.

“Not at that point, and you knew it,” Rosie told her. “At that point he had merely been knocked out cold, and to keep him quiet some medical elastoplast was stuck across his mouth and his wrists were tied so that he couldn’t reach it and pull it off.

“How do you expect me to know that?” asked Miriam.

“Because we found a roll of elastoplast in your medical cupboard, the one you keep conveniently in your kitchen, and at the moment forensic scientists are examining it and comparing it with the traces of tape adhesive found on your husband’s face. Now tell me, who besides yourself had access to that roll of tape?”

“Anyone could have one!” scoffed Miriam.

“A good point, well made, officers,” put in solicitor Papplewick. “It seems that you have very little in the way of evidence and have drawn far too many conclusions from the little that you do have. Why didn’t the men who empty the bins find the body when they came round in the morning, before Mrs Buttery discovered it?”

Rosie smiled at the solicitor. “Because it had been moved,” she said quietly. “Your client didn’t kill her husband but she did give him a very sore head and make sure he would never see her daughter’s bottom again. No, about an hour later the farm labourer from across the road found Mr Buttery, who had regained consciousness and who was trying to attract the attention of anyone who happened to be passing by. Mr Boneham, that’s the labourer, at first tried to make Mr Buttery comfortable, to help him, and that involved moving him to a more comfortable position, and it was in that more comfortable position that he would remain unseen by the men emptying the bins. And then, with Mr Buttery in excruciating agony and with his eyes damaged beyond any chance of repair, Mr Boneham did the one thing that Mr Buttery begged him to do, as a last favour if you like, though he didn’t expect much in the way of favours from a man who believed him responsible for his own marriage’s breakdown.

“Mr Boneham put him out of his misery, and in my book it was the kindest thing he could do even though he’ll no doubt be charged with manslaughter for doing it.”

“And that s**t of mine? She’s as guilty as anyone!” rasped Miriam Buttery as she became suddenly aware that the best laid plans of murderous wives can often go astray.

“You mean the lass who is still virgo intacta despite all the lurid exploits she’s supposed to have had?” asked Rosie evenly. “I rather suspect her only guilt lies in encouraging you to believe your own wild fantasies.

“If anyone is guilty of the actual killing of your husband it is you and you alone. And from the fragments I’ve learned of the life you shared with him you made sure that for most of it he was a most unhappy husband. You are charged with attempted murder, Mrs Buttery, and I hope the judge goes hard on you!”

THE END

© Peter Rogerson 19.03.17

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