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The Outcast Dead(8)

By:Elly Griffiths

Judy doesnt rise to the comment or mention that the lawyer only arrived ten minutes ago. She continues to address Liz in the same calm voice.

You know why youre here, Liz? The autopsy on David has raised a few questions.

What sort of questions?

The pathologist found traces of fibres in Davids nose and mouth.

Tim knows what Judy is doing. Keep saying the name, thats what the books say. The more you can make the suspect concentrate on the dead child, rather than the manner of their death, the better. He sees Liz flinch away from the words and thinks that Judy too looks rather sick. Must be hard doing this when youve got a child yourself.

What does that mean? asks Liz, her voice steady but her hands tense on her lap.

It suggests that David was suffocated, says Tim.


Liz, says Judy. Why dont you take us through the events of last Tuesday again.

Liz looks at Nirupa who nods slightly.

It was afternoon, she says. Id taken David to the mother and toddler group and hed fallen asleep in his pushchair on the way back. When we got home I carried him upstairs, put him down to sleep in his cot and went back downstairs. I did some housework then I made myself a cup of coffee. I sat on the sofa and I went to sleep. I was  …  I was very tired. David wasnt sleeping much and nor was I. When I woke up it was almost five. I couldnt hear a sound from the baby monitor. I thought that David had been asleep a long time. Its usually only an hour or two in the afternoons. I went upstairs and he was lying face down in his cot.

Did you put him to sleep face down?.

No, I knew it was dangerous to do that. I put him on his side.

Was there a pillow in the cot?

No. They shouldnt have pillows until theyre a year old.

Was he still in his outdoor clothes?

No. Id taken off his jumper and trousers. He was just in his vest and nappy.

She knows all the answers, thinks Tim. Hes read up on it and knows that children can die because theyre too hot or because theyve suffocated on a pillow. Judy must know this too, thats why shes asking these questions again. Christ, why does anyone become a parent? The worry would kill you.

When did you realise something was wrong? asks Judy.

I think I knew as soon as I went into the room, says Liz, twisting her hands together. I turned him over and his face was blue and his skin was cold  …  Her voice dies away.

Whats the point of this line of questioning? says Nirupa, leaning forward to pat her client on the shoulder. I assume youve been through all this before.

New evidence has emerged, says Judy. She, too, leans forward.

Was anyone else in the house, Liz? When David died?

No. I was on my own.

When did you call the ambulance?

Immediately. I had my phone with me.

Thats efficient, says Judy. I always leave mine downstairs.

Nice touch, thinks Tim. But Liz is ready for it. She looks coolly at Judy. I always have mine with me.

Tim, says, It must be tough having a baby who doesnt sleep.


I didnt mind, says Liz quickly. He was teething.

How long since youd had a proper nights sleep?

I dont know. A week or so.

Bet you didnt know whether you were awake or asleep half the time.

Suddenly Liz stands up. In her pink tracksuit she towers over Judy and is on eye level with Tim.

I know what youre doing and I didnt kill David because I was tired or because he was crying or because I didnt know what I was doing. I didnt kill him. I loved him. And, you know what? Ive got all the time in the world to sleep now. Ive got no husband, no babies, and youre probably going to put me in prison for life. I just hope I go to sleep and never wake up.

She collapses back into her chair, sobbing, tears making streaks down her cheeks.

Interview suspended, says Judy into the tape machine.

Nelson is about to drive over to interview Bob Donaldson when Tom Henty informs him that Mr Donaldson is in the waiting room.

He wanted to see his wife  …  ex-wife  …  but I told him that it wasnt possible.

OK. Ill have a word with him.

Hes a bit upset, warns Tom.

Ill be gentle with him.

Nelson takes Bob up to his office so it seems less like an interrogation. Hes slightly disappointed not to be able to see Bob Donaldson at home as he likes to observe people in their own environment. Youd be surprised, hed told his team, how many clues you can get from a persons record collection. No-one has records anymore, objected Clough, but hed got the point.

Now Clough stands back to let Bob precede him into the room. Its a shame that Clough looks so much like a nightclub bouncer, thinks Nelson, it hardly creates a cosy impression. But at least hes stopped eating crisps.

Nelson asks Bob if hed like a cup of coffee. Ruth always tells him that the station coffee is vile but people seem to like him to make the offer. Sure enough, distressed as he undoubtedly is, Bob requests a white coffee (not too milky) and two sugars. Nelson dispenses a glowering Clough to get the drinks.

Thank you for talking to us, he says.

What have you done with Liz? Whats happening?

Mrs Donaldson is being questioned by two of my officers.

She didnt do it, you know. Liz would never have harmed David.

Bob Donaldson is a nervous-looking man, slight and prematurely balding. Nevertheless Nelson knows that he has a glamorous new girlfriend and lives in Pott Row, a much sought after village on the outskirts of Lynn. There must be more to him than meets the eye. Nelson casts his mind back for Bobs profession. Something to do with computers  …

Programmer, says Bob impatiently. Im a computer programmer. I want to know whatll happen to Liz. You cant keep her here without charging her.

Everythings being done by the book, Mr Donaldson, says Nelson. Mrs Donaldson has her lawyer with her.

Nirupa? Bob relaxes slightly. Good. I rang her as soon as I heard from Liz.

Very sensible, says Nelson, wishing that Bob had been slightly less sensible. And was there something suspicious about running so quickly for a lawyer? Probably not. Innocent men dont need lawyers had been a favourite adage of his former boss, but Nelson knows that they often do.

Nelson tries to get the discussion back on track and even attempts a smile. Im DCI Harry Nelson and this  …  as the door opens on Clough, who seems to have brought half the chocolate vending machine as well as the coffees,  …  is DS David Clough. Wed just like to ask you a few questions.

Judy had interviewed Bob Donaldson as part of her preliminary investigations. She described him as pleasant but a little colourless. He and Liz were married for seven years, during which time they had three children and lost three children. Nelson can see the dates as if they are written on Bobs worried face. Samuel: born 2008, died 2008. Isaac: born 2009, died 2010. David: born 2010, died 2011. A list to make a stone weep.

You and Mrs Donaldson are separated, he says now. Is that right?

Yes, we separated at the beginning of the year. It was all very amicable. Liz is a lovely woman. Theres no way she could have done a thing like this.

A thing like what?

Bob stares at him. Are you playing games with me? I know you think she killed David. You probably think she killed Samuel and Isaac too. All our beautiful boys. His pale blue eyes fill with tears.

Were not making any assumptions, says Nelson. Nevertheless there are circumstances around Davids death that concern us and we have to investigate them. We wouldnt be doing our job otherwise.

What sort of circumstances?

Nelson isnt about to tell him yet. I believe you have a new partner, Mr Donaldson.

Whats that got to do with anything?

Just trying to build up a picture.

Theres a silence while Bob wonders whether to answer then says, in a voice made up of equal amounts of pride and resentment, Yes. Aliona. Weve only been together a few months.

What does she do, Aliona?

Shes a student.

Nelson says nothing. After a moment, Bob says, I met her when I did some teaching at the university. Shes a good bit younger than me but shes very mature.

I bet she is, thinks Nelson. Aloud he says, What did Liz think about you going out with someone new?

She was fine about it, says Bob. Too quickly.

Must have been hard for her, left alone with a young baby. Especially when you consider the history.

Of course it was hard, says Bob. But things had got to the stage when it was worse to stay together. His voice drops. It was torture.


I didnt mean that, Bob backtracks quickly. Nevertheless it is there, hovering in the air. Torture. Surely an odd, melodramatic choice of word.

Its just  …  Bob turns to look at Clough, as if begging someone else to understand. The marriage was over really, but when Liz got pregnant again we decided to give it another go. But sometimes you cant go back. I wanted to leave as soon as David was born but Liz was so depressed  …  He stops.

Nelson and Clough exchange a look. There was no mention of post-natal depression on Liz Donaldsons medical notes.

She was depressed? prompts Nelson.

No. Bob backtracks again. It wasnt full-blown depression. She was just tired. David wasnt sleeping, I was working all hours  …  He stops again, as if hes aware that hes making things worse.

When did you leave? asks Nelson, his voice hard. Nothing excuses abandoning your child, he thinks. But then a voice inside his head says: isnt that what you did?

In February.

Depression all over then? Liz feeling full of beans?

Bob can hardly miss the antagonism but he says, with an attempt at dignity, There was never going to be an ideal time to leave.

I should imagine not. David must have been, what, three months old?