Crime drama. When the team receive information that a club fire in 1996 that killed criminal Mark Johnson was a targeted attack, they re-open the investigation.
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Dawn Abbott. She was arrested three days ago and charged with intent to supply amphetamines.
That'd be a current investigation, wouldn't it?
It is and there's no mystery, she's admitted to it.
But she does claim to have new information about a fatal fire in a drinking club in Ealing
-called the Union, which at the time was classified as an accident.
-Can I help at all?
-Oh, I was just looking at the various courses.
-New members are always welcome.
-And, erm, these lectures?
Yes, each lecture is given by a U3A member, usually drawing on experience from their previous life.
I mean their professional life.
What did you do?
-I was a police officer.
-Retired presumably now, with some extra time on your hands?
# It's all right It's OK
# Doesn't really matter if you're old and grey
# It's all right I say it's OK
# Listen to what I say
# It's all right, doing fine
# Doesn't really matter if the sun don't shine
# It's all right I say it's OK
# We're gettin' to the end of the day. #
August 4th, 1996, the Union drinking club Ealing went up in flames.
Four people died and seven were hospitalised.
The people who died were Hailey Wilde, who worked
behind the bar, Terence Cross, Chris Stamp who worked for this one, Mark Johnson, a local criminal.
Local? That's like saying Heathrow is a local airport.
Well, it is if you live in Hounslow.
If this wasn't an accident then Mark Johnson was the target.
-He's a serious player.
-Did you know him?
He had two brothers who I did know, Danny and Karl. Danny mostly.
I met him when I first joined the force and he was robbing shops.
No, I think they took over his crew and are still running it, as far as I know.
-So what are they into now?
-Well, drugs mostly.
They put security in various clubs and bars and then they put their own dealer in.
According to the original report, the fire was probably
caused by faulty electrical wiring in a first floor room.
-It looks like an inferno.
-There'd been building work the week before.
The contractor said he'd used the room to store materials, like turpentine, paint thinner...
They're accelerants, that's why the fire would have spread so quickly.
-Yeah, that was the conclusion.
-So what's changed?
We have a witness that claims it wasn't an accident.
Oh, listen, could you put these in the locker with your stuff?
Detective Superintendent Pullman, Gerry Standing. UCOS.
You know, according to Dawn Abbot's arrest report,
she's never been charged with anything before.
She's got a completely clean record.
This place must have come as a bit of a shock then.
I'd worked in the Union for almost four years, since I was 18.
-But you weren't there the night of the fire?
-It was my evening off, I was lucky.
Not so lucky now though, are you?
I made a mistake.
We can't offer you a deal for information Dawn, it doesn't work like that.
I'm not looking for a deal.
Why don't you think the fire was an accident?
Because someone was after Mark Johnson.
-I never knew who or why but someone wanted him dead.
-How do you know that?
I heard some of them talking about it, days before the fire.
Mark and a couple of the others, Terry Cross was one of them.
-Who also died in the fire.
I don't remember who else but they were taking the threat seriously.
Why didn't you come forward earlier?
You don't tell tales where I come from.
You keep your head down, look the other way.
But I heard Johnson talking about someone coming after him and two days later he was dead.
Do you think that's a coincidence?
I don't think it's evidence. You'd have to give us more than that.
Have you got more than that?
They said it was an accident, and the fire spread so quickly
cos there was things in the room where it started.
-Except there wasn't.
There was nothing like that in the room, everything had already been taken away.
Are you sure about that?
We were storing empty bottles in that room, empty beer bottles, nothing that would catch alight.
I was in and out of there. All the tools, the paint, everything was gone days before the fire.
-Anyone fancy a coffee?
-Not for me, I remember what it's like.
It must be odd being back in the heart of the nick.
-We don't work from home at UCOS.
-I meant an incident room, no offence.
-Well, speak for yourself.
Now let's start again, shall we?
I was the investigating officer so any questions you've got on the Union fire, anything at all, then...
Well, the witness statements were sketchy.
There was no establishment of a coherent timeline.
There's barely any information about the possible motives regarding the deaths of the deceased.
Let's take this into my office, shall we?
Nice place you've got here.
There are people out there I have to work with. I'd prefer some privacy.
What happened to the witnesses?
Most of them wouldn't admit to being there when the fire broke out.
-Those that did, didn't know anything or see anything.
-Why do you think that was?
-I know why.
If you've spent more than five minutes with the file so do you.
Mark Johnson was a player.
Nobody talked out of turn. Not to him, not about him.
Not even after he died.
This thing was dead in the water from day one.
So given the chance, it was just easier to write it up as an accident?
It wasn't just me, forensics pointed that way.
-Forensics could have been wrong.
-I had no reason to think that.
But you might have done if you'd spent a bit more time on it, dug a bit deeper.
You don't know what it was like.
-Operation Horatio had just been pulled, feelings were running high.
Yeah, it was a drugs team, set up to clamp down on supply in West London.
Mark Johnson was a name that kept cropping up.
We had a surveillance team on him, some wire taps, a lot of manpower.
But we didn't find what we needed,
not enough to build a case against him.
Then the brass pulled the plug about a month before the fire,
it was getting too expensive.
-That must have been frustrating.
-People were angry, I won't deny that.
And so not too upset when Johnson turned up dead.
I don't remember anyone crying into their beer.
They just let it go, Petfield admitted as much.
Brushed it under the carpet.
So it's possible that Dawn Abbott's telling the truth.
If she is, the fire was made to look like an accident when it wasn't.
And there's nothing in the case file to indicate they found anything else, is there?
Just a couple of baseball bats behind the bar and a gun in the male toilets.
It was that sort of place. >
What do we know about this contractor bloke then?
-His name was Derek Ross.
-Have you contacted him?
Not possible, not without a Ouija board... Died in 2001.
But I have traced his wife.
Oh, gold star for Gerry.
But the point is, why did the fire spread so quickly if Ross had taken his stuff away?
I blame Prometheus. Who, according to Greek mythology, stole fire from Zeus and gave it to us mere mortals.
So this is all his fault, is it?
Yeah, if it wasn't for him you'd be drinking your cocoa cold.
Mind, he paid for it.
He got tied to a rock and had his liver eaten by an eagle, day after day. Sorry.
It's just a fascinating subject, is fire.
I'm glad you think so, Brian, you can come with me.
-August, wasn't it?
-The fourth, you remember.
I was the lead fire investigator at the time.
Four people died, I should.
Plus it was one of my last cases, I took early retirement about six months later.
-We've recently received information that the fire may not have been an accident, Mr Mackie.
-Is that right?
-You don't sound very surprised.
-Why is that?
Because I suspected it was arson at the time.
Really? Cos there's no mention of that in the report?
I couldn't prove it, beside the police had other ideas.
Would you like some refreshment?
Derek was good with his hands,
he just wasn't very good with money.
Apart from spending it, of course.
I have to do a couple of days a week in here just to keep things ticking over.
At our age we should have our feet up.
Mrs Ross, what kind of work did your husband actually do at the Union Club?
He was a painter and decorator, nothing fancy.
Do you remember the fire?
I remember what happened afterwards.
Derek had to talk to the police, he had to sign a statement.
He must have been badly affected by it.
Why? It wasn't his fault, it was an accident.
Of course, it's just erm, what with four people dying.
He didn't talk about it...
but I suppose he was.
-That's probably why he wanted to splash out on a holiday.
We had three weeks in Florida.
A lovely hotel, a different restaurant every night.
Was this soon after the fire?
About a month later,
after all the fuss had died down.
Derek was owed some money from some job or other, he finally got paid so off we went.
Of course we would have been better off saving something but - oh, no, it was a lovely holiday.
It was the last proper one we had before he died.
I can see that you're pretty adamant, Mr Mackie, but I'm not sure I understand why.
-Do you know much about fire investigation?
People will tell you it's a science nowadays, fluid dynamics is what they call it.
And that's true to an extent,
but it's also an art.
A good investigator will have a feel for the fire itself.
So you 'felt' it was arson?
That was my first impression when I examined the scene.
The burn patterns on the floor and the walls suggested multiple points of origin.
Meaning there was an accelerant present.
What about the turpentine and paint thinner that were meant to have been left in the room?
They would certainly qualify as accelerants, both burn at very high temperatures.
Then I'm not sure I understand - where did this feeling come from?
And the flames.
The materials you mention produce a white flame and brown smoke,
but an onlooker reported seeing something different -
yellow flame and black smoke.
And that's the classic combination which is produced when petrol burns.
-They could have been mistaken.
Arriving at that type of blaze, with all the people, there's confusion,
there's panic but then I also found a small amount of melted rubber on the floor of the room.
-What kind of rubber?
-Well, possibly a balloon, but more likely a condom.
Well, a room in the back of a drinking club.
And there was a little wax on the floor, from a candle I think.
How very romantic.
You light a candle...
and then you suspend a condom over it,
filled with your accelerant of choice.
The candle burns through the rubber...
And releases the liquid,
it's a timer.
A crude one but it can be extremely effective.
So Derek Ross came into some money after the accident verdict?
Enough for the holiday of a lifetime at least.
Maybe his premium bonds came up.
The odds on that are about 24,000 to one.
What are the odds that he was paid to say he left the turpentine and paint thinner in the room?
Considerably shorter, I should think.
What about this person that Mark Johnson was worried about?
We've asked for the files on Operation Horatio, transcripts on surveillance of Johnson.
May give us some idea of what was going on around him at the time.
-Was that out?
You put that cigarette out?
Cause that bin's full of highly flammable material, you know.
That's an inferno waiting to happen, is that.
'Ere, happy now?
I hope you're more careful at home, one in three house fires is caused by cigarettes, you know.
-What about other witnesses?
-There were 30 people in that place at the time it went up,
but according to Petfield he couldn't get more than four or five to admit they were even there.
None of them would be likely to have changed their minds, even now.
I found someone who might, David Swallow.
He was part of Johnson's mob and he was in the Union that night.
Why would he help us?
He had first degree burns to half his body and spent over a year in hospital.
That's as good a reason as any.
There was only one way out, back down the stairs, through the main door.
Could you tell where the fire started?
Not at the time.
It was so sudden...
One minute everything was normal and then total panic.
I remember people screaming,
fighting to get out and the smell.
I can still even now, I can taste that smell.
I wake up with it, it'll never go away.
Excuse me please, for a moment.
Oh, great, yeah, yeah, bring him down.
-Are you getting anywhere?
-No, most of it's gobbledy gook,
like Johnson's talking in some kind of patois.
But there is one name that keeps cropping up in his conversations around the right time,
Stuart Russell. Well, whoever it is Johnson's not very happy with him.
Well, I've got that name.
here again, all in the weeks before the fire.
-Sorry to barge in uninvited.
-Jack, this is George Mackie.
Ah, the fire investigator.
-Nice to meet you.
I put down a few thoughts on the Union fire at the time, notes just for myself, for reference really.
I did so on all the fires I investigated, I dug it out the loft. I thought it might be useful.
Look at that, thanks very much.
So this is the control room, is it?
The place where it all happens?
Something like that. You're very kind, thank you very much.
The red ones are for the pain, the yellow are for rejection, the blue ones...
well, I don't even remember.
Every day, twice a day.
I can barely move if I forget.
We'd like to talk to you about Mark Johnson.
I haven't got anything to say about him.
You don't know what we're going to ask yet.
Who didn't like him, who set the fire, whose fault was it I ended up like this?
Why do you think it was anyone's fault, Mr Swallow?
The official report said it was an accident.
So what are you doing here asking me about it, then?
I didn't have anything to say when it happened,
what makes you think that would have changed?
Time's passed, things do change.
Mark Johnson's been dead for nearly 15 years.
-He might be, but his brothers are still around.
-They'd be the first who'd want to know what happened.
-You're assuming they don't already.
-You're saying that Johnson's brothers wanted to kill him?
-What with Mark Johnson dead, Danny and Karl take over the business. It makes sense.
-Oh, I don't know.
What's bothering you?
Look, they were brothers and not just any old brothers. They were really close.
You look funny at one of them, the other two are in your face before you know it.
Families fall out, Gerry.
See you tomorrow.
My name is Jack Halford...
My name is Jack Halford.
What you doing?
Fore! Hello, Danny.
-It's all right Dom, he's an old friend.
-Oh, I wouldn't go that far.
OK, old acquaintance then, how's that?
-That's more like it.
-Here to work on your swing, Gerry?
No, not exactly, no.
Well, come and hit a few, Jojo just got a few more balls.
So why now? What's changed?
You lot weren't exactly all over it when it happened, you weren't interested.
No, well, we're interested now.
We've got some new information.
What kind of information?
You know I can't tell you that.
I do, but you can't blame me for asking.
Do you know who did it, Gerry?
-Do you know who killed Mark?
-Not yet, no.
Whoa, bit hookie, son.
Listen, how's Karl these days?
I don't see much of him any more,
he likes the sun more than I do.
Or rather his missus does.
He turns bright red if he sits in the sun for more than ten minutes at a time.
So business is good, eh?
Ah, the way the world is now, everybody needs security.
You know what the kids are like, always looking for an excuse to start something.
Yeah, only now of course, you only have to share the profits two ways, don't ya?
I mean, it's just you and Karl, isn't it? Now that Mark's dead.
What, you're saying we were involved?
Is that what you're saying?
That we'd kill our own brother, our own flesh and blood?
I think you'd better go.
Yeah, maybe you're right.
I'm not on top of me game, anyway. Thank you.
You know it wasn't us, Gerry, you know that.
But if you do find out who it was, you should give me a heads-up. I'll make it worth your while.
Plus, on top of that, you'll save the taxpayer a few pounds.
Think about it, Gerry.
Give me a name!
It'd be a win-win for everybody.
It's a new smoke alarm.
What's wrong with the ones we've got?
They're ionisation alarms, this is an optical unit.
Well, it's more sensitive and it's got a carbon monoxide detector which... Ah!
Ah, switch it off!
I can't, it won't.
-It doesn't say how.
-It's not in here.
Oh, give it to me!
It definitely works.
These were taken yesterday.
The man on the left is Danny Johnson, the man next to him is obviously...
What's Standing doing with Johnson?
Carrying out enquiries, the Johnsons are involved with the Union Club fire.
-The Johnson brothers own the club and the oldest, Mark, was killed in the fire. Who took the pictures?
An officer from the Projects Team on organised crime.
They've had Danny Johnson under surveillance.
-Are they getting anywhere?
So, obviously, if you dig something up...
We all get to look good.
According to Strickland, the operation's been going on for more than a year.
Well, either Danny hasn't got anything to hide or he doesn't know about it.
-Who are the other people?
-A couple of heavies and that is some kid called Jojo,
who seems to be a general dogsbody.
Now, until I mentioned the fire, Danny was totally relaxed, every shot straight down the pipe.
Oh, yeah, you must have sliced a few though.
I did as it happens, how did you know?
Look at your right elbow, it's all wrong.
-Well, here and there.
Look, it should be pointing towards your right hip.
-You're right, it's the old flying elbow.
What do we think about Danny and Karl Johnson being involved in the fire?
I don't think so, I saw Danny's eyes.
There was real hatred there, he even offered me money to come up with a name.
-That could be a smoke screen, it doesn't mean he wasn't involved.
-No, I know that.
-I don't see it.
-If they weren't involved, where does that leave us?
Well, we might have something.
We've been going over the transcripts of Operation Horatio,
the original team that was trying to bring down Mark Johnson.
He was very clever. He always did business through somebody else, he never got his own hands dirty.
-When he had to talk to someone directly, he did it in the back of a black cab.
He'd just hail one down and that's where he held his meetings.
The surveillance boys wired up a couple of cabs and had them circling the block.
They got lucky a few times and picked up some conversations.
I thought they couldn't find enough to use?
They didn't, but the thing is that a few months before the fire
the same name kept cropping up - Stuart Russell.
-Yeah. Why? Do you know him?
No, I don't think so, but I've seen that name recently.
-Who is he?
-Small time operator on the edge of Johnson's crew.
Oh, Russell, Russell...
-According to the transcripts, Johnson wasn't very happy with Russell.
Well, Johnson was also very careful on those tapes.
-Everything was hinted at, nothing too overt.
-I've seen that name!
I know I have! Russell!
-Isn't that the wrong way round, I mean Johnson being angry with Russell?
-Well, yes, it is.
Except that six weeks before the fire, Russell was shot.
And there were no witnesses to it apart Russell himself and he wasn't talking.
-And you think that it was Johnson that shot him?
-Or one of his crew.
And he was discharged from hospital a week before the fire.
That's it! Hospital!
When we went to see Dawn Abbott, I was signing us in, right?
-Stuart Russell was one of her visitors.
-Are you sure?
Positive, it's in the book.
Detective Superintendent Pullman, this is Gerry Standing.
We'd like a word, if that's OK.
-We're investigating the fire at the Union Club, back in '96.
What's that got to do with me?
We've been talking to Dawn Abbott and we know you have too.
I went round to see her, if that's what you mean.
-It has nothing to do with the fire.
-What was it to do with?
We're old mates, that's all. We go back a long way.
-So nothing to do with Mark Johnson then?
And nothing to do with you getting shot?
Mackie's got a real eye for detail.
Everything's written down. Look.
Ambient temperature outside, wind direction,
the chemical make-up of everything combustible in the building.
-It's really meticulous.
-Yeah, well Derek Ross certainly wasn't.
I got hold of some of his paperwork from the people that did his company accounts.
I'm trying to find out whether that cash he received after the fire was legit, but it's such a mess.
Well, his wife did say he wasn't very good with money.
Yeah, well, she was being kind.
-No I, I was just wondering why you won't tell me what you're lecturing about?
Standard investigative procedures?
Well, not exactly.
Interviewing techniques, the role of forensic science?
Well, they wanted blood and gore, they said that's what people are really interested in.
So what do you want to know?
We could start with who shot you, Mr Russell?
You're the police, I thought that was your job?
You didn't give us much to go on at the time. No description of the gunman, no possible motive.
I always thought it was a case of mistaken identity, myself.
That seems fairly unlikely given your record.
I mean you were hardly a boy scout, were you?
I was, as it happens, three badges.
Look, I was young and stupid, it was a long time ago.
I had a lot of time to think in that hospital,
-a lot of time to look at my life.
-What did you see?
Not much that I liked, not much at all.
So I made up my mind to change it, do something different,
something simpler, maybe, but something I could be proud of.
-So completely different to what you did for Mark Johnson?
-You could say that, yeah.
How did you feel when Johnson died, Mr Russell?
I didn't feel anything. Not one way or the other.
It was nothing to do with me.
Look can I get on?
Turned his life around, if I've heard that once...
Maybe it's true this time, he's not been arrested for anything
-since he came out of hospital, he's held down a steady job.
-Just like Derek Ross.
For two years after the fire, Derek Ross worked solidly.
For a minicab firm, a couple of local bars, a take-away.
Now that in itself is not unusual, but there was a connection.
Anyone got any ideas what that might be?
-Aren't you supposed to be telling us?
-I don't know.
-How about you, Brian?
-Oh, give over, I'm not a bloody guinea pig.
-What's that mean?
He's practising on us!
He's lecturing at this university of the third age.
-Oh, thanks Brian.
Yeah, well I just popped in to see if they had anything on offer and
when they found out I was a retired copper, they... I just got talked into it!
-Good for you, Jack.
Well, go on then, what's the connection between them?
Well, all these businesses were controlled by the Johnson brothers.
They probably used them to clean their money. But the point is, they gave Derek Ross work.
Why would they do that if they thought he was at least partly responsible for Mark's death?
I expected better from you Gerry, not a couple of uniforms on my doorstep.
You're not under arrest Mr Johnson, I hope they made that clear.
-You're free to go at any time.
-Well, in that case...
As we're investigating the murder of your brother, I'd have thought you'd be only too willing to help.
-Unless you already know what happened.
-We had this conversation.
-Only the first part.
-You think I'm going to sit here and talk to you about my business?
No, no, not your business, your brother.
We're not looking into activities you may or may not have been involved in
at the time, Mr Johnson, it's not our concern.
Anything you say in this room is strictly off the record.
-I want your word on that.
-You have it.
-Not yours, I don't know you from Adam. I want his.
-You've got it.
We're only interested in the fire.
Well, we always knew it wasn't an accident.
We'd had all the right inspections, the place was done up nice.
But, there was a team of you lot looking straight at us, a special operation.
-We were in the cross hairs.
-What and you knew about it?
-Of course we did.
-You had an informant within the force?
All right, all right. Nothing except the fire.
Now you'd called off the dogs and you didn't have anything on us.
And then Mark died in the fire.
And the last thing you needed was another investigation.
Yeah, we didn't want to risk it, we couldn't.
So you paid Derek Ross to say that he'd left turps and paint in that room at the Union?
Yeah, to make it look like it was an accident.
I mean it was easy enough, he worked in the place a couple of days before.
He was happy to earn a bit extra. As soon as he told you lot that, the whole thing disappeared.
Which meant you could go back to business as usual.
There was nothing usual about it, Mark was dead.
We turned over every rock we could think of,
but we just couldn't find anything.
And because you wouldn't talk to the police, you let his killer get away with it.
Yeah, Mark knew how it was.
He would have understood.
-Can I help you?
-Yeah, can I have...
-I'll have a packet of those.
Down a bit.
-Normal, ribbed, extra sensitive?
Oh, bloody hell. What now?
And I'm getting through them, I can tell you.
But it's not what you're thinking.
The fire was started using some kind of timing device.
It seems simple enough.
Oh, aye, seems simple,
but the thing is...
It's not as easy as it looks.
How many times have you tried it?
Four. Each time, the same result.
The flame just goes out.
It can't be that hard?
Have you got another condom?
So if anything's not exactly right then it doesn't work.
And where does this GCSE experiment actually get us, Brian?
I don't know, but it seems to me that whoever set the fire either got very lucky
or they might have done it before.
Just a thought.
Oh, my God!
Mr Swallow! Mr Swallow!
Get out the way, get out the way.
-Detective superintendent Pullman on scene at number six, Gordon House, W3...
-There's smoke billowing out and we think someone's trapped inside.
-Is there anybody here?
Gerry! SHE COUGHS
You all right?
-Yeah, just a bit of smoke in me lungs.
-Is he in there?
I couldn't see, the smoke's too thick.
Have a look!
-What does it look like?
-I was in the pub.
-I could have been...
It looks like someone doesn't like you very much.
Are you ready to tell us who, Mr Swallow?
-I didn't set fire to the Union, look at me.
-You need to do better than that.
You must have heard of poetic justice.
-Stuart Russell wanted Mark Johnson dead.
-Russell set the fire?
Oh, I don't know that.
But how do you know he wanted Johnson dead?
Because he asked me to shoot him.
Stuart was branching out, he was dealing drugs,
but using the Johnson name, they weren't going to have that.
-Which is why they tried to kill him.
-Yeah, but he survived,
he wanted revenge.
He hid a gun in the Union, in the gents,
-I was meant to use it.
-Why would you do that for him?
-Stuart wasn't working alone.
-What you were involved as well?
Up to my neck.
But Stuart never told anybody, even when he nearly died.
-So you thought that you owed him for being loyal to you?
-Oh, I did owe him.
If he told anybody, anybody,
I'd have been in hospital next to him or worse, probably.
I really appreciate you taking a look at this, George.
-I'm glad to help.
-So, I thought if, er...
Er, excuse me. This is still a restricted area.
I'm Brian Lane, I'm from UCOS.
-And who's this?
-I'm George Mackie.
I used to do your job.
Well, it was a while ago.
Well, I shouldn't but erm... come on.
So what happened?
Why didn't you shoot Mark Johnson?
I just, I couldn't do it.
I thought I could but when it came down to it. I just...
Truth is I bottled it.
I didn't even pick up the gun, I just left it there.
Did you tell Russell that you weren't going to do it?
Did you tell him that you were pulling out, Mr Swallow?
Yeah, yeah, I did.
There are obvious signs of flashover, it was clearly an intense heat.
-What about accelerants?
There was a rapid spread,
signs of flashes.
You'd expect there would probably be something, erm...
-What is it?
It's wax, from a candle.
Looks like it.
That's the same method as the Union fire.
It was there, on the floor, just like in the Union fire.
-What, candle wax?
-Yeah a little piece, a tiny little piece.
Well, its hardly conclusive proof that it was the same person who set both fires.
No, but it would makes sense if that person was Stuart Russell.
Because Swallow agreed to shoot Johnson, then decided that he couldn't go through with it.
What, and Russell takes it into his own hands?
Yep, a candle, a condom, a little bit of lighter fuel. Then whoosh.
Mark Johnson dies and Russell gets what he wanted.
Except, when we started digging, he became worried that Swallow might talk.
Well, it's possible.
You do know Swallow takes a load of different drugs, don't ya?
-Yeah, but you don't know what they might do, everything has side effects.
-We're not here to discuss his medication.
-Maybe you should be.
-It's obviously done something to his memory.
-Are you saying he's lying?
Lying is a strong word,
more likely he's just confused.
A bit hazy about the details.
He seems to remember you getting shot, very clearly.
And you wanting revenge on Johnson.
It's a long time ago. I wouldn't take it very seriously.
It's our job to take it seriously, Mr Russell, and you should too.
In that case I'll be as clear as I can.
I didn't try and kill Johnson, I didn't set any fires. Is that enough for ya?
No, not quite. Let's go back to where you were at lunchtime.
I told you, I brought a sandwich, I went and sat in the park.
I like a bit of peace and quiet during the day.
-Did you see anyone there?
-Not to talk to.
-Well, it's the truth, isn't it?
-Unless there's anything else?
-We'll be in touch.
Your theory is that Johnson shot me.
That's right, because you were using his name.
-In which case he probably didn't like me very much.
-I shouldn't think he did.
Well, how exactly am I meant to have hidden a gun in his club then?
-Er, two pints of bitter and a fizzy water please.
Oh, sorry, one pint of bitter and a fizzy water. I was forgetting.
I think Russell's right you know.
It wouldn't have been easy to plant that gun in there.
We know Johnson was very keen on security.
Yeah, but where there's a will there's a way.
But why would he want to set fire to the place?
Well, he wanted Johnson dead and Swallow pulled out.
Yeah, but just by setting a fire, he couldn't be sure that it would kill Johnson, could he?
There was no way of knowing.
Maybe he just got lucky.
Very lucky, as Jack said.
Do you think he'll be all right?
-What if no bugger turns up?
No, that's not going to happen, is it?
-I've been looking forward to this all day.
How can we know though?
What if he's all on his lonesome?
There's nothing we can do about it, he didn't tell us where it is.
We're detectives, Gerry.
Yes, Brian, and I'm having a pint.
Blimey, are all these people here to see Jack?
No, they can't be.
There must be something else going on.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you'd like to take your seats, then we can begin. Thank you very much.
They bloody are, you know.
-Oh, come on then, let's sit down.
Well, we're here now, aren't we?
-JACK CLEARS HIS THROAT
-Bit of moral support.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
My name is Jack Halford and I'm a retired detective.
I spent over 30 years as a police officer
-investigating a wide range of criminals...
-He's good, isn't he?
..including on occasion, individuals who might be described as
serial killers, which is the subject of today's talk.
If we ignore the special circumstances surrounding the
Harold Shipman case, we will find that Britain's most prolific serial killer was Dennis Nilsen.
-It's not true.
Nilsen was arrested in February 1983 but his killing spree had started some five years earlier.
The most prolific killer isn't Nilsen...
-It's Peter Dinsdale.
Erm, Nilsen worked as a civil servant,
he was quiet and unassuming.
Not the sort of person you would give a second glance to, and yet he murdered 15 people.
Dinsdale murdered nearly twice that many.
After, after cutting up their bodies, he then disposed of them
under the floorboards and in the drains of his property.
-26 people Dinsdale killed.
-And, and when, when the police came to arrest him...
Nearly twice as many.
I'm sorry, Mr...?
Yes, you in the coat, Mr...?
Well, you know who I am.
You have something to say.
Perhaps you'd like to share it with the rest of us?
-Oh, what a shame, I'm sure we'd all love to have heard what you had to say!
-It was nothing.
-It must have been something!
And what's that?!
-That piece of paper, that note he handed to you.
I'm sure we're all dying to find out what was written in that!
-No, no, no, it's nothing to do with me.
Well, it must be to do with you because you wrote it!
-I was just saying that Britain's most prolific serial killer isn't Nilsen.
It's Peter Dinsdale.
Dinsdale was convicted of manslaughter, not murder.
He killed 26 people. Are you telling me that doesn't count?
Not at all, but Dinsdale was an arsonist.
The deaths were a by-product of the fire, he did not set out to kill people.
Which is why it took so long to catch him.
The investigations concentrated on the victims
and who wanted them dead, rather than on the fire itself.
And some of them were deemed accidental and they were not linked for years, but the point is...
The point is...
this is not the time, nor the place for this discussion.
I apologise, ladies and gentlemen,
now where were we?
You see, the investigations focused on the victims
and who wanted them dead, rather than on the fire itself.
The problem was that Dinsdale wasn't targeting anyone in particular.
It wasn't about the victims, it was about the fire and what happened afterwards.
-Yeah, he'd turn up when the fire engines arrived,
and he'd stand in the crowd and watch them fight the blaze.
He wanted to be a part of it, you see.
He wanted to be involved and that's partly what drove him to set the fires in the first place.
-A serial arsonist?
-It's a possibility.
We found seven similar fires, in pubs and clubs, before and after the Union fire.
But you don't have evidence connecting them to any individual?
Not yet. We'd have to start again from scratch, look at things in a completely different way.
Yeah, but you don't have any evidence.
We just told you.
I don't mean a theory, Brian, I mean something that we can prove.
We've already got a solid suspect.
Well, how did Russell get that gun into the Union?!
I don't know Jack, we'll just have to find out!
-SHE RINGS THE BUZZER
Detective Superintendent Pullman.
I'd like a word with you, if that's all right.
DOOR BUZZES OPEN
You took your time.
-I don't know what's going on upstairs, but there
are people coming and going all night, playing music...
It's not about upstairs, Mrs Wilde, it's about your daughter Hailey.
We're reinvestigating the fire at the Union Club
and I was wondering if I could have a few minutes of your time?
Hailey had been in some trouble but no more than any others around here.
The difference was, she wanted to do something about it.
She was going to go back to college, the job was just to tide her over,
just weekends to earn some money. She wanted to make a clean start,
but she never got the chance.
Did she ever talk to you about the job?
-People she met, anything like that?
She said it could get pretty rowdy in there some nights.
Did she ever mention a man called Russell, Stuart Russell?
I don't think so, who is he?
He was an associate of Mark Johnson's, he used to drink in the Union from time to time.
-She probably would've seen him.
-I don't remember the name.
Well, I appreciate your time, Mrs Wilde.
Your child doesn't die before you, they don't do it.
I'm sorry for your loss.
Did you say weekends Mrs Wilde? Hailey only worked weekends?
-Yeah, that's right.
-But the fire was on a Thursday.
She wasn't even meant to be there. She wasn't working that night.
-She got a call, they needed her to come in.
-Who called, do you know?
Dawn, Dawn, Dawn Abbott.
She was a friend of Hailey's. She, er, she got her the job.
-Jojo was sick.
Dawn's son, his name's John but everbody's always called him Jojo.
Dawn needed Hailey to work her shift.
We seem to have a little problem, Dawn.
-You haven't told us everything you know.
In fact, you've left out some rather salient details.
-Like you were meant to be working the night
of the fire. It was supposed to be you behind that bar, not Hailey Wilde.
I didn't know anything about the fire, I swear I didn't.
But you knew something was happening, because Stuart Russell
asked you to take a gun into the club. Didn't he?
Come on, it's the only way he could have got a weapon in there.
He needed someone on the inside and that someone was you.
Mark was always wary. He knew there were plenty of people
who would take a swing at him or worse if they had a chance.
I brought the gun in, I was on the inside.
How far inside? Did you know about Ross?
Did you know that Danny and Karl had paid him off?
Well, it was obvious when he said all his stuff was still in the room.
They set the fire and tried to make it look like an accident.
-Danny and Karl Johnson didn't set that fire.
You've been pushing us in that direction,
but that's not what happened. What have you got against them?
But it's not that though, is it?
It's what they've got of yours.
It's about your son, Jojo.
They'll just use him up and spit him out.
He doesn't understand that,
he thinks it's exciting. He thinks he's a big man.
But he's just a boy, that's all he is.
So that's why you decided to come forward.
You believe that Danny and Karl are guilty, and you thought if we
found that out then Jojo would have to find a new line of work.
He doesn't listen to me. I've tried,
but he doesn't hear what I'm saying. And you thought we'd shout louder.
That's not what we're here for.
They weren't yours, were they?
The drugs, the reason you're in here.
They were Jojo's.
-You did all of this for him.
-He's my son.
I'm his mother, I'm meant to protect him.
Hi, Jack, can you and Brian go over to Stuart Russell's place
and make sure he doesn't go anywhere before I arrive?
Yeah, and get Gerry to meet us there too.
Am I actually under arrest?
As we explained, we're waiting for Detective Superintendent Pullman.
Well you really didn't need to come upstairs with me.
We're under strict instructions not to let you out of our sight.
What? Both of you?
-DOOR BELL RINGS
-You all right?
-We're upstairs, with Russell.
-Where's the kitchen?
-I'll put the kettle on, shall I?
All right, good lad. I'll have tea.
-I'll have a sugar this time, put it in before the milk.
-What's going on?
-We've got to get out of here.
Jack! Jack! The whole bloody house is on fire.
-No back, get in there.
-Close that door, close it!
Yes, yes, it is 79, Hambrook Road. Thank you.
-THEY GROAN AND COUGH
-Open that window.
I don't understand it, we didn't hear a thing.
Don't worry about that now, we have to stop this smoke getting in here.
All right! Quick as we can!
This window's locked!
Get up, get up. Brian, out the way.
Detective Superintendent Pullman, I'm looking for...
Stand back, folks!
I really appreciate you coming in.
I'm happy to help.
We've been looking through your notes.
Were they of any use to you?
So how's the investigation going then?
It's taken an unexpected turn, so we were rather hoping we could pick your brains.
Anything I can do.
We think we've been looking at this the wrong way, at the victims instead of at the fire itself.
We've found seven similar fires.
We think we might be dealing with a serial arsonist.
Someone who's been active for two decades or more, but that's not really our area of expertise.
-Which is why we called you.
-Well, Arson is a very specialised crime.
So, we thought you might be able to give us some kind of handle on it.
Use your years of experience and tell us about the type of person we should be looking for.
Well, first of all he'd be meticulous, a careful planner.
-Well, others might say that, but I wouldn't. He'd be intelligent.
He'd have to be to get away with it for so long, and of course he'd have to know about fires.
How to set them, how they burn.
I mean using that candle and condom trick wasn't very easy, I've tried it.
He'd be an expert, all right.
Yeah, he'd have to feel at home with fire, comfortable with it.
-What about his motivation?
-What would drive him?
-That's hard to say.
The excitement, the thrill?
-I suppose it's possible.
-Perhaps he was desperate to feel important?
Important? I don't see...
We light them, we fight them.
-That was the slogan of four American firefighters who were found guilty of arson.
They'd light the fires, then wait for the call and go and put them out.
They wanted to be the centre of the action, the centre of attention. Heroes, men who saved the day.
Is that what you wanted, George?
-You think that I...
-We know you did.
The fires stopped after you retired.
But then we came to you for help so we were the spark, weren't we?
-A serial arsonist, it could be anyone.
-No, it couldn't,
it could only be somebody who saw the names on that board.
Someone who knew that David Swallow and Stuart Russell were part of our investigation.
You were a fire investigator, but it wasn't enough.
No, you wanted to turn up and be in charge.
You wanted everyone to look at you.
-You had to be in control, the top man. That's what made you excited.
-No, you're wrong.
-You had to feel important.
I was important.
-He's put his hand up to setting 63 fires.
Yeah, including the Union club of course.
How did he know about Swallow and Russell?
They weren't hard to find.
What about the Johnson brothers?
Victims in this case I'm afraid sir, not perps, never mind, we'll get them next time.
-Oh, Jack, can I have a word?
I heard about your lectures.
News travels fast, I think it's fantastic.
-And it made me think, all that experience you've got up here, all that knowledge - what better to
do with it than to pass it on to junior officers, new recruits...
-Oh, no, I don't think it's a very good...
-Let me tell you what I'm thinking.
-A weekly talk perhaps, with a Q&A at the end.
-It was just a one off, sir.
A chance for them to pick your brain.
It would really be an opportunity to...
FIRE ALARM SOUNDS
# It's all right It's OK
# Doesn't really matter if you're old and grey
# It's all right I say it's OK
# Listen to what I say
# It's all right, doing fine
# Doesn't really matter if the sun don't shine
# It's all right I say it's OK
# We're gettin' to the end of the day. #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]
When serious criminal Mark Johnson was killed in a fatal fire at London's Union club in 1996, a wall of silence among witnesses and associates plagued the investigation. With fresh information suggesting that the blaze was a targeted arson attack, UCOS reopen the case, but does Johnson's legacy of fear live on, and will anyone risk talking to the team?