Was it just another surveillance job - Episode 52 - Reviewing the café bombing
I'm back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.
The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I'm not very good at prioritizing.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn't take long to get back into the groove.
Chasing leads, maybe
It would not have surprised me if it had been part of a large underground complex used in the second world war, safe from the overhead bombing raids. Certainly, a lot of the fittings and paintwork looked very, very old, and I could imagine armed soldiers stationed along the length of the corridor each in his own little cutaway.
At the end, the building was a lot more modern, and bright.
There was a large open space, and we headed towards one of the corners where the walls had wallpaper scenic views that if you didn’t know it was a photograph, it could almost be mistaken for a view overlooking the Thames.
It made that corner space more liveable.
There were two desks, more computers, and another girl who appeared like she had been waiting for us.
“Mr Jackson, I was told you wanted to view CCTV for the day of the nnn street bombing.”
If the girl knew what I was looking for, then Monica would already have seen it and most likely had it analysed by a team of experts. If it wasn’t for the fact I wanted to see it myself, I might have just gone to her for the official report.
I sat down beside her, Joanne remained standing, behind us.
“OK. There are seven cameras in that location, five of which were working at the time. There is one across the road from the café, and it provided a good view of the actual explosion.”
She brought it up on the screen and ran it from shortly before O’Connell passed the front. Then he came into view, walking as though he was purposefully going from one place to the next, almost stopping to look sideways into the café. A prolonged moment looking through the window told me he had seen the intermediary.
We could not see the intermediary from our viewpoint.
But it was clear that O’Connell had seen something else because his pace quickened.
Then the explosion happened, and he was caught up in the aftermath, as was I as I had just entered the frame, following diligently. Up until the explosion my effort to look nonchalant, and not look like I was following O’Connell was not very good. If this was a training tape on what not to do, that was me.
Watching from the moment of the explosion was horrifying, being blown a short distance across the pavement followed by rubble. Watching a dozen other people suffering far worse injuries was equally harrowing.
I saw myself getting gingerly up off the ground, then see two men running past in the opposite direction, one of whom was McConnell. I hadn’t realised at the time it was him. Then we disappeared out of frame.
“Is there a camera farther along?”
She checked the list, picked a site and brought up the feed for that timeframe, and just in from on the left-hand side was me, pinned to the ground by two men, and a street policeman, covered in dust walking up to us.
A discussion ensued, then the two men got in the car and drove off.
McConnell then suddenly reappeared from the right-hand side of the frame, walking past me and the policeman now on the ground. At that time I had been preoccupied when I should have been more vigilant.
Where had he come from? Why did he come back after the bombing instead of getting away?
“Can we go back to the bomb site from where we left off before?”
A few seconds before the footage recommenced.
Several minutes passed, perhaps a little longer passed as those who had survived were trying to get up, I was involved with police and recovering myself.
“Can you find CCTV from further to the left?”
She looked at the list, found one and played it from a minute before the blast. It showed the blast, then McConnell slipping down an alley between shopfronts, only to reappear a minute or so later.
A few seconds later another person came out of the alley and walked off in the opposite direction..
“Can you focus on that person who came out of the alley?”
She stopped the feed, zoomed in, and then cleaned up the blurry image until it showed a woman’s face.
“Who is she?”
She brought up the commentary that went with the footage. It had been already reviewed previously, as part of the investigation into the bombing.
“There’s nothing. Apparently, they didn’t ask to see this footage, or it wasn’t available at the time. You sound like you might know who she is.””
“Something else I was digging into, a list of scientists working at a specific laboratory that had a hacking problem, a laboratory that Severin and Maury were working as security.”
I gave the girl a piece of paper with a list of seven of the scientists from the laboratory. “See if you can find wives of the male scientists.”
Joanne had been intrigued the whole time we had watched the event unfolding. Clearly she had been briefed on certain aspects of the investigation, and to keep a close eye on what I was doing.
“That was you caught up in the explosion, wasn’t it?” she said, while the other girl sought information on the scientists.
The pictures had been grainy and indistinct, so all I looked like was an anonymous blob. Monica had obviously not told her of my involvement.
“Yes. And McConnell. I suspect McConnell did actually meet up with someone, other than the intermediary, but not why. If the intermediary was in the café with the wife of the scientist who stole the information, why didn’t she die in the explosion too?”
“Unless she caused the explosion or saw it coming and fled. Obviously, McConnell knew she was there, going down that alley.”
“Or he was hoping she hadn’t been caught in the explosion. Or he didn’t know she was there until after, or he was going to check on the intermediary. Impossible to say what he was doing.”
“Anna Jacovich, wife of Erich Jacovich. Microbiologist,” the girl said.
A piece of the puzzle dropped into place.
“Her husband was killed in an accidental house fire, several months ago. She disappeared the same day and has a warrant for her detention for questioning in relation to that fire.”
“I doubt she killed him, just running to stay alive. Someone was cleaning up, because my guess, Jacovich was the one who stole the data from the lab. So, we have to find McConnell, Anna, and the data.”
And McConnell had a lot of explaining to do when I found him.
© Charles Heath 2023