فصل 13

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Chapter thirteen

The Avenger strikes

That night I had some thinking to do. If, as James Benson guessed, his brother had panicked and killed Blakeston, Kawaguchi had certainly made a serious mistake. He had put his trust in a man who could not be trusted and he, Kawaguchi, was therefore indirectly responsible for the terrible crime that had followed. But who was The Avenger? And was he or she avenging Blakeston’s death, the shooting of Naoko or the hanging of Murphy? So many questions and so few answers.

The next day, though, something happened which gave the whole thing a different direction and which answered at least some of these questions.

It was about 9.30 in the morning. I was sitting at my desk in the office, talking to Rick about a story he was working on. Suddenly the phone rang and there was Jonty from police headquarters, breathless with excitement.

‘The Home Secretary…’ he said. ‘There’s been a letter bomb… luckily it was discovered by his assistant before being opened. There’ll be an official statement soon I suppose.’

A few minutes later a statement from the Home Secretary’s office came through on the fax.

‘A letter bomb was discovered in the Home Secretary’s post this morning. The Home Secretary’s assistant,

Jonathon Bailey, discovered the suspicious-looking package. No-one was hurt in the incident.’

About ten minutes later there was another fax, this time from Reuters News Agency.

At 9.30 this morning we received a handwritten note from someone calling himself The Avenger. He said he was responsible for the letter bomb delivered this morning to the Home Secretary’s home. He said that Murphy was innocent and he would avenge his death.’

I got onto Reuters News Agency and asked them whether they were sure it was a man. No, they weren’t - they’d just assumed it was. I asked to see the note, to get our people to look at the handwriting.

I rushed down to the Home Secretary’s office in Downing Street to see if I could get a story from Jonathon Bailey. I had a contact at Downing Street, so managed to get a short interview with him.

‘Nothing much to say, really,’ he said. ‘This brown paper package arrived. Something about it made me suspicious, so I called the police. Then they called in the bomb squad.’ He made it sound like it happened every day. Possibly it did.

I spent the rest of the morning at the Public Records Office reading the reports of the two public enquiries into the Murphy case. Both found ‘no evidence to support the re-opening of the case’. Yes, well, there wasn’t much point, given that Murphy was dead. John Murphy, Brendan’s father had asked for a pardon on five separate occasions between 1963 and 1970. He had been denied on each occasion. In 1965 a committee made up of five public figures had put forward a document to the Home Secretary, stating that there was a sufficient reason to re-open the case as Peter Benson had confessed. It too had been denied. Even after Peter Benson’s confession!

As late as 1992, there had been a call for a public enquiry made to the Home Secretary. He had made a statement in the House of Commons, saying that there was absolutely no reason for another public enquiry. In his opinion there was no new evidence in the case. Since then there had been nothing. Most of the people involved in trying to clear Murphy’s name were now dead. Dad was the only one still alive.

3rd February 1961

Brixton Prison

Dear Mum and Dad

Well, it has finally come to this. It is hard for me to put together this letter as I am sure you know. I have been sitting here for hours and wondering how it came to this - how I got into this situation - but no answer comes to me.

The priest, Father Daly, has come to see me every day this week. He is a kind man and has talked to me a lot. I know that he knows that I am innocent and this knowledge helps me more than anything at this time. He will be with me to the end and is helping me to be brave.

I want you to remember always that I didn’t do this and that I am being punished for something I never did, that I am innocent. I hope that when I am dead you will continue to fight to clear my name and to prove that I never did it. More than anything I don’t want you to blame yourselves for what has happened because you have really been the best parents in the world.

Tomorrow I hope that when the time comes I will go to my death bravely. I want you to be proud of me to the end. Thinking of you and Paddy and Ian helps me a lot at this time. God bless you all.

Your loving son

Brendan

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