In my experience, those who beg for mercy seldom deserve it. To see it the day after my testimony turned my stomach. Given the choice, I would have left and deprived his arrogance of any more of my time. But I had no choice. Not only was I an expert witness at his trial, but I was a witness to his contemptible ego, and had to stay.
Waiting to be called had been agonising. Detective Inspector Plum had been called the previous day, so I no longer had an ally to calm my nerves. I was shaking so much that I couldn’t concentrate on my calming sewing, discarding it after only a few minutes, desperate to keep the quality high. Closing my eyes, I took several deep breaths to regain my composure, knowing from years of experience in the press box that too much emotion would actually harm the delivery of my report. No matter how much I hated Max Coons, I had to be seen a calm, professional expert. Not the deeply offended individual who desperately wished for a return of the death penalty for this offender. I had been waiting for my day in court for two years, and I wasn’t going to waste it.
“Miss Gadon, follow me please.” The official clad in austere black and white court robes beckoned me.
Nodding, I collected my clutch bag, and followed him. My heart jumped into my throat, nerves taking charge of my pulse as I stepped into the heavy atmosphere of the courtroom, feeling the weight of every single pair of eyes watch my progress to the stand. Try as I might, I couldn’t ignore the glare from the defendant, and could only hope my terror wasn’t visible.
“Please take the bible, raise your hand and repeat after me.”
Obediently, I carried out the ritual that I had so often observed. As the official settled back into his place, I waited uncomfortably for the prosecutor to start the proceedings.
“You are Miss Nina Gadon?”
“You are the criminal journalist, researcher and writer?”
“What is your involvement with this case?”
“I assisted the police by linking the contemporary serial offences to those carried out by the accused’s ancestor, a hundred and fifty years ago.”“Perhaps you would like to explain the connections to the court.”
“Certainly.” Pausing, I collect my thoughts before turning to address the jury.
On the 7th of October, my editor interrupted the empty silence of Nottingham library, sending me rushing to the statue of Robin Hood. Only the swarm of blue clad forensic officers at the hero’s feet gave any indication to the body’s location, as a group of wailing witnesses divulged their information to the police out of earshot.
Returning home with no additional information, I compared the day’s events with those I researched for my book, noting the similarities. 150 years ago to the day, Mark Coons, serial killer, was hung. Although the scene, victim location and time of day matched his profile with no knowledge of the cause of death I had nothing that the police would even contemplate listening to, although I tried, and obediently left a written statement.
“So from the very first, there were three connections with the historical murder? The time, the setting and the victim position?” The prosecutor prompted as I lapsed into silence recalling the frustration of trying to contact the police for confirmation.
“Yes, at that point I was informed after much persistence that the weapon that shot the victim was unknown.”
“I see. What was the weapon used a hundred and fifty years ago?”
“A bullet firing cross bow.”
“Could you describe that?”
“Certainly.” I paused to sip my water. “Based on medieval cross bows, where a central stock runs from the shooters shoulder to the bow, the bullet firing crossbows of the 18th century had two bow strings and a pouch for the specially manufactured bullets which replaced the arrow.”
“What has happened to the cross bow used in the original murders?”
“It was released from Police custody last year into the care of the Royal armouries, while the specially modified gun bullets remain in the police archives.”
“I see. So a hundred and fifty years ago, it was used to do what?”
“Mark Coons murdered six people and attempted to kill another, between the October 1859 and February 1861 across Nottingham. His main targets being business men and sports stars connected with his own sports equipment business. Two murders were carried out in the old Narrow Marsh, moving into the city to the Robin Hood Statue, Smithy Row by the Council house, by the Adams Lace factory as it was then, the Weekday Cross before being caught overlooking the train station.”
“I see. So key links with the current case?”
“Could you just remind the court where the contemporary offences occurred?”
“The first by the Robin Hood statue, then Smithy Row adjacent to the tourist office in the Council House, then by the Adams building on Stoney Street, before the final attack at the train station.” A murmur rippled through the crowd and I noted the shock register on juror’s faces as I almost repeated myself.
“How did you hear about the second murder?” The prosecutor allowed a moments silence before pressing forward.