The west yet glimmers with some streaks of day: Now spurs the lated traveller apace To gain the timely inn
the house in which the Daleys had lived for the past eighteen years was deserted. Margaret Daley, so the neighbours said, had been away since the previous Thursday, visiting her sister in Beaconsfield; whilst the boy, Philip, had scarcely been seen since being brought back home by the St Aldate's police. But no forcible entry was needed, for the immediate neighbour held a spare frontdoor key, and a preliminary search of the murdered man's house was begun at 9.15 p.m.
Two important pieces of evidence were found immediately, both on the red formica-topped kitchen table. The first was a letter from the Oxford Magistrates' Court dated 31 July – most probably received on Saturday, 1 August? – informing Mr G. Daley of the charges to be preferred against his son, Philip, and of the various legal liabilities which he, the father, would now incur under the new Aggravated Vehicle Theft Act. The letter went on to specify the provisions of legal aid, and to request Daley senior's attendance at the Oxford Crown Court on the following Thursday when the hearing of his son's case would be held. The second piece of evidence was half a page of writing from a temporarily departed son (as it appeared) to a now permanently departed father, conveying only the simple message that he was 'off to try and sort something out': a curiously flat, impersonal note, except for the one post-scriptum plea: 'Tell Mum she needn't wurry'.
A copy of The Oxford Mail for Friday, 31 July, lay on top of the microwave, and a preoccupied Morse scanned its front page briefly:
JOY-RIDERS GET NEW WARNING
The driver and co-passenger of a stolen car which had rammed a newsagent's shop on the Broad-moor Lea estate were both jailed for six months and each fined lb1,500 at Oxford Crown Court yesterday. Sentencing father-of-three Paul Curtis, 25, and John Terence Bowden, 19, Judge Geoffrey Stephens warned: Those who drive recklessly and dangerously and criminally around estates in Oxford can now normally expect custodial sentences – and not short ones. Heavier fines too will be imposed as everything in our power is done to end this spate of criminal vandalism.'
(Continued: page 3)
But Morse read no further, now wandering rather aimlessly around the ground-floor rooms. In the lounge, Lewis pointed to the row of black video-cassettes.
'I should think we know what's on some of them, sir.'
Morse nodded. 'Yes. I'd pinch one or two for the night if I had a video.' But his voice lacked any enthusiasm.
'Upstairs, sir? The boy's room…?'
'No. I think we've done enough for one night. And I'd like a warrant really for the boy's room. I think Mrs Daley would appreciate that.'
'But we don't really need-'
'C'mon, Lewis! We'll leave a couple of PCs here overnight.' Morse had reached another of his impulsive decisions, and Lewis made no further comment. As they left the house, both detectives noticed again – for it was the first thing they'd noticed as they'd entered – that the seven-millimetre rifle which had earlier stood on its butt by the entrance had now disappeared.
'I reckon it's about time we had a quick word with Michaels,' said Morse as in the thickening light they got into the car.
Lewis refrained from any recrimination. So easily could he have said he'd regularly been advocating exactly such a procedure that day, but he didn't.