Blast from the Past

How many times, when your mind is freewheeling have you wondered about what has happened to long-lost touch with work colleagues? I found out while in the waiting room at the doctors' with an appointment to update my travel jabs. I picked up an old copy of the Reader's Digest and while flicking through the pages saw Ron's picture. It was a studio picture with Ron in pensive mood. I had worked with Ron Platt many years ago in Horsforth until he joined a team in Harrogate. He wasn't a special friend just a work colleague so we quickly lost touch. The only thing I really remember is that he was very proud of his Rolex watch and took every opportunity of showing it off. I didn't know much about watches in those days so couldn't relate to the joy he had in owning it. The only thing he did say was that a Rolex Oyster was expensive.

I started to read and became transfixed; fascinated and appalled in equal measure; so much so that I missed the first call for my appointment. Determined to finish the story I asked the receptionist if I could take the copy explaining why. I still have it. The story, when it unfolded, began in Harrogate with Ron in business for himself so it was some time after he had left Horsforth. It told me all about the girl he had met and the charismatic person she worked for who had become their friend. David Davis was a fine arts dealer and employed Elaine Boyes, Ron's girl friend. He had met her at an auction where she worked and persuaded her to be his P.A. She refused at first saying she and Ron were saving up to move to Canada, the place where he had grown up as a child and was desperate to return. Davis promised to pay her enough so that they would be able move within the year.

It was Christmas 1992 and they were having dinner with Davis who gave them a card containing two tickets to Canada. Their dream had become a reality. It all seemed ideal but unfortunately work wasn't easy to come by, this caused friction between them and eventually Elaine came back to England. Ron followed in 1995. The first thing Ron did was contact his old friend, Mr D as Ron called him. I don't suppose a blast from the past like this is unusual but to find it connected to murder, well_____ that's unusual. In July 1996 some fishermen were trawling off Devon and were not having much luck. They cast three times and were about to return to the port of Brixham after hauling the nets for the last time that day; they caught more than fish in that last trawl. Dropping the catch a body slewed across the deck with the fish. A post mortem was performed, but despite the injuries to the body and the back of the head, the fact that the lungs were full of water, drowning was the verdict of the Coroner all the other injuries could have been caused by the body being dragged by the tide. The police investigation strongly suggested accidental death but who was this John Doe? He had few possessions the most significant being a Rolex Oyster watch.

What followed was true CSI and featured on the series 'Real CSI as well as 'True Crime' all after I had read the article. The Rolex watch was instrumental in identifying Ron's body and only an accident of fate created any suspicion in the minds of the police. They still thought it was an accidental drowning. Every Rolex watch has a unique serial number and if it is repaired at any time records are kept. Using this information led to the identification of Ron Platt who was then traced to a flat he rented whose owner only had a telephone number of the reference Ron had provided. This led to David Davis who was asked to call in at Chelmsford Police Station to provide background information. The Detective Chief Inspector at the station in Brixham was a stickler for detail and suggested talking to Davis again to tie up loose ends prior to closing the case and here the hand of fate stepped in. A local Sergeant was asked to talk to him and it was the same one who had interviewed Davis previously. Unable to get him on the phone he called round. The cottage was un-named so he took pot luck and knocked on a door. 'Little London Farm?' he enquired of the man that answered. The man stepped forwards and pointed next door, 'that's Little London Farm.'

The Sergeant thanked him and was turning away, then, as an afterthought, 'that is where Mr David Davis lives isn't it.' 'You're wrong again there's no David Davis lives round here. That's where Ronald Platt lives with his wife and two children.' The Sergeant was stunned. Describing him the neighbour described the same man the Sergeant had interviewed at the station and adding 'he spends a lot of time on his boat in Devon.' The Sergeant made his excuses and left, much forensic work followed but they still thought the drowning was accidental. The thing that didn't fit was Ron Platt living in the cottage. Ron's girlfriend was traced and interviewed and when told of Ron's death and the fact that David Davis had known now for two months she was shocked as she had spoken to him only a couple of weeks ago and he had not mentioned Ron's death.

In the process of exploring every detail the fishermen were interviewed again and an anchor was mentioned as having been tied up in the net. After much work it was traced and compared to some bruises discovered during the post mortem, a perfect match if it is assumed that it was hooked into Ron's belt. It was coming together and by October the police decided they had enough to make an arrest. Searches of the cottage revealed more about David Davis. More names, credit cards, bill heads in Ron's name and Elaine's name. An Interpol search with fingerprints then identified him as Albert Johnson Walker on Interpol's' most wanted list who had absconded with millions of dollars of clients money. Paperwork showed him having bought an anchor exactly like the one pulled from the net; he could offer no explanation as where it was. GPS records showed Davis' boat only four miles from the spot where the body was found at around the time the watch stopped. Persistent questioning of Noel Davis, Davis' wife, finally brought the truth of their relationship, she was not his wife but his daughter and the children were his also. She agreed to give evidence that he was not at home in Devon on the night of Ron's disappearance. By now the total of evidence was overwhelming and on December 9th  Albert Johnson Walker was rearrested under his real name. Guilty was the verdict arrived at in only two hours on 6th July 1998 and given a life sentence, he may still be inside today. When Ron bragged about his Rolex watch he could never have known it would be the instrument of justice.

Postcript: Thanks to the Readers Digest for bringing the story to my attention.

Barry L

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