Then everything went quiet. There were no more calls from Roy. I heard from one or two sources that the Cousins, Colin and Gaz were being held on remand. They had been charged for various offences and no bail had been granted in case they fled the country. I had no idea if Roy was being held as well.
I had no way of contacting Sue either, no phone number, no address. Roy’s Solicitor was hard work; he kept saying he couldn’t discuss anything to do with Roy apart from business that related to the shop. I paid him my rent every week but that was the only contact I had with him.
Roy’s brother Ronny had moved from his house in East Ham and no one seemed to know where he had moved to, so I couldn’t ask him what was going on.
For the next few months there was no contact, no word, nothing.
Then I got a call from Roy’s solicitor. The rental agreement was due for renewal; it was a 6 month contract. Did I wish to continue for a further 6 months? I said yes and he invited me to attend a meeting at his office. I asked if Roy would be there. He said he would. A date was fixed for the following week.
I was excited, I hadn’t seen Roy for 5 months, and there were all sorts of rumours about him but nothing certain. Perhaps now I would get a chance to find out what was going on. To think that Roy was a grass was just unbelievable. I thought that he was just keeping quiet, keeping his head down, not wanting to get involved. He had his own case to think about for Christ sake. I also thought that there might be another reason. Maybe all the worry has taken its toll, maybe he’s been ill, you know, like mentally ill or something. But all going well I should find out soon.
I got to the solicitors the following week. The meeting was planned for 4.30pm. I was going to drive and knew that it would take me about an hour to get there. I got there early and went for a couple of pints first. When I entered the solicitors’ office, there was no Roy. Just the solicitor sitting there.
“He couldn’t make it, but he’s given me authorisation to act on his behalf”
“But you said he would be here!”
I realised I was shouting, a waive of emotions swept through me. I was upset, angry, confused. I wanted to see Roy. He was my best mate; I missed him, where the fuck was he?
“Please calm down and take a seat, Mr Marshall isn’t well enough to attend the meeting today. But has assured me he will contact you in the next few days”
This confirmed what I had earlier thought. Maybe Roy WAS ill after all.
We did the deal. Same rent as before, for another 6 months, after this we would look at me buying the shop. The solicitor said that Roy had agreed to be very generous with the price and would even help me raise the funds if necessary.
I went back to East Ham with mixed emotions, I was unhappy that I hadn’t got to see Roy, but happy that Roy had said he would contact me in a few days. About bloody time, the old bastard, we had a lot to talk about!
It was now November 1977, Christmas was just around the corner, I hadn’t heard from Roy since August. I hadn’t seen him since June. I missed him, we were about to come up to the busiest time of the year and Roy had always been around at Christmas. He was the one that really ran things at this time. We used to laugh and joke about him never being around all the time, but Christmas he worked just as hard as everyone else, in fact even harder. I still had my two boys Dave and Fred, who helped out. Freddy had come in everyday throughout the school holidays, Davey came in on Saturdays and also after school during the week. They could both draw a chicken, skin a rabbit and make mince and sausages. But they didn’t want to be Butchers. They didn’t have the drive that I had at their age. They were both now 16. The part timer was now almost full time, the only days he didn’t work were the half days Mondays and Thursdays. So I had enough staff, I just didn’t have Roy!
I kept thinking about what the Solicitor had said, Roy would be in touch. But when?
November and December came and went. Christmas was fantastic; I made just over £2000 Christmas week. Lot of money for a 19 year old.
I turned 20 at the end of January 1978. Saturday Night Fever was playing in every cinema everywhere; people were going mad for the music. It was as though everyone else had suddenly found what we already had; we’d been dancing to this kind of music for the past two years!
There was still no word from Roy. Old Ken had pleaded guilty to the vouchers scam and was awaiting a trial date. He had been given bail but kept his distance from me and the shop. Mr Patel was also charged with fraud and handling stolen goods, he was also given bail. But Gaz, Colin and The Cousins were all being held on remand awaiting trial. Because of the Luncheon Vouchers they were being treated as though they had been printing currency. The old Tax man takes a very dim view of that!
Occasionally we would get a driver come in and say he had this or that but I would send him on his way. Tell him not to come back and spread the word to all the other drivers. No one came in now.
But trade was good.
March, April, May, June, the months just flew by. Everyone was talking about somebody called The Yorkshire Ripper, bodies are found in parts of Yorkshire and also in Manchester, a man hunt is under way. This means nothing to me of course all I want is an answer to what’s going on in bloody East London. Still no call from Roy, still no word from Gaz, Colin or the Cousins, they’re all still banged up.
On Tuesday 4th July 1978, I went to Smithfield Market to buy some meat. I got there around 04.30am. I bought what I needed and drove back to the shop. I arrived back at the shop at around 06.15am.
I started to unload the meat when a regular lady customer saw me and shouted out from across the street.” Buy the Daily Express, Buy The Daily Express!”
I finished unloading and went next door to the paper shop. That’s when I saw it, that’s when everything fell into place, that’s when all the questions were answered.
The Headline ran: “ARMED POLICE GUARD SUPERGRASS AFTER 70 ARRESTS”, Squealer hides for his life!
“If this man went back to East London he would be dead in a day”
Yes they were talking about Roy!