THE KEY RING THAT JAILED STEEL.
It was Steel's mother-in-law, Vera Smith who gave the fish key ring to the police. Although there was no evidence of a key ring in the original case, D.I. Norman Mould and D.S. Raymond Falconer took this key ring to members of the Wilkinson and Best families. Carol's mother and her step-father did not recognise it. Nor did her sister Wendy. When she was subsequently approached by the defence detective, Roy Moses, she told him she had been shown the key ring by the police. She said she could not recall ever seeing the ring in Carolís possession. She was unwilling to make a statement.
Kevin Best was positive Carol did not have a key ring.
Nevertheless, the two detectives managed to find four people who identified the key ring as Carol's. They were Kevin's three brothers and Carol's half-brother Paul.
At the time Brian Best was 19, Neil Best was 17, Paul Wilkinson was 17 and Terry Best was 11 years old.
They were not faced with an "identification parade" of key rings - i.e. several different ones from which they had to choose Carol's key ring ( presuming she had had one!). Instead they were faced with a typical identification procedure used in burglary cases- something that D.I. Mould and D.S. Falconer knew all about. The key ring was dangled in front of them and they were asked if it was Carol's.
They identified the key ring as hers - but they made mistakes when they did it. They were asked about where they had seen it. The police knew that Carol's keys to the office had been stolen. Her handbag had been beside the body - a blue denim one.
Paul Wilkinson said that Carol "used to have such a key ring on her handbag."
Brian Best said that a fish key ring used to hang on her handbag.
Neil Best "Carol had this key ring attached to a zip of a dark coloured handbag."
And Terry Best said that Carol had such a key ring " fastened to her handbag."
All the handbags mentioned here appear to be the brown handbag - not the blue denim one that was by Carolís body when she was found.
At the trial, Paul Wilkinson added to his story. He said that he had seen the key ring on both Carolís brown handbag and her blue one. The other three youths continued with their original evidence that the bag had been a brown one.
Oddly Tony Steel made this same mistake about the colour of the handbag when he was being interrogated. He told Assistant Chief Constable James Hobson that the handbag was dark brown. We can only wonder where he got this idea from.
The final important piece of evidence about this is that the sister of Kevin Best - married and called Christine Alred - told the police that she had seen Carol with a fish key ring. But the one she described - and subsequently picked out in a proper "identification parade - style" operation for "Rough Justice" was quite unlike the fish key ring that her three younger brothers had identified for the police.
Carol's missing handbag.
Carol had another handbag which she used at work. Her workmate Jean Broadbent saw Carol every working day. Jean sat by the "clocking-in machine" and saw Carol arrive dressed in the manner she had come to work in. In her statement to the police on the day after the murder she said: " Every day she carried her handbag which is a denim bag inside a rope/string type bag which has wooden handles."
This string bag never appeared in evidence - and Kevin Best did not mention it when listing what Carol had had with her on that morning, though he mentioned it when talking about going shopping with Carol on the Saturday before the murder.
Was Jean Broadbent correct in her description of the string bag? And if she was, where did it go - and why did no one ever look for it, or mention it in later evidence?
Evidence which may support Jean Broadbentís memory of the string bag can be found in the statement of P.C. David Brown. He picked up the items left in the field where Carol had been discovered. The strap for the blue handbag was inside the handbag itself. Had Carol therefore carried her handbag in her hand? And if she did - did she continue carrying it in her hand when she jumped over the wall into the field, having just been assaulted in the roadway?
If she dropped it in the roadway as would seem reasonable in the police scenario of the crime - why did it end up so close to her body in the field? It seems from this that an item went missing from the scene of crime that no one noticed - the string bag.
However, that is not the central point of this secondary evidence of the string bag..
If Carol normally carried her handbag inside the string bag, it would very impractical to have any key ring adorning the handbag - because the key ring would catch in the string as the handbag was pulled out. The particular fish key ring mentioned in this case, as identified by "Rough Justice", based on the description of Dr. Julius Grant, was too frail to withstand much pulling about as would occur if it were attached to a handbag inside a string shopping bag.