"How long was it before you saw him standing there?"



"I don't remember," replied Beth.



"This time you don't remember."



"It wasn't that long," said Beth.



"It wasn't that long," repeated Pearson. "Less than a minute?"



"I can't be sure. But he was standing there."



"Miss Wilson, if you were to leave the Dunlop Arms by the front door, make your way through a crowded street, then down a long lane, before finally reaching the end of the alley, you'd find it's a distance of two hundred and eleven yards. Are you suggesting that Mr. Craig covered that distance in under a minute?"



"He must have done."



"And his friend joined him a few moments later," said Pearson.



"Yes, he did," said Beth.



"And when you turned round, the other two men, Mr. Davenport and Mr. Mortimer, were already positioned by the back door."



"Yes, they were."



"And this all took place in under a minute, Miss Wilson?" He paused. "When do you imagine the four of them found time to plan such a detailed operation?"



"I don't understand what you mean," said Beth, gripping the rail of the witness box.



"I think you understand only too well, Miss Wilson, but for the benefit of the jury, two men leave the bar by the front door, go around to the rear of the building while the other two station themselves by the back door, all in under a minute."



"It could have been more than a minute."



"But you were keen to get away," Pearson reminded her. "So if it had been more than a minute you would have had time to reach the main road and disappear long before they could have got there."



"Now I remember," said Beth. "Danny was trying to calm Bernie down, but my brother wanted to go back to the bar and sort Craig, so it must have been more than a minute."



"Or was it Mr. Cartwright he wanted to sort out," asked Pearson, "and leave him in no doubt who was going to be the boss once his father retired?"



"If Bernie had wanted to do that," said Beth, "he could have flattened him with one punch."



"Not if Mr. Cartwright had a knife," responded Pearson.



"It was Craig who had the knife, and it was Craig who stabbed Bernie."



"How can you be so sure, Miss Wilson, when you didn't witness the stabbing?"



"Because Bernie told me that's what happened."



"Are you sure it was Bernie who told you, and not Danny?"



"Yes, I am."



"You'll forgive the cliche, Miss Wilson, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it."



"I am, because it's the truth," said Beth.



"Is it also true that you feared your brother was dying, Miss Wilson?"



"Yes, he was losing so much blood I didn't think he could survive," replied Beth as she began sobbing.



"Then why don't you call for an ambulance, Miss Wilson?" This had always puzzled Alex, and he wondered how she would respond. She didn't, which allowed Pearson to add, "After all, your brother had been stabbed again and again, to quote you."



"I didn't have a phone!" she blurted.



"But your fiance did," Pearson reminded her, "because he had called your brother earlier, inviting him to join you both at the pub."



"But an ambulance arrived a few minutes later," replied Beth.



"And we all know who phoned the emergency services, don't we, Miss Wilson," said Pearson, staring at the jury.



Beth bowed her head.



"Miss Wilson, allow me to remind you of some of the other half-truths you told my learned friend." Beth pursed her lips. "You said, 'I knew we were going to be married the first day I met him.' "



"Yes, that's what I said and that's what I meant," said Beth defiantly.



Pearson looked down at his notes. "You also said that in your opinion Mr. Davenport 'wasn't as good-looking as' Mr. Cartwright."



"And he isn't," said Beth.



"And that if anything went wrong, 'he always had me to back up his story.' "



"Yes, he did."



"Whatever that story was."



"I didn't say that," protested Beth.



"No, I did," said Pearson. "Because I suggest you'd say anything to protect your husband."



"But he isn't my husband."



"But he will be, if he is acquitted."



"Yes, he will."



"How long has it been since the night your brother was murdered?"



"Just over six months."



"And how often have you seen Mr. Cartwright during that period?"



"I've visited him every Sunday afternoon," said Beth proudly.



"How long do those visits last?"



"About two hours."



Pearson looked up at the ceiling. "So you've spent roughly," he calculated, "fifty hours together during the past six months."



"I've never thought of it that way," said Beth.



"But now you have, wouldn't you agree that would it be quite long enough for the two of you to go over your story again and again, making sure that it was word-perfect by the time you appeared in court."



"No, that's not true."



"Miss Wilson, when you visited Mr. Cartwright in prison"-he paused-"for fifty hours, did you ever discuss this case?"



Beth hesitated. "I suppose we must have."



"Of course you did," said Pearson. "Because if you didn't, perhaps you can explain how you recall every detail of what happened that night, and every sentence delivered by anyone involved, while you can't remember what you had for breakfast this morning."



"Of course I remember what happened on the night my brother was murdered, Mr. Pearson. How could I ever forget? In any case, Craig and his friends would have had even more time to prepare their stories because they had no visiting hours or any restrictions on when or where they could meet."



"Bravo," said Alex, loud enough for Pearson to hear.



"Let us return to the alley and test your memory one more time, Miss Wilson," said Pearson, quickly changing the subject. "Mr. Craig and Mr. Payne, having arrived in the alley in under a minute, began walking towards your brother, and without any provocation started a fight."



"Yes, they did," said Beth.



"With two men they'd never seen before that night."



"Yes."



"And when things began to go badly, Mr. Craig pulls a knife out of thin air and stabs your brother in the chest."



"It wasn't out of thin air. He must have picked it up from the bar."



"So it wasn't Danny who picked up the knife from the bar?"



"No, I would have seen it, if it had been Danny."



"But you didn't see Mr. Craig pick up the knife from the bar?"



"No, I didn't."



"But you did see him, one minute later, standing at the other end of the alley."



"Yes, I did."



"Did he have a knife in his hand at that time?" Pearson leaned back and waited for Beth to reply.