In late 2002, Richard - up to his eyes in debt and his business interests failing - concocted a plan to convince everyone that mother-in-law Audrey Roberts was entering senility and then kill her in a fire in her house, which would be put down to an accidental death and her estate would be paid to daughter Gail. Audrey was saved from the fire by Steve McDonald and Archie Shuttleworth and while recovering at Gail's house she overheard Richard talking to her daughter about getting Power of Attorney over her finances. This alerted Audrey to the real reasons behind her supposed memory losses as well as the fire and she and Archie took their suspicions to the police.
They told DC Brett that Richard had said that the battery was missing from the fire alarm at Audrey's house before investigator Ian Swan went round it - with Richard himself having removed it earlier on - and that his previous wife Patricia had been mysteriously missing for several months; in May 2002, two months before Richard married Gail, he killed Patricia. This was further developed when a body, which Richard had identified as Patricia's but which later proven not to be, was pulled out of Weatherfield Canal, he had hastily tried to arrange for a cremation. Brett was interested enough to call on Richard and take him down to Weatherfield Police Station for an interview. Richard remained calm through his interrogation and was able to give convincing answers to several of the points - that Audrey was receiving medical attention for senility and that Richard's missing ex-wife Patricia, who he had murdered, had not turned up in Australia to meet her best friend Charlotte Morris, as she had recently found out that Charlotte had made several passes at Richard and therefore disowned her. The police checked these stories, they were both confirmed as true and Richard was released. Brett told Audrey this news and suggested that she keep her appointment with the medical specialists!
The following February in 2003, Brett was equally sceptical when Gail and Audrey turned up at the station in the middle of the night with the news of Richard’s confession. Brett was dismissive of Gail’s tale until she told him that she knew where Richard had buried Patricia - under the foundations at The Ridings. Further investigation showed the story to be true and it was Brett who broke the news to Gail and her children that they had been living with a serial killer; earlier on in January 2003, Richard ended up murdering local barmaid Maxine Peacock during his attempt to hill Audrey's close friend Emily Bishop for money. By the time Patirica's body was unearthed, Brett made the difficult task of breaking the news to Maxine's husband Ashley that it was Richard who killed his wife - and that Aidan Critchley, the troublesome ex-boyfriend of Gail's daughter Sarah, was innocent; Richard framed Aidan for Maxine's murder and Emily's attack.
As the search for Richard continued, Brett called on Gail to tell her that there had been reported sightings in Liverpool and Newport (Shropshire), but nothing concrete. He also spoke with local couple Jack and Vera Duckworth when they questioned the investment of £20,000 they had made with Richard’s company. Brett made it clear the money was as good as lost.
His next act in the drama was to accompany Gail and Audrey back to the bankside of the canal after Richard had tried to drown Gail and her family in a submerged car there. All had escaped except Richard. When a body was pulled from the waters, Gail was asked to identify the corpse that had been placed in a body bag. Brett spoke kindly to Gail as she made the confirmation, threw her wedding ring in the waters and sadly left the scene.
Finally returning towards the end of March, he informed Gail that the medical examiner had completed forensics on Richard's body - which was now ready to be released.
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