Benton behind bars by ElsieMcC

Summary: An escape is being planned by a gang of inmates at Chelsfield Military Prison and Sergeant Benton is sent in undercover to infiltrate the gang. Will he manage to persuade the leader to accept him? Will UNIT, with the assistance of Miss Hawthorne and Iolanthe Grosvenor, be able to solve the mysterious death of an informant and find the weapons stolen by the gang? And will Benton live to tell the tale? NB a revised version of this story is now at

Rating: Teen
Categories: Third Doctor
Characters: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Other Character(s), Sergeant Benton
Genres: Action/Adventure, Mystery
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: The Hawthorne and Benton Mysteries
Published: 2021.09.09
Updated: 2021.09.10

Benton behind bars by ElsieMcC
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Author's Notes:

Chapter 4

At HQ, Iolanthe had finished her examination of the gang’s personal information. She felt she hadn’t learned much more than when she started, though there were a few points that could be followed up. One of the gang had been released from barracks in the evening for a month to attend classes in advanced first aid for a few weeks, shortly after he had met Baxter. That wasn’t much, Iolanthe made a note to check who had taught the classes and who else the soldier might have met while he there. She sucked the end of her pencil thoughtfully. Other than that, the files were much of a muchness. As she was about to pick up the phone and call records, it rang.


“Lily, it’s Dan, I’ve just had a call that the autopsy report on Webster is due over this afternoon. It’s taking a bit longer to get the staff files from Chelsfield, might not be until tomorrow. Sorry,” as Iolanthe sighed impatiently.

“No, it’s OK, it’s not your fault. Let me know when you get the autopsy report in. Oh, and could you check something else for me?”

“Your wish is my command, Miss Grosvenor.”

“Could you find out who was teaching advanced first aid at the …” she consulted her notes “Branswick institute a year ago, between 15th March and 15th April? Private Christopher Hunter took the class, just after he met Baxter. And if you can, can you find out who else went to the classes, oh and what else was being taught on those evenings?”

“You don’t ask for much, do you?” replied Dan in an injured tone, then reverted to his natural cheerfulness. “I’ll get on to it right away and I’ll run the autopsy file up as soon as it gets here. You’re thinking Hunter might have met someone at the class who helped them with the robbery?”

“I hope so because I can’t see any other clues. They didn’t steal the drugs from the infirmary at the barracks and that kind of hypnosis can’t really be learned from a book, you have to be taught it, and have a particular aptitude for it. This is the only possibility I’ve found in all their records.”

“OK, Nil desperandum, Lily, I’ll get you the gen. Now, when did you last have a cup of tea?”

Iolanthe looked at her mug which still held the chilly remains of her morning brew.

“I thought so,” said Dan in answer to her silence. “Get yourself to the kitchen. Everything makes more sense with tea.”

Iolanthe laughed, in spite of herself.

“Ok. I’m on my way.”

“See that you are! Bye, Lily.”

“Bye Dan.”

Iolanthe hung up, still smiling at Dan’s good-natured bullying. He was right, of course, she needed a break and to look at the documents with fresh eyes. She picked up her mug and left the office, heading for the kitchen and a fresh cup of tea.

The prison dinner bell signaled the end of the working day for Schapp and Miss Hawthorne. Having locked the library, they made their way to the locker rooms, where their belongings were stored during the day. Miss Hawthorne put on her cloak and gathered up her handbag, pausing to fasten her wristwatch. She made her way to the door, then stopped just inside as she heard voices in the corridor. The voices were low but could be heard clearly through the half open door of the locker room. Both the voices were male, and Miss Hawthorne listened intently as she tried to place their owners.

“It won’t be much longer,” said the first voice calmly.

“It had better not be,” replied the second, in an agitated whisper, “I had enough trouble getting hold of the stuff, now the Governor wants to bring in an auditor to inspect, there’s no way I can account for having it.”

“Calm down,” put in the first speaker, “and stop whispering, do you want everyone to know you’re up to something? Look,” (as his companion tried to begin again) it’s all arranged. I spoke to Baxter this afternoon. If the new man is good enough, they will be ready to move in the next two days. I’ve been in touch with the customers and they are waiting for the call. All you’ve got to do is get them ready to go and then you can sit back and wait for your share.”

“That’s easy for you to say, I…” but the speakers had turned away and were moving down the corridor.

Miss Hawthorne peered round the door. One of the men was wearing a warder’s uniform. Miss Hawthorne didn’t recognise him from the back, she hadn’t met all the staff, but she noticed blond hair under the back of his cap. The other man she recognised. Wearing a white coat and turning to argue with his companion was Doctor Glede.

The autopsy report had still not arrived and Iolanthe was on the verge of giving up on it. She had almost decided to call it a day and go home, when Dan appeared with the envelope.

“Here it is. Sorry about the wait, they took their own sweet time getting it over to us.”

“Thank you.” Iolanthe took the envelope and turned it, removing a brown folder from inside.

“We’re closing up now, I’ll see you tomorrow,” said Dan.

“Yes, thanks,” said Iolanthe absently, spreading out the photographs of the cell and of Webster’s body on her desk.

Dan closed the door quietly, a thoughtful expression on his face. He walked quickly down the corridor and rounding a corner, nearly ran into the Brigadier.

“Corporal Wood!” snapped the Brigadier, stepping back sharply.

“Sir, sorry Sir,” gasped Dan.

“I should think so. Do look where you are going, Corporal, this isn’t a school.”

“No, Sir.” Dan replied, looking rather like a naughty schoolboy.

“Now, have you anything to report in addition to what Miss Grosvenor has discovered?”

“No, Sir, but the autopsy on Private Webster has just arrived, I’ve just dropped it off to Miss Grosvenor.”

“She’s still in her office?” asked the Brigadier.

“Yes, Sir,” replied Dan, hoping he hadn’t dropped his colleague in it.

“Thank you, Corporal Wood, as you were.”

“Yes, Sir.” Dan went on his way at a slightly more careful pace and the Brigadier, after thinking for a moment, went back to his office and picked up the phone.

Iolanthe pored over the report, bracing herself for the details of the autopsy. It appeared that, despite the first impressions of the prison doctor, Webster had indeed been poisoned. He had been given a lethal dose of a commonly prescribed sedative. Traces found in his mouth suggested that he had ingested the drug, rather than it having been injected. The question of how the drug had been delivered remained unanswered. Webster’s few personal effects had been examined, and no trace of the drug had been found. The drug had a rapid effect, so the dose would have to have been taken either just before or just after lock up. Webster had been alone in his cell, so whatever was used must have been prepared and planted in advance. Iolanthe put her head in her hands and leaned over the photos again. There must be something she was missing… something missing… There was something on the edge of her mind, some obvious detail that she wasn’t seeing. She sighed and sat back, then turned in her chair as the phone rang.


“Miss Grosvenor? I hear you have the autopsy report on Private Webster.”

“Er, yes, Sir.”

“Good, I’d like to see it, I’m in my office.”

“Yes, Sir, on my way.”

Iolanthe gathered up the photos and paperwork and put them back in the folder. She had already made her report to the Brigadier that day, and had been hoping not to have to speak to anyone for the rest of the evening, but if the C.O. wanted her to go to his office, she would have to go. In his office, the Brigadier finished reorganizing his desk and called “come in” in answer to Iolanthe’s knock.

“Ah, Miss Grosvenor. I just, ah, bumped into Corporal Wood and he told me that he had given you the report.”

“Yes, Sir, I,”

“Good, I suggest we pool our resources and look at it together. I’ve had an update from Miss Hawthorne that may shed some light on the case. In the meantime ...” the Brigadier stood back, revealing the surface of his desk, which, as well as the usual paperwork, had two plates, two bottles of beer and a large bag of fish and chips, “we needn’t starve while we work. Have a seat and let’s get down to business.”

The tension that had been building in Iolanthe’s mind seemed to ebb away a little. She laughed with the relief and release of the moment and handed the file to the Brigadier, who smiled briefly, then ushered her to a seat and set about unwrapping their meal.

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