‘Why did someone assault Laura Pereira? According to the police forensics evidence we read, it appears that Paulo is the prime suspect in the assault, because he was caught leaving here shortly after the crime. His fingerprints were on the crowbar. The motif seems to have been money: he must have come to ask her for money. This is what Laura Pereira's niece, Helena Pereira, told the police. Helena is Laura’s niece and lives with her. She told the police she had heard loud voices in discussion the night her aunt was assaulted. According to her, Paulo and his girlfriend had been invited for after dinner coffee that day.
As they spoke, a tall, dark young woman approached. She introduced herself as Helena Pereira, the victim's niece. She was wearing faded jeans and a green hand-knitted sweater. Upon learning that they were Paulo's defence attorneys, Helena cast a glacial gaze at them and said, ‘How could Paulo and his girlfriend do something like this to my aunt? She was their friend.’
‘You said Paulo and his girlfriend?’ interrupted Marta.
‘Yes, that afternoon, I heard Paulo and his girlfriend yelling at my aunt. I was surprised when there was a sudden silence. I came down to see what had happened and found my aunt on the floor, unconscious, with a blow to the head. The whole room was upside down as if there had been a fight.’
James, who had discreetly kept behind Marta jumped into the conversation. ‘What's Paulo's girlfriend's name?’ ‘Aquessoco’, Helena answered turning around to face him. ‘That day she came for the first time. I met her a few weeks ago. She's been living with Paulo for three years. She comes from some African country, I don’t know which.’
James said sarcastically, ‘That’s a lot of information for someone who doesn’t know her.’ She, in turn, blushed, lowered her eyes and said: ‘Paulo told me so, I don't know her.’
As they left Laura Pereira's house, Marta said to James, ‘The police report does not confirm a girl was seen leaving the premises that day. Only Paulo. We’d better take a look at Paulo's apartment to see if there is really a girlfriend. I have the key.’
The apartment in which Paul lived was only the size of a room and there were clothes and books scattered everywhere. Insightful, James turned to Marta and said, ‘Look at the grey woollen scarf on the chair: isn't it exactly the same colour as the skeins that were in the knitting basket in Laura Pereira's room?’ After some time, he added, ‘I don't think our defendant swims in cash either.’