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Updated: Oct 10, 2021

Leadville and the boots part 3

Defendant said he farmed 120 acres. On the evening of July 22 he was approached by the two soldiers, who said they had been in detention and were short of money. They told him they had a pair of boots which were reconditioned, and he (Bennett) said if it was genuine stuff he was willing to buy anything " from traction engines to wheelbarrows." The soldiers pestered him, and he became somewhat short with them. Later he spoke to Constable Walke outside the Farmers' Arms. The next night he again visited the Farmers' Arms, and the soldiers again approached him add referred to a pair of boots, but he told them he was not interested. One of them became a little nasty and he did not have anything more to do with them. He had his cycle with him and could have ridden home, but instead walked with a member of the Home Guard and a sailor.

He had made no appointment to meet the soldiers again, but when he got to a certain part of the road one of, them jumped out of a gateway and said: " We have got the stuff here." They went into a field and the soldiers showed him a pair of boots. He (defendant) said no one would have anything to do with a pair of boots like that as it was plain they were Government property. One of the soldiers said he wanted £5 but he (defendant) said he had not got that amount and pulled money out his pocket, and one of the men took it, including a cheque for £l2, and rode away with it on his (Bennett's) bicycle.

The other man asked him if he would give him some tobacco. and he (defendant) told him that if he would get his money back he would do so. He never did any deal with the soldiers. He had obtained the tobacco by gifts from naval men who had stayed at his farm. Some had given him a little and some as much as a pouch full, and he had filled up the tin by instalments. In cross-examination, Bennett admitted that although his " full intentions" were to tell the police. he did not mention to Constable Wale when he had talked with him on another matter the previous night anything about having been approached by the soldiers. He also admitted that he said to the constable that he had done wrong.

Inspector Tucker: can you explain how this parcel got into your field?

Defendant: The two soldiers put it there. He saw the parcel containing the boots opened, but not the other one. • Inspector Tucker: These soldiers went into the field with your consent and you accompanied them?

Defendant: Yes. sir. Mrs. Ida Bennett, wife of defendant, said there had never been anything in the nature of Government stores brought into the house. She heard one of the soldiers shouting that he wanted money and also heard him say that he wanted to sell boots for money. Mr. Spear suggested that the two soldiers having seen Bennett talking to the police constable and having just come back from detention, became a little alarmed, and in consequence of what they said when they went back to their camp this elaborate trap between the police and military was fixed up." There was no evidence that defendant had ever handled the boots or tea or sugar. Bennett had never done a deal with these soldiers. Announcing the decision of the Bench, the Chairman remarked that : the evidence was " absolutely conclusive."

That's the official version!

However, Leadville was a clever and devious fellow. I know he was into smuggling brandy and tobacco etc. He may have bought from the military but not in minor amounts. He was smart enough to have nothing on his home farm, there were many and better hidey holes. Most of his product was brought in on his boat.

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Grandads House, Lower Trevorgus

Tucker added that he then came along and Mr. Bennett offered to allow them to search his premises, and in fairness to him he should say they found no other suspected articles on his premises. Bennett explained regarding the tobacco that it had been given to him in pipe fulls by various naval ratings who had stayed on his farm, but the persons mentioned when seen denied this. The tobacco weighed half a pound and was in one compact mass. Evidence was given by the two soldiers, who, replying to Mr. Spear, admitted that just before the alleged offence they had returned from detention. but denied that they had told Bennett they had just come out of " quod." They also denied that they had approached Bennett regarding his buying Army stores and that he had refused to have anything to do with them. One of the men admitted that he rode off on Bennett's cycle after snatching money defendant had taken from his pocket, which included a cheque for £l2. Constable Walke said Bennett admitted buying the booth, sugar, and tea, and giving 18s. 6d. for them.'

Witness saw a tin in Bennett's pocket, and on removing it said he was of opinion the tobacco it contained was a naval issue. but Bennett said It had been given to him in pipefuls by sailors staying on his premises. Evidence was also given by an Army provost-sergeant, who admitted one of the soldiers gave them a few minutes' anxiety when he rode away on Bennett's bicycle. Both this witness and an Army officer said there had been complaint regarding missing stores. The officer added that he had known the two soldiers concerned , in that case since March, 1941, he could trust them, and knew them as " absolutely truthful men." A naval warrant officer identified the tobacco as being duty free, and said if there was half a pound in a tin similar to that produced, once it had been removed, it would be impossible to get it all back again.

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At Wadebridge Petty Sessions on Tuesday William Leadville Bennett, Lower Trevorgus Farm, St. Merryn, was fined £l2 for unlawfully buying' from soldiers one pair of boots, 2 lbs. of sugar, and 1 lb. of tea, total value £1 9s. 6d. He was also fined £1 for being in possession of Government stores, viz., tobacco, reasonably suspected of having been unlawfully obtained. inspector Tucker said on July 22, after the Farmers' Arms Inn at St. Merryn had closed. The defendant following some conversation with two soldiers about stores, asked them to get what stores they could and he would pay them a good price. The soldiers agreed to meet Bennett at the Farmers' Arms the next evening. On leaving him they decided to report the matter to their commanding officer. The commanding officer got into communication with the police, and it was agreed that the soldiers should take a pair of boots and a quantity of tea and sugar, and that if defendant offered to purchase these a certain course should be taken.

The two soldiers went to the Farmers' Arms after they had secreted the property near the defendant's residence. Subsequently Bennett motioned to one of the soldiers to come outside, and asked him if he had managed to get anything. The soldier told defendant of the articles and they agreed to go up the road when the inn closed. After the two soldiers had left the inn the defendant came along, accompanied by a sailor and a member of the Home Guard. In conversation with the soldiers he said he would get a half-pound tin of tobacco in part payment and would pay 18s. 6d. in money. Defendant went to his farm and brought back the tobacco, and Constable Welke then came out from a hedge, spoke to Bennett and took possession of the boots. sugar, and tea. Defendant said: " I'm in disgrace. I've done wrong, and ought to have known better."

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