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.