Edward Mansell, a nurseryman of Hadham Road, was summoned for being found to be in unlawful possession of army stores, namely three trusses of pressed straw, half a truss of hay, one horse rug and two oat sacks at Bishop’s Stortford on Dec 12th. At this stage Mr Flinn took the chair and presided throughout the proceedings.
When asked to plead, the defendant said that the charge read by the Magistrates’ Clerk (Mr W J Gee) was correct except one point and that was the hay and that did not belong to the military – it belonged to him. So far as the straw sacks and horse cloth were concerned they were in his possession. He wished to make a statement as to how the straw got there. The Magistrates’ Clerk said that if the defendant wished to make a statement he could do that later on but he thought the defendant had better plead not guilty. Defendant : I don’t know how I can plead not guilty when the material was there. The Clerk: That is a suggestion from the Bench. Defendant : Then I will take it.
Supt Sullivan handed in a poster which he said had been largely exhibited throughout the country at various times showing that no person might be in possession of army property whether they had it given to them or took it. Sergeant Butt of the Yeomanry said that on Dec 12th he was on duty in some buildings where the military stables were situated and found the items.
PS Elderton had received a report from Captain Kendzior and proceeded to a property near the waterworks, Hadham Road . The defendant said soldiers had left the property 12 months back and he was told by some of their men to clear rough stuff out amongst which were 4 to 5 bales of hay.
Edward Mansell was fortunate and got off on a technical offence.