Five Men For Trial – Huge Haul Of Cigarettres From Kilnhurst Loop Line

November 1951

South Yorkshire Times, November 3rd, 1951

Five Men For Trial

Huge Haul Of Cigarettres From Kilnhurst Loop Line

For the second time within two weeks four detectives, two from Rotherham Borough Police Force and two from West Riding County Constabulary, have been commended by the magistrates of both the Rotherham Borough and Rotherham West Riding Courts for their combined work in connection with the detection of proven and alleged large-scale thefts. A railway Police Officer, D.O. Tollie, was also commended.

The four men, Det. Sgt. Ernest Gledhill and Det. Off. Harry Paley, of the West Riding Force and Det. Sgt. Walter Barkby and Det. Off. Sidney Cooper of the Borough Force, were responsible for enquiries which led to four men being arrested, convicted and sent to prison for varying terms and pleading “Guilty” at the Borough Court to charges of stealing property worth collectively £4,000.

On Friday last, five more men alleged to be connected with the theft of more than 112,000 cigarettes, valued £757 6s 5d from the Railway at Kilnhurst, were sent for trial at the next Leeds Assizes when charged at Rotherham West Riding Court.  Reginald Haigh, (34), miner, of Wilson Street, Mexborough; Raymond Stead (21), miner of Catherine Street, Mexborough; and John H. Brannan (22), miner of Daylands Avenue, Conisbrough, are charged with jointly stealing 95,000 cigarettes valued £629 10s 8d, the property of the Railway Executive, and stealing 17,000 cigarettes, valued £127 15s 9d the property of the Railway Executive. Haigh and Stead were granted bail in their own sureties of £25 and two others of £50 each. Brannan was stated to be already serving a term of imprisonment.

Said by Mr. J. Wilson, prosecutor, to be at present awaiting trial at Leeds Assizes on other charges, Sidney H. Lashmar (38), fitter, of Top Yard, Packman Road, West Melton, is charged with comforting, maintaining and harbouring Haigh, Stead and Brannan knowing them to have allegedly stolen 95,000 cigarettes. Lashmar was ordered to be kept in custody. Charged with receiving 95,000 cigarettes, knowing them to have been stolen, James V. Burrows (30), dealer, of St. Johns Road Laughton was also granted bail in his own surety of £25 and two others of £50.

Five-Hour Hearing

A plea of “Not Guilty” was entered by Mr. J. P. Crehan on behalf of Brannan and Burrows, both of whom reserved their defences. The three other defendants had nothing to say.  The case lasted more than five hours, during which time depositions were taken from 38 witnesses from London, Sheffield, Mexborough and Leeds.  Mr. Wilson said 12 cartons of cigarettes containing the 95,000 cigarettes in the first charge were in transit from Sheffield to Mexborough and at Kilnhurst the train was stopped at the “loop” line for about 30 minutes. On the train’s arrival at Mexborough, the cigarettes were found to be missing. The 17,000 cigarettes mentioned in the second charge against Brannan, Haigh and Stead loaded in a different van on the same train, and consigned to Goole and Longwood, were also found to be missing on arrival at Leeds.

Evidence was given by the licensee of the Royal Hotel, Hoyland, George E. Jewitt, that on a Saturday night when a group of men were in his public house, Lashmar asked him if he wanted some cigarettes and added that he knew someone who could get him some. The following Friday, Lashmar, Stead and Haigh brought to the hotel 5,000 cigarettes which he bought at £6 10s per thousand. Licensees of the Don Hotel, Swinton; Gate Inn, Marsden Moor; and the Gardener’s Inn, Clay Cross, gave evidence of having bought cigarettes in varying quantities, the latter two having been approached by Burrows.

Det. Sgt. E. Gledhill, of the West Riding Police told the Court that on September 25th, along with Det. Sgt. Barkby, he saw Burrows at his home. Burrows at first denied knowledge of the thefts, but after being taken into custody he was alleged to have said,” I am taking full responsibility for these cigarettes, neither by father nor my brother had anything to do with the deal.  The officer further alleged that Burrows had said, “I got the wind up about them and I have not sold one.”

As a result of what Burrows told them, the officers found some of the cigarettes at a house in Staveley. Lashmar who was seen by the officers while in custody at Redhill, admitted that he had taken a quantity of cigarettes to Burrows, but said he did not know they had been stolen. He was given £50 for the use of his car.

Later, the officers interviewed Haigh, and he, too, at first denied knowledge of the theft. Stead was taken into custody and both men made voluntary statements later. On arrival at the police station, alleged Sgt. Gledhill, Stead said “I see you have Lashmar and the cigs, I admit it all,”  Haigh, it was alleged, said, “it’s no use holding out I will tell you the truth.”

“Not Saying ‘Owt’”

Lashmar was again interviewed, and after being charged with being an accessory after the fact he replied, “I know the cigs were pinched, but I had nothing to do with stealing them.”  The accused Brannan was interviewed in Preston and he replied, “I am making no statement until I see a solicitor, I am not saying ‘owt’ until I see the others.”

In answer to Mr. Crehan, Sgt. Gledhill said Brannan had from first to last denied any participation in these offences alleged against him.  Mr. Crehan submitted that no jury would convict Brannan on the evidence heard in court. The only evidence against him was that given by a convicted thief and he submitted he had no case to answer.