Thanks And Acknowledgements

My thanks go to Kent Libraries and Archives - Folkestone Library and also to the archive of the Folkestone Herald. For articles from the Folkestone Observer, my thanks go to the Kent Messenger Group. Southeastern Gazette articles are from UKPress Online, and Kentish Gazette articles are from the British Newspaper Archive. See links below.

Paul Skelton`s great site for research on pubs in East Kent is also linked

Other sites which may be of interest are the Folkestone and District Local History Society, the Kent History Forum, Christine Warren`s fascinating site, Folkestone Then And Now, and Step Short, where I originally found the photo of the bomb-damaged former Langton`s Brewery, links also below.


Welcome

Welcome to Even More Tales From The Tap Room.

Core dates and information on licensees tenure are taken from Martin Easdown and Eamonn Rooney`s two fine books on the pubs of Folkestone, Tales From The Tap Room and More Tales From The Tap Room - unfortunately now out of print. Dates for the tenure of licensees are taken from the very limited editions called Bastions Of The Bar and More Bastions Of The Bar, which were given free to very early purchasers of the books.

Contrast Note

Whilst the above-mentioned books and supplements represent an enormous amount of research over many years, it is almost inevitable that further research will throw up some differences to the published works. Where these have been found, I have noted them. This is not intended to detract in any way from previous research, but merely to indicate that (possible) new information is available.

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Saturday, 11 October 2014

Mechanics Arms 1940s



Folkestone Herald 6-7-1940



Local News



A considerable amount of licensing business was transacted at the Folkestone Police Court on Wednesday.



The licence of the Mechanics Arms, St. John’s Street, was transferred to Mr. Ernest W. Clinch, secretary of Messrs. Gardiner and Coy., brewers, from Mr. James Roberts.


Folkestone Herald 14-3-1942


Adjourned Licensing Sessions

Mr. Bonniface made an application for a music licence in respect of the Mechanics Arms. On the premises, stated Mr. Bonniface, there was a large club room. The wife of the licensee was an able pianist and he wanted to be able to allow her to play the piano and make use of the room which at the moment was little used. It was a precautionary application so that there should be no risk of the licensee breaking the law by allowing his wife to play the piano for the benefit of the customers.

Chief Inspector W. Hollands said the police had no objection but it opened up something new. The only objection he could foresee were possible complaints by residents in the district. He suggested the licence should be restricted to 10 p.m., the closing hour.

Mr. Bonniface said they wanted the licence confined to licensing hours.

The Magistrates granted the application, the licence to be for the ordinary licensed hours only.

Alderman W. Hollands presided with Mr. S.B. Corser and Alderman J.W. Stainer.

Photo from Folkestone Herald

Photo from Folkestone Herald

Photo from Folkestone Herald



Folkestone Herald 19-6-1943


Local News

Mrs. Caroline Ellen Trayler, aged 18, a cinema usherette, was found dead in a room at the rear of an empty Folkestone shop on Thursday. She had been missing since Whit-Sunday evening.

The circumstances surround­ing the girl’s death were very suspicious and Det. Inspector Smee, of Kent County Police HQ., Maidstone, took charge of investigations with the C.I.D. of the County Constabulary.

It is understood that death was caused by strangulation. Dr. Simpson, Home Office patholo­gist, came to Folkestone on Thursday and made a post mortem examination. He re­turned to London later.

Mrs. Trayler was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stapleton, of Sussex Road, Folkestone, and it was when she failed to return home on Sunday night that her parents, becoming anxious, informed the police. After a number of enquiries had failed to locate the missing girl the police commenced a search of empty shops and houses in the town. It was while they were search­ing an unoccupied shop in Foord Road that they made their discovery. They found Mrs. Trayler dead in a rear room almost fully clothed. The shop has been empty for well over two years. At one time it was a greengrocer`s shop. A police cordon was thrown round the premises and during the remainder of the day police cars were arriving and leaving the shop during the course of investigations. Mrs. Trayler was the wife of a soldier who recently proceeded to the Middle East. He was home on leave less than two months ago. The dead woman had been living with her parents, whose home is only a short distance from the shop where the discovery was made. For the past two months Mrs. Trayler had been working at a local cinema, where she was described as “a bright and jolly girl, good at her work and popular with her colleagues”. An attractive girl, she had auburn hair and a vivacious manner. She left the cinema just before 9 o`clock on Whit-Sunday evening after finishing her duties. But she did not return home, although it is believed she was seen going in that direction an hour later. At that time she was alone.

Inquest

An inquest on Mrs. Trayler was opened by the Borough Coroner (Mr. B.H. Bonniface) at the Town Hall yesterday.

Det. Inspector Smee and Det. Inspector E. Pierce, Folkestone C.I.D., were among those present.

The Coroner told the jury that they had been called together that afternoon to take the first step in enquiries as to when, how and by what means Caroline Ellen Trayler met her death. They would not be sitting very long that afternoon. He proposed to call two witnesses and then adjourn the enquiry.

Frederick Stapleton, 3, Sussex Road, a night spotter, the father, said his daughter was born on February 1st, 1925. She was married, her husband being Sgt. Edgar Trayler, of the Durham Light Infantry, who was serving in the Middle East.

The Coroner: What was her general state of health?

Witness: Good, sir.

The Coroner: Was she employed anywhere? – At the Central Picture Theatre as an usherette.

When did you last see her alive? – Sunday lunchtime. She had to be on duty at 1 o`clock.

Witness, continuing, said his daughter came home for tea at 4.30, but he did not see her then.

The Coroner: Did you see her dead body yesterday? – I did, sir, and identified her last evening.

Where did you see the body, at the premises where it was found? – Yes, 94, Foord Road.

P.C. Lewis, Folkestone Div., K.C.C., said in consequence of instructions received he examined unoccupied and empty premises in the Foord Road area the previous day. “About 11.30 a.m. I entered the empty shop premises of 94, Foord Road”, continued witness, “by the rear entrance, which was in Devon Road. The door was ajar and I was able to push it only nine inches because of disuse. Immediately in front of me was another door which leads to the shop and living quarters. I found this door shut but not locked. Upon opening the door I found a woman`s blue suede shoe and a woman`s brown leather handbag. They were on the floor at the entrance. On looking further down the passageway which leads to the shop and living premises I saw the body of a woman, which answered the description of Caroline Ellen Traylor. She was lying face downwards with her face resting on her left arm, with her head facing the front of the premises. Having satisfied myself that she was dead I left the premises and saw Inspector Grey travelling in a police car. I informed him and he telephoned headquarters. I then returned to the premises and stood by the body.

The Coroner said that was as far as he proposed to take the matter that afternoon. A post mortem examination was made last night, but the result has riot been officially notified to him yet.

The inquest was then adjourned until Wednesday, June 30th, at 2.30.

Folkestone Herald 26-6-1943

Local News

Detectives investigating the death of Mrs. Caroline Ellen Trayler, 18 years’ old Folkestone cinema usherette, who was found strangled in an empty shop in Foord Road last week, after being missing since the preceding Whit-Sunday night, have made many enquiries in and out of Folkestone, interviewed large numbers of people, and narrowed down their line of enquiry during the past week.

Mrs. Trayler, a daughter of Mr. And Mrs. F. Stapleton, of 3, Sussex Road, Folkestone, lived with her parents; her husband, Sgt. Edgar Trayler, is serving in the Middle East. She was found dead in the rear room of an empty shop on Thursday last week.

Dr. Keith Simpson, Home Office Pathologist, who carried out a post mortem examination, has submitted his report to the Borough Coroner (Mr. B.H. Bonniface) who, after opening an inquest last Friday, adjourned it until next Wednesday afternoon at the Town Hall. The cause of death is understood to have been strangulation.

During the past week Det. Supt. F.H. Smeed, Kent County Constabulary C.I.D. Chief, assisted by Det. Insp. E. Pierce, in charge of Folkestone C.I.D., and other Folkestone and County officers, has followed up a line of enquiry, the results of which narrowed down the police investigations. During the weekend investigations extended outside the town and police officers motored to villages not far from Folkestone to continue their enquiries. Investigations have also been made at places more distant from the town. Mrs. Trayler left the cinema shortly before 9 o'clock on Whit-Sunday night and a check of her movements after that time was of vital importance to the police investigation. A little later she was seen in the Mechanics’ Arms, where she had expected to meet mother, but Mrs. Stapleton not arrive. In the public house she was seen in conversation with a soldier and at closing time she is stated to have been still in the soldier's company.

Mr. Stapleton, her father, is a fire watcher, and on Whit-Sunday night he was on duty at his post less than 100 yards from the shop where his daughter`s body was later found.

Among those interviewed have been numbers of soldiers as well as civilians.

Reports appeared during the week that screams were heard in the Linden Crescent district late on Whit-Sunday night and there was a suggestion that the dead woman might have been attacked in the Street. It is believed, however, that Mrs. Trayler met her death be­tween 11 p.m. and midnight on Sunday, probably before the screams were heard.

Det.-Supt. Smeed Issued the following statement on Monday night:A witness whom the police wish to interview is Gunner Dennis Edmond Leckey, of the Royal Artillery, who has teen absent from his unit since June 18th. On the following day he was seen in Manchester wearing a single-breasted brown suit with link buttons, a fawn belted overcoat and brown shoes. Gunner Leckey`s description is: Aged 24 years; height 5ft. 10 ins., hazel eyes, dark hair; fresh tanned complexion, round face; medium build and of good appearance”.

Gnr. Leckey`s home is understood to be in Manchester.

The funeral of Mrs. Trayler took place at Smeeth church on Tuesday.

Folkestone Herald 3-7-1943

Local News

A soldier detained in London on Tuesday by officers of the U.S. Military Police was handed over on the following day to detectives investigating the death of Mrs. Caroline Ellen Trayler, 18 years’ old Folke­stone cinema usherette, and later charged with the murder of Mrs. Trayler.

The dead girl, whose home was in Sussex Road, Folkestone, where she was living with her parents while her husband, a sergeant in the Durham Light Infantry was serving in the Middle East, was found in the back room of an unoccupied shop, 94, Foord Road, on Thursday, June 17th, during a police search.

Following the report that a man had been detained in London, Det. Supr. F.H. Smeed, Kent County Constabulary C.I.D. Chief, who has been in charge of the enquiries concerning Mrs. Trayler`s death, and Det. Insp. E. Pierce, Kent County Constabulary, Folkestone Division, travelled to London on Wednesday and took Gnr. Dennis Edmund Leckey, 25, of the Royal Artillery, into custody. Later on Wednesday Leckey was charged with murdering Mrs. Trayler, and he appeared at Folkestone Police Court on Thursday morning.

The proceedings before Alderman R.G. Wood (in the chair), Mr. S.B. Corser, Alderman J.W. Stainer, Mr. P.V. Gurr, and Mr. C.A. Wilde, were brief, lasting not more than five minutes.

The accused, a good-looking young man, appeared in Court wearing a brown suit with shoes to match. He stood close to a table where the Clerk of the Court (Mr. C. Rootes) and Det. Supt. Smeed were seated.

The Clerk read the charge, which alleged that “on a date between 13th June and 17th June, both dates inclusive, he feloniously, wilfully and with malice aforethought killed and murdered Caroline Ellen Trayler”.

Det. Supt. Smeed said in that case defendant was detained in London on Tuesday evening, brought to Folkestone the previous day, and charged by Det. Insp. Pierce. “It is perfectly obvious that the case cannot be gone on with for some little time”, Supt. Smeed added, “and today I propose calling evidence of charging Leckey and then asking for a remand of three weeks to enable the necessary evidence to be got together and submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions”.

The Clerk (Mr. C. Rootes), to defendant: It is not necessary for you to say anything at present. I understand you are going to apply for a legal aid certificate. That will be dealt with at the end of the taking of the evidence.

Det. Insp. E. Pierce said at 6.50 p.m. the previous day he saw Leckey at Folkestone police headquarters. He charged and cautioned him.

After about 30 minutes` hesitation defendant replied “Well, I`ve nothing to say until I`ve seen someone”. “A solicitor” he added afterwards.

The Clerk to Supt. Smeed: You have made a number of enquiries in this case, I understand, and you have a number of witnesses whom you will be calling later.

Supt. Smeed: Yes.

The Chairman said defendant`s application for legal aid would be granted. “We are not proceeding any further with the charge this morning, and you will be remanded until July 22nd, when the case will be proceeded with”, added the Chairman.

Leckey was then escorted out of the Court to the cells below.

Folkestone Herald 17-7-1943

Local News

The adjourned inquest on Mrs. Caroline Ellen Trayler, 18 year old cinema usherette, of 3, Sussex Road, Folkestone, will be resumed at the Town Hall, Folkestone, on Thursday, by the Borough Coroner (Mr. B.H. Bonniface), who will sit with a jury. On the same day Gnr. Dennis Edmund Leckey (25), Royal Artillery, will again appear be­fore the Magistrates, charged with the murder of Mrs. Trayler.

Folkestone Herald 24-7-1943

Local News

Gunner Dennis Edmund Leckey, 25 years` old Royal Artilleryman, was committed for trial at the Old Bailey in September by the Folkestone Magistrates on Thursday, on a charge of murdering Mrs. Caroline Ellen Trayler, a Folkestone Cinema usherette. The hearing lasted all day.

Mrs Trayler, 18 years` old wife of a sergeant in the Army serving in the Middle East, was found dead in an empty shop in Foord Road, Folkestone, on June 17th after she had been missing since the preceding Sunday night.

Leckey, who pleaded Not Guilty and reserved his defence, was arrested in London on June 30th and when charged at Folkestone on the following day was remanded for three weeks.

The Police Court was crowded on Thursday when Leckey appeared before Alderman R.G. Wood (presiding), Alderman J.W. Stainer, Mr. P.V. Gurr and Mr. C.A. Wilde. Mr. E.G. Robey appeared for the Director of Public Prosecutions, and defendant was represented by Mr. Francis J.R. Mountain, of Rainham, Kent.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Mr. Roby said Leckey was charged with murdering Mrs. Trayler on the night of June 13th – June 14th at Folkestone. At about 11.30 on the morning of June 17th the dead body of this girl was found in a passageway at the rear of an empty shop, 94, Foord Road. Dr. Keith Simpson made a post mortem and he would tell them that Mrs. Trayler had been strangled by a grip of some considerable force. On the dead woman's body were found six dark hairs. The girl herself had auburn, sandy coloured hair. Mr. Robey, continuing, said Mrs. Trayler lived at 3, Sussex Road, near to the shop where her body was found, and she was employed as an usherette at a cinema in the town. She was on duty until about 9 o’clock on the evening of June 13th. She must have gone straight from there to the Mechanics’ Aims public house. At the time accused was also there with a friend, Bombardier Knight. They had come from a camp some five miles from Folkestone. It was evident that accused was struck by the appearance of this girl and he got into conversation with her. He continued talking to her, so much so that Knight felt himself to be in the way and left them. At closing time at 10 o`clock accused and deceased left the public house together. There was no-one whom the prosecution could put before them to say that after they had left Mrs. Trayler was seen actually with accused, but there were witnesses who knew the girl and they would say that they saw her walking with a soldier in various streets not far from the public house. At 10.15 she was seen walking along Bradstone Avenue towards Black Bull Road with a soldier. About that time, Bdr. Knight, who had left the public house, got into the truck which had brought him to Folkestone and went back to camp. Mr. Robey said two trucks had brought accused and other men into Folkestone on this evening, and when the second truck left for camp at 11.10 all of the men had returned except Leckey. At about 10.30 deceased was seen again, with a soldier, in St. John’s Church Road, and about 10.40 deceased was seen talking to a soldier outside the shop the prosecution sug­gested, later that night she was murdered. At about 1.30 a.m. on June 14th accused arrived back in camp. He told soldiers there that he had walked home and that on the way he had met an officer in the W.A.A.F.‘s and had walked with her as far as her station. The officer would tell them that after she had arrived at Folkestone Junction station at 12.15 a.m. a soldier had followed behind her and caught up with her. They might ask themselves: What was Leckey doing in Folkestone at that time? Leckey had also made various inconsistent statements as to what he had been doing with reference to the woman with whom he had been seen at the Mechanics' Arms. Mr. Robey said the body was found on the morning of June 17th and evidence would be called as to the conduct of accused from about that time, probably just before, until his arrest, and it was suggested by the prosecution that his conduct was that of a man with a guilty conscience and that of a man endeavouring to hide his identity as much as possible, because he must have known, presumably, that he was wanted for interview. A book of leave forms was taken from the accused's troop office and was subsequently found in his possession. Two of the documents were filled up and bore the signature of an officer, not the officer’s signature. Other articles, including soldiers’ pay books, were also missing. He understood four pay books were found on Leckey, one belonging to a room mate, and accused had even gone so far as to extract his photograph and put it in the other man’s pay book. On June 18th Leckey told an­other soldier that he was going home for the week-end because he suspected his wife's conduct, although he (Mr. Robey) should say in the wife's interests that there would seem to be no foundation for that suggestion, which probably Leckey did not mean either. That day accused’s sergeant- major had to check Leckey for being away from his vehicle. After being paid that day Leckey should have attended for guard duty at 7 o’clock, but he was nowhere to be found, and the reason was that he was on the 8.40 p.m. train from Euston to Manchester. On the following day (June 19th) Leckey was in Manchester with his wife. He had then changed into civilian clothing. He also called on his mother-in-law, and both accused and his wife appeared to be some­what worried. Leckey said that he was on embarkation leave, and there was no suggestion of any trouble between him and his wife. He left his uniform at home and on June 20th accused was in Stockport. He saw a friend there and said he was due back at Folkestone at midnight, but he spent the night of June 20th – 21st at a drill hall in Mere. On June 22nd Leckey was at Stafford railway station and he told a woman he met there that he was a fighter pilot in the R.A.F. They went to Birming­ham where they spent the evening together at a cinema. On June 23rd they travelled on the same train to London. The woman lent Leckey an attache case because accused said his luggage was supposed to be at the station and had not arrived. He telephoned the woman on the following day (June 24th) making an appointment to re­turn these articles but he did not keep the appointment. They next heard of accused in the Queen’s Hotel, Leicester Square, London, on June 28th in the company of a Canadian soldier. He there got into conversa­tion with two N.C.O.’s of the U.S. Army, and he spent the night with them at the Green Park Hotel. On June 29th Leckey was arrested at the City of Quebec public house and taken to Marylebone police ptation where he awaited the arrival of police officers from Folkestone. He was told that the officers were making enquiries about a Mrs. Trayler who had been murdered and he was tasked if he would care to give an account of his movements. He said “I was with the girl. I want to be fair with you and to myself but before I make a statement I should like to get advice”. Mr. Robey said the police took possession of Leckey’s uni­form at Manchester. On the dead woman’s body were a number of dark hairs, and scientific evidence would be called to show that those hairs were identical in every respect with the hairs of accused. One of the dead woman’s finger nails was slightly broken and in it were some debris and fibres. Amongst the debris and fibres was one woollen rust coloured fibre which was iden­tical with a rust coloured fibre taken from the khaki shirt which Leckey admitted he was wearing on the night of murder. There was also found on Leckey`s trousers one sandy coloured hair which was identical in every respect with the hairs taken from the body of the deceased girl. Mr. Robey, in his submission, said after hearing the evidence, he thought the Magistrates would come to the conclusion there was enough evidence to justify them sending accused for trial

Det. Sergt. H.J. Mott, K.C.C., said on June 17th and 28th he visited Folkestone and on those dates he took five photographs. He produced a book containing prints of the photographs which included pictures of premises in which the woman was found and several of the body of the deceased.  Witness said on June 19th he visited Folkestone Hospital mortuary and saw there body of the woman shown on the photographs. He took a sample of deceased's hair and handed it later to Det. Insp. Pierce.

P.C. Lewis, Folkestone K.C.C., said on June 17th 11.31 a.m. he went to 94, Foord Road, which was completely empty. At the time he was searching unoccupied properties. He entered by the entrance in Devon Road. The back door was closed but un­locked. Inside he saw a blue suede shoe lying on the floor, and to the left of the entrance a large brown leather handbag. In a passage leading from this doorway to the shop he saw the body of a woman, as shown in three photographs produced. He reported the matter im­mediately and waited until Det. Insp. Pierce arrived.

Dr. James Davidson, Director of the Metropolitan Police Laboratory, Hendon, said on July 5th he saw Det. Insp. Pierce, who handed him a number of articles, including a sample of hair and a pair of battle dress trousers. On the trousers he found a hair adhering to the surface on the front of the right leg. The hair was similar in all respects to a hair examined and taken from the dead woman`s body.

Mrs. Beatrice Shaw, of Daisybank Road, Longsight, Manchester, said her daughter was the wife of the accused. They lived in Santley Street, Longsight, and would have been married four years next September. There were two children by the marriage and her daughter and her husband appeared to be very happy. On June 19th defendant and his wife came to her house. Leckey said he was on 48 hours embarkation leave. Witness noticed that her daughter looked poorly and remarked that perhaps she was worried about her husband going abroad. Leckey said “Not so worried as me”. They went out and drink and Leckey said “I have had a bit of bad luck the last three weeks”, but he did not say in what way. Leckey spoke of one of his friends` birthday. He said he had had an extra drink and seemed to lose his head a little and that “Ken” then went out and left him. Before leaving, Leckey asked witness to help look after the children when he went abroad.

Mr. Robey: Did you ¡notice any difference in his general manner that evening?

Witness: I thought he was rather quiet.

L. Bdr. John Austin Kearney, R.A., said he had known Leckey for about four years. He saw him at Mere on June 20th, when Leckey was wearing civilian clothes. Leckey said he had been away from his unit, and had come from Manchester, but did not say why. Leckey told witness he left Manchester on the Saturday, and had been to Stoke, and was returning from his leave to Folkestone, where he had to be in by 11.59 p.m. on June 21st. Witness continued that Leckey spent June 20th in his company, and slept that night in barracks with witness. On June 21st Leckey left the barracks at 9 a.m., and they arranged to meet af 1 p.m. They went to the Waggon and Horses public house, and had a drink. Leckey said he had an engage­ment ring in his pocket, which he said he got from some person in Ireland, but witness did not see the ring. Witness last saw Leckey at 1.45 p.m. that day.

Mrs. Winifred Woolley, of West Twyford, London, said she was at Stafford Railway Station on June 22nd, when Leckey got into conversation with her. She told him where she wanted to go, and he suggested that they should go to Birming­ham, so that they could visit a cinema together. She was go­ing to visit a relation at Wolverhampton. Leckey told her that he was a pilot-officer in the R.A.F., and when she mentioned thaf he was in civilian clothes remarked that “one liked to get out of uniform”. He also said he had lost his luggage and case, and that was why he wanted to go to Birmingham. Witness said Leckey told her his name was Alan Leckey. They went to a cinema at Birmingham together.

Mr. Robey: Did he make any enquiries about his luggage?

Witness: He went to the enquiry office at Birmingham Station.

Witness continued that on June 23rd Leckey travelled with her to London. She lent him a shaving kit and a small case. On June 24th Leckey rang her up, asking if they could go to a dance together. She said she was rather tired, but arranged to meet him, because he said he would return the case and contents. He did not keep the appointment.

Witness was handed a book of Savings Certificates, and said it was hers. She could not remem­ber when she last saw it; she always carried it in her bag. Witness also identified a clothing coupons book, which she said belonged to her land­lady. She (witness) last used it on June 21st, when she bought some stockings. Leckey told her he bought a shirt in Birmingham.

Det. Insp. Robert Lennox, Manchester City Police, said he visited 34, Santley Street, Long-side, Manchester, on June 21st, and took possession of a soldier’s battle-dress, trousers and shirt. On June 22nd he handed the uniform to Det. Insp. Pierce.

Det . Insp. Edward Joseph Pierce, K.C.C. (Folkestone), said on July 17th he received a mes­sage from the witness Lewis, and went to 94, Foord Road, Folkestone, where he saw the body of a woman. A handbag was lying on the floor of the passage, just inside the door. It contained 4s. 5d. in money. A loose shoe lying six or eight feet from the body was one of a pair, the other being on de­ceased's foot. Deceased was wearing no rings. That evening the body was identified by Frederick Staple­ton, and a doctor saw the body and made a post mortem examination. Witness continued that he saw Leckey at Marylebone Police Station on June 30th, and took possession of an A.B. 64 (parts one and two) in the name of Gunner Frederick Latham. On examining part one of the book, witness noticed that a sheet containing pages 3, 4, 17 and 18 had been neatly extracted by unpinning the book, and a similar sheet from another book had been inserted. Page 3 bore a photograph of Leckey.
Witness took possession of a National Savings Certificates book, a book of clothing coupons, a National Identity Registration card in the name of Renee Bowden, a wallet con­taining £5 10/- in notes, papers in the names of Cpl. Bear and Sgt. Rackley, and a white metal watch. The same evening witness went with Leckey to the Im­perial Hotel, Russell Square, London, to a room Leckey had booked, and took possession of an attache case containing an A.B. 64 part two, in the name of George Melia; an A.B. 64, parts one and two, in the name of Alan Hadley; an AJB. 64, part one in the name of Ronnie Fletcher; and a pad of blank Army forms B.295 (leave forms). In the case were two loose forms, one made out to D. Leckey, and the other to F. Latham. An A.B. 64 in the name of D. Leckey was aJso found. Part of it was unpinned and loose, and the sheet comprising pages 3, 4, 17 and 18 was missing. Witness also found four hotel bills made out in the Hadley, and two room reservation cards. Witness continued that he escorted Leckey to Folkestone and produced a uniform. He asked Leckey if it was the uniform he was wearing on June 13th and 18th, and Leckey ex­amined it and replied “Yes”. At 7 o’clock that evening after Leckey had been charged with the murder of Mrs. Trayler, Leckey was asked if he had any objection to being examined by the police surgeon. He said he had no objection, and was examined and samples of hair were taken. On July 5th witness handed samples of the girl's hair to a doctor, and a sample of Leckey’s hair and a sample of his shirt to another doctor.

P.C. Oliver Riggs, D. Division, Metropolitan Police, said at 8.05 p.m. on June 29th he was on duty at the Marble Arch when Mr. Slevin, attached to the C.I.D., U.S. Army, made a com­munication to him. Witness went with him and P.C. Field to the City of Quebec public house, where Leckey was in the saloon bar, with a group of other men. “I said “What is your name?””, witness continued, “and Leckey replied “Latham”. I grabbed his left arm and told him that he answered the description of Dennis Edmund Leckey, R.A., who was wanted for the larceny of a wallet and contents, and also for question­ing by the Folkestone Police. He said “You have got nothing on me””. Leckey was taken to Marylebone Lane police station, where toe was detained.


Det. Supt. Francis H. Smeed, Kent County Police, said with Det. Inspector Pierce, he saw Leckey at Marylebone Lane police station on June 30th about 11 a.m. He said to accused “We are making enquiries about the death of a young woman named Mrs. Trayler, whose body was found in an empty shop at Folkestone on Thurs­day, June 17th, 1943”. He said “I know about it”. Witness said “She was last seen in company with a soldier and enquiries show that she was murdered on Whit-Sunday night, the 13th June, 1943”. He cautioned Leckey and said Do you care to give me an account of your movements late that day?” He replied “I was with the girl. I want to be fair with you and to myself, and before I make a statement I should like to get advice”. He told Leckey that he would be taken to Folkestone on sus­picion of murdering Mrs. Trayler. Leckey made no comment.

Frederick Stapleton, 3, Sussex Road. Folkestone, the father of the dead woman, said at the time of her death his daughter was living with him. He identified the photo pro­duced as that of his daughter. On June 17th he identified his daughter`s dead body at 94, Foord Road.

Mrs Nellie May Bonzitt, 32, Foord Road, secretary and cashier at the Central Cinema, said the dead woman was em­ployed there as usherette. On Sunday, June 13th, Mrs. Trayler left the cinema at 8.55 p.m. Witness noticed that before she left deceased was wearing a wedding ring and an engage­ment ring.

Dorothy Helen Goldoworthy, wife of the licensee of the Mechanics Arms public house, St. John’s Street, said she was in the hotel on the evening of June 13th. She saw deceased, who came in about 9 o'clock. Later that evening she saw Mrs. Trayler in conversation with Leckey, who said to witness when she went to speak to Mrs. Trayler, “She says she’s going, she’s got a date”. Witness said to Mrs. Trayler “Oh never mind your date, stay at the ‘Old Mechanics’”. Mrs. Trayler remained, and Leckey asked witness once if there was “any chance of a little party after the pub had closed”. She told him that it was impossible. Leckey and Mrs. Trayler remained together until closing time and when they left wit­ness shook hands with both of them.

Bombardier Kenneth Knight, Royal Artillery, said he had known Leckey on and off since 1939. On June 13th accused and witness left the camp at 5.15 p.m. to come to Folkestone. They visited a cinema, leav­ing there at 7.20, and then went to an amusement arcade. From there they went to the .Queen’s Hotel, to the Oddfellows Inn, and then to the Mechanics Arms where they arrived about 9 o’clock. Up to that time defendant had had about five pints. Witness saw Mrs. Trayler come in and Leckey said “She’s nice”. The girl walked up to the landlady. Mrs. Trayler ordered a drink and Leckey got into conversa­tion with her and bought her a drink. This continued until about 9.30 and as he (witness) was getting a little fed up he told Leckey that he was going. Defendant said “Don’t, there are other girls here”. Witness left and told Leckey that he would see him on the truck taking them back to camp Witness spoke to Gnr. Melia, the driver of the second truck. Witness’s truck left about 10.20 that night. He next saw Leckey at breakfast time the next day. He asked Leckey how he had on. Accused said that he and Mrs. Trayler had come out of the pub. He had kissed the girl, but she had “a date” to keep. He then said he left her. Leckey told him that he had walked home and that on the way he met a W.A.A.F. officer who was carrying a bag, which he offered to carry. On that morning Leckey seemed a bit downcast and wit­ness put it down to the fact that he had had too much beer. On the other mornings he was “just ordinary”. On the following Friday Leckev borrowed 6/- from him, to pay back Melia, he said.

Gunner George Allison. R.A., said on Sunday, June 13th, he was in the Mechanics Arms public house until closing time. Leckey was there with a girl. Examining a photograph wit­ness said it was that of Mrs. Trayler, whom he saw with Leckey.

Mrs. Ida Clara May Belsey, 48, Bradstone Avenue, Folke­stone, said at 10.15 p.m. on June 13th she was looking from a window of her house when she saw Mrs. Trayler walking with a soldier towards Black Bull Road. The soldier was wearing battle-dress and side-cap, with a white lanyard.

Benjamin Joseph Burbridge, 8, Downs Road, Folkestone, a ticket collector employed by the Southern Railway, said he left the Central Station at 10.30 p.m. on June 13th, and walked down Radnor Park Road. Mrs. Trayler was going from St. John’s Church Road to Radnor Park Road with a soldier.

John Strickland, 43, Cheriton Road, Folkestone, a barman, employed at the Red Cow pub­lic house, Foord Road, said he knew Mrs. Trayler by sight. On the night of June 13th, at 10.40, he saw her in Devon Road with a soldier.

Mr. Robey: In fairness to the accused, I think you failed to pick out the accused at an identification parade, although the accused was in the parade?

Witness agreed.

Gunner Fred Latham, RA., said Leckey slept in the next bed to him in camp. After Whit-Sunday Leckey seemed rather moody. On the night of Thursday, June 17th, Leckey said “Have you heard about the girl being done in in Folkestone?” Wit­ness asked him where he had seen it, and Leckey replied that he had seen it in the paper. Next day, witness continued, he received his pay at about 4.10 p.m., and gave Gunner Bagnall silver in exchange for a pound note. Witness put the note in the back of his pay book, and left it in the left-hand pocket of his denim jacket. Witness left his jacket on the bed, and went down to see the sergeant-major, who shouted for him. No one was in the room at the time. Witness continued that when he was ready for going out that evening the pay-book was not in his pocket. Examining a pay-book, wit­ness said there was an entry showing an advance of pav of 85/- on June 25th, but the money was not advanced to him. Witness also examined a leave pass made out in his name, and said it was not issued to him.

Gunner George Melia said on June 17th he drove a recreation truck into Folkestone. Leckey was among the passengers. Witness saw the other truck go back to camp later that night and when he left every­body except Leckey had left Folkestone to return to camp. When he saw Leckey the next day he said to him “How did you miss the truck?” He replied that when he got there it had gone. Towards the middle of the week Leckey became rather quiet. Either on the Wednesday or Thursday night Leckey said "Have you heard about the girl ‘done in’ in Folkestone?” Witness said casually “Who­ever done it will get it”. On Thursday evening while witness was in the Queen’s Hotel with Leckey and others, the barmaid mentioned the murder. On the following day Leckey said he was going home for the weekend. He told accused that he would be a fool if he went, his leave being so near. Leckey replied “I’m going Just the same”.

Mr. Robey: Did he give any reason for going home?

Witness: He said that he had reason to suspect his wife’s faithfulness.

Continuing, witness said he was on leave that weekend and on June 18th he caught the 8.40 p.m. train from Euston to Manchester. He saw Leckey on the same train. He left Leckey at the Y.M.C.A. at Manchester Station. Witness said be missed his pay-book on Friday, June 18th, when he went to get paid. Leckey did not owe him 3/-.

Mr. Mountain: Where did you first hear that a girl had been murdered?

Witness: In the billet.

Is that when you say Leckey mentioned it? – Yes.

When did you next hear it? – In the Queen`s Hotel on Thursday night.

Dr. Keith Simpson patholo­gist at Guy`s Hospital, said on June 17th he went to 94, Foord Road, where he saw the body of a woman. On the body he found six dark hairs, entirely different to deceased`s hair which was auburn. Microscopical reproductions of the hairs had been photographed. He found a fresh tear in the left third finger nail of the dead woman. Scrapings from underneath this contained a wool fibre torn away, which microscopically was identical in colour, size and general character with a fibre teased from a shirt shown to him on July 5th. At the mortuary he made an autopsy. He found two groups of injuries in keeping with de­ceased being gripped with very considerable force by the throat, both from in front and behind, and strangled manually. Injuries to the front of the throat consisted of bruising and tearing of the skin, as by the finger nails, at the level of the voice box on both the left and right sides. There was a fracture of the voice box on the left side, and bruising between the voice box and the spine. The injuries to the back of the neck consisted of a single bruise as from a thumb high up under the head and imme­diately to the left of the mid line and three similar bruises as from the strong pressure of averting fingers further round the right side of the neck. There were bruises to the brow and to the chin in keeping with the head being forced back and downwards on to some surface during this grip. The cause of death was asphyxia due to strangulation. Dr. Simpson said on July 5th he received from Det. Inspector Pierce a sample of dark hairs labelled “Leckey”. Microscopical examination of these in comparison with the foreign dark hairs found on deceased`s body showed them to have identical characters.

Gunner Walter G. Bagnall, R.A., said on June 14th at 1 a.m. he mounted duty at the camp. Leckey came in about 1.30 a.m. Asked why he was so late, Leckey said that he had met a young lady and was going to take her home, but as she was going to meet a civilian she would not let him take her home, so he returned on his own. He told Leckey he was a fool to stay out so late as he was expecting his leave on the following Friday.

Sergt. Douglas N. Read, R.A., said he was guard commander on the night of June 13th – 14th.  Leckey reported at the guard room between 1.30 and 2 a.m. He asked accused why he was so late and he said “I've seen a girl home”.

Flight Officer Margaret A. Cook, W.A.A.F., said night of June I3th – 14th she returned from leave arriving at Folkestone at 12.15 a.m. She walked from Folkestone Junction to her billet, carrying a small handbag. A soldier overtook her on the way and offered to carry her bag, which she gave him.     

Mr. Robey: Did you notice anything about his manner?

Witness: Yes, he seemed slightly absent-minded.

Mr. Mountain: He offered to carry your bag for you? - Yes.

Sergt. Major Frank Sidney Barnes, R.A., said he twice spoke to Leckey on the morning of June 18th, and spoke to him once in the afternoon, because he was not maintaining his vehicle. In the afternoon Leckey “seemed different”. He was sitting in the Signal Store, which was nothing to do with maintenance, and when witness told him to go to his vehicle to get ready for inspection morning he did not answer, but just sauntered out. Previously he had been a good worker. Witness continued that after pay parade that day Gnr. Latham made a report to him, and he (witness) made everyone stand to their beds, whilst he and other N.C.O.s made an inspection. Leckey was not in his room and did not appear for guard duties, witness having to put another man on guard in his place.

Gnr. Robert Kenneth Pass, R.A., said be was temporary troop clerk from June 11th to June 20th. On June 14th he took into use a book of leave forms, which he missed at 11 a.m. on June 17th.

Lieut. Sidney Speeding, R.A., said the signatures on two leave passes which were handed him were not his, and they had not been made with his authority.

 Mr. Robey said he had proposed to call an American soldier to give evidence, but the man had started rather late from the Midlands and had not arrived.

On the evidence which had been given he asked the Magis­trates to commit Leckey for trial.

Mr. Mountain said that on behalf of Leckey he pleaded Not Guilty and reserved his ¡defence. No evidence for the defence would be given in that court.

Leckey was committed to take his trial at the Old Bailey on September 14th.

Inquest

The inquest on Mrs. Caroline Ellen Traylor was resumed at the Town Hall on Thursday afternoon, and was adjourned until October 30th. The proceedings lasted only a few minutes.

Dr. Keith Simpson, of Guy's Hospital, London, said he held a post mortem on Mrs.Trayler on June 17th. The cause of death was asphyxiation, due to manual strangulation.

The Borough Coroner (Mr. B.H. Bonniface): What day do you think death took place?

Witness: Some four days prior; about June 13th.

The Coroner told the jury that since they last sat a man had been charged with the mur­der of Mrs. Trayler, and pro­ceedings were being taken in the police court that day. He did not see any object in keeping them as a jury, because whatever was the result of those proceedings there would be no need for the Jury to return a verdict. He therefore proposed to adjourn the inquest until Octo­ber 30th, and to discharge the jury, with his thanks for their services.

Folkestone Herald 25-9-1943

Local News

Gunner Dennis Edmund Leckey, aged 24, was sentenced to death at the Old Bailey on Wednesday for the murder of Mrs. Caro­line Ellen Trayler, whose body was found in an empty shop in Foord Road, Folkestone, on June 17th. Mr. Justice Singleton, pass­ing sentence, said to Leckey “You have been convicted of a very cruel murder”.

Mrs. Trayler was aged 18 and was employed as an usherette at a Folkestone cinema. A vivacious and cheerful girl she was popular among her friends. After she had been reported missing on June 14th police officers carried out extensive enquiries and also began a search of unoccupied premises in the town. In the course of this search Mrs. Trayler's body was found in the passageway of a shop at No. 94, Foord Road. She had been strangled.

Detective Supt. F. H. Smeed, Kent County Constabulary, C.I.D., took charge of the case and his investigations and those of other officers covered a wide area. As a result an announcement was made that the police wished to interview Gunner Dennis Edmund Leckey, of the
Royal Artillery, who was absent from his unit. The man was traced to Manchester and towns in the Midlands, and on June 29th he was arrested in London after he had been in contact with some members of the United States Army. He was brought before the Folkestone Magistrates on July 1st. He was then remanded for 21 days and at the resumed hearing he was committed for trial.

The trial of Leckey opened at the Old Bailey on Monday before Mr. Justice Singleton. There were two women on the jury.

Mr. John Flowers, K.C., prosecuting, with Mr. H. Elam, said Leckey had been stationed at a camp about five miles from Folkestone. The dead girl lived with her parents, Mr. And Mrs. Stapleton, of Sussex Road, Folkestone. On Whit-Sunday, June 13th, she was at her work and left just before 9 o`clock. She was then wearing a wedding ring and engagement ring. She did not return to her home that night, and next day, when she did not report to the cinema, her mother reported her disappearance to the police. Four days later when she was found there were no rings on her hands. Mr. Flowers said that a soldier, called Knight, and Leckey were in a public house on the night of June 13th when Mrs. Trayler walked in. Leckey said “She`s nice” and they got into conversation with her. Some time later Knight left saying that he would see Leckey later on at the truck that would take them back to camp. Mr. Flowers outlined what he said was known of Leckey`s movements after the public house closed at 10 o`clock. There was a suggestion that about 12.15 he met a W.A.A.F. officer and carried her bag for her. He did not return to the camp until 1.30 a.m. and when asked why he was so late he said he had met a young lady who would not let him take her home so he had returned to the camp on his own. At the guardroom he was again asked why he was so late and he said that he had seen a girl home. Next day he told Knight that the girl they had met in the public house had said that she had a date. There would also be evidence, continued Mr. Flowers, that Leckey asked a man if he had heard of the girl “done in” at Folkestone. He said he had seen it in a paper, but, said Mr. Flowers, there was no paper in Folkestone that day containing such a notice. On June 18th Leckey left the camp and went home to Manchester. There he told his mother-in-law that he was on 48 hours’ embarkation leave and he asked her to look after the children while he was abroad. Actually he was not under orders for abroad. On the 20th he was in another town and there he told a man that he had an engage­ment ring which he said he had got from someone in Ireland. On June 22nd he was at Stafford where he met a woman to whom he said he was a fighter pilot. They went to Birmingham and spent the evening at a cinema and on the 23rd they both travelled to London together. He did not keep an appoint­ment to meet her on the 24th. On June 28th he was with a corporal of the United States Army in Leicester Square and then he said that he was a flight sergeant and that his name was Allen. Next day he was seen in a public house near the Marble Arch and when asked by the police what his name was, he said it was Latham. He was told that he answered the description of Leckey, who was wanted by the Folkestone police, and he was alleged to have said “You have got nothing on me’’. At his hotel the police found a number of Army pay books. One was in the name of Latham. Certain pages had been extracted from it and others inserted, one bearing the photograph of Leckey. Leckey`s own book was also found. The page with his photograph was missing from it. On June 30th, when he was seen at Marylebone police station, he was alleged to have replied “I know about it”. When asked about his movements on June 13th he said that he was with the girl but before he made a statement he would like to get advice. Leckey had left his uniform in Manchester and it was recovered. Mr. Flowers said that Dr. Keith Simpson, who conducted an examination of the dead girl, found dark hairs which were identical in colour and texture with those of Leckey. Under her fingernails he found scrapings of wool fibre which the prosecution suggested were identical in colour and size with the material of Leckey's shirt. Mr. Flowers said he supposed that the shirt was an Army one so that there might be many soldiers wearing shirts of similar material. When Leckey was charged June 30th he said "I have nothing to say until I see a solicitor”. It was clear, said Mr. Flowers, that the girl was murdered on the night of June 13th and the evidence was overwhelming that Leckey did it. She had been strangled. Her voice box was fractured and death was due to asphyxia.

Mrs. Ellen Jane Stapleton, the dead girl's mother, who is so crippled that she could not climb into the witness box and was allowed to sit in the well of the court, said that her daughter was always home by 10.30 p.m. unless she was going to a dance. She had her own key. Witness said that she went to bed on the night of the 13th between 10.30 and 11 but she woke about an hour later to find that her daughter had not returned.  “I walked about in the house that night going to the win­dows and looking up and down the road, and in the morning I got Carol’s breakfast ready. She did not return”, said Mrs, Stapleton. “I got lunch ready for her too and when she did not come for it I went to the cinema. She was not one of these run­about parties. Her being out all night had never happened before”.

Replying to Mr. J.D. Casswell, K.C. (with Mr. Harold Brown for the defence), Mrs. Stapleton said that she knew that her daughter did not have a date that night. She had hung up her change of linen, and was coming home to have a bath. She would not go out after having a bath.
“I`ve got a date” was just a saying that her daughter often used and it did not mean any­thing.

Mrs. Dorothy H. Goldsworthy, Mechanics Arms public house, Folkestone, said on the night of June 13th she saw Mrs. Trayler and Leckey together in the public house. Mrs. Trayler said that she was going as she had a date but witness said to her “You don’t want to go. Stop at the old Mechanics”. Mrs. Trayler did remain and was one of the first to leave when the public house closed at 10 o’clock

Evidence was given by a member of the staff of the Central Cinema, Folkestone, that on the night of June 13th Mrs. Trayler was wearing two rings.

Kenneth Knight, a bom­bardier in the Royal Artillery, said he went to Folkestone on June 13th with Leckey and arrived about 6 o'clock. They went to a cinema and various public houses and eventually arrived at the Mechanics Arms public house about 9 o’clock. A photograph of a woman was then shown to Knight, who who said that it was of the woman who came into the public house and Leckey said “She looks nice”.
Knight said that Leckey got into conversation with this woman and eventually about 9.45 he (Knight) decided to leave. Leckey said to him “Don't go yet. There are girls here". The woman said “I don't want to break you up”. Knight said that he went back to his camp in an Army truck. He saw Leckey the next morning about 7.15, and Leckey told him that when he came out of the public house he kissed the girl and left her. He thought Leckey must have walked back, as he told him that he met a W.A.A.F. officer on the way and carried her bag for her. On Friday, June 18th, said Knight, Leckey borrowed 6/- from him. He said it was to pay a debt to a gunner.

In cross examination, Knight denied having had a quarrel with Leckey at a birthday party.

George Ellison, a gunner m the Royal Artillery, said he was in the Mechanics Arms public house on Sunday. June 13th and saw a girl, whose photograph he identified, leave the house with Leckey.

Police Constable John Lewis said on June 17th he was searching some unoccupied property at Foord Road. Inside a shop he saw a blue suede shoe and a large brown handbag. "In the passage­way, leading from the back door of the shop, I saw the body of a woman. I immediately reported it to my superior officers at headquarters”, said the witness.

In answer to Mr. Casswell Lewis said that was a lot of dirt on the floor but he did not examine the premises for foot­prints.

Margaret Agnes Cook, a flight officer in the W.A.A.F., said she arrived in Folkestone 15 minutes after midnight on Sunday, June 13th and set out to walk to her destination. She was overtaken by a soldier outside Folkestone and he carried her bag part of the way. She would not recognise the soldier again.

Fred Latham, a gunner in the R.A., said on Thursday, June 17th, Leckey said to him “Have you heard about the girl being done in in Folke­stone?” Leckey told him that he had seen it in the paper.

Mrs. Beatrice Shaw, Leckey's mother-in-law, said she saw him in Manchester on June 19th with his wife. Leckey told her he was on 48 hours embarkation leave.

Mrs. Winifred Wooley, West Twyford, said she met Leckey at Stafford railway station, and he told her he was a sergeant pilot in the R.A.F. He was in civilian clothes and told her his name was Alan Leckey. He said he had lost a case and was going to Birmingham to collect it. She was travelling on the same train and he went with her. The next day she went to London with Leckey. She gave him a small case and some shaving kit. The following day Leckey rang her up and made an appointment. He did not keep it and she did not see him.

Stewart Wilson Bier, a United States soldier, said that he was in a West End bar with another man and got Into conversation with a man. Pointing to the dock, Bier said “That’s the man right there”. Bier said that this man told him his name was Allan and that he was a pilot in the R.A.F. The three men spent the night at a West End hotel. When he woke up in the morn­ing the man had gone, “and so had the wallets”, added Bier.

P.C. Alfred Riggs said that he saw Leckey at a public house in the West End. He asked him his name and Leckey said “Latham”. When told that he was wanted by the Folkestone police he said “You have nothing on me”.

Dr. Keith Simpson, patholo­gist, said he examined the body of Mrs. Trayler and found underneath a tom finger nail a short piece of wool fibre freshly torn away. This fibre was identical with the fibre of a shirt worn by Leckey. It was identical in weight, colour and wool structure. He made a post mortem examination and found injuries consistent with the woman be­ing strangled manually by hand both from the front and behind. He found bruises behind the voice box, which was fractured. Death was due to asphyxia from manual strangulation. “I formed the view that death had taken place about four days previously”, Dr. Simpson added . “I made a microscopical examination of hairs taken from the girl and a hair taken from Leckey. The hairs found on the girl corres­ponded exactly in dimension, colour, and in character with the hair submitted to me from Leckey”.

Dr. James Davison, director of the police laboratory at Hendon, said he examined battle-dress trousers which Leckey had been wearing. He found human hair on the right leg. He compared that hair with hair taken from the deceased girl, and the hair found on the rousers was similar in all respects to the hair taken from the girl.

This closed the case for the prosecution.

Leckey then went into the witness box and described his movements on the night of Sunday, June 13th. He said he went to Folke­stone with Gunner Knight and after visiting several public houses they were directed to the Mechanics Arms where they were told there was music. A girl came into the bar and after a time she came over and stood beside him. They started talking to one another and shortly before 9.30 Knight left them. The girl, whom he got to know as Caroline Trayler, told him she had a date but he per­suaded her, with the aid of the landlady, to stay until closing time. By that time they were very friendly. He had quite a bit of beer but was not drunk. He got  a bit merry”, as he started to drink whisky. “We left the public house together”, said Leckey, “and walked along the road for some way. We then walked along until we came to a quiet street, and after a few minutes I sug­gested that we should go into one of the entries. We did so”. Leckey said that intimacy then took place. The girl did not object. When they left there he told her that he would have to get back, and she said that she did not wish him to see her home. Leckey denied that he was anywhere near an empty shop. "I never saw her again after I left her”. he declared. The first I knew about the murder was when I went into a bar at Folkestone with four other men. The barmaid mentioned to us that a girl had been found dead in an empty shop in Folkestone, and the police were looking for a blonde sailor. The barmaid told us the girl was an usherette at a cinema and was a good looking girl with ginger hair. She said she was called Caroline. I put two and two together and surmised it was the girl I had been with that night. On the same night I heard two women in a bar discussing the finding of a girl’s body in a shop. I knew the police would want to know who she was with that evening. I decided to go home to Manchester at the weekend, and tried to see my Major to obtain leave. I failed to see him but I went to Manchester after tak­ing two pay books and some money belonging to other soldiers. When coming back from a public house in Manchester with my wife I saw a police car standing at my door. I made some excuse to my wife and went to Manchester Station, where I spent the night. I went to Stoke on Trent and Birmingham, and finally to London. In the papers I saw that a man answering my description was wanted in connection with the murder at Folkestone. While in a public house in the West End a policeman entered with some American police in plain clothes. The policeman arrested me for lar­ceny but when we got outside one of the Americans pointed me out und said “I believe this guy is wanted for murder too down in Folkestone””.

Asked by his counsel if he killed the girl, Leckey answered “No, sir”.

Mr. Flowers, in his final speech for the prosecution, stressed the point that if Leckey’s story, which he told in the witness box, were true, then it would mean that there must have been another man with the girl after Leckey had left her.And this man”, said Mr. Flowers, “has hairs which are exactly the same as those of Leckey. One witness says that she looked out of her window and saw the girl in company with a soldier at 10.15 p.m. Another witness saw the girl and a soldier at 10.30 p.m., and still another witness saw the girl and a soldier at 10.40 p.m. in Foord Road where the girl`s body was eventually found. All those witnesses knew the girl, and Leckey has said that he left the girl at about 10.20 p.m. In my submission it is quite clear that it was theprisoner who was seen with the girl at 10.40 p.m in Foord Road. His story is false.”

Mr. Casswell, in his speech for the defence, said “This case bristles with doubt. It is a case of uncertainty. This young man has thrown suspicion on himself by his own actions, but we are not here to consider whether he is an immoral young man or even petty thief. There was nothing on Leckey’s clothes to connect him with being in the shop where the murder took place. If Leckey had been in the shop that night and did what is suggested, surely there would be some marks on his clothes There was none”. Speaking about the fabric which was found under the dead girl’s fingernail, Mr. Casswell said “You might find a orange thread of similar fabric on some five million shirts today. Is the prosecution so bankrupt of evidence that they must rely on that?”

In the course of his summing up Mr. Justice Singleton said “If, as Leckey says, he left the girl about 10.20 p.m., why couldn’t he get to the place where the truck was waiting to pick up soldiers returning to camp by 11 o’clock? It was broad daylight at that time. He had ample time to get there even if he was ill through having mixed his drinks”. Referring to the fact that Leckey made no statement to the police when charged with murder, but said that he wanted to consult a solicitor, Mr. Justice Singleton said “This man is always cool and collected. If a man is charged with murder and is not respon­sible and has not committed murder, what do you expect him to say? Would you expect him to deny it?” “Ask yourself this”, said the Judge, “If this man be inno­cent, and if his sole purpose in going away was to make a con­fession of unfaithfulness to his wife, can you see him acting as he did?”

When the jury returned to court after deliberating for lust over half an hour, Leckey looked at them without any trace of feeling. The foreman said the word “Guilty” and Leckey looked at him for a fleeting few seconds and then turned to face the Judge. When asked if he had any­thing to say Leckey looked straight ahead of him and did not utter a word.

Mr. Justice Singleton, passing sentence of death, said “Yoiu have been convicted of a very cruel murder”.

A warder touched Leckey on the arm, and the condemned man immediately turned about and walked steadily down the stairs to the cells below. 

Folkestone Herald 2-10-1943

Local News

Notice of appeal has been given by Gnr. Dennis Edmund Leckey, who was sentenced to death at the Old Bailey on Wednesday last week for the murder of Mrs. Caroline Ellen Trayler at Folkestone on June 17th.
Folkestone Herald 30-10-1943

Local News

An appeal on behalf of Dennis Edmund Leckey, a gunner in the Royal Artillery, found guilty at the Central Criminal Court on September 22nd of the murder of Mrs. Caroline Ellen Trayler, a cinema usherette, who was found strangled in an empty shop at Folkestone, will come before the Court of Criminal Appeal on Monday. Leckey was sentenced to death after a trial lasting three days. He is asking for leave to appeal against conviction.

Folkestone Herald 6-11-1943

Local News

The appeal of Gnr. Dennis Edmund Leckey, 24, Royal Artillery, against his convic­tion for the murder at Folkestone of Mrs. Caroline Ellen Trayler, a cinema usherette, was allowed by the Court of Criminal Appeal on Monday. Leckey, who showed no signs of emotion, was set free.

Dressed in a smartly-cut grey civilian suit, Leckey, tall, dark and good-looking, followed the lengthy legal arguments with the keenest attention, but remained unmoved throughout. He is a married man with two children.

Mrs. Trayler was found strangled in an empty shop in Foord Road, Folkestone, on June 18th.

Leckey`s appeal was made on the ground that there had been a misdirection of the jury at his trial at the Old Bailey.

Mr. J.D. Casswell, K.C., for Leckey, pointed out that the judge commented in his summing-up on the fact that when cautioned by the police Leckey did not deny the charge, but said he would take advice. What the judge had said, he continued, was tantamount to saying “If a man says “I reserve my defence”, then you may rely on that evidence against him showing that he is the man responsible for the crime charged”.

Mr. J.D. Flowers, K.C., for the Crown, said that both he and Mr. Casswell at the trial told the jury that the fact that Leckey preferred to keep silent when cautioned by the police should not be held against him. The case was simply overwhelming against Leckey without the comments made by the judge, and it was impossible that the jury would have come to any other conclusion if the comments had not been made.

The Lord Chief Justice, giving the judgement of the Court, said there was a great deal of evidence upon which it was open to the jury, properly directed, to find that Leckey murdered Mrs. Trayler, but the judge`s comments on Leckey`s silence amounted to a misdirection and the Court could not say that, if the jury had been properly directed, they (the jury) would inevitably have come to the same conclusion. His Lordship said that three times the judge seemed to put to the jury the consideration that they might infer Leckey`s guilt by considering the fact of his silence after being cautioned. But a man was entitled to remain silent. If that was not so it must be obvious that a caution might be a trap instead of being the means of finding out the truth in the interests of innocent persons as in the interests of justice against guilty persons. An innocent person might well decline to say anything from excessive caution or for some other reason and, if it were to be held out to a jury that that was a ground upon which he might be found guilty, innocent persons might be in great peril. The Court of Appeal had power, however, to disallow an appeal in such circumstances if they considered that no substantial miscarriage of justice had occurred. To do so the Court had to find that, if the jury had been properly directed, they would inevitably have come to the same conclusion. In the present case there was evidence in plenty which would have justified a verdict of guilty, but the Court was unable to say that the jury, on a proper direction, would inevitably have come to the same conclusion as they did. It was not the opinion of the Court that mattered: it was the minds of the jury, and nobody but the jury. Having regard to the importance which the passages must have had in the scheme of the summing-up, and the effect they seemed very likely to have had on the minds of the jury when considering their verdict, the Court could not say that the jury must inevitably have come to the same conclusion on a proper direction. The appeal was accordingly allowed and the conviction quashed.

During the long judgement Leckey stood in the dock like a soldier standing at ease and appeared to follow the points taken both for and against him clearly.

Five points of misdirection had been brought to the attention of the Court. The first four were decided against him. The fifth point taken by his counsel and the fifth dealt with by the Lord Chief Justice was that on which he succeeded.

Folkestone Herald 13-11-1943

Local News

After returning from North Africa, Sgt. Edgar Trayler, 22 years old husband of Mrs. Caroline Edward Trayler, a Folkestone cinema usherette, who was murdered last June, visited the dead girl`s parents in Folkestone during the weekend. While staying with Mr. And Mrs. Stapleton, his wife`s mother and father, Sergt. Trayler was joined by his mother and elder brother, who had not seen him for just over a year. Sergt. Trayler was in North Africa at the time of his wife`s death, and it was not until July 20th that he read, in a London newspaper, of the discovery of her body in an empty Folkestone shop. At the time he was in hospital. No official news was received by Sergt. Trayler, and the first message giving some details of his wife`s tragic death was an airgraph, written by a friend of Mr. And Mrs. Stapleton, which reached him on September 3rd. Other messages had been sent but these apparently did not reach him. Sergt. Trayler had already made an application for compassionate leave in order that he might return to Folkestone and settle his wife’s affairs, but the request was not granted. After a journey of 3,000 miles, which took 44 days, Sergt. Trayler arrived in this country from North Africa towards the end of October. He was placed under a nurse, but arrangements were made for him to visit his wife`s parents last weekend. The journey is understood to have been made by air except for a hitch-hike of nearly 200 miles. Sergt. Trayler is 22. He was in the Territorials at the outbreak of war, and he served in France, being evacuated from Dunkirk and landing at Folkestone. He married Miss Stapleton in October, 1942, and they spent their honeymoon at Crook, Co. Durham, his home. Sergt. Trayler went overseas in April last.
 


 

 
 

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