Monday, 2 May 2016

Belgian Refugee Appears in Court

High Street, Leighton Buzzard, 1913 [X291/376] 

Tuesday 2nd May 1916: A Belgian refugee has appeared at Leighton Buzzard Police Court charged with using threatening language towards Eliza Baines, of 50 Baker Street, Leighton Buzzard. Miss Baines said that on 8th April she was in the High Street, and hearing voices behind her she turned and saw Lambert Giebels, who said he would kill her. She went to the police sergeant and reported the incident. She had known Giebels since last spring when he lodged in the same house. She had no quarrel with him, but last September “he wanted me to go with him instead of his wife, and I did not want to”. She had not seen him since, but was afraid he would do her injury as he had previously threatened her.

Giebels, speaking in broken English, spoke of a “photo-man” and said Miss Baines was trying to take away his “sharacter”. Miss Baines said that he had sent the “photo-man” upstairs to her when she was dressing to try to make her jealous. A woman shouted repeatedly from the court room that she was the girl’s mother and could tell them “something about the photo-man”. Witness Eva Faulkner, appearing very nervous, said she was with Miss Baines in the High Street and heard Giebels say something she could not understand. He had looked angry, but she could not tell the court any more. The magistrates dismissed the case.

Giebels was then tried on a second charge of stealing tools, a window frame, a roll of zinc, corrugated iron roofing, timber and other items from his employer, Harry George Brown of Leighton Buzzard, between January and April that year. He claimed that he had brought some of the tools with him from Belgium, and had bought various materials which he had used to build a fowl run in his garden. Giebels admitted in court “I did not steal all that is there. I took some of the tools, but not to keep them. I took them to make a box with, as I have to go away to France tomorrow. The piece of zinc I bought for 9d., and the wood is mine; I bought that, too. The iron sheets I found in my house. I took the window frame away, thinking it was an old one and no good.” He pleaded not guilty to a further charge of stealing a plane and a square from Mark Holland, a wheelwright, saying they were his own and had been brought from Belgium. He added that he had received his papers to join the Belgian Army. The magistrates sentenced Giebels to three months imprisonment with hard labour. He smiled and muttered, “Better prison than trenches”.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 9th May 1916

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