Chapter 4 (Part III and last)
COFFIN’S MINING CLAIMS AND EXPENSES
Moneys spent by Coffin
(My literal translation)
Related to the Coffin’s mining claims matter is the one concerning the moneys he has spent in the days following the murder of the American hunters.
In his sworn declaration of the 6th of August 1953, before the Provincial Police investigated into his coming and going, Coffin had declared :
« When I left Gaspé, I had about around $50.00 or $60.00 dollars.”
The Provincial police investigation revealed that after having left Gaspé, Coffin had indulged in substantial expenses, partly in American money and under abnormal circumstances, and several witnesses testified about them before the jury. If he had testified, Coffin would have had the almost insurmountable task of conciliating his declaration of the 6th of August 1953 with the expenses he had made and explain, to the same ends, the source of the moneys he spent other than that he had stolen from Lindsey.
Having not done so at his trial, for reasons that we know, Coffin tried to correct himself in his affidavit of the 9th of October 1955 :
« A lot of evidence was given about the money I spent between Gaspé and Montréal and there was some evidence about I lived (sic) in Montreal. This is easy to explain. It was my own money paid to me by the following persons for the following amounts and terms for services I did for them chiefly staking claims:
Greta Miller May, 1953 $30.00
Iva M. Bryker “ “ 90.00
Mrs. James Caputo “ “ 40.00
Mervyn Annett “ “ 40.00
John E. Eagle “ “ 50.00
Mrs. Marion Petrie Coffin “ “ 50.00
P. G. Carey “ “ 60.00
D. H. Coffin “ “ 20.00
Mrs. James Annett “ “ 10.00
Earl Tuzo “ “ 20.00
William H. Petrie June 1953 70.00
Donald F. Coffin July 1953 50.00
Albert Coffin “ “ 50.00
Therefore, the Commission examined in details this paragraph. It was not able however, since they had passed away, to hear Mervyn Annett, Mrs. James Annett and Albert Coffin. Moreover, given the small amount involved, it did not deem necessary to assign Mrs. James Caputo, of Newark, New Jersey, since another proof was available and was brought about her.
The moneys in question may be divided in five categories.
Coffin had left Gaspé around midnight on June 12th 1953, to arrive in Montreal around midnight on June 14th. In the course of this trip, he indulged in expenses, some of which was American money that the Crown has tried to connect, apparently with success, to the moneys stolen from the American hunters. The moneys received by Coffin after his arrival in Montreal have no importance regarding this matter since, according to Marion Petrie’s testimony before the Commission, Coffin only had $20.00 in his pocket on his arrival.
Come under this category three amounts received by Coffin in July 1953 only :
a) William H. Petrie: $70.00
Coffin’s affidavit on this matter is exact, though the circumstances under which one of these payments was collected by Coffin do not plead much in favour of Coffin. Indeed, after having sold a revolver to William Petrie for $15.00, he cashed in once more and kept the sum of $30.00 for which William Petrie had subsequently sold again personally the same arm to a third party. Moreover, it is a revolver about which Coffin had said in Gaspé that he had pawned it in Montreal for a long time.
b) Albert Coffin : $50.00
c) Marion Petrie : $50.00
According to Coffin’s affidavit, this last payment was made in May 1953, this is wrong : it was not done in May but only in July after Coffin’s arrival in Montreal when Marion Petrie gave him moneys. She so declared herself.
Donald F. Coffin $50.00
If Coffin’s affidavit is true, this payment would have been made in July and should fall in the previous category.
In other respects, in September 1955, Donald F. Coffin signed a declaration, which was not found in the Department of Justice’s file, where he said that he had sent $15.00 to his brother Wilbert in Montréal in July 1953, but that he had not included it in his 1955 declaration.
The evidence on this subject is extremely not satisfactory and the Commission is not ready, on the one had, to base itself on Donald F. Coffin’s testimony to declare erroneous his brother’s affidavit, or on the other hand accept Donald F. Coffin’s testimony before the Commission to correct at the same time the declaration he had given the Department of Justice in 1955 and his brother’s affidavit..
Under the circumstances, the Commission may not retain this amount of $50.00 in whole or in part in the calculation of the moneys Wilbert Coffin might have collected in the course of the weeks preceding his trip to Montreal.
Third category :
a) Greta Miller $30.00
b) Mrs. James Caputo $40.00
c) Mrs. Eva Bryker : $90.00
(for herself and her two sisters Mrs. Alice Boyle and Emily Wendell).
Coffin’s affidavit on this topic would be exact : he appears to have received these amounts in May 1953. However, if he has received them, he has not used them for which he had received them: no mining claims have been recorded under the name of any of those five persons.
In other respects, what Coffin has done to the four cheques he had received from Mrs. Bryker casts some light on the whole matter. Coffin did not cash any cheque directly to the bank nor deposit any himself. In the days that followed immediately the date of each of these four cheques, he has changed one with Ernest Boyle and another one with P. Lequesne, a clerk at Baker hotel in Gaspé, and two more with the Baker hotel itself.
The fact that he cashed these cheques in a hotel and that he did not use the money for which those cheques were issued, is not without casting a serious doubt on Coffin’s pretension that he still had these moneys in his possession on the 12th of June 1953.
a) John Eagle : $50.00
b) Philip Carey : $60.00
c) Donald H. Coffin : $20.00
d) Erle Tuzo : $20.00
e) Mervyn Annett : $40.00
In giving Coffin the benefit of the doubt regarding Donald H. Coffin and Mervyn Annett, the Commission accepts that these amounts have been paid Coffin in the course of the month of May 1953 and that Coffin has, in return, staked claims for each of these five persons.
Mrs. James Annett : $10.00
Se has passed away but, in a declaration filed with the Department of Justice in the fall of 1955, she has claimed having paid Coffin $10.00 in May 1953 for carpentry. The Commission shall accept this declaration, though it has not been possible to verify further.
It appears from this proof that Coffin might have received, in May 1953, diverse sums of money for an amount of no more than $360 and maybe $260.00 only if we subtract the would-be payments made by Albert Coffin, Mervyn Annett et Mrs. James Annett as to which the proof was not able to confirm anything.: we are already far enough from the sum of $580.00 mentioned by Coffin in his affidavit. This proof gives us the opportunity to establish the following facts :
a) Coffin has collected moneys in May, but he had to live on that until the middle of June before going on his trip to Montreal:
b) Several cheques received by Coffin were cashed at the Baker hotel in Gaspé ;
c) No payments, according to the proof, has been done in American currency ;
d) There is contradiction between the two declarations made by Coffin, the two of them under oath on the same subject, on the 6th of August 1953 and on the 9th of 1955.
After having deliberated on all of these facts and taken into consideration the details of the proof brought before the Commission on this matter, the Commission arrives to the conclusion that the Coffin’s affirmations, in paragraph 45 of his affidavit of the 9th of October 1955, does not resist to the analysis and does not give plausible explanations for the substantial expenses he indulged in, partly in Canadian money and partly in American money, in the course of his trip from Gaspé to Montreal in June 1953.
So disappears in the fog of falsehood and contradictions another allegation of Coffin’s affidavit together with several others of monsieur Hébert’s hypothetical affirmations. (THE END)
Nex week, I shall post the whole Chapter 7, Vol. 2, Part IV, of the Brossard Report, on
THE MYSTERIOUS NOTE