THOMAS PURYOUR, Royal Offences > tax offences, 9th September 1747.

Reference Number: t17470909-36
Offence: Royal Offences > tax offences
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death
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351. + THOMAS PURYOUR , otherwise called and known by the Name of Blacktooth , was indicted for unlawfully, riotously, routously, and feloniously assembling, with several others to the Number of fifty Persons, at Reculver in the County of Kent , on the 30th of March , being armed with Fire-Arms and other offensive Weapons, in order to be aiding and assisting in the running, landing, and carrying away uncustomed Goods, and Goods liable to pay Duties which had not been paid, or secured; against the Statute .

Gentlemen, I am of Council in this Cause for the Crown. This Prosecution is commenced in order, if possible, to break a desperate and wicked Gang of Men who have got together, and, for a long time, not only defrauded the publick Revenue, and fair Trader, but have likewise gone to that Height, that being armed and disciplined in Banditties, they have begun to be the Terror of the Publick; and, unless a timely Stop is put to these Proceedings, they will, in the end, strike at the Constitution itself. 'Tis now known to every body, that this Practice of Smuggling has increased to that Degree, that 'tis not carried on clandestinely and secretly, but it is carried on in the Face of Day, and in Defiance of Law and Justice. There are notorious Gangs on the Sea-Coasts, that publickly ride armed and disciplined in Troops, and that set the Officers of the Revenue at Defiance; often take and imprison them, and carry on their desperate Attempts, breaking through Laws, without any Fear or Terror from the Justice of the Nation. In order to put a Stop to this, which not only affects the publick Revenue, and, in consequence of that, affects every Man in the Kingdom, because as these Revenues are appropriated to particular Purposes, and in case they should become deficient, as they must become if these Proceedings are not stopp'd, the consequence must be, that the publick Faith of the Nation is engaged to find out other Supplies to make them good, and every Man in the Kingdom must contribute something towards them. Besides, the Practice is the most ruining and destructive to the fair Trader, because he is paying those Duties which the Necessities of the Publick require, and these Persons are under-selling him, and robbing of him of that Gain which ought to support him and his Family. In order to stop this Practice, the Legislature have try'd Methods of Lenity; these indeed have proved ineffectual: In the first place, there was an Act of Parliament in the 9th of his present Majesty, and the Penalties to that Act was Transportation for seven Years. This Act of Parliament not having it's desired Effect, but, on the contrary, these Men daily increasing, their Gangs continually augmented, and armed in such a manner, that they became the Terror of the Subject, it was found necessary to make another Act of Parliament in the 19th Year of his present Majesty, and therein it is enacted, That if any Persons to the Number of three, or more, armed with Fire-Arms, or other offensive Weapons, shall, from, and after, the 24th Day of July, 1746, be assembled in order to be aiding and assisting, in the running, landing, or carrying away uncustomed Goods, or Goods liable to pay any Duties which have not been paid or secured; then every Person so offending, being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be adjudged Guilty of Felony, and shall suffer Death. One would have thought that the Terror of this Act of Parliament would have had the desired Effect proposed by it. -

But, Gentlemen, notwithstanding this, Thomas Puryour , the Prisoner now at the Bar, who among his own Set of People has acquired the Name of Blacktooth, and known by that Appellation among them, and who, for many Years last past, has been a frequent Companion of these Smugglers, who have upon all occasions, appeared in Arms at the Sea Side,

upon the News of any Smuggling Cutters that were ready to land uncustomed Goods, he has been, from time to time, employed in taking these Goods from the Ship, in assisting and carrying them off, and of converting the Benefit and Share of them to his own proper Use. On the 24th of July last, he happened to be committed for a Breach of the Peace; but, much to the Surprize of the Officer that seized him, they found upon him a Brace of Pistols, which occasioned a Speculation amongst the Officers, that this Man must be concerned in some Employment which it was proper to enquire into; accordingly they suspected him to be a Smuggler, and they advertised in the Canterbury News, that he was found armed with a Brace of Pistols. This Advertisement being put into the Papers, the Officers, stationed at Folkstone, got Christopher Barret and Robert Worthington , the two Evidences now to be produc'd, to take an Inspection of the Prisoner; accordingly they went, and the Witnesses immediately knew him, and said, that he was one of the Hawkhurst Gang, which is the most desperate of any other, and that he went by the Name of Blacktooth, and was one of the foremost and most desperate in the Gang; upon this, an Information being taken, he was detained in the Custody of the Keeper of the Goal at Canterbury. By this Act of Parliament, there is Provision made, in the Vth Section of it, That Offences of this Kind against the publick Revenue, shall not be, like other Offences of Common Law, necessarily tryed in the County where they were committed, as ill Consequences may attend it; and the Legislature has enacted, That all these Offences should be tried in any County. This being the State of the Case, the Fact with which this Prisoner is charged, is this: Upon the 30th of March last, be, together with a Number of other Persons, not less than fifty, armed with Fire-Arms, and several Sorts of offensive Weapons, assembled at a Place called Reculver in the County of Kent, their Business there was to be aiding and assisting in the running and carrying off uncustomed Goods; a large Quantity of Tea was at that time run out of a Smuggling Cutter; these Persons were ready and prepar'd to receive it; the Prisoner, among others, assisted in loading the Horses, and carried it off into different Parts of the County of Kent: The Prisoner himself was armed and accoutered in this manner; he had a Blunderbuss and a Brace of Pistols.

The Witnesses that we shall call, in order to prove this Fact upon him, are Witnesses that can't be deceiv'd in the Account they are to give you; because as it is necessary in all these Cases, as it is impossible to to convict otherwise, than by getting some of the Gang to repent of their vile Course, and to become assistant to publick Justice; so these Persons were present, and saw the Prisoner actually arm'd, and loading the Horses, in order to make a Benefit of it. These two Witnesses will give you a particular Account of the whole Transaction of running this Tea; and the Share and Concern that the Prisoner at the Bar had in it. They will be confirmed in their general Narrative by one of the Officers of the Revenue, who saw this Uproar and Riot upon the Sea-shore at this very Time of these Smugglers carrying off those Goods, though himself did not come near enough to this armed Number to swear the Fact himself. Gentlemen, If this Evidence comes to be laid before you, there can be no doubt at all but the Prisoner is guilty of this Offence which is laid in the Indictment, which is being arm'd and assembled, with a Number of other Persons armed likewise, in order to run uncustomed Goods. When you consider the Nature of the Offence, the general Destruction that it is of to the Trade, to the Freedom, and to the publick Revenue of this Kingdom, I am sure you will all be sensible, that it has been absolutely necessary for those that are entrusted with the Execution of Justice, to bring these Offenders to be try'd by a Jury, in order, if possible, to restore Tranquillity to the places where they infest; and to prevent this pernicious Practice, which is now grown to such a Height.

Q to Christopher Barret . Do you know the Prisoner ?

Barret. Yes. I have known him near three Years.

Council. Did you see him at any Time in July last ?

Barret. Yes. I saw him in Gaol.

Council. How come you to go to see him?

Barret. Because I heard of his being taken up for threatening to blow a Man's Brains out.

Q. For what Purpose did you go to see him?

Barret. I went to see whether I knew him or not.

Q. When you came there did you know him, or did any body direct you to pitch upon him;

Barret. I knew him to be the Person concerned from Time to Time with the Hawkburst Gang.

Q. By what Name did he go by?

Barret. Blacktooth.

Q. Do you know in fact that he has been concerned with a Gang of Smugglers?

Barret. Yes, Sir; he was concerned with the Hawkburst Gang; I saw him there the 30th of March last.

Q. What Number might there be?

Barret. Sixty or seventy. It was a Place call'd Reculver; it lies about a Quarter of a Mile from the Sea.

Q. Do you know what this Gang was about to do?

Barret. They were carrying away Tea from a Cutter that came from Holland; the Goods were taken out of the Cutter, and laid upon the Beach.

Council. You saw it was Tea ?

Barret. I know it was Tea.

Q. Had it paid Duty?

Barret. I believe it had not paid Duty.

Q. Had this Gang any Arms?

Barret. Some had long Pieces, as Fowling-Pieces, Guns, some long Carbines, and some Blunderbusses.

Q. How many were arm'd ?

Barret. Forty or fifty arm'd.

Q. At that Time did you see the Prisoner Puryour ? Had he any Arms?

Barret. He had a Brace of Pistols, and I think, a Carbine or Blunderbuss, I can't say which.

Q. Was there any Goods carried away at this Time ?

Barret. There was thirty or forty Hundred carried off, and some the Custom-house Officers took.

Q. How near was you to him?

Barret. I was within a little Way, seven or eight Yards. Some of them were loading their Horses, and I saw Puryour help load a Horse; I have known him two or three Years; he was Servant to some Man of Hawkhurst.

Q. What did the Prisoner do at this Time?

Barret. He got the Goods to help load a Horse, and the Custom house Officers came down, and there were several Pieces fired from the Smugglers; Cook fired twice, and once Gingles. Cook was convicted the last Sessions.

Q. Do you know, whether their Pieces were loaded?

Barret. They went off.

Q. What Quantity did they carry off?

Barret. It might be thirty or forty Hundred.

Q. How many Horses might there be?

Barret. Seventy or eighty Horses down in all.

[ Cross Examination]

Q. Was this in the Evening, or Break of Day? In what Position was you in? Were you behind them, or did you front them, so as to see their Faces ?

Barret. First I met them, and then rode behind them again.

Council. I should be glad, Sir, to know, Whether you can be positive, that the Prisoner was one of them?

Barret. I know he was.

Q. Was you one of that Gang at that Time?

Barret. Yes, I was one of that Gang.

Q. to Robert Worthington. Do you know the Prisoner at the Bar?

Worthington. Yes, I have known him about a Year and a Half.

Q. How came you acquainted with him?

Worthington. By riding in Company with him.

Q. In what Company ?

Worthington. A Company call'd the Hawkburst Gang.

Q. What was the Business that this Gang used to employ themselves in?

Worthington. What they call Smuggling.

Council. You have known him for a Year and a Half; have you been concerned with him in Smuggling?

Worthington. Yes, Sir.

Council. I would ask you, whether you saw him in March last?

Worthington. I saw him at the Water-side at Reculver.

Q. What was their Employment then?

Worthington. In running Goods from the Cutter that came from Holland.

Council. You saw the Prisoner there; was he employed?

Worthington. Yes, Sir, he was loading the Horses with those Goods?

Q. Where were the Goods laid?

Worthington. Upon the Beech.

Q. How many might there be there?

Worthington. About forty or fifty.

Q. How many of those Man had Arms with them?

Worthington. There might be thirty or forty armed; some had Pistols, and some had Carbines.

Q. How many spare Horses might there be to carry was these Goods?

Worthington. There was about fifty or threescore Horses.

Q. What Quantity of Tea was brought over in this Cutter, as near as you can judge?

Worthington. There might be, Sir, four or five Tons.

Q. Was it all Tea, or some Brandy?

Worthington. I can't say; whether there was Brandy or not.

Q. After they have loaded the Horses do they go together, or do they separate?

Worthington. They afterwards go seven or eight in a Gang; some ten, some twenty, in a Gang.

Q. Did the Custom-house Officers come to interrupt them at this Place?

Worthington. Yes, Sir.

Q. How many?

Worthington. I can't say.

Q. Upon their coming did they disperse or oppose them?

Worthington. They fired at them.

Q. How many Times, do you think, of your own Knowledge, you have known the Prisoner employed in this Sort of Work?

Worthington. I have seen him six or seven Times.

Council. This Hawkburst Gang is a considerable Gang, reckon'd one of the stoutest Gangs?

Worthington. Yes, Sir.

[Cross Examination]

Q. to Worthington. How far might you be from them?

Worthington. Not above a Rod.

Q. How came you to single out the Prisoner?

Worthington. Because I have known him before I saw him there then.

Q. Was his Back towards you, or his Face?

Worthington. I saw his Face and Back too

Court Was you one of this Gang at this Time.

Worthington. Yes, Sir.

Jarvis Cooper . I am a Surveyor of the Customs at Margate in Kent. On the 30th of March there was a large Gang at a place call'd Reculver.

Q. Was you alone?

Cooper. I had eighteen with me; they fired at us several Times.

Q. What were they doing?

Cooper. They were unloading a Cutter, and were loading Horses; at the first I was six Miles off; when I came up to them I was within a few Yards of them.

Q. Did you know them?

Cooper. I did not know one of them. Several went away; and there was a Body of about twenty stood firing at us.

Q. Did you see the Cutter?

Cooper. I saw the Cutter, and saw them bring the Goods out of her; the Cutter was on the Ground, and the Goods laid upon the Beech.

Q. Did you seize any of the Goods?

Cooper. I seized very near two Ton of Tea, and fifty Pieces of Cambrick.

Court to the Prisoner. Would you ask him any Questions?

Prisoner. No.

Court. If you have no Questions, What have you to say by Way of Defence?

Prisoner. Please your Lordship, I know nothing of it; I was not there, neither do I know where the place is.

Q. to Eliz. Holland. Where do you live?

Holland. I live at the Parish of Saunders in the Wolds of Kent, it is about fourteen Miles from Rye.

Q. How far is Reculver from Rye?

Holland, I can't tell any Thing of it.

Q. Are you a married Woman?

Holland. Yes, My Husband is bad, or he would have been here.

Q. Did the Prisoner lodge at your House?

Holland. Yes, he lodged and boarded both.

Q. When did he come to lodge at your House?

Holland. The 12th of March last.

Council. Will you tell us, from the 12th of March, and some time afterwards, did he continue at your House?

Holland. He did not go from my House till two or three Days in June, except two Pieces of a Night about a Mile and a half off, to see a young Woman.

Council. Then he was not out a whole Night or a Day?

Holland. No, he was not.

Council. And you say it was the 12th of March that he came, and he continued to June following?

Holland. I am positive he was not absent from my House a whole Day or Night?

Council. Upon the 30th of March he was not absent.

Holland. He was not.

[Cross Examination. ]

Council for the Crown to Eliz. Holland. What are you?

Holland. I keep a publick House in the Parish of Saunders.

Q. How far is that from Hawkhurst ?

Holland. About three Miles.

Q. Had you any Knowledge of the Prisoner before he came to lodge and board at your House?

Holland. Sir, he liv'd in the House before I came. I took the House but at Midsummer. He liv'd with the people before, but he was gone away, and return'd to u s the 12th of March.

Council. So he continued at your House from the 12th of March to two or three Days in June; so that he was inhabiting at this publick House from March to June. Pray, what Business did he follow there?

Holland. He followed no Business while he was at our House.

Council. Was he alone? Was there no body with him?

Holland. No.

Q. What did he give you for his Board?

Holland. I can't say.

Q. Did his Horse continue so long?

Holland. He had no House while he was at our House.

Q. What Room did he lodge in?

Holland. In the Chamber, I can't tell which.

Q. Did he at this Time pay you for his Board?

Holland. Yes.

Q. How much was you paid?

Holland. I can't say, my Husband made the Bar gain.

Council. At a publick House the Women generally receive Money.

Holland. I was but a young Woman in the Business.

Q. Where did you come from?

Holland. I liv'd in the same Parish before.

Q. Do you know Christopher Barret and Robert Worthington ?

Holland. No, I know nothing of them.

Q. Did no People come to visit the Prisoner at your House?

Holland. No.

Council. What! Nobody in all this Time?

Holland. No.

Council. Nor he did not do any Work in all this Time?

H. No, but set his Hand to any Thing in the House.

Q. How did he live?

Holland. I can't tell. I believe he was in no Busisiness, because he was he not out of our House.

Q. Do you know what Parish he belongs to?

Holland. No, Sir.

Council. You say, during all this Time, he was not a Day out of your House.

Holland. I can't say not out of Door, but not to stay out. He went out two Pieces of Nights to see a young Woman.

Council. What do you mean, that he went out in the Middle of the Night, or stay'd out till that Time?

Holland. He went out in the Night.

Q. What Time?

Holland. I can't tell; he was at Home in the Morning.

Q. How did he go? Did he go on Foot or Horseback?

Holland. He went on Foot.

Council. 'Tis pretty much you did not know which Room he laid in; there were only two Chambers and Garrets, You know which Chamber you lie in yourself; you need not to be at a Loss.

Holland. He lodg'd in the Parlour Chamber.

Council. Why could not you have told me, that he lodged in the Parlour Chamber? Surely he must have in all this Time somebody come to see him.

Holland. I don't know that he had any body.

Q. Do you deal in nothing but Liquor?

Holland. Only Ale.

Q. Do you sell no Brandy?

Holland. No, no.

Q. Had he Goods of any Kind at your House?

Holland. No.

Q. Did you ever see him with a Gun in his Hand?

Holland. No, not at our House.

Q. Did you ever see him have a Gun any where else?

Holland. No, Sir.

Q. Do you know how he paid for his Board, whether in Money or Goods?

Holland. In Money.

Q. Is there any Sign to your House?

Holland. Yes, the Sign of the Angel.

Q. What Parish do you live in?

Holland. In the Parish of Saunders.

Q. Who is the Minister of it?

Holland. One William Hudson .

Q. Is he a married Man?

Holland. Yes, he has two Sons.

Council to Eliz. Booth. You live, I think, a Servant, with the other Witness.

Court. How long have you been a Servant at that House?

Booth. Even since Lady-Day was a Twelve months, before the former Witness took the House.

Council. Do you know the Prisoner at the Bar? Did he come to lodge with your Mistress, Holland, and what Time was it?

Booth. The 12th of March, and he continued two or three Days in June.

Council. During that Time was he absent any one whole Day.

Booth. No.

Council. As to your Master, Holland, was he capable of coming to give Evidence?

Booth. He is very ill.

Court. Had the Prisoner, any Horse while he was with you?

Booth. No, Sir.

Q. Had he Gun, or Sword, or Pistol?

Booth. No.

[Cross Examination.]

Council for the Crown. I understand you liv'd in the House before the former Witness came there.

Booth. Yes, Sir.

Q. Who kept the House before?

Booth. One Cocker.

Q. What is become of them?

Booth. They are gone to live private.

Q. How long was the Prisoner there?

Booth. I believe he was there near a Quarter of a Year before.

Q. Did he keep as much at home the Quarter of a Year before that he was there?

Booth. He kept very much at home.

Q. What Employment did he follow?

Booth, I can't tell, Sir; he used to be helpful in the House.

Q. Did he board there before with Cocker?

Booth. Yes.

Q. What did he pay a Week for his Board?

Booth. I can't say, I never heard any thing about it.

Q. During that time, how had he Money to subsist?

Booth. I can't tell.

Q. During that Time, was he constantly there?

Booth. I saw him every Morning - I came by his Door.

Q. Where did you lie?

Booth. There are two Garrets; I laid in one of them.

Q. What Clothes had he when he was there?

Booth. Really, Sir, I can't say.

Q. Did he spend a good deal of Money at your House?

Booth. No Sir.

Q. Did not some People come to see him when he was there?

Booth. I did not see any Body.

Q. How came you here, Child?

Booth. We were subpoena'd

Council. I suppose you are paid for your Journey?

Booth. We ought, Sir; but we are not.

Q. What are you to have?

Booth. I can't tell, Sir.

Q. How did you come up?

Booth. With a Couple of Horses; Mistres's Brother carried me, and my Mistress rode single.

Q. Does the Brother live at this Place called Saunders ?

Booth. Yes, Sir.

Q. What Business does he follow?

Booth. He keeps a Farm and Hop-ground.

Council. So you have made no Agreement?

Booth. Not as I know of?

Q. Who applied to you with a Subpoena ?

Booth. I can't say.

Council. The Person that delivered it you don't you know; did he deliver it to you?

Booth. Yes.

Council. Did not you ask for some Money to bear your Expences?

Booth. He gave me this Piece of Paper, and a Shilling.

Council. I should think it natural for you to ask how your Expences were to be paid?

Booth. My Mistress paid the whole of the Expences up.

Q. How long was it ago that you received this?

Booth. Last Friday I think it was.

Q. When did you set out?

Booth. On Monday

Council. You say your Masters's Brother lives in the same Parish, how near your Mistress?

Booth. 'Tis about three Quarters of a Mile.

Council. I suppose your Mistress and Master, and him, are Friends together; does he ever come to your House?

Booth. Sometimes he calls, when he comes down to the Marshes.

Q. Was he an Acquaintance of Puryour's?

Booth. He is not at all acquainted with him.

Q. Did he know whether Puryour lodged at your House?

Booth. Yes, he might know that.

Q. How could he know that, if he was not acquainted with him?

Booth. Very like be might see him.

[The two former Witnesses could not tell the Distance from the Parish of Saunders to this Reculver; but there was one Mr Palmer in Court, that said he thought it to be about fifty Miles. ]

Council for the Crown. Gentlemen, you will please to observe, that this Fact is now proved upon the Prisoner by two Witnesses, Christopher Barrett and Robert Worthington . They have given you an Account of the Prisoner's being at Reculver the 30th of March; of his being armed; of his being assembled with the Number above what is described by Act of Parliament, who were armed likewise; and that the Prisoner: was there actually aiding and assisting in carrying off uncustomed Goods. Gentlemen, the Witnesses themselves have given you so probable an Account of this Transaction, and the Facts of the Goods being run; of the Cutter lying on the Shore, where the Water had wash'd it, and the Goods, upon the Beech, that Fact is confirmed by the Evidence of Jarvis Cooper . With respect to the Witnesses themselves, they are, of all others, the most likely to give an Account of this Affair; for they have both sworn,

the one; that he has known the Prisoner near three Years; and the other, a Year and a Half; and that they have not only been once or twice, but several times, concerned with him in aiding and assisting in running of Goods. They give you a particular Account that they were present at that very time; and you will observe, they both agreed in the Arms the Prisoner had, and the Share he had in those Goods. In order to controvert this Evidence, they set up a Defence inconsistent with it, therefore the Question will intirely depend on the Credit you shall give to the Witnesses.

You will observe, Gentlemen, there is no Sort of Attempt to discredit the Witnesses on the Behalf of the Crown; they have given you an Account themselves, that they have been concerned in this very bad Practice; that they have left it, and they are making all the Satisfaction they can to the Publick, by being instrumental to the suppressing of it.

If any had thought proper to tax the Account here given, it would have been extremely easy to have called Witnesses to have given them a Discredit; but, as nothing of that Kind whatsoever has been attempted, I apprehend their Evidence must rest with you unshaken, unquestioned.

Now, Gentlemen, the Account that the Witnesses on the Behalf of the Prisoner had to give, which is a common Defence, always set up upon these Occusions, that the Person was not there, but somewhere else at the same time, is, I apprehend, introduced and delivered with such Circumstances of Improbability, that 'tis impossible for any Man living to give any Credit to it. Consider the Account given of the Prisoner at the Bar; here is not one Person called to contradict the Witnesses, there is not so much as a single Witness called, that he had any other Employment to maintain him besides this of Smuggling. In the Account this Woman and her Maid has given, you observe an improbable Tale is told, that the Man was at this Publick-house in the Parish of Saunders, for six months; during all the Time that he was loitering at that House, that he carried on no Business; that he boarded at that House, but the Woman herself does not pretend to give you an Account, upon what Terms he was there, or what he was to pay for his Board. I should think, had he been an actual Boarder there at that time, it was impossible that she should be a total Stranger to any Agreement made; but, however, that was a Circumstance she had not before thought of; she was unprepared to give an Answer to it; therefore she tells you, that she was intirely a Stranger to the Terms: This Man was three Months at her House; the Woman, when she was first asked, was only prepar'd to give a general Evidence, and when I ask'd her the most plain and obvious Questions in the World, which was, What Room he laid in? when the House has but two Rooms besides Garrets, she was so boggl'd, she could give no Answer to it. The Servant was call'd and she gives pretty much the same Account, tho' this Man was in the House three Months, that not one of them should know what Sort of Clothes he had all the time; he comes to the House, according to them, without any thing but a single Shirt; he continued, without any Employment, for three Months, and they have no Demands upon him; no body knows how, or by what Means, he rais'd the Money.

And this is another Circumstance: The Brother of this Holland, who lives in the same Parish, who brought this Woman to Town, that must be able to give an Account of seeing this Man at Saunders, that Man is not produc'd; and why? because that Man won't concur with them.

Gentlemen, the Witnesses for the Crown that are called, are unaffected in their Evidence and Character; and 'tis impossible to believe, that this Prosecution carried on by the Crown itself, that they should, by themselves or Officers, suborn these two Witnesses in order to convict this Man at the Bar? And what Inducement can they have to come and swear this Man's Life away, if the Fact was not true, these Persons having been of the Gang? Now it would be a Suspicion against any other Witnesses that would come to swear to the Man's Face, because, you see, they kept every body at a Distance, and shot at the Officers that came to detect them.

Guilty . Death .

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