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Colonial Cases

R v. Mason [1891]

possession of explosives - expulsion from China

Supreme Court for China

Shanghai, 29 October 1891

Source: Supreme Court of China (Shanghai), Judges' Notebooks, Vol. 3 (1880-1893), The National Archives (U.K.), FO1092: 340, p 334

 

Regina v. Charles Henry Allen Welch Mason.

Charge.  That he the said Charles Henry Allen Welch Mason on the 13th day of September 1891, knowingly had in his possession three packages of an explosive substance to wit dynamite under such circumstances as to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that he did not have it in his possession for a lawful object.

Plea.  Guilty.

[335]

Mr. H. T. Wilkinson, Crown Advocate, prosecutes.

The prisoner makes a statement.

The Court suggests that the Crown Advocate should comment on the statement & the depositions.

The Crown Adve addresses the Court.

The prisoner is asked if he has anything to say why sentence should not be passed.

Sentence nine months imprisont.  To find two sureties of $2500 each for his good behaviour on termination of sentence, or to be deported; to pay expenses of trial & imprisonment.

Nicholas J. Hannen

[337]

Tuesday, 20 day of July, 1892.

Regina v. [Charles H. A. W.] Mason.

Prisoner is brought up by order of the Court to state whether he is prepared to offer sureties in terms of sentence passed on him on 29th day of Oct. 1891.

To be deported to Engld & pay expenses. 

N. J. Hannen, CJ.

Source: The Times, 27 April 1892

THE SHANGHAI DYNAMITE CASE.

The China papers received by the last mail report that the Chinese Government has addressed a serious remonstrance to Lord Salisbury on the proceedings in the British Consular Court in Shanghai, in connection with the trial, and conviction of the British subject Mason, for importing dynamite into China for an unlawful purpose.   Mason was inducted under section 4 of the Explosives Act of 1883 (under which the Walsall Anarchists were recently tried at Stafford), and, pleading "Guilty," was sentenced by the Judge to nine months' imprisonment, besides being required to find bail for his good behaviour after the expiration of his sentence.

The Chinese protest that this sentence is totally inadequate, and they assail the whole of the proceedings.  They say that he was indicted for the least serious of the offences with which he might have been charged, that in place of accepting a plea of guilty to the charge of having possession of an explosive substance under suspicious circumstances, he should have been indicted under section 3 of the Act for having an explosive with intent to endanger life and property.  Furthermore it is urged that he should also have been charged under the Foreign Enlistment Act and the provisions of the treaty between the two countries for having enlisted men in Hongkong to join in an armed insurrection in China; and every effort should have been made to probe to the bottom the extraordinary transaction in which Mason seemed to play a leading part.  The Chinese are said to allege that had such an investigation been carried out, it would have shown that other Europeans besides mason were implicated in this attempt to create a rebellion in China.  Furthermore they contend that the sentence was unduly lenient even for the charge to which Mason pleaded guilty, according to the code of punishments prevailing in Western countries.  The Act gives the Judge power to inflict a sentence of 14 years' penal servitude, and the Chinese ask if nine months' imprisonment be adequate punishment for the possession, for unlawful purposes, of a large quantity of dynamite ready for use, what possible amount of possession could justify a sentence of 14 years.

In addition, they object strenuously to the part of the sentence allowing Mason to remain in China provided he can find bail to be of good behaviour.  They say that while Chinese subjects are being beheaded for being associates in the crime in which Mason was a leader, it would be scandalous that he should be allowed to remain in Chiba a free man.  The Chinese Government is said to demand that Mason should be put upon his trial in Hongkong for his other alleged crimes, and that in any case he should be removed from Chinese soil immediately on his release.  The allegations as to the complicity of other foreign residents in Shanghai in the Mason conspiracy are said to be somewhat pointed and specific in the Chinese official remonstrance.

[See also (this site) China Judges' Notebooks, No. 340, page 334 (29 October 1891) and page 337 (20 July 1892 - Ordered to be deported.]

 

Times, 27 April 1892
THE SHANGHAI DYNAMITE CASE.


The China papers received by the last mail report that the Chinese Government has addressed a serious remonstrance to Lord Salisbury on the proceedings in the British Consular Court in Shanghai, in connection with the trial and conviction of the British subject Mason, for importing dynamite into China for an unlawful purpose. Mason was indicted under section 4 of the Explosives Act of 1883 (under which the Walsall Anarchists were recently tried at Stafford), and, pleading "Guilty," was sentenced by the Judge to nine months' imprisonment, besides being required to find bail for his good behaviour after the expiration of his sentence. The Chinese protest that this sentence is totally inadequate, and they assail the whole of the proceedings. They say that he was indicted for the least serious of the offences with which he might have been charged, that in place of accepting a plea of guilty to the charge of having possession of an explosive substance under suspicious circumstances, he should have been indicted under section 3 of the Act for having an explosive with intent to endanger life and property. Furthermore it is also urged that he should have been charged under the Foreign Enlistment Act and the provisions of the treaty between the two countries for having enlisted men in Hongkong to join in an armed insurrection in China; and every effort should have been made to probe to the bottom the extraordinary transaction in which Mason seemed to play a leading part. The Chinese are said to allege that had such an investigation been carried out, it would have shown that other Europeans beside Mason were implicated in this attempt to create a rebellion in China. Furthermore, they contend that the sentence was unduly lenient even for the charge to which Mason pleaded guilty, according to the code of punishments prevailing in Western countries.  The Act gives the Judge power to inflict a sentence of 14 years' penal servitude, and the Chinese ask if nine months' imprisonment be adequate punishment for the possession, for unlawful purposes, of a large quantity of dynamite ready for use, what possible amount of possession could justify a sentence of 14 years.'
  In addition, they object strenuously to the part of the sentence allowing Mason to remain in Chine provided he can find bail to be of good behaviour. They say that while Chinese subjects are being beheaded for being associated in the crime in which Mason was a leader, it would be scandalous that he should be allowed to remain in China a free man.  The Chinese Government is understood to demand that Mason should be put upon his trial in Hongkong for his other alleged crimes, and that in any case he should be removed from Chinese soil immediately on his release. The allegations as to the complicity of other foreign residents in Shanghai in the Mason conspiracy are said to be somewhat pointed and specific in the Chinese official remonstrance.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School