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Colonial Cases

Hagge v. Hintz, 1880


Hagge v. Hintz

German Consular Court, Shanghai
Focke, 22 September 1880
Source: The North China Herald, 30 September 1880



Shanghai, 22nd September.

Before Dr. FOCKE, H.I.G.M.'s Consul-General, Sitting as judge, and Messrs. P. G. HUBBE and A. KRAUSS, Assessors.


   This was a case in which the prisoner was charged with having attempted to defraud the Prussian National Fire Insurance Company to the extent of about Tls. 1,000.  It will doubtless be remembered that the house in which the prisoner resided in Hongkew was burnt on the morning of Sunday, the 22nd August.  He had several days before taken out an insurance policy on his furniture and personal effects.  Subsequent to the fire, he presented a claim for compensation to the amount of Tls. 2,455 for property alleged to have been burnt.  It was afterwards found that some of the property represented by Hintz as having been destroyed had been removed from the house before the fire occurred.  It was also stated that in claiming compensation for furniture, &c., actually destroyed, he had represented the value of the property in question to be much in excess of what it was really worth.

   Mr. STRIPLING watched the case on beheld of the Police, and detailed the steps they had taken to investigate the affair.

   The prisoner was undefended, and when informed of the nature of the charge by the Consul-General, virtually admitted it, but explained that he had lost property in the fire for the value of which he had sent in no claim.

   JOHN WHITE, s worn, said that he was overseer at Jardine's stables on the Bubbling Well Road.  He had known the prisoner at Tientsin.  About the 15th or 16th ult., Hintz came to him and asked him for the loan of some money.  Witness lent him $7.  He was at Hintz's house in Hongkew several days before the fire.  Hintz represented to him that he was in difficulties and expressed a fear that the German Consul-General would take away everything he had.  Witness said that that official could not at any rate deprive him of his clothes, but that if he was afraid, he might send them to his place.  Hintz did so. Witness did not hear of the fire until he saw the account of it in the papers.  He then observed to a friend that "it looked rather fishy."  He went to look for Hintz, and finding him at the Wharf Hotel, told him to remove the box from his (witness's) place, else he would speak to the Police.  Hintz soon came and took the box away, saying he was going to French-town, but he did not name the house at which he intended to stay. Witness did not take the box of clothes as security for the $7 he had lent the prisoner.  When witness lent him that sum, Mr. Hintz offered him a finger-ring as security, but he declined to take it.

   By an Assessor - When the box now in Court was in my room, I tried to lift it with both hands, but could not do so, so I suppose it was not empty.

   HARTMANN HAGGE, sworn, deposed that he was in the office of Mr. B. Telge, who was the agent in Shanghai of the Prussian National Insurance Company, and that the prisoner effected an insurance on the furniture and personal effects in the 14th August, to the amount of Tls. 2,000. In consequence of hearing of suspicious circumstances connected with the fire, he (witness) placed the matter in the hands of the Police.  In a case of this kind, he should expect an honest man to claim about the sum that would replace the property insured.

   The amah who was in the prisoner's employ at the time of the fire, said, through the Interpreter of the Hongkew Police Station, that she slept in the same room with her master and mistress.  On the morning of the fire, she went to bed about two o'clock, the wakefulness of the baby keeping her up till that time.  The prisoner was not in bed then.  She did not hear him go upstairs.  She did not know how much kerosene there was in the house, not did she know how the fire began.  She did not see either Mr. or Mrs. Hintz when she ran away from the fire; she was very much frightened at the time, and she did not look to see if they were in the room.

   She knew nothing of the departure of the box until after it had been taken away.  She had never been upstairs.  There were three boxes, two beds, a buffet, and two wardrobes in the bed-room.  There were five or six tables and about ten chairs and a small clock in the other rooms downstairs.  She had never seen any jewellery in the possession of her master or mistress.

   WOO AH-CHING, cautioned, said that he went into the prisoner's employ about eleven days before the fire.  He did not sleep in the house.  About five days before the fire, his master told him to get four coolies to take the box (now in Court) away, saying that it belonged to an engineer on a European steamer.  Witness did not see what was in the box; he had never seen any jewellery in the house. He was told to buy some kerosene on the Saturday morning, and bought 14 cents' worth, two bottles.  He did not know whether there was any oil in the house before.  He did not see any oil in the house when he took his situation.

   TOO KIN-FOO, a little boy employed by the prisoner, said that he went to fetch the coolies who took the box away.  He did not see the contents.  He had seen three watches in the house; one was a"play-watch" that the baby had, the others were a yellow and a white one.  These were kept in a wardrobe in his mistress's room.  There was a square tin about half full of kerosene in the passage under the stairs.  He had never told anyone that Mrs. Hintz had thrown a bottle of oil on the floor.

   WONG AH-FUNG, who had lived next door to the prisoner, said the fire burnt her house as well as his.  She heard a coolie say that the fire was caused by the breaking of a lamp, but she had no personal knowledge of the affair.

   The Constable here took the clothing, &c., out of the box, and, after the Consul-General had read over the items of the prisoner's claim, set aside certain silk dresses, and some valuable articles of men's clothing, which were described in the schedule as having been destroyed.

   The prisoner admitted that these articles had been represented as destroyed.

   The Consul-General and the Assessors then retired, and after about twenty minuses' deliberation, on their return to the Curt-room, Dr. Focke announced that the prisoner was sentenced to three months' imprisonment, the term, to be considered to have commenced on the 26th August, the day when he was first arrested. He added that had the amount claimed been paid, a sentence of twelve months' duration would have been passed, but as only an attempt at fraud had been committed, and not fraud itself, the penalty inflected had been deemed sufficient.  The prisoner must also pay the costs of the case.

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