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Colonial Cases

R v. Ah-Lee [1880]

[stealing and receiving]

R. v. Ah Lee

Supreme Court for China and Japan
French C.J., 8 October 1880
Source: The North China Herald, 14 October 1880




Shanghai, 8th October.

Before G. FRENCH, Esq., Chief Justice.



   The prisoner, a Malay whop claimed British protection, was indicted for stealing an opium-pipe, of the value of $3.50, on the 8th September, from the shop of the prosecutor, who keeps an opium-shop in Hongkew, and a second count charged him with having received the pipe knowing it to have been stolen.

   Mr. MYBURGH, Acting Crown Advocate, appeared to prosecute.

   The prisoner was undefended.

   The prisoner pleaded "not guilty" to both counts, through Mr. Deighton, who acted as interpreter.

   A Jury was then empanelled consisting of the following gentlemen:- Messrs. G. R. Corner, A. Burrows, C. J. Bolton, G. Glass, and J. A. Harvie.

   Mr. GLASS asked if he could not claim exemption from serving.  He had always done so in Hongkong.  He w as a chemist and druggist.

   His LORDSHIP said he could not excuse him unless he was an apothecary in actual practice.

   Mr. GLASS accordingly entered the jury-box.

   Mr. MYBURGH gave a brief outline of the circumstances of the case, and after all the other witnesses had been told to leave the Court, he called

   CHANG AH-PING, who said, through Mr. Wing, that he was an opium-shop keeper in Hongkew.  He identified the pipe produced.  It was used in his shop for smoking opium.  It was last used on the 8th September, when he lent it to a man to smoke.  He saw it the following day in a pawnshop.  He did not give anyone permission to pawn the pipe.  The prisoner was one of his customers.  He did not remember whether he was in the shop when the man who had the pipe was smoking there.

   The prisoner had no questions to ask the witness.

   CHANG AH-HUNG, cautioned, said he was a cook in foreign employ.  At 1 a.m. on the morning of the day in question he was sleeping in the prosecutor's opium-shop in Hongkew with a man named Tu Ah-ming.  He had been smoking opium.  He saw the pipe in the shop then.  Tu Ah-ming used it.  Tu Ah-ming  went away and left the pipe in witness's charge.  When witness woke, the pipe was gone.  He saw the prisoner in the shop when he went into the shop.  He next saw the pipe at the Police Station.  He saw the prisoner in a pawnshop the same mourning.  Witness did not pawn the pipe, nor did he give it to anyone to pawn.

   By His LORDSHIP - The pawnshop was kept by Ching Ku-kian.  The opium-pipe was on the table.  Two of the pawnshop men were there.

   By the Prisoner - I did not authorise you to pawn the pipe.  I did not see you steal it.  I did not interfere with you or give you in charge when I saw you in the shop, because the pipe did not belong to me.

   TU AH-MING deposed that he recognised the pipe.  He used it on the 8th September; it belonged to the prosecutor.  When he went away, he left it in charge of the last witness.  He knew the prisoner.  He was in the opium-shop on the morning in question.  He did not give the prisoner the pipe.

   By the prisoner - I did not see you steal the pipe.

   CHO SUI-CHANG, an assistant in Chang Ko-kian's pawnshop, recognised the pipe.  Prisoner brought it to the shop to pawn; he pawned it for $1.30.

   ARTHUR MACK, sworn, said he was a police constable.  He was on duty at Hongkew Police Station when the prisoner was brought there by the second and third witnesses who charged him with stealing an opium-pipe.

   CHANG KO-KIAN (by the prisoner.) - When you brought the pipe to the shop, you did not conceal it.

   By His LORDSHIP - I did not take the pipe from the prisoner myself; it was received by my assistant. I have nothing to do with the pawning of goods myself; I do not interfere with my assistants at all.

   CHO SUI-CHANG, recalled, said that the prisoner was alone when he pawned the pipe.

   By His LORDSHIP - I gave the prisoner a pawn-ticket.  On it was stated the amount advanced.

   The prisoner said that on the morning in question, Chang Ah-hung gave him the pipe, and offered him 30 cents to pawn it.  About two o'clock a Chinaman called him and wanted him to go to the Police Station.  When he got there he was charged with the theft.  Her did not steal the pipe, and did not know it had been stolen.  He afterwards went back to the opium-shop, but no one said anything to him about having stolen anything. Chang Ah-hung spoke to him in English; he came to the door of the pawnshop with the prisoner, and when he (prisoner) came out, he handed him the money he had got for the pipe.

   The prisoner then called a Chinaman as a witness to prove that he was sleeping in his house on that night, but the witness, who seemed to be considerably under the influence of opium, said the prisoner had never slept in his house at all.

   The jury returned a unanimous verdict of "guilty" on the second count, and His Lordship sentenced the prisoner to three months' imprisonment with hard labour.


Source: Supreme Court of China (Shanghai), Judges' Notebooks, Vol. 3 (1880-1893), The National Archives (U.K.), FO1092: 340, p 8

Regina v. Ah-Lee.

Charge: Stealing an opium pipe.

Receiving an opium pipe, knowing it to have been stolen.

Plea: Not guilty.

Mr. Mayburgh for crown.

Chang-ah-Ping. (Sworn & interpreted by Mr. Wing of Shipping Office.)  I am an opium shop keeper.  Canton Rd., Hong Gue.  I recognize pipe in court.  It is mine.  It was used in my shop for opium smoking.  It was last used by Ah-Ling to whom I lent it to smoke opium with.  I don't know his [cn?] name.  The man in court is man to whom I lent pipe.  I saw it next day at pawn shop.  I did not authorize any one to pawn pipe.  Prisoner is one of my customers, I don't remember wr pr was in my shop when person to whom I lent pipe was in my shop.  It was 4th day of 8th moon when opium pipe lent at one o'Casn. (that wd be 7th Septr.) [9]

Chang-ah-hung.  Sworn & interpreted as former witness.  I am a cook in [foreign?] employ.  I remember 8th Septr last.  At [??] o'Casn I was in opium shop sleeping with a friend of mine in Gong-gue.  Chang-ah-Ping was propr of shop.  I was smoking opium.  I have seen the pipe in ct before.  I saw it at above opium shop in morng of 8th Septr.  It was used by Chan-ah-ming for smoking.  He was sleeping in same bed with me.  He went away first.  He did not take pipe.  He gave it to me to take care.  I went to sleep and when I woke pipe was gone.  I saw pr in shop when I went there.  When I woke pr.  I next saw pipe next at police station.  I saw prisoner in a pawn shop next morning.  I did not pawn pipe.  I did not tell anyone to pawn it.  Chang-ko-kian is the pawn-broker at whose shop I saw pr.  I saw pipe on table in shop.

By prisoner.  I did not give pipe to you to pawn.  I did not see you take pipe.

Re-exd.  I went to opium shop immedly afterwds & & told opium shop keeper where his pipe was. [10]

Chu-ah-ming.  Sworn & interpreted by Wing.  I recognize pipe.  I had in my possn 8th Septr last.  It belongs to Chang-ah-Ping.  I was smoking opium with it on that day.  After I had done smoking I gave pipe in charge of Chang-ah-Ping.  I know pr.  He was in opium shop when I was there on the 8th Sepr.  I did not give pr pipe.

Chi-sue-chung.  (Sworn & interpreted by Mr. Wing.)  I am assistant in pawn shop of Chung-ko-kian.  I have seen pipe before.  The pr had it when I saw it.  He pawned it for $1.30.  I pd pr that amt.    Pr came alone.


Arthur Mack.  I am policeman in S'hai Municipal police.  I was at statn when pr was brought there by Chang-ah-Ming and Chu-ah-ming. Chung-ko-kian came also there.

Chung-ko-kian.  (Sworn & interpreted by Mr. Wing.) 

By pr.  When you brought pipe you brought it openly to my shop.  My assistant negotiated pawn of pipe. [11]  I did not see money paid to pr.

Prisoner addresses jury and calls

Tung-ah-See.  (Sworn & interpreted by Mr. Wing.)  I am an opium shop keeper in Hongkew.  I do not know pr.  I have seen pr.  Pr went to shop kept by Chang-ah-Ping.  I saw him there very often.  I don't recollect night of 4th day of 8th moon.

Verdict: Guilty of receiving pipe knowing it to have been stolen.

Sentence. Imprisonment for 3 months with hard labour.

George French.

Chief Justice.

Upon application on behalf of prosecutor the $1.30 mentioned in the evidence and found on the person of the prisoner when taken into custody by police ordered to be returned to prosecutor.

George French.

Chief Justice.

Octr 14, 1880.

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