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Colonial Cases

R v. Powell [1881]

incitement to commit arson

Supreme Court for China

Shanghai, 24 April 1881

Source: Supreme Court of China (Shanghai), Judges' Notebooks, Vol. 3 (1880-1893), The National Archives (U.K.), FO1092: 340, p 12

R v. George Ormsby Powell.

Inciting one Erick Francis Akerman to set fire to a dwelling-house.

Mr. Drummond for prsn.

The accd undefended.

Plea: not guilty.

Jurors: R. H. [Artindale]; S. [Moutrie], A. White, J. W. L. Williamson, H. T. Wade.

Mr. Drummond opens. [13]

Eric Francis Akerman.  Sworn.  Lived in Dec. & Jany at 492 Broadway Hongkew.  Auctioneer.

Powell lived next door to me.  The other side was unoccupied. I don't think Powell was in good circs.  I am sure of it.  He had no policy in Decr on the goods in his house.  He had several conversations with me in Decr on the subject of getting policies & then having his premises burnt as he was in difficulties.  He showed me letters from offices refusing policies.  He asked me to do the job for him.  On the 4th Jany he got a policy.  On that day he came to me & asked me to go upstairs & showed me his policy.  He then made out the promissory note. (A.) It is not correct that I lent him $450 on 1st Novr.   I never had so much at any one time since I arrived in S'hai.  Never did borrow any money on the contrary.  I owed him about $50.  He suggested our going to the B. Well, where we wd be less disturbed.  There he handed me A & the rec. B.  When we returned to the Settt I made a report to Mr. Stripling.

   Accd came in 5 or 6 times during the evening & wanted to know if I was ready.  The last time was about 11.30, when I was in bed (to get rid of him).  I pretended to be drunk.  He finally went away, saying to himself what a pity it was that I was drunk.  He remained up till 3 that morning.  Next day he came in and sd what a pity I got so drunk.  He then told me that the Insce Agent had demanded the policy [14] back & that he wd refuse to give it up unless compelled.  Later in the day he told me he had given it up.

Xd.  There was nothing to hinder you giving me A in yr house, without going to the B.W.  It was at the B.W. you gave me B.  It was bet 4 & 5 I made the report to Mr. Stripling.  I saw you.

By a juror.  I am a friend of Powell's. [Deleted = I was in duty bound] I was afraid if he might

Paul Blesky, sworn.  Clerk of Carlintz & Co, agents of Hanbury & Burns Insce Co.  (Shown C.)

Prisoner got that from our office on the 3d Jany.   Mr. Stripling made a report to us.  I wrote D in consequence & took it to prisoner.  He refused to give up the policy & sd he wd hold us responsible for anything that occurred that night.  Next day he came & returned the policy & got back his premium.  I made an afft to Mr. S. after accd had refused to give up the policy.

Xd.  You also sd you [wd?] in the Canal before you gave it up. [15]

By a juror.  There was time for him to get anor policy that night if he surrendered ours.

Robt McIlwraith, sworn.  Landlord of B.W.C.  Know prisoner & Ackerman by sight.  They were both in my house on a day early in Jany when a paper hunt took place, which finished at the B. bridge on the [Juppiled?] Rd.

George Grant, sworn.  Storekeeper.  I lived at 377 Broadway Hongkew in beg of Jany last.  I have seen P's handwriting several times.  I saw a P/L in his handwriting on the [5th?].  That (A) is the P/L.  I have no doubt about it being in his handg..  So too is B.  The signature is his - I'm not positive about the rest of it.  Akerman showed it me - he called me upstairs in his bed-room.

Xd. I reported the circs. Only to Fabricius - not the Police.  I didn't think it necy.

Jas. Pallister, sworn.  I used to keep the books, saw his handwriting frequently.  About the latter end of Deche began to get in bad circs.  He was not indebted to Akn.  Akn was indebted to him, about $56 or 57.  Knows the paper used by  [16] Powell. (Shown G.) That is the kind of paper.  The P/L bears the same watermark.  Akerman, [R.Cg ???] were in the store about Decr & sd they were going to see Kamffentel.  Welch joined them outside.

By a juror.  The $57 was entered in the books.  The $450 sd have appeared in the books [??] if it was due.  There was no entry of it.  A & B are wholly in accused's handg.  There was no [??? ???] on my premises on the night of the 4 ?

By Powell.  I noticed something strange about you at the time the girl hung herself - the latter end of Nov.  You didn't seem to be altogether there.  You came right towards the latter end of Decr.  - afterwards you got better.

Fred. Gustave Kamffentel, sworn.  Remember Powell's saying that Akerman had asked him to make out that note for 500 dollars or 500 taels.  Aftwds he & the others came to ask me what I meant.  I passed it off as a joke as I thought they meant to intimidate me. [17]

Arthur Mack.  Constable Municipal police.  I watched the house in conseq. of orders I recd - from 12 to 5.30.

C. A. Welch. Found A on [Blackwood] when I arrested him.

B. Stripling.  Akerman made the conn bet. 2 & 2.30.

Case for prosn.

Prisoner calls

Freidrich Wilhelm Stop, sworn.  Akerman sd he would turn anyone out if he cd get $500.  Powell found fault with him, & ordered him out of the store.  This was before the 4 Jany  New Year.

Joseph Incarnacao, sworn.  In Dec. & Jany he wasn't quite in his senses, he didn't mind his business.  The acd was like a fool. [17]

Prisoner addresses the jury.

Mr. Drummond replied

& I sum up.

Jury retire to consider their verdict.

Verdict - Guilty.   R. A. Mowat

Sentence deferred.

3rd March 1881: A twelve month's impt h.l. to date from date of conviction.


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