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Colonial Cases

Fidone, 1883


Giuseppe Fidone

Italian Consular Court, Shanghai
1 October 1883
Source: The North-China Herald, 10 October 1883



Shanghai, 1st October, 1883.

Before the Chev. JOSEPH HAAS, Acting Consul,

and Messrs. A. VITA and A. RIVA, Assessors.

The Marquis de Nembriiui-Gonzaga, Secretary to the Italian legation, acted as Clerk of the Court; and Mr. Suidter attended to act as Anglo-Italian interpreter.

GIUSEPPE FIDONE, aged 27, a native of Sicily, by profession a gilder and silverer, was charged with unlawfully entering the house of Messrs. Iveson and Co. and stealing therefrom two watch-chains, eight sovereigns, some Japanese coins, and a quantity of trinkets of various kinds, the property of Mr. R. H. Artindale.

M. CHITTI appeared as advocate for the prisoner.

The Prisoner was first examined by the Court, in the Italian language.  He said he left Italy in 1878 for Egypt, where he remained for several years.  He arrived in Shanghai on the 3rd September by the steamer Peking.  On the afternoon of the 10th September he was drunk.  He rode along the Bund in a jnricsha and turned up the first road he found, which was the Nanking Road.  He entered a house there and went upstairs; but what he did there he could not remember, as he was very drunk at the time.  He was afterwards charged with opening some boxes there and stealing some things; but he did not remember anything about it.  From this place he went to the "Empress of India" public-house, where he had some more drink.  Mrs. Nickels, the proprietress, asked him to pay $9 which he owned her, and he took two sovereigns out of his pocket and paid her, receiving 100 cents change in small silver.  He then went to the "Cosmopolitan" public-house, where he asked the proprietor, Mr. Schuldreich, to lend him $50.  Schuldreich lent him $30 and he gave Schuldreich some of the things in his pocket, which he supposed he had taken from the house in Nanking Road.  From there he went to the "Travellers," where he was living, but could not remember what happened there, as he was very ill - drunk.  He afterwards went out and walked along Broadway, when a person whom he now knew to be Sergeant Mack approached him and said, "I want you."  Mack then arrested him and took him to the police station, where he was searched.  The next day he asked what he had been arrested for and was told; and, on his telling the police that he was an Italian, he was taken to the Italian Consulate and charged.

ROBERT H. ARTINDALE was then called.

The CONSUL, addressing the witness,  said - According to the Italian law you have to give your word of honour that you will say noting else but the truth.

The witness, having made this affirmation, was examined in English.  He said on the night of the 10th September he went upstairs at about a quarter past nine for a cigar, and found that his desk and a box had been opened.  He missed a small Japanese box containing some of the trinkets now produced in Court.  He recognized all these trinkets as his property, and he believed there were stolen, in addition to the articles recovered, some Japanese coins.  He did not, however, remember exactly what was in the box, as he had not opened it for three years.  He made enquiries and found that a foreigner had been seen by a watchman to enter the house and go out again at about a             quarter past eight.  He then wrote to Mr. Superintendent Penfold, who sent Sergeant Mack round.  Witness then told Sergeant Mack the circumstances.  The prisoner was a stranger to him.

Signor VIRA asked if the witness was sure the desk and box were not open.

The Witness replied that they were not broken open before he went down to dinner.  He believed they were locked; but the locks were very simple ones - anyone could open them.  He saw some marks of violence on some drawers which had not been opened; but not much on the desk and box which had been opened.  The lock of the desk was a little damaged.

The CONSUL asked the witness if there was anything else which he positively knew was missing.  He asked the question not with reference the criminal charge, but with reference to the civil action for the recovery of the goods.

The Witness said he could not be sure, as he had not opened the box for three years.  He believed there were ten sovereigns altogether, and he was nearly sure there were not less than eight.

Inspector WILLIAM FOWLER was then called.  He said he was a native of Buckinghamshire and a British subject.  At just upon 11 o'clock on the night of the 10th September, it was reported at the police station that Mr. Artindale had lost some property.  He suspected the prisoner had gone to Hongkew, and he went towards the "Travellers;" but on the way there he met Sergeant Mack, with the man in custody.  Sergeant Mack had already searched him; but he was searched again at the station, and a kind of purse was found on him.  He never, to his knowledge, had seen the prisoner before he was arrested.

The CONSUL - The man says he does not recollect it because he was in such a state of drunkenness that he did not know what he was doing.  Was he drunk?

The Witness said no; the man was sober; he was a little excited, and he might have been drinking; but he knew perfectly well what he was doing.  Witness believed the excitement arose more from the fact of his being arrested than from drink.  The man denied the charge altogether at the time; but he did say something about drink.

The CONSUL asked if the witness had anything further to say.

Witness - There is one thing.  When these things were returned from the Cosmopolitan Hotel -

The CONSUL - You say you never saw this man before he was arrested.  Did you hear anything of him?

Witness - Not before, afterwards I heard that he had been convicted at Hongkong.

The CONSUL - You were not advised about the man before?

Witness - I believe Sergeant Mack can give you some information about it.  Of my personal knowledge I know nothing of him.

Sergeant ARTHUR MACK was then called.  He said he had reason to suspect the prisoner from information that he had received about him from Hongkong, and he kept a watch on him for several nights.  The information was to the effect that the man had been sentenced to six months' imprisonment for entering a house and stealing some jewellery.  On the night of the 10th September he watched the man from 7 o'clock till 7.55, and then lost him in Broadway.  The man was living at the "Travellers," and witness had watched him going on board different steamers at night.  He lost sight of the prisoner because the man seemed to have a suspicion that he was being watched, and used to hide round corners.  At a quarter past ten he was told that a robbery had been committed at Mr. Artindale's, and witness was sent by Mr. Penfold to Mr. Artindale's house.  He saw that there were marks of an instrument - probably a small jemmy or chisel - on the desk; but he did not examine the room closely, as he suspected from the watchman's description that the prisoner was the man who had been there, and he went off to arrest him before he got away.  He went first to the French town, knowing that the prisoner was in the habit of going there; and then he went to the "Travellers."  He waited outside and saw the prisoner come out and get into a jinricksha.  He stopped the man, took him into custody, and searched him at once for fear he should throw anything away on hjis way to the station.  He found on him four sovereigns and a half-sovereign, thirty dollars and some small money; and when the man was searched again at the station a purse was found on him.  He then went back to the "Travellers" and searched it, but could not find anything.  The prisoner was not drunk, and he did not say he was drunk; he only denied the robbery and said witness had made a mistake in arresting him.  When witness lost sight of him at five minutes to eight the prisoner was perfectly sober, but when he arrested him he had been drinking, but was not drunk. If he were asked if the man were drunk or sober he should say sober.  He did not find any instrument on the prisoner such as might have caused the marks on the desk.

The Prisoner here made a remark in Italian.

The CONSUL - You say that while you were following him before, he thought you were following him.  he asks, how did he know you were a police officer?

Witness - I suppose he suspected me, that is all.  A man would not attempt to go and commit a robbery - a man who knew anything at all about it - till he thought there was a chance of getting away without being seen.  I followed him for three nights, and I used to see him stop for three or four minutes to see if anyone was following him.  On the night odf the robbery he stopped right in the middle of the Broadway, and as there was no place for me to get on one side I had to go right on; and afterwards he went down a road leading to the Ningpo Wharf and stopped there, and I could not get out of his way.  After seeing me twice he probably thought there was something wrong and he had better go home again.  That is the only way I can account for it.  On the previous night he went into the "Travellers" and changed his clothes twice.

A Chinese watchman in the employ of Messrs. Iveson and Co. was then examined.  He said that judging from the prisoner's clothes and figure he believed him to be the man whom he saw enter the house on the night of the 10th September; but he could not recognize his face.

MOSES SCHULDREICH, landlord of the "Cosmopolitan" public-house, was then called.  He gave his evidence in Italian, and said he saw Fidone once in Hongkong, eight or ten months ago, at the opera, speaking to an Italian whom witness knew.  On the 4th September Fidone came to his tavern and spent plenty of money.  He always paid for what he had, and was very noisy.  He used to pay in pounds sterling and in dollars.  A few minutes before ten o'clock on the night of the 10th prisoner came in drunk, and asked for a drink.  Prisoner then asked witness to lend him $50 till next day.  Witness refused to lend it, and prisoner then asked for $30.  He lent the prisoner this amount, and prisoner gave him as security the trinkets then in Court. The next day witness was ordered by Sergeant Mack to bring the trinkets to the Austro-Hungarian Consulate, and they were sent afterwards to the Italian Consulate.  Witness believed Fidone's statement that he was a merchant, who had come to Shanghai to meet a female cousin of his whom he had to escort to Japan.  He believed the prisoner to be a gentleman, as he always spent plenty of money.

DANNENBERG, landlord of the "Travelers" was next examined.  In answer to the Consul, Mr. Fowler stated that this witness gave the police every assistance in searching his house for the stolen property.

Mrs. NICKELS, landlady of the "Empress of India," stated that the prisoner came to her house at about five minutes past eight on the evening of the 10th September, had a drink and gave her two sovereigns in payment of a debt of $9, she giving him 100 cents change.  Later in the proceedings, when the witness had left the Court, she was sent for and recalled, when she said she believed that it was about 8 o'clock when the prisoner came, but she was not certain about the time.

The CONSUL then asked Mr. Fowler if he had anything more to say before the Court.

Mr. Fowler said no; he thought the whole of the evidence was before the Court.

The CONSUL - Have you anything to say as to the safety of the man, so far as Shanghai is concerned?

Mr. FOWLER - I should ask that if the charge is considered to be proved against him, deportation should follow the sentence.

The Court here adjourned from twelve o'clock till half-past one.

Signor Chitti then addressed the Court on behalf of the prisoner, urging in mitigation of the sentence that the prisoner's pleas that he was drunk at the time and did not know what he was doing had not been upset by the evidence.

After some further questions had been put to Mrs. Nickels, the Court withdrew to consider their decision.

On the Court reopening,

The Consul passed sentence on the prisoner in Italian.  He then rendered the sentence into English, saying - The Prisoner is found guilty according to the Penal Code of Italy, and in the name of His Majesty King Humbert I., I sentence him to six months' imprisonment, to commence from the day he was arrested.  Besides this, in accordance with the proposal expressed in the name of the Municipality, at the expiration of this term he is to be deported out of the jurisdiction of the Court, which comprises all the nineteen open ports in the dominion of the Emperor of China.  And besides, he is to pay the expenses of this Court. If you, Mr. Fowler, will bring the prisoner up to-morrow at 4 o'clock, judgment will be delivered in detail.

The Court wishes to express to the Municipality, and to you, Mr. Mack, great credit for the endeavours you took to find the man out.  It does all credit to your clever abilities.  Within a very short time you have succeeded in finding out a crime here in China. Having the honour of serving His Majesty the King of Italy, I am proud of that honour and I am no less proud of you.

The Court then rose.

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