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Colonial Cases

R. v. Ellis and Osman, 1885


R. v. Ellis and Osman

Police Court, Shanghai

Mowat AJ, 11 November 1885

Source: North China Herald, 18 November 1885

Shanghai, 11th November 1885
Before R. A. Mowat, Esq., Assistant Judge.
  GEORGE ELLIS, a negro, and MAHOMMED OSMAN, firemen of the s.s. Sussex, were charged on a warrant with assaulting and wounding Sergeant Taylor, of the Municipal Police Force.
  The Prosecutor said that at half past nine on Monday evening he was in Broadway when P.C. Grouleff called to him and told him that the Captain of the Sussex had made a complaint of some of the men on board threatening his life.  Prosecutor went on board the Sussex, and went forward to the forecastle to remonstrate with the men. As soon as he got inside, Ellis struck him a blow on the head with some blunt instrument.  He closed with Ellis, and took out his truncheon; but Ellis at once snatched the truncheon from him.  The other man, Osman, who had been lying in his bunk looking on, then got up, and struck prosecutor another severe blow on the head with a blunt instrument - the leg of a table or something of that kind.  The prosecutor was then struck several times about the head and body; but as he was in a semi-conscious state, he could not see who did it.  He remembered nothing more until he found himself in the Captain's cabin, having his wound dressed. P.C. Grouleff went into the forecastle with him.  There were then two or three men standing about the forecastle, and two or three more lying in their bunks.  Ellis came up from the far end of the forecastle and met prosecutor as he came in, saying, "Get out of here," or something of that sort, and immediately stuck him on the head.  Grouleff then went outside and blew his whistle, and did not return.
  The prisoner Ellis said Sergeant Taylor had come twice into the forecastle saying that he was going to arrest Osman, and that he (Ellis) said, "Tell the Captain he has gone to his bunk; you can take him in the morning." The Sergeant was drunk, and he hit out two or three times with his stick, and then fell backwards, striking his head against the side of the door and cutting it.  The Sergeant made three rushes at him (Ellis) with his staff, and he took the staff away.  When repeating the statement at his Worship's request, Ellis said he did not know how the Sergeant got his head broken; but no one struck him.  The Sergeant struck him (Ellis) on the shoulder with his staff.
  The Prosecutor, in answer to his Worship, said he never struck Elis; he had no opportunity to do so, as his truncheon was taken away from him as soon as he drew it.  Ellis seemed quite mad; he (prosecutor) never saw a man in so ferocious in all his life.
  The Prisoner Ellis said he had nothing to drink all day, as the Chief Engineer would not give him any money.
  The Prisoner Osman declared that he did not strike the prosecutor.  He said he was in his bunk all through the disturbance, half asleep, and saw nothing of it.
  The Prosecutor said he recognized Osman at once, having seen him at the Police Station the day before, when he was locked up for disorderly conduct.
  A certificate was produced from Dr. McLeod, to the effect that he prosecutor had one jagged wound on the head, penetrating to the bone.
  The Prosecutor said he believed the blow delivered by Osman caught him in about the same place, but from a different direction.  It was after the first blow, from Ellis, that he felt the blood running down his face.
  Inspector Howard deposed to having arrested the two men on board the Sussex in Tuesday.  Ellis then admitted having struck the Sergeant, but said he did it in self defence.  Osman said nothing.
  The Prisoner Ellis denied having admitted the assault.  What he had said was that he took he constable's staff away in self-defence.
  P.C. Grouleff was then sworn.
  His Worship remarked that the witness's face had been cut slightly.
  The Witness said that was done when he was in the forecastle with Sergeant Taylor.  He said he first went on board alone, and was pushed out of the forecastle.  Then he went for assistance, and met Sergeant Taylor on Broadway.  They went on board to the Forecastle together; and Ellis rushed up and asked what they wanted in there.  Sergeant Taylor asked witness if that was the man whom the Captain wanted arrested, and witness replied that he was one of them.  Ellis then flourished a stick about as if he was crazy, and then seized hold of Sergeant Taylor and got him into a corner.  They had a struggle together, and then he saw Ellis strike Taylor with the Sergeant's own staff; the blood flowing down the Sergeant's fac.  Then Osman and another man rushed up to witness, took him by the waist, and threw him down, and he believed that it was then that his face got scratched.  Witness got his staff out, but it was taken away from him, and he went out of the forecastle to get assistance. Several of the officers of the ship were standing outside the forecastle, but not one of them would render any assistance, so he thought he would get help form some of the Sikhs employed as policemen on the wharf.
  In reply to his Worship, the witness said he did no call upon the officers for assistance; there was such a confusion that he had no time to say anything.  After he had blown his whistle, he went back into the forecastle and picked up his staff, which he saw lying on the floor.  Sergeant Taylor then said "make way," and he went out followed by the Sergeant.  He did not see Osman strike Sergeant Taylor; but, as it was rather dark in the forecastle he could not see everything that was done.  He was quite sure it was with the truncheon hat Ellis struck the Sergeant on the head.  He did not see Ellis strike the Sergeant until after he had got the staff away from him; but he might have done so.
  The Prisoner Ellis said he wanted to call Thomas Austin as a witness.
  The Captain said Thomas Austin was one of the two men against whom warrants were out for arrest on a charge of using threatening language towards him.
  The case was remanded till next morning at 10 o'clock.
12th Nov.
  George Ellis and Mahomet Osman were brought up on remand charged with assaulting and wounding Sergeant Taylor of the Municipal Police.
  THOMAS AUSTIN, a negro fireman, was called as a witness for the defence.  He said Sergeant Taylor came into the forecastle and attempted to take Ellis into custody.  Ellis and witness both told him Ellis was not the man whom the Captain wanted arrested.  The Sergeant, however, persisted in his attempt to arrest Ellis, and Ellis refused to go.  The Sergeant then drew his staff and struck Ellis twice across the shoulders with it.  Ellis then took the staff away from him, and a struggle ensued; but Ellis never struck the Sergeant, who cut his head by striking it in falling.
  JOHN TRACY, chief officer of the Sussex, was then called by the prosecutor.  He said Osman came to the Captain's cabin at about eight o'clock on Monday evening, and used filthy, obscene and threatening language.  The Captain sent for a constable to give the man in charge, and P.C. Grouleff came.  When Grouleff arrived, Osman had gone into the forecastle, and the constable went in after him to arrest him.  Ellis and Austin struck out at the constable, who judged from their attitude that it would be better to obtain assistance before attempting to arrest Osman.  He therefore went away, and returned with Sergeant Taylor, who went into the forecastle, witness remaining at the door.  Ellis and Austin tried to obstruct the Sergeant, and Ellis struck the Sergeant on the head.  Witness saw that there were going to be some more blows struck and went out - to blow his whistle and get a weapon, as he had nothing with him.  Some of officers of the ship were standing round at the time.  When he returned, the door of the forecastle was shut, and both police officers were outside.  He did not see Osman strike the prosecutor.  The whole affair could not have lasted two minutes.
  The Prosecutor, in answer to his Worship,  said he had again been examined by Dr. McLeod, who had told him it was impossible to say how long it would be before the wound healed.  It might take ten days, or it might take three weeks or more.  Sergeant Taylor supposed Dr. McLeod meant that the wound might "corrode."
  His Worship said he should like to hear the doctor's evidence as to the nature of the wound, and he accordingly adjourned the case till next morning for Dr. McLeod's attendance.
.  .  .  
  THOMAS AUSTIN, and a negro named JAFFER, were then charged on a warrant with threatening the lives of the chief engineer and officers of the Sussex.  After hearing the evidence, His Lordship said there was no evidence whatever against Jaffer, who ought not to have been given into custody at all.  He therefore discharged him.  Austin he ordered to be imprisoned for fourteen days.
.  .  .  
  The man MAHOMET OSMAN had also been summoned by the captain for threatening his life but the hearing of this charge was adjourned till the following day.

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