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Colonial Cases

R v. McFarlane [1885]


Supreme Court for China

Shanghai, Rennie C.J., 9 March 1885

Source: Supreme Court of China (Shanghai), Judges' Notebooks, Vol. 3 (1880-1893), The National Archives (U.K.), FO1092: 340, p 80


Regina v. John Bingham McFarlane.

Charge Manslaughter.

Plea Not Guilty.

July, duly sworn.  J. O. [Finch], N. A. Gubbins, R. D. Starkey, S. Smith, W. Hewitt.

Indictment read to Prisoner.

Pleads not guilty.

The Crown Advocate for the prosecution.

Mr. Wainwright for the prisoner.

Crown Advocate opens for the prosecution & calls

Francis [Lennon] Marshall, sworn.  I am British Subject and assistant [82] to Mr. [Cory] a surveyor.  I made the plan (A) produced.  It is a plan of the upper storey of 132 [B????] Road.  The plan is correct.  So far as I can see the other plan (B) you now show me agrees with it.  It correctly described the staircase and I think correctly shows the lower Floor.

Rawlings Fittock, sworn.  A B.S. & in the surveyor's office of Municipal Council.  I made Plan B.  It is correct.


Walter Jennings Mills, sworn.  I am B.S. a F.C.Q.S of England.  On the 25th last month I viewed the body [83] of a child at the Mortuary Chamber in Shantung Road.  It was identified by a Chinese woman as that of her son.  I now see the woman in Court.  I exd the body & found 2 wounds on the chest.  The wound in the front was an inch to a half to the right of the middle line between the 4th & 5th ribs small & circular [???][???] at the back three inches to the left of the middle line & [84] between the 10th & 11th ribs.  A bullet had passed between the two points injuring the heart and this wound was the cause of death in my opinion.  The 10th rib was fractured.

XXd by Mr. Wainwright.  I should think the boy was about 12 or 14.  He may have been about 4 feet 6 in height.  I mark on the [doll] you show me the point as nearly as possible where the bullet entered & came out.  The wound was a resulting fatal one. [85]  If the child had been standing on the left on the Prisoner and had placed his hand on the pistol causing it to go off, while the Prisoner was [????":?] it, such a wound as this might have resulted.

Re-Exd.  I should say that when the pistol was discharged it might have been within a foot or two, or more off.  The bullet had not been deflected in its course.  The wound could have been produced by a pistol like that shown me.


To a Juror.  What I have [stated] is [86] connected with the relative height of the prisoner.  I think the child must have been pretty close to the Prisoner when the pistol went off.

Wong Kai Kah, sworn as Interpreter and employed by consent of Consul & Counsel.

Sing Yue, a Cantonese Woman, cautioned.  Remember the 16th Feby last.  Knows the accused.  Saw him on that day.  Went to his house at request of others & saw decd lying on back and saw [di a so] sitting on bed.  Prisoner told me that he had shot Billy that he was very sorry that the revolver went off [87] by accident & that he had got the revolver out on account of [???????].

Not cross exd.


Lee Ah [???], cautioned.  Am a Cantonese Woman.  Know accused.  Have lived with him as his wife for a long time 11 ½ years.  2 Children by him.  One Child of a previous master, called Billy.  That was the only name I called him by.  Remember seeing the [doctor] at Mortuary Chamber and [88] pointing out the body of the child Billy to him.  I remember the accused having a pistol in his hand on the 16th Feby.  It went off.  That was at the house I lived in then at the Boom Road upstairs.  In the room there was prisoner, myself & 2 children also the deceased Billy.  When I came to see Billy was lying on the Floor wounded by a bullet.  I think the pistol was smaller than the one you show me. [89] The Pistol I saw in the Prisoners hands was thrown away by me into the water from Jardine Wharf.

Shown Plan B.

I was not in the room when the shot was fired.  I was in the back part of the house and could not see into the room.  When I went into the room the deceased was crouching on the Floor near the stairs & then lay down there.  I have marked the spot on that marked B.  before I went out of the room decd [90] & prisoner were playing together.  There were 3 playing together.  At the time Prisoner had the revolver in his hands.  He had said to me that there were people knocking at the door every night and that he was going to load the revolver to frighten thieves. Prisoner and Billy were very fond of revolvers and he (prisoner) was going to fire it off to let him see.  When I came into the room aftwds Prisoner said "Sorry makee shoot the boy."  Nothing else only "very sorry." [91]

   I carried Billy to bed.  Prisoner suggested his being taken to hospital & have Foreign Doctor to look after him.  Deceased refused to go he wanted a Chinese Doctor.  I called one.  He is here in Court.  I now identify him.  Billy died at 4 o'C on the 17th and his body was taken to North gate Cemetery.  Prisoner & I and two children & [??????] Coolie went with the body. [92]  I left the room on the 18th.

XXd by Mr. Wainwright.  Billy would have come up to about my neck.  When I went out of the room Prisoner had not the pistol in his hands, he was changing his clothes.  When I came back into the room after the shot was fired Prisoner & decd were not above 2 or 3 feet apart.  When I lifted Billy into bed Prisoner was close by.  I threw the pistol away because I was scared.  I left the house because it is Chinese custom to do so after a death has occurred.  [93]

To a Juror.  The pistol was only a little smaller than the one you show me.  I came back to the room immediately after the shot was fired.  The bullet was found on the body & thrown away.  I found it in the clothes.  He had on a [?????] [coat] and [padded] cotton clothes.

To the Court.  Prisoner & decd had always been on good terms.  Prisoner on that day was not [????].  he was not [???????] by [94] drink.


Chung ah Sam.  Was not in the house when the shot was .....

Wu Chuk Ting, duly sworn.  I remember .....

Arthur Maile, Sergeant of Police.  I arrested the 21st Feby at 5.30 from information recd.  He denied the charge.

Mr. Wilkinson refers to cases of

R. v Jones 12 C.C.C

R. v Selman CCR VI 2 B [drin?]

and closed case for prosecution.

12 Noon.

Adjourned to 2 p.m.


Mr. Wainwright for the prisoner claims that Prisoner should be allowed to make a statement after his address.


R. v [Fenny] 12 C.C.C.

Prisoner then makes statement.

Mr. Wilkinson replied [about] the statement only.

Judge sums up.

Verdict Not Guilty.

R. T. Rennie, C.J.


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