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Colonial Cases

The Wallace, 1885


The Wallace

Police Court, Shanghai
Mowat AJ, 11 July 1885
Source: North China Herald, 17 July 1885

Shanghai, 11th July 1885
Before R. A. Mowat, Esq., Assistant Judge.
  W. W. McLeod, Mate of the Wallace, appeared in answer to a charge of assault brought against him by here members of the crew. A warrant for the arrest of McLeod had been in the hands of the Police for several days; but they had been unable to find him.  He ultimately turned up of his own accord, and, the warrant having been withdrawn, appeared in answer to the adjourned summons.
  Joseph Leborgne, A.B., seaman, said that on Saturday morning, the 4th instant, he was in his bed in the forecastle, sick, when the mate came in, pulled him out of bed, kicked him and knocked him down, then kicked him out of the forecastle and struck him on the head and body with a broom handle.  He went to complain to the Captain, and McLeod followed him and kicked and struck him again in the presence of the Captain.  Complainant had been laid up for several days with scurvy and rheumatics.
  The defendant acknowledged having pulled Leborgne out of bed and pushed him out of the forecastle; but he denied having struck him with a broom handle. Leborgne had been sick all the voyage, and the others had had to do his work.
  Agnar Tyselius, seaman, said he was on the house when he heard someone singing out in the forecastle.  He then saw Leborgne come stumbling out of the forecastle followed by the mate, who struck him several times with a broom handle.
  August Eriksen also deposed to having seen the assault.
  The defendant denied that he had followed Leborgne to the Captain and struck him.  He said Leborgne, the steward and stewardess and another man had all followed him, calling him all sorts of dirty names.  He called the Captain as a witness to this.
  Captain Smith, master of the Wallace, said on Saturday morning he was called by the boatswain, who said there was a quarrel on deck.  He went on deck and saw the mate going aft, followed by the steward and stewardess and a sailor.  The steward and stewardess were doing all the talking, the stewardess shouting out to the mate, "You cowardly brute!" Seeing that the mate was excited with drink, witness tried to get him to go to his room, and while he was speaking Leborgne came aft - probably to make a complaint against McLeod.  The mate aimed a kick at the stewardess, and then gave Leborgne a slap on the face with his open hand.  That was all the mate did in his presence.  Witness then induced McLeod to go to his room, and ordered the steward and stewardess to the alley.
  His Worship remarked that the Captain had charged the mate with being absent without leave.  He asked if Captain Smith was going on with that charge.
  The Captain said in consideration of the mate having returned of his own accord he would not press the charge.  He had told the mate to go on shore and not return to the ship till he was in proper condition; but he did not intend him to stop away so long.
  John Wright, the second complainant, said on Saturday morning he saw the mate under the forecastle looking for him (complainant) with a broom handle in his hand.  The mate called out, "Where is that -------?" and complainant said, "Here I am, Sir." The mate then tore his shirt and struck him on the back of the neck with the broom handle, which he broke; and afterwards McLeod forced complainant down on the deck and beat him with his fists and kicked him. He had been under the doctor's hands for two days with rheumatism, and the mate struck him with the broom handle because he could not turn to.
  The defendant said he had only taken hold of Wright's shirt and told him to turn to, when Wright jerked himself away, and tore his shirt.  The doctor had told defendant that there was very little the matter with Wright.
  His Worship asked the defendant if he admitted that he was drunk.
  The defendant said he had met a cousin of his who had just come from Vancouver's Island, and he had been up drinking with him nearly all the night; but he thought if the truth was known they all of them had a little drop in.
  Rudolph Kopp deposed to having seen the mate assault Wright in the way he had described.
  Henry Scott, who also charged the mate with assault, said he was acting as watchman on Friday night, when at about 11 o'clock the mate came to the ship in a sampan, drunk.  He tried to get the mate on board, but he was too drunk, and complainant told the sampan-man to let him sleep there.  In the morning the mate came to complainant and told him to turn to.  He explained that he had been watchman during the night; but the mate struck him on the side of the head, knocked him down, and commenced hammering him with his fists and kicking him, saying, "Watchman be d-----. I will work you to death."
  Rudolf Rohwedder corroborated the witness's account.
  His Worship said the only explanation of the defendant's conduct - and there was no excuse whatever for it - was that he seemed to have been greatly under the influence of liquor. According to his own account he had been drinking for the greater part of the night, and in the morning he seemed to have acted more like a wild animal than a reasonable being.  He had set upon the three men who were not at work, all of whom had very sufficient reason for not being at work, one having been watchman over night and the others being under the doctor's hands; but even if they had had no reason that would have been no justification for his assaulting them in the way he did.  The first assault was the worst.  Considering Leborgne's age and evident ill-health, and considering the defendant's size and strength, that assault was a brutal one.  For the first assault he would be imprisoned for two months with hard labour, and for each of the other assaults for one month, making four months in all.
  His Worship then ordered the three complainants to be discharged from the ship as they all wished to leave.  Addressing the other members of the crew, who had been brought up from the gaol, where they were under sentence for refusing to return to their ship, he said that they had no more excuse for their refusal.  He had assured them that they would not be sent to sea until the charges against the mate had been enquired into.  But if there was no reason for their refusal before, there was even less now, as the captain would have to get a new mate, and everything he trusted would go on all right.
 All the eight men, together with another man who had previously agreed to go back, now positively refused to return, some of them saying that the mate could not have ill-treated them as he had done during the last voyage if his conduct had not been countenanced by the Captain.
  His Worship sentenced all the nine men to six weeks' imprisonment with hard labour.

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