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Colonial Cases

R. v. Drake, 1886

[manslaughter on ship]

R. v. Drake

Hannen, 7 December 1886
Source: North China Herald, 22 December 1886

  This trial was commenced in the 7th instant in H.B.M. Court for Japan, at Yokohama, before N. J. Hannen, Esq., Judge, and a Jury,
  The Judge having charged the Jury, they retired, and after an absence of an hour and a half returned into Court.
  Mr. W. A. Crane, Foreman of the Jury, gave the verdict as "Guilty." But the Jury desire to record their sense of the difficulties of the position in which the captain was placed, aggravated by the fact of the engineers having left the ship in the port life-boat, thereby diminishing the means of saving life at his command, and also by the unwillingness, if not actual resistance, offered by the Japanese passengers to the efforts made to get then out of the alley-way towards he boats.
  The Judge - John William Drake, the jury, after very carefully hearing and  considering your Case, and hearing the able defence that has been urged on your behalf, have found you guilty of manslaughter. This amounts in reality to a recommendation to mercy.
  I fully appreciate the difficulties in which you were placed, and which have been noticed by the jury. Nevertheless these lives have been lost, and you have been found by the jury to be guilty of manslaughter.  Under these circumstances, taking everything into consideration, and taking, to the full amount that I possibly can, their recommendation and the rider they have added to their verdict, into my consideration, I am sorry to have to pass sentence upon you.  I am not going to aggravate the position in which, no doubt, you are, by making any remarks, beyond this, that it cannot but be a matter of deep regret, not only to us all, but also no doubt, to you now, that you did not take such steps as would have been more effectual towards the saving of life.  We have been accustomed to expect from the merchant service of England heroism and devotion of the interests of the crew and passengers that I am afraid in this case were wanting.  
  It is my painful duty under the circumstances, and taking everything that has been said into consideration, to sentence you to three months' imprisonment.

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