Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

United States v. Williams, 1886

[criminal trespass]

United States v. Williams

United States Consular Court, Shanghai
Smithers, 8 June 1886
Source: North China Herald, 11 June 1886

Shanghai, 8th June 1886
Before E. J. Smithers, Esq., U.S. Acting Consul-General.
  OWEN WILLIAMS was brought up on a warrant charged with having on the 6th inst. forced his way into the premises known as "Belle Vue," adjoining the Race Course, and created a disturbance there.
 The defendant said he remembered nothing about the occurrence.
  M r. F. E. REILLY, proprietor of the Central Hotel, said he rented the housed known as "Belle Vue." On Sunday at about three o'clock a coolie whom he had placed in the house as watchman came to the Central Hotel and told witness that a lady and gentleman - so he called tem - had come into the house, tied him (the coolie) by his queue to a stanchion, and beaten him, and that they had afterwards kicked him out of the door and thrown his clothes and food out on the parterre in front of the house. Witness went to the Police Station, where he obtained the services of a Sikh constable, with whom he proceeded to Belle Vue.  Witness knocked at the door, and after a time the accused opened it, and saying "I am sorry I kept you waiting so long."  Witness said, "will you oblige me with your name?" and accused replied "Williams."  Witness asked "what are you doing here?" and accused replied "I am looking after my wife's property."
  Witness said, "you are making a mistake. You must be mad r drunk. This place is rented by me." Accused declined to leave and wit ness told the Sikh policeman to put Williams out.  Accused did not resist the constable, but went out quietly, and witness reinstated the coolie and told him not to let anybody into the house without his (Mr. Reilly's) permission.  Witness was afterwards informed that later in the day the accused and his wife again went to the house and made a disturbance; but other witnesses would give evidence as to this.
  Sergeant Reid said that at about midday on Sunday a Sikh policeman brought the complainant's coolie to Carter Road Station, the coolie having been given into custody by Mr. Williams on a charge of stealing things from Belle Vue.  Witness knew that Mr. Williams had no property at Belle Vue, and that he had no right in the house; he therefore accompanied the coolie to Belle Vue, where he saw Williams, who again charged the coolie with stealing things from the house.  Witness reminded Williams that his furniture which had formerly been in the house had been sold off, and that the house was now rented by Mr. Reilly; and at the same time witness sent a message to Mr. Reilly, who eventually came to Belle Vue, whereupon Williams was turned out.  Between five and six o'clock in the evening witness was sent for from Belle Vue, and on going there he found the coolie outside the house, Williams at the door, and is wife also in the compound.
  Witness told Williams he was to keep away from there, and Williams replied, this is my property.  I have turned this coolie out, and I am going to keep him out." The coolie complained that he had been assaulted both by the accused and his wife, and that his food and clothes had been thrown out of the house by them.  There was a quantity of rice outside the house, which had apparently been thrown out of the window.
  He Coolie referred to in this evidence was then called, and he gave corroborating evidence.
  Hs Honor (to the Accused) - What did you go to the house for?
  Accused - I didn't.  It was locked against me.
 His Honor - What business had you there?
  Accused - It was locked against me and I came back to Shanghai.  I was sent there by my wife to fetch something.
  His Honour - What was it?
  Accused - I could not tell you I am sure.
  His Honor - You ae charged with assaulting the coolie.  Have you any recollection of that?
  Accused - I have not, Sir.
  His Honour - The evidence is very clear that you did - that you went there and attempted to eject the coolie and take possession of the house. In so doing you were creating a disturbance and breaking the law.  I can scarcely reconcile your conduct with that of a perfectly sane man. You certainly must have been insane or under the influence of liquor - but that would be no excuse for you.  By an order of this Court, possession of that house was given to its rightful owners about five months ago.  You have received all you had to receive from the owners of that house, and more perhaps - certainly all you were entitled to receive, and yet you go back there against the order of this Court and create a disturbance and attempt to take possession of it.  Now, as I have said, I can scarcely reconcile that with the conduct of a responsible being; but unless it is proved that you are not so I must impose a fine on you. The Court fines you $10, and you will be committed to prison until that fine and the costs are paid.

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