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Colonial Cases

R. v. Keipler, 1888

[assault, stabbing]

R. v. Keipler

Police Court, Shanghai
Hall AAJ, 3 September 1888
Source: North China Herald, 7 September 1888

Shanghai, 3rd September.
Before J. C. Hall, Esq., Acting Assistant Judge.
  LOUIS KEIPLER, a seaman in the British ship Highlands was put forward charged with stabbing another sailor named Alfred Moulton, on the 10th ulto.
  The prisoner pleaded guilty, whereupon his Worship said - You had better plead "not guilty." I will take evidence,
  The prisoner expressed his assent.
  ALFRED MOULTON was sworn and said - On the 19th August we were carrying the royal yard from one side if he deck to the other.  I was on one side of the yard and Keipler was in the middle, I said "come along boys, I want to get below I'll carry the yard myself."  Keipler said "Well carry it yourself," and I answered "shut up, man. I am not talking to you." He said "You had better not."
  I went towards him saying "We have had enough of this." He turned round and we commenced to fight.  We fought for a second or two and then his hands dropped down.  I dropped my hands too, and the next moment he darted at me and put the knife into my breast. I drew my knife in self defence expecting that he could jump at me again and the Captain and the Chief Officer then took me into the cabin.  We were at anchor at the time down the Woosung river. I was in hospital till the 31st last month.
  Cross-examined - I did not strike you before you turned round.
  To His Worship - I cannot say whether I struck him first or not.  I might have called him abusive names in temper but I don't recollect.  I am an A.B. seaman like the prisoner, and was not an officer in authority over him, I have had many previous disagreements with him - two or three times.  I don't recollect what about.  There were half a dozen men turning the yard, present at the time.
 Wm. Lubers one of the seamen present when the fight took place, gave corroborative evidence, and stated that after Keipler had stabbed Moulton, he saw the latter draw his knife and shove it into Keipler's shoulder.
  The prosecutor said yes, that was true, he did it in self-defence.
  Witness to his Worship - Moulton was not speaking to Keipler when he spoke about the yard.  Witness did not hear him using any abusive language.  He gave Keipler only one blow with the knife.  The captain and mate came out immediately after the knives had been used.  Moulton and Keipler had frequent "growls" at each other before; they could never agree together.
  Donald Preschker, the carpenter of the vessel, was next examined and swore that he heard Moulton use an ugly expression towards Keipler, and tell him that he would give him a slap in the jaw if he did not do as Moulton told him.  Moulton then gave him a blow in the face before Keipler could let go the yard.  Keipler then drew his knife, letting it fall on the deck as he drew it out of its sheath.  He stooped down and picked it up again, and Moulton stooped, so that the witness did not see the stabbing himself. But he heard the men sing out "Alfred is stabbed."  Moulton thereupon drew his knife, seeing which Keipler started to run to the other end of the ship, Moulton following him.  He overtook him somewhere near the after hatch and struck at his shoulder with the knife.
  Another Scandinavian sailor, named Jantzen, corroborated the last witness's testimony.
  The prisoner in reply to his Worship said he had nothing to say to the charge and the evidence of the several witnesses.
  His Worship said that the offence was a very serious one and he would have to commit the prisoner for trial.  But subsequently upon the Captain of the vessel asking his Worship if the men would all have to be kept till the trial, and his Worship addressing the prisoner said:- This is a very serious charge, and intended sending you for trial, but in order not to cause inconvenience to the ship, I will deal with the charge summarily and as a common assault, and sentence you to the full amount of the penalty allowed.  You will be imprisoned for two months and kept to hard labour.

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