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Colonial Cases

R v. Lanigan [1888]


Supreme Court for China

Shanghai, 3 August 1888

Source: Supreme Court of China (Shanghai), Judges' Notebooks, Vol. 3 (1880-1893), The National Archives (U.K.), FO1092: 340, p 281


R. v. John Lanigan.

Feloniously stealing $40 and some jewellery, the ppty of D. Stermecher.

Mr. Wilkinson for the Crown

Prisoner undefended.

Plea, not guilty.

Jurors: A. C. Westall, G. [Bois], G. A. Probst, W. B. Allen, W. Allanson.

Mr. Wilkinson opens.


David Stermscher, sworn.  Austrian.  Proprietor of Wharf Hotel.  I know [Whitted].  He had been staying 6 months waiting for a job.  For the last six months he had nothing to do. 

   Bet. 11 & 12 on the 14th July, [Whitted] & prisoner came in to the house.  At 12 I said it was time to shut.  Prisoner said he would go after he had spoken with [Whitted].  After they had their talk, Lanigan went out, & W. upstairs.  In the morning I found that some property had been stolen from my till; about $40 altogether in money, also one gold bracelet, one pair of gold ear-rings, two silver chains, and a silver bracelet.

[Shown gold bracelet, & other articles of jewellery, which he identified as his ppty.]

   I found some doors open which communicated from the outside.  They had been opened from the inside.

   I saw Lanigan again bet. 6 & 7 on Saty morning - sitting outside the Sailors' Home, which is close to my Hotel.

By prisoner: 11 or bet. 11 & 12. [283]

Harry Jones, sworn.  Detective.  B.S. Remember Saty 14th July.  Proceeded to Wharf Hotel - found 4 drawers had been opened in the till.  Examined [Witted's] box, bag & bed, cd find nothing.

   On Sunday with Kelly I went to the [???lter] Restt - [Witted] & prisoner were together.  I searched the former - and found all the articles (produced) tied up in a handkerchief.  Lanigan said, 'Hold hard, old man - half of these belong to me!'  I took both to the station, & charged them.  Both asserted their innocence.

By prisoner: I didn't say to Kelly, 'it was not the first time that Lanigan had been searched.'  [284]

Charles Prest, sworn.  P.C. six.  B.S.  I was on duty on Broadway from 12 midnight on Friday the 13th to 6 a.m. Saturday the 14th.  I saw prisoner twice that night at 1.30 & 2.30.  I didn't know him before.  At 1.20 he was standing down the [Yuanfong] Rd near the Wharf Hotel.  No one was with him.  He seemed to be waiting for some one.  Presently some one came & spoke, & they went away together.  That some one was not [Whitted.]  They passed down the Broadway.  At 2.30 prisoner came back alone, & turned down the [Yuanfong] Road towards the river.  At 1.30 I saw [Whitted] at the bed-room window of the Hotel.  I had known him before.  I had seen often during other nights at the window.  [285] When I saw prisoner at 2.30, I recognised him as the same man I had seen at 1.30.

Xd  by prisoner:  You were about 20 yds off when I saw you at 1.30.

    I cdn't recognize the other man again.

   On Sunday I went to the station to see if I knew the prisoner.  There was Jones besides myself & prisoner.  I saw prisoner in the cell.  I said nothing inside the cell.  On getting out, I saw that this was the man I had seen standing.  I didn't tell him to put on his coat & hat.

   You didn't put on yr coat & hat, & I didn't then say that I was almost certain you were the man.

    I can't say what time it was on the Sunday I saw him in the cell.

To me: I cdn't see his features at 1.30.  I recognized [286] him the next time by his dress, walk, & height.  I didn't speak to him, nor he to me.

By a juror: He had no limp or anything peculiar in his gait.

To me: He hadn't his coat & hat on when I saw him in the cell.

George W. Bennett, sworn.  American citizen.  Proprietor of Carlton Hotel.  [Whitted] & accd were in my place on Saty.  I had known them before.  Lanigan paid for the drinks.  He changed a dollar.

Edward Kelly, sworn.  B.S. Superintendent police force.  I arrested Lanigan. He had nothing on him - no money.

By me: I didn't hear Jones say those words. [287]

Carl Ludwig Johannsen, sworn.  Norwegian.  P.C. 46.  I saw [Witted] & prisoner on Saturday morning about 5 minutes to 6 walking down Broadway past Cheap jack's door.  A shorter man was with them.  It was on Sunday the 15th that I saw them.

By me.  I had never seen prisoner before.  I did not see him again till now.  I sh'd not have recognised the other.

Case for the Crown.

James Everleigh, sworn.  Supt of the S. Home.  On Saty night I gave you $1.  You had assisted me in putting some [men] on bd a ship.  He was a boarder with me from the [288] 14th June.  Anyone can go out & in during the night without the watchman knowing.

Ah Kew.  Nightwatchman S. Home.  Accd came in to the Home at 12 o'clock on the 16th & went up stairs to bed.

 Alfred [Witted], sworn.  I stated before the magistrate that I committed the robbery & that Lanigan knew nothing about it.  That statement is perfectly true.

Prisoner addressed the jury.

Mr. Wilkinson does not reply.

I sum up.

Verdict, Not Guilty.

 R. A. Mowat, A.C.J.

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