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Colonial Cases

R. v. Lucas, 1888

[vagrancy]

R. v. Lucas

Police Court, Shanghai
Hall AAJ, 8 October 1888
Source: North China Herald, 19 October 1888

H.B.M.'s POLICE COURT.
Shanghai, 8th October, 1888
Before J. C. Hall, Esq., Acting Assistant Judge.
"GOING INTO THE TIGER'S MOUTH."
  WILLIAM LUCAS, an Indo-European described on the charge sheet as an apothecary was put forward on a charge of vagrancy.
  Accused denied the charge.
  Detective Officer Jones was sworn and said that at 78.30- on Saturday evening Lucas came to him on the Broadway Road, told him a long story about his wife and children being starving, and asked witness for a few cents to pay his lodgings for the night, which witness gave him.  The accused said he had had nothing to eat except a few biscuits which a Chinaman gave him in the morning.  He added that he was willing to work for $25 a month, but he could get nothing to do.  Witness took him to the Police Station and charged him, after which he was searched and a begging letter was found on him.  Witness saw the gentleman who gave him the letter who now said he was sorry he gave it, and that at the time he believed the accused was a deserving case. Witness had since made enquiries and found that [the] Lucas had no children or wife, and he had $2.25 in his possession when taken into custody.
  His Worship reading from the charge sheet said he saw that several articles of clothing, a tin of biscuits, a bottle of brandy were found on the prisoner.
  Detective Jones explained that these latter things were found by him in the prisoner's house, where he lived with a Chinaman.  Complaints had recently been made on several occasions of foreigners going begging to houses.  Since the accused started with the letter he had got $38 in thirteen days.  He had been locked up once before for being in a beastly state of intoxication.
  The accused - Don't say that so fast.  This is the first time that I have ever been brought up in a court, but you want to make it blacker than I am, but don't try so fast, for I'll get justice here.  Your Worship, he makes another allegation that I must explain; when I first spoke to him I told him I was ready and willing to go to work, and if he could give me any work asked him for something.  After he had asked me to his house he said that here were "so many" foreigners going about, not that complaints had been made of one foreigner begging which is very different.  I did not ask him for anything except in consideration of his giving me work.  It was not likely that I would go into the tiger's mouth knowing that he was a policeman.
  Mr. JAMES EVELEIGH, Superintendent of the Sailors' Home was sworn and stated that about 7 o'clock on Saturday night he was called by a man living in the home who told him that some man from the Hospital wanted to see him; on going out he found Lucas outside his door and upon asking him what he wanted he said that he wanted some little assistance.  Witness asked him where he came from and if he was a seaman. He replied that he had just come out of the hospital, that his wife had died a little time before in Hongkong and that his three children were in a house in the Tiendong Rad.  Witness asked him had he been to the Police Station and he replied in the negative.  Witness thought from his appearance that he was a fraud, so he gave him nothing.
  The accused who spoke like a man who had received some education, in reply to his Worship entered into a long rambling statement about the letter found in his possession, which he said he got from a "high official" to whom he applied for assistance and who told him that he would do best by leaving the country, giving him the letter to get a little help from others.  He was quite ready to leave the country now.
  His Worship asked him what he had done with the $38 to which Lucas replied that he owed some money, and he paid the Chinaman 50 cents a  day beside providing his own food.
  Jones said that the accused had only paid the Chinaman 20 cents according to the latter's story.
  His Worship - What kind of work can you do?
  Accused - I can turn my hands to many things.
  His Worship - And you say you are willing and ready to work?
  Accused - Yes, Your Worship.
  His Worship - Well we will try and get you some work, but meantime we will find you something to do, you will go to jail for a month.
  The accused requested that his property should be handed over to him and was then removed.

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