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Colonial Cases

R v. Gumb [1889]

larceny, opium

Supreme Court for China

Shanghai, 1 April 1889

Source: Supreme Court of China (Shanghai), Judges' Notebooks, Vol. 3 (1880-1893), The National Archives (U.K.), FO1092: 340, p 299


Regina v. John Albert Gumb.

Charge - Larceny; 114 balls of opium on 5th March; 30 balls ditto on 11th March.

Plea - Not guilty.

Jurors.  V. D'O Wintle, F. T. Williams, W. Goodfellow, T. H. Sayle, A. D. Lows.

Mr. Wilkinson & Mr. Wainwright for the prostion.

Prisoner undefended.

Samuel Allen Jolly, sworn.  Was an AB on P. & O. "Kaiser-i-hind" on her voyage from England to Sh'ai.  Know prisoner.  he was an AB doing qtr mr's duty.  There were 6 others also doing qr. mr.'s duty.  Prisoner, self, Rogers & Elders occupied std cabin.  Meaden & 2 others occupied the port cabin.  He told me that the bars of the refrigerator room cd be shifted.

   We arrived at HK on 5th March.  My cabin was towards the wharf.  I worked the mizzen hatch.  Gumb also held a watch.  Prisoner pointed out a case of opium on the orlop deck.  The lid was a few inches open.  He took some balls out & handed them to me.  I checked them in the [300]evening.  There were about 80 to 100 balls.  It was between 6 & 8 in the evening.  Prisoner, Rogers & myself took so much of the opium up to the main deck inside our clothes & went with it to the q. master's cabin.  It was then put into a pillow slip & I went below again to the orlop deck.  The rest of the opium was pout into another bag by me, & hauled up on to the main deck by Rogers.  I went up after it & all was put into a bag together and lowered out of a port hole in the qr mr.'s cabin.  Rogers & I lowered, & prisoner sat on the rail, over the port. 

   While in the hold he had told me it had been sold, & he repeated this while he was on the rail, adding that the money wd be all right.  Meaden was in his bunk in the cabin at the time.

   Prisoner returned from the shore about 9.  He told me he had got $120 - being $1.50 a ball.  Aftwds he counted it out on the mess-table.  He gave me $35 & Rogers $35.  I don't remember if Elders was there.  All the $35 was in HK bank notes.  We left HK next morning.  It was the day after we left he gave me the money.

   We arrived in Sh'hai about 10.  Prisoner, self, & one or two others before 1 o'clock & went to Chang-Kee, a tailors, & then to Smilers'.  About 3 we came ashore again, that is, prisoner, Elders & I.  We went to Chang-Kee's again.  After going there prisoner told Elders to go there & get the sample he had left there.  Elders had taken a half-ball of opium which Gumb had had on the way x, to Chang-Kee.  A man in the shop handed a half-ball to prisoner or Elders - I was there.  Elders then took it up the Broadway to another shop.  We were together.  An old man from the shop took us to another shop, where a bargain was made to sell some opium at $3 a ball.  The 3 of us brot 9 balls ashore next night.  We had 2 or 3 balls each.  They were balls of opium that Gumb [301] passed out from the hold on Monday where he was working.  I took them to my own cabin.  We were taken from the shop where the bargain was struck to another little shop, & sold them there.  The old man wanted to be paid for his trouble.  I think we first heard of him in the opium den.  I got $7, Elders $8, and Gumb the rest with the exception of $1 he gave to the old man.

   Gumb told the man to get plenty dollars for the next night - he wd have more.  The next day we brot 25 ashore.  Gumb brought up about 12 balls & gave me about as many.  We went ashore by arrangement, met the old man, & sold for $75.  I had $28 I think.  Gumb kept the rest with the exception of $8 which he said he had to give to some one else.

   We went three times to Smiler's on Sunday.  We brot a few articles there & changed some HK notes.  Gumb & I exchanged $27 for [Pounds] 4 gold & so did I. 

   Our wages were Pounds 4 a week.  We left London on 17th Jany.  I had an advance.  We are never allowed to draw on the voyage more than half a month.

Xd.  You told me you went ashore in H.K. on the 5th.  I didn't see you.  I relieved you about 6.  You told me you had changed money once on the voyage.  I didn't see you do it.

RXd.  We had a supper at the [Kilmi] Hotel - the [?????? ??].  I believe Gumb pd for it - it was he gave us the supper.  I saw Gumb with a [sovn] before we got to H.K. - heard him telling some one else.

Henry French, sworn.  Refrigerator engineer.  5 yrs on the ship.  The r. room is down below on the orlop deck.  You have to remove bars to put it into the room from the orlop deck.  50 or 60 bars about 3 inches apart.  I [saw] 4 of these bars away bet. [302] Aden & Bombay.  Cross the [winchman] who was 2d in charge of the room, removed them.  Gumb went into the orlop deck & came out after some time.  Cross went there aftwds.  He & I replaced the bars.

Frank Meaden, sworn.  Was AB of Kaiser-i-hind.  Diaper, Lawrence, & myself were in the cabin away from the wharf.  Bet. 6 & 8 I was in my bunk.  Jolly & Rogers came in & passed a pillowslip thro' the port - this was the evening before we left H.K.

   I saw $120 in Gumb's possession next day.  I heard him say '120' as he counted the money.  About $120 was in notes.  This was in the cabin.  I was surprised at seeing so much money in his possn.  Saw qr. mr. have a lot of money.  I don't put myself in the way of earning money.  He might have had ways of earning that money.  I don't know.  I happened to come from below just as he was counting it.  I hadn't seen any money in his possn before that on the voyage.  Twice during the voyage he borrowed from me.  On 1 occasion I paid for his [stamps.]  Since our arrival in Sh'ai I borrowed 2 [sovs] from him.

X.  I don't remember your giving me a [rupee].

To me.  I got $2 from Rogers, which he called 'milkmoney.'  This was the day after we left H.K.  I never got money like that before [??]

Tang-en (Dong-Shing) alias "Smiler," cautd.  Compradore & storekeeper.  On Sunday after the P. & O. str came, prisoner & another man came to my shop. (Identifies Jolly as the other man.) [303]

Prisoner bot  things to the amt of $7 & the other man $6 ½ .  He also exchanged $27 H.K. notes for 4 sovs.  I charged the sovs at 6.60 - the other 60 cents was for the exchange bet., H.K. & this.

   On another occasion he came to my shop to get some sovrs but I hadn't any.

   I'm quite sure of the man.  He had a couple of [???] notes ($5 or $10) when first he came.

Not Xd.

Wang-san.  Assistant in Smiler's shop.

Smiler recalled.  The $25 note I got from you was not a Shanghai note.  That is all I know about it.

Yeh-ah-li, cautd.  Bumboatman.  I saw accd bet. 2 & 3 on a Sunday a week or two ago.  A man (pointing to Elders) asked me on the Bridge if I cd buy opium which he had bot himself at $2 & for which he wanted $3.  I said I wd like to see it.  Accd & another man was with Elders.  Later in the day Elders & the accd & the other brot 9 balls.  (Points out Jolly, as the other man.)  [304]

   Next day accd brot 20 balls,  There was another man with him, (a short man) he had 5.  The 25 were sold to a fruit shop.  I got $1 cumshaw from prisoner.

   Elders said the first day he had plenty more.

   $75 was recd for the 25 balls, & $27 for the 9.

   The 9 balls were sold in an opium shop.

[This witness pointed out Rogers in the Magistrate's Court - not the accd.  He says now that was a mistake.]

Chang-Kee, cautd.  Tailor.  Live in Hongkew.  I recognise Elders & Rogers, not prisoner.  On Sunday Elders came inside my shop.  3 men remained outside.  He showed me a small piece opium which he wanted to sell.  I sd I didn't want it.  He left it for a little time, less than ¼ hour - I understand he came back & got it.

Ching-ah-chan, cautd.  Employee of previous witness.  I made a quantity of clothes for prisoner, total cost $21.  He pd me $10 in H.K. notes & $4 in Japanese money.  The other $7 I believe he pd my master.

Wang-as-San.  Keeper of an opium shop.

Wong-ah-lin.  Dealer in fruit.  Elders came to my shop, with Yeh-ah-li, on a Sunday after [3] & asked me if I wanted to buy opium of which he showed me half a ball as a sample.  In the evening he came back with the same Chinaman, Jolly, & the accd.  They wanted to sell opium.  Next day the Chinaman came with some foreigners, but the accd was not there.  They sold me 25 balls.  Elders had 20 balls.  [305]

Chin-ah-fo, cautd.  Employee in Chang-Kee.

Henry Hope Joseph, sworn.  P. & O. Agent.  The "K" arrived on evening of 9th March.  There was some difficulty about the delivery of 2 chests of opium.  Consignees objected.

Fredk John Abbott, sworn.  Clerk in P. & O. office.  I went on bd the "K" on the [???]  I opened a chest which was brot up from the hold in my presence.  It was marked MT No. 3.  The [??????] was insecure, & the chest open.  The chest ought to have had 175 ½ - about 145 ½ .  175 ½ was painted on the lid - it is the practice to mark the  no. on the lid.  There were 30 balls short.

Jas. Henry Partridge Parker, sworn.  Master of R.S. "Wellington."  I went on bd the "K' on [12th] March.  I looked at one, taken from what I was told was the bullion room.  I accompanied it to the Custom's jetty - it was opened & the contents counted [306]

   The exterior presented the appearance of having been opened out & resewn & iron hoops had been taken off.

   It ought to have contained 175 cakes - it only contained 60 ½  - a deficit of 114 ½ .  The bottom of the chest had been prized open & the opium drawn out, leaving marks of it.

To me.  The value of a ball is about $4 ¼ .

Henry Jones, sworn.  Detective Constable.  On the 19th March in company with another constable I went on bd the str with a search warrant.  I arrested the prisoner, & found on him $4, a rupee & 20 cents in silver.

Close of case for prosecution.

Accused calls no witnesses.

Addresses the jury.

I sum up.

   The evidence of the accomplices requires corroboration.  Has the accd explained to their satisfaction the possession of so much money immedy on leaving Hong Kong?

   The Chinese evidence of identification (so far as the [307] sale of opium) is not at all definite.

Jury return & wish to ask the prisoner how he had so much money in "H.K. Dollar" notes in his possession.

Prisoner gives his explanation.

Jury again retire.

Verdict.  Not Guilty.

R. A. Mowat, A.C.J.

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