Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

R. v. Liscom, 1889



R v Liscom

Supreme Court for China and Japan

Rennie CJ, 28 June 1889
Source: North China Herald, 6 July 1889

Amoy, 28th June, 1889
Before Sir R. T. Rennie, Chief Justice
  Prisoner, who was the second mate of the British schooner Loongwha, was on the 14th June committed for trial before the Supreme Court by Mr. Consul R. J. Forrest, on a charge of having caused the death of one Bin-ziok, an assistant supercargo on board the Loongwha. The Chief Justice accompanied by Mr. H. S. Wilkinson and Mr. Malcolm Jones, Clerk of the Court, arrived here last evening by the Taisang, and the trial was arranged to take place today. Considerable interest was manifested on the part of the community in the proceedings, and the small court room was crowded all day, until the verdict was returned at about 7.30 in the evening.
  Mr. W. Crowell, American Consul here, who is a Counsellor-at-Law, had intimated to Mr. Forrest his willingness to appear for the prisoner, who claimed to be an American citizen, but inasmuch as the alleged offence was committed on board a British vessel, the American authorities declined to exercise jurisdiction over him.
  The prisoner was arraigned upon two indictments, the first charging him with manslaughter and the second with feloniously wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
  The Crown Advocate addressing his Lordship said - According to the usual practice the prisoner would first be tried upon the indictment for manslaughter, but my learned friend, who appears to defend the prisoner, has informed me that under the circumstances of this case he would prefer that the two indictments should be tried together, and to that course I have no objection to offer.  I would therefore propose, with your Lordships permission, that the prisoner be tried upon both indictments at the same time.
  His Lordship, addressing Mr. Crowell, enquired whether it was his wish that this course should be taken, and being informed that it was, directed that the prisoner should be given in charge on the two indictments.
  The prisoner pleaded not guilty to both indictments.
  The following gentlemen were then impannelled as jury:- William Christy, George Greenhill, David R. Orr, George U. Price, and John Graham.
  Mr. H. S. Wilkinson, Crown Advocate, said - The circumstances of this case are, I dare say, to a certain extent, known to you, but you will do well to dismiss from your minds all that you may have previously heard about it, and confine your attention entirely to the evidence which will be placed before you.  The prisoner stands indicted with manslaughter and also with wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
  Manslaughter is the unlawful and felonious killing of another without any malice either express or implied.  The prisoner is charged with inflicting a wound upon the deceased and thereby causing his death.  If you find that the wound was inflicted by the prisoner, and that the wound caused the death of the deceased, you will, in the absence of circumstances to justify the infliction of such wound, find the prisoner guilty of manslaughter.  If you find that the wound was inflicted by the prisoner, but are not satisfied that the wound caused the death of the deceased, you will have to consider the second indictment - that of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
  It is not necessary to define that offence - the statement of it is a sufficient definition.  As to the intent, it is not necessary that you should have direct evidence of the state of the prisoner's mind.  The law presumes that a man intends the natural result of his acts, and if you find that the blow was such, and was given in such circumstances as naturally to cause grievous bodily harm, you will, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, find that there was such intent.  If however, you should find that there was no intent to do grievous bodily harm, you are at liberty to find a verdict of unlawfully wounding.
  The learned counsel then went in into the facts of the case, which will be sufficiently gathered from the evidence.
  Dr. J. J. M. De Groot, a member of the Dutch Colonial Service, was then sworn as Interpreter.
  The first witness called was
  Kao-mio who, being cautioned, said:- I am in the habit of working cargo on board ship.  I belong to the Ho-gee Hong.  I remember the Loongwha coming into port here.  I came down in her from Tientsin, we arrived here on the 7th day of the 6th Chinese moon (5th June). I remember a man named Bin-ziok, but I did not know him before we arrived here.  After we got our anchor down Bin-Ziok came on board.  He belonged to the Hogee Hong and remained on board all night; he slept in the same room with me,.  I came down from Tientsin in the same ship with prisoner who did some sort of sailor's work on board, but I don't know exactly what he does on board.  I remember the prisoner saying something to Bin-ziok about not smoking opium - this was after we were in port.  On the third day after the arrival of the ship, I heard prisoner tell Bin-ziok that he was not allowed to smoke opium on board and he threw the smoking lamp overboard.  He (Bin-ziok) did not smoke any more after this.  I remember he morning of the 12th June - Bin-ziok had a lamp alight, but he was not smoking.  In the evening, after he had been ashore all day smoking opium, he did not want to smoke when he got on board; he, however, lighted his lamp again, but he did not intend to smoke.  Then I saw the prisoner throw some watery stuff on us.  We were both in our bunks at the time.  The mark I have on my arm was caused by what the prisoner threw upon us. I have similar marks on my legs.  I recognized prisoner as the man who threw the stiff.  It was a moonlight night and I could see very well. I got up and sat on my bunk and I heard Bin-ziok doing the same and scolding prisoner.  Then I saw prisoner take a piece of wood about 1 ½ feet long and as thick as this (pointing to a belaying pin) and threaten to strike Bin-ziok with it. I called out to him not to beat him, but he ultimately did strike him.  After prisoner threatened to strike Bin-ziok I went to look for a boat and when I came back I saw him strike Bin-ziok with what he had in his hand.  Before prisoner struck Bin-ziok he reviled him in Chinese.  I saw him strike Bin-ziok over the right temple.  A good deal of blood flowed from the wound; there was only one blow.
  Just after the blow was struck a sampan came alongside and we both went ashore in her.  Bin-ziok was able to walk down the ladder with his hand up to his head.  We got ashore at Stonecutters' jetty.  I and another man then carried Bin-ziok to the Hong and I then went on board the sampan and slept there.  The man who assisted me to carry Bin-ziok up to the hong was the cook of the Hogee hong.  We placed him on a couch.  He groaned a good deal, but was unconscious.  I went back to the hong in the morning and was told that Bin-ziok was dead, but I did not see his body.  The stuff prisoner threw over us came out of a blue bottle.  Bin-ziok was an opium-smoker, neither strong nor weak. It was about 10 o'clock when we got him to the hong.
  Cross-examined by Mr. Crowell - There was a small sky-light (a dead-light) in the cabin where we slept.  The door of the cabin was open when the prisoner came into the room and some light came in through the door.  I saw the prisoner in the room before anything happened.  There was no opium lamp burning when the prisoner came into the cabin.  It had been put out about a moment before he came.  Bin-ziok blew out the lamp because he wanted to go to sleep, not because he heard the prisoner coming.  I remember hearing the Captain giving orders that there was to be no smoking opium on board.  I also heard prisoner giving similar orders.   Near where we were sleeping there was a locker containing paint oil and other things.  I had been told not to have a light anywhere near this locker.  On the evening in question, the Captain was on shore, but I don't know whether the first mate was drunk or not.   I don't know whether the prisoner was in charge of the ship or not.  When I got the stuff on my arm I was lying down in my bunk on my back, with one arm supporting my head and the other arm by my side.  When the stuff came on me I got up and sat in my bunk and Bin-ziok did the same.  I heard Bin-ziok get up and revile the prisoner before he left the cabin.  I saw the prisoner with a bottle in one hand and a club in the other, this was after I had been on deck to look for a sampan.  I did not shove he prisoner out of the cabin door after he threw the burning stuff on me.  In my evidence before the Consul I said that I got up and pushed the prisoner out of the door, but I did not mean that I used force, I only persuaded the prisoner not to beat Bin-ziok.   I don't know that the bottle of stuff was broken.  There was no scuffle at all between myself and the prisoner.   Never saw deceased alive or dead after I brought him to the hong.  I never heard prisoner say to deceased "I don't want to hurt you." I don't think prisoner can say half a word in Chinese.  I know only a few words of English myself.
  To the Court - The cabin I have been speaking about was on the upper deck.
  Hugh McDonald - I am a British subject and a medical practitioner residing at Amoy.  I was called to see the body of a Chinaman lying at the Hogee hong.  I made an external examination of the body.  The rigor mortis had set in, but had not left the body.  Deceased had a contused wound over the right eye extending from the eyebrow to the right temple, the length of the wound being from 1 inch to 1 ½ inches.  Deceased had extensive marks on his chest and right arm and some spots on his legs, indicating that he had been splashed by some corrosive liquid, probably carbolic acid from the smell of it.  The mark over the right eye could have been caused by such an instrument as a belaying pin.  A blow leaving such a mark as I saw might have caused death.  But without making a post mortem examination, I could not say that it would have caused death.  I did not see any other injury that could have caused death in such a short time.  I can't say whether the blow was sufficient to cause death.  My examination of the body was not sufficient to enable me to say positively.  I have not had much experience of cases of violent death.  I know that the Chinese have a strong feeling against allowing the bodies of their friends to be subjected to post mortem examination.
  Cross-examined by Mr. Crowell - I examined the body about noon on the 14th.  I don't know that the body of the man I examined was that of anyone on board the Loongwha.  A blow from any part of the belaying pin night have caused the injury I saw.  I think that such a blow could have been struck by either hand.  The blow could have been struck by a person standing on the side of the other without the striker turning round.  Judging from the stains on the legs I should say deceased was most likely in an inclined, rather than a recumbent position when the acid struck him.  The stains were not round but perpendicularly in the line of the leg.  It is not impossible that they had been produced while deceased was lying down.   Burning by carbolic acid is painful and sharp.  It would probably cause the sufferer to limp.  If he got it in the chest he might naturally lean forward.  The body was considerably emaciated.  I should say he might be about 40 years of age, and he was, I should say, an opium smoker.  I don't think any one could say from what the deceased died without a post mortem examination.  I can't say and don' say that the deceased did not die from natural causes.
  Re-examined by Mr. Wilkinson - It was impossible to say from the appearance of the burns whether the man was lying down or standing when the acid was thrown upon him.  Such a blow as I have described, accompanied by wounds from acid, would be a shock to any man's system.
  Tan-Sin, cautioned - I was watchman on the Loongwha.  I remember the night of the 12th June.  I know the prisoner as 2nd mate of the shop.  On the night of the 12th I saw Bn-ziok with his head bleeding.  There was a scuffle in the fore part of the ship and then I saw the man with his head hurt.  I saw the prisoner about at that time with a belaying pin in his hand. I saw deceased and last witness get into a sampan and go towards the shore together. Deceased said nothing, only put his hand to his head.  I heard prisoner call for a boat as well.
  Cross-examined by Mr. Crowell - It was before seeing the man bleeding that I saw prisoner with the belaying pin.  I don't remember what I told the consul when I gave my evidence before.  I don't know whether my recollection of the facts now is better or worse that it was just after the circumstances occurred.  When I first saw prisoner he was standing near the cabin door. I heard him speaking, but don't know what he said - something about a sampan, I think.  Prisoner followed deceased to the ladder when he went ashore at a little distance.  Deceased was abusing prisoner when he left the ship.
  Julio Villaro, sworn - I am a Chilian.  I was a sailor on board the Loongwha.  I know prisoner was 2nd mate.  I remember the night of the 12th June.  I heard some noise about 8 o'clock after I had turned in.  I then came out and saw the prisoner and a Chinaman struggling together; they then separated, the Chinaman going to the port side.  I hen saw two Chinamen get into a sampan and leave the ship.
  Cross-examined by Mr. Crowell - I heard the mat tell the Chinaman to get out.  He told the Chinaman that he did not want to hurt him.  The Chinaman had his arms round prisoner's waist and must have been pressing him very much.  I did not notice a bottle in the mate's hand that evening.  But I saw some broken pieces of bottle the next day opposite the supercargo's cabin.  I did not smell any opium smoking in the room that evening.  There is only a partition between my bunk and the supercargo's cabin.  I went in there before I turned in.  No opium smoking was then going on.  The Captain and mate had forbidden it.  I saw the supercargo helping deceased into the sampan.  The Captain has gone away in the ship.  The ship left last Monday, the 24th.  I have known prisoner during the last five months.  He is a very good man and not quarrelsome.
  Pedro de la Centos, cautioned - (This witness was produced by the Crown Advocate but not examined in chief.)
  By Mr. Crowell - I am a sailor in the Loongwha and remember the trouble on the 12th June.  I heard a noise on deck and came up.  I saw prisoner and deceased and then went down again to sleep.  I did not hear a glass break, or see any broken glass about next morning.
  E. Zung, cautioned - I am a sampan man.  I remember the night of the 12thof this month.  I was called to a ship in the harbor and I took off two Chinamen to the shore.  One of the men was wounded on the head and his chest was covered with blood.  When we got to the jetty, the wounded man could not walk and could not speak.  He was carried by two men.  The man that came with him went and fetched another man and between them they carried him up to his house.
  Dr. McDougal, recalled by the Jury - Could the wound you describe have been caused by deceased falling up against some broken glass?  I don't think such a wound as I saw likely to have been so caused.  It might have been caused by his falling against wood or iron.
  Lin-Kew cautioned - I am the cook of the Hogee hong.  I knew deceased before.  I was called to assist to carry him up to the house.  For an hour after he got to the hong he panted heavily and then died.  On taking him up out of the boat I observed that he had a bad wound on his head.  I assisted the foreign doctor to make an examination of his body about noon next day.  I was outside the room while the examination was being made.  I am convinced the body was that of the same man I assisted up to the Hong the night before.
  Cross-examined by Mr. Crowell = A Chinese doctor was called, but the man was too far gone to take anything.  He did not have any medicine or any opium to smoke.  He did not ask for any opium.  I was with him when he died, a little after 10 o'clock.
  William Churchill Lewis sworn - I am constable at this Consulate.  I went on board the Loongwha to the room occupied by the supercargo.  The room was 7 ft. by 4 ft., two bunks in it, one above the other.  There as some bedding in the upper bunk; on the lower bunk there was a mat nailed to the bunk and a blanket, I think.  Below the lower bunk I found a set of opium smoking gear.  There was a locker in the room.  I could find no stains of any corrosive liquid about the bunks, but there were stains on the deck and under the bunk as if someone had thrown the acid about out of a bottle.  I then searched the prisoner's room and found some carbolic acid crystals and an empty bottle which appeared to have had acid in it. I saw some blood on the deck near the mainmast.  There was no blood in the cabin itself.  I did not see any broken glass on deck.  I was on bard about 12.30 on the afternoon of the 13th when I went to arrest the prisoner.
  Cross-examined by Mr. Crowell - I did not notice any aperture in the roof of the cabin to admit light.  If a man were to stand in the doorway of the cabin, he would block out all the light, I should think, and render the cabin perfectly dark.  It would not be possible for a man to throw acid on the men in the bunks without leaving stains on the woodwork round.  The amount of acid that had been spilt on deck was not much, I should say a few splashes.  There was none on the pin rails.  The gangway is on the starboard side, roughly speaking 25 to 30 feet from the door of the supercargo's cabin, nearly abreast of the captain's a cabin aft.
  Re-examined by Mr. Wilkinson - The lower bunk was about 9 inches from the ground and the upper bunk was 2 ½ feet above the lower bunk.  I examined the clothes I found in the bunks, but there was no smell of carbolic, nor any stains.  I arrested the prisoner and cautioned him.  He made no statement.
  Mr. Wilkinson said that that was the case for the prosecution.
  Mr. Crowell in addressing the Court for the prisoner said - I conceive that it is the duty of the Crown to prove that the accused is guilty of the offence with which he is charged, and I conceive that the learned counsel who appears for the Crown has not done that by any means.  You are to presume John Liscom is innocent until it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is guilty.  He is in such a position that he cannot himself give any account of what occurred on the night of the 12th June.  His mouth is closed by the law.
  His Lordship - Not altogether, Mr. Crowell.  Of late years it has been the practice of many of the judges at home to allow prisoners to make a statement if they desire to do so.  It is entirely in the discretion of the judge, but I have always, since the practice has arisen in England, allowed prisoners who so desire to make a statement at the conclusion of the case for the defence.  Of course it is open to the counsel for the Crown to comment on any such statement in the course of his reply.
  Mr. Crowell - I was not aware that that was so, your Lordship, but I am pleased to find myself mistaken on the point.  I will then proceed to call what evidence I have on behalf of the prisoner and then he will make his statement to your Lordship and the Jury.
  Dr. McDougal recalled by Mr. Crowell, - I have seen the prisoner on several occasions when I have called on board the ship professionally.  I have always thought him a quiet, peaceable, steady man.  I knew his former captain and never heard him make any complaint of Liscom.
  Mr. Crowell - Now Doctor, you have had some experience of Chinese.  I should like you to tell the Court what is your opinion of Chinese evidence.  I mean what is your opinion as to the credibility of Chinese evidence.
  His Lordship - I don't think, Mr. Crowell, you can put such a question as that to the witness.  Dr. McDougal is not an expert in evidence. I have to form an opinion as to the credibility of the evidence, and the jury have to form theirs, but I don't think we can be assisted by Dr. McDougal on that point.
  Gustav Hainemstein, sworn - I have known the prisoner some years.  I am Harbour Pilot and have piloted the Loongwha several times and have frequently seem the prisoner on board.  I have never heard of his being in any broils or quarrels,  I should say he was a peaceable and quiet man.
  Hirman Muller, sworn - I am Marshal to the U.S. Consulate here.  I went on board the Loongwha and made a deck plan which I produce.  I saw no window or light in the ceiling of the supercargo's room.  The gangway is aft on the starboard side.  There is no light to the supercargo's cabin, except what can come in at the door.
  The prisoner then made the following statement, which was taken down in full by the Chief Justice -
  On the night of the 12th I went forward because I thought I heard a sampan under the bow.  I got forward by the main hatch; the watchman was sitting against the house; I spoke to him and told him not to go to sleep.  I went on forward and as I passed the supercargo's room, I saw an opium light going.  I kept on going forward and looked over the bow but saw no sampan, and when I came back, going aft, the light was still going and the men were smoking.  I kept on aft and g very near the mainmast and heard the watchman get up and go forward and speak in Chinese to the men in the room.  I thought I would frighten them a bit and as I had a bottle of carbolic lotion I thought I would sprinkle a little on the floor and I might scare them and get them to go ashore.  I got the bottle and goes forward and goes to the room and tells the man to get up and take his pipe and go ashore and he commences to speak in Chinese and I stood aside and took the cork out of the bottle.  When they got the smell of the acid the supercargo was the first one that came out and gave me a shove up against the sill.  Then the other man he came out.  I saw the two of them coming for me, I put the bottle on the rail and took a belaying-pin up. Then one of the Chinamen got hold of me and punched me on the breast.  I sung out to him to let go and if he did not I would hurt him.  The supercargo he had hold of my hand that I had the pin in and when he let go, I put the pin in the rail again.  The man then started to go into the room again.  I told him to go in and go to bed, that I would have no more trouble with him that night, but would report him in the morning.  As he was going into the room he turned and took the bottle off the rail and started to go aft
  Next thing I knew he came after me again on the right hand side and faced me again.  The first blow he struck me here in the breast and next he struck the bottle and broke it.  So soon as the bottle was broke the man bobbed his head down and I hove a piece of the bottle overboard.  As soon as I found there was acid on the man I told the supercargo to get his clothes off and rinse them out.  I did not know that the man was hurt till the next morning.
  Mr. Crowell then proceeded to address the court on behalf of the prisoner.  The learned counsel spoke with much eloquence and considerable warmth and his address was listened to with profound attention by the crowded Court.  He said -
  My Lord and gentlemen of the Jury, it now becomes my duty to offer a few remarks on behalf of the defendant.  I feel sure that the liberty of this defendant will not be taken from him without you are satisfied, without any reasonable doubt, that he committed the offence with which he is charged.  And I do not see how you can be so satisfied, looking to the character of the evidence put before you by my learned friend.  It appears to me that there is absolutely no evidence against the defendant except that given by this supercargo.  And I take it that you are not only entitled, but it is your duty to look very closely at that testimony and weigh with the utmost care the many inconsistencies and possible inaccuracies with which it abounds.  You are seriously asked by my learned friend to believe that he defendant went into this little room only a few feet square, which must have been in total darkness, and chucked a lot of extremely corrosive acid on these two Chinamen, without leaving a single mark of the acid ether in the woodwork or the bunks or on the bed clothing.  Now gentlemen, I ask you is this probable - is it even possible?  Mr. Lewis, one of the witnesses called by the Crown, distinctly says that in his opinion it would not be possible for anyone standing in the doorway of the cabin to throw the acid on men lying in the bunks without leaving traces of the acid on the woodwork or paint about the bunks.  I ask you, gentlemen, to disbelieve this story altogether.  You are then asked to believe that the defendant proceeded to hit one of these men a very violent blow over the head without any provocation whatever.  This supercargo in his testimony today denies most solemnly and persistently that he evet laid a hand on the defendant, although before the Consul a few days back he admitted that he pushed him out of the cabin. Now gentleman, is it possible that you can believe this harm? Of course, there was a scuffle and in the course of that scuffle one of these two Chinamen got hurt.  I am not here to say that this Chinaman is not dead - although nothing would surprise me less than to find that he was very much alive - nothing is easier, as we all know, than to find a dead body in this country?  From what the prisoner has just told us it appears that there was a struggle, in the course of which his bottle of carbolic was smashed and then Liscom says deceased "bobbed his head" and that is all poor old Liscom seems to know of the matter.  My opinion of the matter is that the deceased, when he felt the smart of the acid, ducked his head and brought it down on the top of the belaying pin which Liscom had just put back in the rail. However gentlemen, it is for the Crown to prove the case against the prisoner which I submit has not been done unless you believe this supercargo who, as I have endeavoured to show you, had distinctly perjured himself.  The prisoner is a stranger and is hardly known at all about here outside his own ship, but the few people who do know him have all testified that he is a peaceable and quiet person and not at all the man to act in such a manner as you are asked to believe he did act.  And I want you to understand, gentlemen, that these two Chinamen were not a bit afraid of old John Liscom; they had taken the length of his foot a long time ago, they didn't care a cent for what he said or what he might do, when they wanted to smoke opium they smoked, whether he liked it or not, and when he ventured to disturb them they simply jostled him out of the room.  Now a word, gentlemen, can you say that this wound, however dealt, caused the death of this Chinaman? Are you prepared to say what Dr. MacDougal has distinctly refused to say? Gentleman, I thank God that the defendant is being tried before an English Judge and an English Jury, not before a Celestial tribunal.  I leave the case confidently in your hands.
  The Crown Advocate in his reply for the Crown said - I think that you will agree with me in thinking that the prisoner has no reason to regret that he has been defended by my learned friend.  He has said all that could be said on his behalf, and it is now my duty to lay before you the considerations which I submit entitle the Crown to your verdict.
  Much has been said about the deceased smoking opium, but the point is not material except so far as it bears on the credibility of the witnesses.  The question of the throwing of the acid, moreover, is not directly material to the case.  The prisoner is not charged with having thrown the acid on the deceased.  He might have been charged with that offence but he is not, and whether the deceased and the witness Kao-nio received the acid when standing up or lying down is important only on the point of that witness's credibility, - and on the question of provocation of which I shall have something to say.  Whatever doubt may have been thrown on the likelihood of the witness's story has, I submit, been removed by the prisoner's own statement.  According to his own showing the incident began by his unlawful use of the carbolic acid.  He says that he threw it with a view to drive the two Chinamen ashore.  Now even if he were justified by their smoking opium in trying to drive them away, he had no right to use dangerous means for effecting his purpose.  I submit that it is most probable that when the prisoner threw the acid into the room, some of it fell on the deceased, who would naturally resent it, and what was more natural than that the deceased and his companion should rush at the prisoner to prevent him throwing more, and that they should then get the marks which they bore on their persons, and that the prisoner should then use the belaying pin and strike the deceased.  My learned friend elicited some evidence from Dr. McDougal as to the natural direction of a wound given by a blow from a belaying pin used in the right hand, but it requires no medical science to show you that there are two ways of striking such a blow with the right hand and that the more usual way of striking would produce such a mark as the doctor found at the deceased.  You have the statement of the prisoner that he did throw carbolic acid and that he did have the belaying pin in his hand, and you have the evidence that the deceased was burnt with the acid and had just such a wound as a belaying pin would case, and there is nothing in the statement of the prisoner which would justify the use of the belaying pin.  To ask you to believe that the wound was received in some other way is to ask you to believe what is most improbable, if not impossible.
  The learned counsel then referred to the evidence of the witnesses and said:- This evidence leads most irresistibly to the conclusion that the blow was the cause of the death of the deceased.  It is not necessary that there should have been a post mortem examination and the effect of the blow upon the brain should be treated with scientific certainty.  The blow was sufficient to cause death, and there is no other cause of death known to exist.  That his death may have been hastened by his weakly constitution will not relive the prisoner from his responsibility for striking the blow - and if you find that the prisoner struck the blow and that the blow was the cause of death it will be your duty to find him guilty of manslaughter.
  The learned Counsel repeated what he had previously said in his opening as to the nature of the other charge under which prisoner stood indicted, and  said that they would, of course, give the prisoner the benefit of any reasonable doubt, but the doubt must be a reasonable one, such as they would act upon in their own affairs.
  The Chief Justice in summing up the case to the Jury said - Gentlemen, I think the prisoner is fortunate in having had the assistance of Mr. Crowell who has discharged his task with much ability.  The Crown Advocate has very fairly placed before you the law bearing upon the case; and it is now for you to consider whether you find the prisoner guilty upon any, and if any, which of the charges.  I am glad to see that it is the practice in England to take the statements of prisoners for what they are worth, but it is questionable whether in the majority of cases such statements inure to the prisoner's benefit or not.  Here, it would seem, that so far from its strengthening his case, it seems rather to strengthen the case for the prosecution.
  The prisoner asserts that he had, with the intention of scaring the deceased and the other Chinaman out of the ship, gone to the cabin with his bottle of carbolic acid.  He also admits that he had, in the course of the scuffle that subsequently ensued, taken a belaying pin in his hand, and nowhere in the course of his statement does he deny having struck the blow which resulted so fatally.  Thus in wo of the most important particulars he corroborates the evidence of the principal Chinese witness - and on the other hand the version he gives of the way in which the bottle of carbolic acid was broken, and the injury possibly inflicted on the deceased, seems a most improbable story.
  Can you believe that the deceased in bobbing his head (as the prisoner describes it) inflicted upon himself such a wound as you have heard described? If not - and you come to the conclusion that the wound has been inflicted by the prisoner with the belaying pin, you must certainly find the prisoner guilty either of manslaughter, wounding with intent, or with unlawfully wounding.  If you are of opinion that the cause of death has not been clearly proved you can acquit the prisoner of the charge of manslaughter, and consider whether there was any intent to do grievous bodily harm when he inflicted the blow.  If you are not satisfied as to this, it only remains for you to consider the charge of unlawfully wounding.  You will have to remember that no allegation has been made either by the prisoner's counsel; or by the prisoner himself that the blow in question was struck in self-defence, and therefore, inasmuch as the first provocation was clearly given by the prisoner, it would appear that the wound must have been at least unlawful.  I shall be ready to read over to you any of the evidence that you may wish to hear again, or I will read you the prisoner's statement.
  In accordance with the request of the foreman of the jury, His Lordship then read to them his notes of the evidence of Dr. McDougal.
  The Jury then retired to consider their verdict and after an absence of fifteen minutes returned to the Court-room, and in answer to the usual question, said that they found the prisoner guilty of unlawfully wounding.
  In passing sentence, the Chief Justice said - Prisoner at the Bar, you have been found guilty upon evidence, that is thoroughly satisfactory to me, of unlawfully wounding the deceased, and in my opinion the Jury have taken a very merciful view of your case.  You have been very ably defended, but it is clear that you had lost your temper and have inflicted a very violent blow upon this unfortunate Chinaman, causing results which you, no doubt, never contemplated.  I feel it my duty to pass such a sentence upon you as will, I hope, act as a deterrent against men in your position acting in a similar way.
  The sentence of the court upon you is that you be imprisoned with hard labour for two years in the Hongkong Gaol.

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