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Colonial Cases

United States v. Sutherland, 1889


United States v. Sutherland

United States Consular Court

Kennedy, August 1889

Source: North China Herald, 17 August 1889



Shanghai, 12th Aug. 1889.


   At the United States Consulate-General today, before General Kennedy (Consul-General) and Messrs. J. P. Roberts and Jas. Purdon, (Assessors), Alexander James Sutherland, late second mate of the Br. Ship County of Yarmouth, was charged on remand with burglary and grand larceny at the Cleveland public house, No. 5, Broadway, Hongkew.

   The evidence, partly given at the first hearing on Thursday, showed that the robbery had been committed between midnight and six o'clock in the morning of the 5th instant.  Entrance had been effected through a window; the till in the bar-room was forced open, and a watch, chain, a five dollar note and some coin stolen therefrom.  The total loss was about 85 dollars.  The accused, who had been staying in the house for some time, but who had not slept there on the night of August 4th, was suspected.  Geo. Bennett, the prosecutor, manager of the house, went on the 5th to the Sailors' Home, where he found Sutherland, who, when taxed with the robbery wrote and signed the following statement"-

   "This may certify that I will plead guilty to any charge of robbery that may be brought against me by George Bennett, Cleveland House, Hongkew."

   The prisoner was also shown to have had coin and a five dollar note in his possession, on board the County of Yarmouth on the morning of the 5th, whereas he had none on the 4th; while the watch and chain (identified by the prosecutor) were traced to Sutherland's possession, he having changed them with the first officer of the County of Yarmouth for another watch.

   At the suggestion of Mr. W. S. Emens, Vice-Consul, who defended the accused at the request of the Court, Sutherland was allowed to go into the witness-box.  He there made a long statement, purporting to account for the manner in which he had spent the night in question.  He admitted, however, that he had been drinking freely and was not in a condition to clearly recollect what took place.  When the confession was put in evidence, and Sutherland was asked if he had any objection to offer, he replied, "I have never seen it;" but in the course of his own statement he admitted having written the document produced.  He alleged, however, that Bennett had told him it should never be shown to anyone, and that it was required by him (Bennett) to assist him in the recovery of his property.

   Mr. Emens, in defence, submitted that there was sufficient doubt in the case to justify an acquittal, no evidence having been given to show that the prisoner was in the neighbourhod of the premises about the time of the robbery.

   After a very brief deliberation, the accused was found guilty.

   The Consul-General, in passing sentence, said the prisoner had utterly failed to corroborate his statement as to his whereabouts on the night of August 4th.  The evidence with regard to the watch which was in the hands of the first mate of the county of Yarmouth (who gave it up and accounted for his possession of it) was sufficiently clear, independently of the confession made to Bennett; and all the circumstances of the case warranted the Court in arriving at its conclusion as to the prisoner's guilt. His Honour then passed sentence of twelve months' imprisonment with hard labour, in the Consular gaol.


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