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Colonial Cases

R. v. Doncaster, 1890


R. v. Doncaster

Police Court, Shanghai
Mowat AJ, 11 June 1890
Source: North China Herald, 27 June, 1890

Shanghai, 11st June.
Before R. A. Mowat, Esq., Assistant Judge.
  James Doncaster, master of the s.s. Pembrokeshire, was summoned for assaulting Wong Chi, their second steward on board that vessel, on the 17th Inst.
  The complainant's story was to the effect that, as he was sick, he went to the chart-room, when the ship was lying alongside the wharf, and told the captain that he could not work. The captain sent for the ship's doctor, who came to the chart-room, and said complainant was not fit for work. The doctor then went away, and the captain told complainant that if he could not work he had better clear out. Complainant asked for his discharge, and said that if he did not get it he would go to the Consul. The Captain then said "I'm the Consul for you," or words to that effect, struck complainant twice with his clenched fists and kicked him once. Complainant left the ship at once and had been afraid to return on board for his clothes.
 The defendant, when called upon for his version of the affair, said that shortly before dinner time it was reported to him that the complainant was sick. There were passengers on board at the time. Defendant went to the chart-room, and sent for complainant, who said he was sick. Defendant then went from the chart-room to the saloon to see the doctor, leaving complainant in the chart-room. On returning defendant told him to pack up his things and he would be taken to the hospital next morning. Defendant denied striking complainant, or that the doctor came into the chart-room while complainant was there.
  His Worship adjourned the case till Monday morning for the attendance of the doctor.
23rd June.
[As above.]
  James Doncaster, master of the s.s Pembrokeshire, again appeared in answer to a summons charging him with assaulting Wong Chi, second steward of the Pembrokeshire. The case was adjourned from the 21st inst. for the production of corroborative testimony, the complainant having sworn that the doctor came into the chart-room before the alleged assault, whereas the defendant stated that he went out of the chart-room to consult the doctor about complainant.
  Henry Edmonds was now called, and stated that he was a physician and surgeon on board the Pembrokeshire. On the day the vessel arrived at Shanghai he saw complainant, whom he found to be suffering from acute indigestion. Witness gave him some medicine and told him to lie off. At dinner on the 17th, witness was called from the saloon to the chart-room, where he found the captain and complainant. The captain asked what was the matter with the man, and, on being told, said he thought he was shamming. Witness said he did not think that was the case. The captain then told complainant he must get out of the ship and go to the hospital. Witness then went back to the saloon to finish his dinner. The captain afterwards spoke to him aft about the matter.
  His Worship pointed out to defendant that the last witness had corroborated complainant's story in regard to the visit to the chart-room. Defendant had said the doctor did not come to the chart-room at all.
  Defendant - Yes, I shall have to correct that.  We were all very busy and the doctor may have come up.
  His Worship - The doctor left his dinner to come to the chart-room; he was sent for. Of course that is not conclusive as to whether you struck complainant or not, but I can only test this evidence in one way, and I find his story is borne out and yours is not. I have come to the conclusion that he has practically told the truth, and that you probably lost your temper - with very little cause, as far as I can see - and struck him.
  Defendant was then fined $3 and costs and it was arranged that plaintiff should receive his discharge from the ship.

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