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Colonial Cases

R. v. Hughes, 1890

[assault by police]

R. v. Hughes

Police Court, Shanghai
Rennie CJ, 31 May, 5 June 1890
Source: North China Herald, 6 June, 1890

Shanghai, 31st May.
Before Sir Richard Rennie, Chief Justice.
  John Hughes, Police Constable No. 39, in the employ of the Shanghai Municipality, was charged with criminally assaulting a woman named Koo wan-pao.
  Captain-Superintendent McEuen watched the case on behalf of the police.
  The complainant stated that about one o'clock that morning she was drinking with some other women in a Chinese brothel in Hankow Road. Accused, who was in uniform, came in and dragged her into a bedroom. She tried to get away from him and a Chinaman interfered, whom accused kicked. He then dragged her out of the house, telling her that he was going to take her to police station. He took her to an alleyway leading out of the Hankow Road and committed the act complained of. Accused had a sergeant's uniform on.
  By the Court - She resisted when the accused assaulted her. She tried to call for help, but the prisoner put his hand over her mouth and pinched her side. Nobody interfered, but several people passed by and enquired what the noise was about. He told them to go away. The assault took place in a large doorway in the alleyway.
  Chiang A-nee, the proprietress of the brothel in question, said that about 1.30 that morning several women were drinking in the house, when the accused came in. He was dressed as a policeman and was apparently drunk. He dragged complainant into a bedroom and shut the door. Witness succeeded in getting into the room, and prisoner then dragged the complainant out of the house. Witness sent the amah with them, but she returned and said the prisoner had kicked her. His number was 39.
  By Capt. McEuen - She was told the number was 39.
  Li Ni-pao, the amah, said she attempted to accompany the prisoner and complainant but prisoner kicked her and told her to go away, which she did, being afraid.
  At this stage the proceedings were adjourned till three o'clock.
  At that hour Mr. D. P. Drummond appeared for the accused, and asked for a remand.
  His Worship said that, after hearing the evidence, he was satisfied that the no jury would convict on the graver charge of criminal assault, and he proposed to deal with the case as simply one of common assault. Under these circumstances he thought it was perhaps hardly worth while to remand the case.
  Mr. Drummond still adhered to his application for remand, and asked that the accused might be liberated on bail.
  His Worship - No, he must be kept in prison; it I clearly a bad case.
  Prisoner - Then you had better deal with the case at once.
  Prisoner, when asked what he had to say to the charge, denied it entirely.
  At the request of his Worship,
  Sergt. Phillips, who was in the charge-room when the complaint was made, was called. He said the prisoner came to the station at about three o'clock, apparently under the influence of drink. There was mud on his knees and pants and cape. Witness told him of the charge, and he denied it, and said he had never seen the woman.
  Capt. McEuen gave the accused a good character.
  After some further discussion, his Worship adjourned the case till Thursday next at two o'clock and accepted the prisoner's bail in $200 and two other securities of $100 each.
.  .  .  
5th June.
Before Sir R. T. Rennie.
  John Hughes a police constable in the employ of the Shanghai Municipality, was charged on remand with assaulting a woman named Koo wan-pao on the night of the 30th ult.
  Capt. McEuen again appeared to watch the case on behalf of the police.
  Mr. D. P. Drummond, who appeared for the defence, called
  Patrick Vincent Murphy, who said - I am a sergeant in the Shanghai Police. I was in charge at the Louza Police Station at twelve o'clock on Friday night. I sent the accused on his beat about ten minutes past twelve. He was then sober.
  By Capt. McEuen - I said to Sergeant Phillips that if accused was drunk I should call the Inspector.
  By the Court - I said this on account of the accused not coming at his proper time, twelve o'clock.
  Sergt. Phillips recalled by Mr. Drummond said - I saw the accused before he went out on his beat.  He was fit for duty. The amah came to the station at two o'clock.
   By the Court - Accused seemed to be under the influence of drink when he returned to the Station at three o'clock. There was mud on his knees and on his cape.
  The trousers and cape were here produced.
  Tong Ching-sang, a native police sergeant said - I was at the corner of Hankow and Hupeh Roads at seven minutes to one on Friday night. Accused came up and asked me the time, and I asked him if he had lost his watch. He said he had no watch. I told him the time, and he said "all right" and went away. He walked quickly. Native constable No. 227 passed at the time.  None of the native constables reported any disturbance to me.
  Native Constable No. 227 said - I was at the corner of Hankow and Hupeh Roads on Friday night. I saw accused. I heard him ask the last witness the time. I cannot say if he was sober or not, as he was in the middle of the road and I at the side.
  Inspector Howard, called at the request of the Court, said - Accused would have been on his beat if at the spot and at the time described by the last two witnesses. His regular time to return to the station would be a bout three o'clock.
  John Cromar, police sergeant, called by Capt. McEuen, said - I was on patrol duty between midnight on Friday and 6 a.m. on Saturday. I was in charge of the accused. In the ordinary course I should have met him three or four times; I did not see him at all. I saw him when he came to the station at three o'clock. He had a sergeant's coat, (No. 8) on, his own constable's number being 39.
  Mr. Drummond, in submitting the accused's version of the story, urged that it was improbable that the accused should have dragged the complainant out of the house when he could more easily have effected his nefarious purpose inside. The mud on his clothing might be easily accounted for by the dirty and rainy weather.
  His Worship, in giving judgment, said - I do not entertain any doubt about a common assault having been committed. The reason why I said on Saturday that I did not think there was any case to go to the jury in regard to the graver charge was that this was a charge brought by an admitted prostitute and unsupported by other evidence. Any jury would be very loath to convict of rape; and if I were the judge on the occasion I should not have recommended them to do so; but I did not mean to say that I disbelieved the prosecutrix's story of having been dragged out of the house to the alleyway and there assaulted. When such a woman is assaulted in that way she would probably make less resistance than a virtuous woman would; but the evidence sufficiently satisfied me that a very serious assault was committed by a police officer in uniform.   If the evidence of the woman, even though she is a prostitute, had been supported by independent testimony, I should have had no hesitation in sending the case for trial as one of rape; but being unsupported as it was, I could not do so.
  I have no hesitation in convicting the prisoner of a criminal assault. It was a very grave one, committed under colour of his office and in uniform, and to my mind the evidence of the female witnesses is strongly corroborated by Sergt. Phillips, who finds him coming to the police station under the influence of liquor, with his clothes in such a condition as to show that the story of the prosecutrix is correct. It is an offence which I cannot pass over lightly; and the accused  must go to prison for six weeks with hard labour.

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