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Colonial Cases

United States v. Robinson, 1891


United States v. Robinson

United States Consular Court, Shanghai
Source: North China Herald, 6 March, 1891

Shanghai, 2nd March, 1891
Before J. A. Leonard, Consul-General, and Messrs. E. G. Lowe and F. H. Farwell, Assessors.
  W. E. Robinson, carpenter, was charged with obtaining goods valued at $72 by false pretences from Messrs. T. Weeks & Co., drapers.
  George Peace, assistant to the prosecutors, said the prisoner came to the store on 6th Feb., ordered goods to the value of $72, and said he would take the parcel with him as he had an account at the store. He gave his name as C. P. R. Hansen, and said he was a boat officer at Woosung. Witness could not find that name in the books, but came to the conclusion that through some mistake a purchase of some Christmas cards which accused said he had made, had by mistake not been entered. Witness spoke to Mr.  Trueman, who allowed prisoner to take the goods away with him. Prisoner said the account could be sent to him at the Hongkew Coffee House, and he would pay it. When a Shroff was sent there, he returned with the information that no such person was saying there.  Witness sent the account with a note to Mr. Hansen, who replied that he had not purchased the goods and that someone must have been using his name. Witness communicated with the police, and subsequently identified prisoner at the Hospital.
  By the accused - I know that Hansen is a German name. You do not speak like a German, but I think you told me you were a German American. I identified some articles in your box - a shirt and some socks.
  Thomas Edwin Trueman, of the firm of Weeks & Co., said he saw accused in the store on 6th Feb., and was afterwards told by the last witness that accused had purchased some goods. Peach asked if witness would allow the accused to take the goods away, but witness said prisoner could not do so as his name was not in the books.  Subsequently Peach came to witness again and said prisoner had told him that at Christmas he had purchased some Christmas cards which he wished to be added to the present account. Witness came to the conclusion that this item had not been entered in the books, and the fact of prisoner referring to this alleged former purchase made witness consider prisoner was genuine. Witness then testified as to the steps which were taken upon finding out that the goods had not been purchased by Mr. Hansen. Witness afterwards saw accused at the Hospital and produced the bill to him. Accused said he did not know Mr. Hansen or T. Weeks & Co., and that he had not purchased the goods. Witness took proceedings at the British Court, but when there accused showed witness papers signifying that he was an American citizen.
  By accused - I am positive I saw you in the store on February 6h. I think it is possible that such goods could be obtained elsewhere.
  Prisoner proceeded to ask witness a number of questions, most of which his Honour declared irrelevant.
  Frederick George Keeling, detective inspector, corroborated the witness Peach's testimony with regard to his identifying accused.
  Prisoner - Have you ever known me defraud anyone before?
  Witness - No, but I have had you brought to my notice.
  By Mr. Low - When information was given to me about this affair, I thought of accused partly from the description and partly from what I know of him.
  Mr. A. F. Last, assistant at the Sailors' Home, said prisoner had been staying there. Witness saw prisoner receive $1 from a man named Elliott for two cardigan jackets which Robinson had.
  James Eveleigh, superintendent of the Sailors' Hone, deposed to advancing $4 to Elliott to buy two Cardigan jackets from Robinson. A bill from the prosecutors was subsequently sent to the House, in the name of C. P. R. Hansen, and in which two Cardigan jackets were mentioned. Accused was staying at the Sailors' Home prior to signing on board the ship Forest King, on which he had obtained a berth as carpenter. Witness lost sight of accused for some days, and then found he was in the hospital.
  Inspector Keeling here asked permission to put a question to the witness Last.
  His Honour giving permission,
  Last, in answer to Inspector Keeling, said he saw Robinson come into the Sailors' Home on the Friday or Saturday night before New Year with a number of parcels. He opened these on the table in the reading room, and told the boy to carry them up to his room. There were some Chinese shirts, underclothing, stockings and boots.
  Prisoner complained that one witness ought not to be allowed to question another.
  His Honour said he had allowed these questions.
  Last, in answer to accused, said he saw a white and a red comforter in the parcel which accused opened.  Accused subsequently wore the white comforter in the Sailors' Home.
  After the midday interval, the witness Peach was recalled and requested to take such articles as he recognized out of the prisoner's box, produced in court. Witness identified sundry articles as being some of those obtained by prisoner. He also identified the boots worn by prisoner in court as having been obtained at the same time, and also recognized two Cardigan jackets.
  Accused called George Baker, assistant at the Hospital, with whom prisoner had lived before going to the Hospital. Witness, asked by the accused if the latter had a sufficient stock of clothing to make it unnecessary for him to purchase more, said he could not answer the question.
  An assistant inspector of nuisances, named Lohinger, deposed that he went with accused to the store on December 24th.  Accused bought some Christmas cards and said they were to be put down to his account, giving the name of Robinson.
  When asked if he had any further witnesses to call, accused complained that he had been ten days in gaol and had no opportunity of seeing his witnesses.
  Another witness for the prosecution, David Campbell, an assistant in the prosecutor's store, deposed that he saw prisoner leave the store with two parcels. Afterwards witness saw him again in the Hospital.
  Accused, who elected to give evidence on oath, made a long rambling statement in which he alleged that he bought the Cardigan jackets found in his possession from a man named Prendergast, whose present whereabouts he did not know. Other articles he alleged that he bought at Foochow, and from Ching Chung at Shanghai.
  The members of the Court retired and on their return the Consul-General announced that it was the judgment of the Court, in which both the Assessors concurred, that accused was guilty; and it was further adjudged that he be sentenced to nine months' imprisonment in the Consular gaol.

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