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Colonial Cases

R. v. Harvey, 1898

[obtaining by false pretences]


R. v. Harvey

Supreme Court for China and Japan
Hannen CJ, 23 March 1898
Source: North China Herald, 28 March, 1898



Shanghai, 23rd March

Before Sir Nicholas Hannen, Chief Justice.


   Arthur Edward Harvey, a young man, was indicted for unlawfully obtaining goods by means of false pretences from Li Liang-sheng Chinese shopkeeper in Nanking Road on the 21st ultimo.

   Mr. H. P. Wilkinson, Crown Advocate, prosecuted and the jury consisted of the following gentlemen: Messrs. J, Christie, W. Mesny, T. Mitchell, H. R. Kinnear, and E. G. Wilson.

   The Crown Advocate having briefly opened the case, called

   Li Liang-sheng the prosecutor who said he kept a general store at 152 Nanking Road. He recognised the prisoner as the man who came to his store on the 21st ultimo and ordered some goods. He selected six tins of rock fish, a box of cigars, and two tins of fruit. He then signed a chit for the amount $6.60, in the name of "J. Robinson, Cleveland House, Hongkew." Witness did not want him to sign a chit not knowing him, but prisoner said he would send the money the next day. Prisoner who was with another man then got into a 'rickhsa and they drove away taking the goods with them. Witness being suspicious spoke to a foreign constable on the subject and after he had examined the chit witness went back to his shop and the matter was reported by the policeman at the Police Station. The next day prosecutor went in search of the prisoner but could not find him, and afterwards he went in search of the prisoner, in company with a foreign detective. At the Cleveland Hotel they were told that there was no such man there. on the 23rd they found him on board a ship and he was arrested. He was perfectly certain as to the identity of the prisoner.

   In reply to the prisoner he recognised a tin of fish produced to him at the police station by the chop used in his shop.

   By the Bench - He would not have allowed him to take the goods if he had not signed the chit.

   PO.C. Jespersen said that on the day in question he was in the Nanking Road on duty when he saw the prosecutor. He went up to him and spoke to him in consequence of having seen the prisoner come out of the shop with some goods. There was another foreigner with him, and they called for a 'ricksha and drove away. He knew the prisoner's name was Harvey and had never known him by the name of Robinson. He saw the chit with the false name and address and afterwards reported the matter to the Inspector on duty at the police station. 

   In reply to the prisoner witness said that he knew him well they having been constables together.  He did not suspect that it was the other man who signed the chit because the prosecutor told him who had signed it. The reason he went to the shop and inquired about him was that he suspected he had signed the chit.

   At this stage a question was handed from the jury to His Lordship in reference to the identity of the other man who was with the prisoner.

   His Lordship reminded them that it was not for the prosecution to ask that inasmuch as he did not appear to have been recognised. The prisoner had only to give his name and he would be called.

   A juror said that the question was asked as it had been hinted that the other man might have signed the chit and been named Robinson.

   The prisoner interposed by stating that all his witnesses had left Shanghai, and he could not call his friend.

   Two Chinese salesmen in the employ of the prosecutor were called and deposed to the prisoner ordering the goods, taking them away and signing the chit.

   This closed the case for the prosecution, and the prisoner having no witnesses to call,

   Mr. Wilkinson acting on the suggestion of his Lordship reviewed the evidence that had been submitted, and said it could be no defence that the prisoner had signed his friend's name and address.

   The prisoner then addressed the Court and complained that the man who was with him was arrested and taken to Hongkew Police Station and a tin of fish taken from him but was allowed to go the next morning. This man was always to be found in the neighbourhood of Hongkew but the police had taken no steps to find him.

   His Lordship in summing up said the prisoner must know perfectly well who the man was, and whether his name was Robinson. He said he could have been found but why has he taken no steps to bring him? He had only to ask the Court to summon the man and he would be produced.

   The prisoner was found guilty by the jury, without retiring. He pleaded that he had been in gaol a month in solitary confinement and was quite innocent of the charge.

   His Lordship said it was a great convenience to people in Shanghai to be able to go into shops, order things and take them away, but if men like the prisoner went in and signed a chit and were not afterwards to be found, then the whole community was put to great inconvenience, and shop keepers were also very hardly used. He should take into consideration the fact of the prisoner having been in custody a month, but the offence did not admit of a nominal sentence. He would have to go to prison for three months with hard labour.

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