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Colonial Cases

R v. Cooke and Hunt [1936]

[murder - assault]

R. v. Cooke and Hunt

Consular Court, Peiping
Source: The Times, 18 June 1936



Peking, June 17.

The British Embassy announced to-day that the Consular Court would begin the preliminary examination next Tuesday in connexion with the Japanese allegations of the complicity of British soldiers in the disturbances on the night of May 26, when the Japanese officer Sasaki was killed.

Source: The Times, 4 July 1936



Peking, July 3.

When the British Consular inquiry was resumed this morning Mr. Fiztmaurice the British Consul, announced that there was insufficient evidence to frame any charge against either Private Cooke or Private Hunt in respect of the death of the Japanese officer Sasaki, but that there was a prima facie case against private Cooke in respect of the assault on Onishi.  Mr. Fitzmaurice said that he had decided to deal with the charges summarily, and Private Cooke pleaded "Not Guilty."

After Mr. Priestwood, the Crown Advocate, had been given permission to return to Shanghai, Mr. Kent (for the two British soldiers) said that the defence not only intended to prove an alibi but were anxious to satisfy everyone that no British soldiers could have been involved.

He pointed out that the Korean barmaids had insisted that Cooke and Hunt were together on the night of the alleged assault, whereas the defence would prove that Hunt was doing duty in barracks and Cooke was out with Corporal Neal, who had not been mentioned by any of the witnesses for the prosecution.  The barmaids knew  all the military police well, and there was no doubt that some of the witnesses intended to accuse certain men of the assault in question in consequence of the ill-feeling caused by their searching for absentees in accordance with their orders.

Private Cooke then gave evidence of his movements on the night of the alleged assault.  Several soldiers of the Embassy guard confirmed that he and Corporal Neal were in a cafe nearly half a mile away between 11.50 and midnight, and the barracks sentry stated that the two men entered barracks together at 12.10 (Onishi is alleged to have been assaulted at about midnight and Sasaki at about  12.30).  Private Hunt deposed that he was on duty in barracks the whole night, and this was also corroborated.

Twelve witnesses were called for the defence to-day, and it is hoped to conclude the hearing of evidence to-morrow.

The Japanese Embassy spokesman made a statement to the Japanese Press this morning that in spite of the British Consular Court's decision this morning the Japanese still maintained that British soldiers were concerned with the death of Sasaki.  The Japanese Embassy was seeking instructions from Tokyo, and intended to continue negotiations with the British Embassy on the matter.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 July 1936


British Soldiers Exonerated.


PEIPING, July 3.

A Consular Court of Inquiry decided that there was no case against the British soldiers who were alleged to have killed a Japanese officer on June 5.

The Secretary of the Japanese Embassy called on the British Ambassador, and expressed Japan's dissatisfaction.  A high official states: "We still believe that soldiers murdered Sasaki."

Source: The Sunday Times (London), 5 July 1936



Peking, Saturday.

Private H. Cooke, of the Worcestershire Regiment, who was charged with assault and causing bodily harm to a Japanese named Onishi, in a bar here on May 26, was acquitted to-day by the Consular Court.

The charge followed the earlier inquiry into allegations against Private Cooke and Private Hunt, of the same regiment, in connection with the death of a Japanese officer, Sasaki.  It was held that there was insufficient evidence against either man to formulate any charge in that case.

Counsel for Cooke, while admitting that he visited the bar on the night in question, said it would be proved that he left before the time the alleged assault took place on Onishi.

The magistrate said he believed the alibi, and dismissed the case.

The acquittal; has aroused great indignation among the Japanese here.  The Japanese Residents' Association is organising a meeting to protest. - Reuter.

Source: Riverene Herald (Moama, Australia), 6 July 1936


Court of Inquiry Finding.

PEIPING, July 3.

The Consular Court of Inquiry at Peiping, found that there was a prima facie case against Private Cooke, of the military Police, for an alleged assault on a Japanese soldier Onishi, on June 6.

This finding was announced today after the Court had decided that there was no case against privates Cooke and Hunt, who were alleged to have murdered a Japanese officer named Sasaki on the same date.

It is alleged that Onishi was assaulted about midnight on June 6, and Sasaki half an hour later.

Cooke, who pleaded not guilty, pointed out in his defence that two Korean barmaids, who were in the bar where Onishi was assaulted, gave evidence that Cooke and Hunt were there together on the night of the assaults, whereas Hunt was on duty in barracks and Cooke was out with Corporal Heal, whom none of the witnesses mentioned.

The barmaids knew all the military police.

There was no doubt that some of the witnesses were accusing certain men of the assault, because of ill feeling, due to the police searching for absentees.]

Several soldiers of the Embassy Guard gave evidence that Cooke and Heal were at a cafe half a mile from the Korean bar at 11.50 p.m., and a sentry said that they returned to barracks at 10 minutes past midnight.

The defence emphasised that the men were anxious to satisfy everyone that British soldiers were not involved in the incidents.

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