Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

R. v. Alli, Asan and Kitchil, 1879


R. v. Alli, Asan and Kitchil

Supreme Court, Hong Kong
13 May 1879
Source: The North China Herald, 27 May 1879



   In the Supreme Court at Hongkong, on the 13th instant, before Chief Justice Sir John Smale, the cases of murder on board the British barque Kate Waters came on for trial.  The prisoners, Alli, Asan, and Kitchil, alias John, seamen, were arraigned on seven counts on a charge of murdering on the high seas William Frederick Giese, master; Christopher Bowen, chief office; and Henry Hayden, second mate, on board the said ship, and two Chinese on the Island of Malinging, also a Chinese boy name unknown; the prisoners were also charged on another count with stealing the ship, her cargo, and apparel.  The prisoners pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

   The jury were - Messrs. A. Gultzow, W. H. Forbes, D. Gillies, F. A. Grobien, W. Reiners, N. J. Ede, and R. Walker.  The Acting Attorney-General (Hon. J. Russell), instructed by the Crown Solicitor, prosecuted; Mr. Ng Choy, instructed by Mr. Stephens, defended the prisoners.

   After a very long investigation, the jury retired at 1.15 a.m., and after an absence of six minutes they returned to the Court, and gave a verdict of guilty on the first, second, third and fourth counts, on the fifth count the third prisoner only guilty; on the sixth count not guilty as directed, and on the seventh charge the third prisoner guilty.  The Jury were unanimous.  His Lordship thanked the jury for their attention and said that he must sentence each prisoner on their different counts as if there were any flaw in a general sentence, the whole would be void.  He then asked the prisoners if they had anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon them. - Each of the prisoners made a brief statement, after which His Lordship, assuming the black cap, said -

   You have all three been convicted, which is conclusive to my mind as evidence can be, of crimes so dreadful as has not been known here for some time.  You have been convicted of the murder of the captain, and the first and second officers of your ship, and you have committed a piracy of a most outrageous kind by your stealing that which you could not make use of.  You stole what you did not want.  It is useless for me to impress on your minds the enormity of the crime.  All thoughtful persons must satisfy themselves that the severest penalty must be inflicted for the protection of life and property at sea. 

   You have been found guilty on the first count of the murder of William Frederick Giese, the captain of your ship, and must each of you pay the penalty of your life.  His Lordship then passed the sentence of death in the usual form.


Source: The North China Herald, 3 June 1879


   On the morning of the 28th ult., the three sailors, two Siamese and one Javanese, (Alli, Hassan, and "John" or Kitchel), who were recently convicted of murdering at sea the Captain and the first and second mates of the British barque Kate Waters (the last-named being also convicted of the murder of the cook on shore, and of a Chinese boy), were publicly executed in the Compound of the Victoria Gaol.

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