CHARGE OF INCENDIARISM.
For some time a few Chinese have settled on the coast of Spencer's Gulf, in a solitary place about two miles and a half north of the Point Pearce Station, on Mr. S. Rogers's run. They have pursued a lucrative trade, curing fish and dispatching them to the Melbourne market. On the 17th inst. they had about six tons of fish ready for the market and some money in the hut, besides a considerable quantity of stores. A fire broke out in their camp whilst they ware fishing a mile and a half distant, and they accused an elderly man named Wallace of having fired it. An inquest was held by Mr. Derrington, J.P., on the 27th at Point Pearce Station. Mr. Resnay Kappler was Foreman; Lee Ping was interpreter for the Chinese witnesses.
Ah Leoey, of Point Pearce, said— I was in a boat catching fish, about a mile and a half from the camp. It was about half-past 10 or 11 o'clock. We started about 7. At 11 o'clock, as I suppose, saw smoke at the camp, in the middle. The chimney and fireplace were on the lee side of the place where the smoke was. I made all haste to the camp. Saw a man named Wallace go on horseback to the camp 10 minutes before I saw the smoke burst out. Saw Wallace leave and go towards the station, and return with another man named Bowers. They both stood looking at the fire when I reached the camp. The place was burnt down. The fire was burning last at the chimney. The middle part was burnt first There was about six tons of dried fish at the time in the place. Perhaps three parts of a ton was saved. There was about £20 in the house, one £10-note, and the rest in £1-notes, besides some coin. Myself and partner only knew of it It was in a cedar box. I cooked my breakfast in the fireplace before I went out I put a bucket of water upon the fire, and stirred the ashes to make quite sure it was gone out. There was a light breeze that morning from the south-west. The house stood north-east and south-west. The chimney and door were in the northern end. The fire broke out about 60 feet away from the chimney at southern end of the building. It was impossible that a spark might have blown out of the fireplace. The place where the fire started was partitioned off from the place where the chimney was. Did not see Wallace smoking. Estimate my total loss at £400. There were fishing gear and clothing; and provisions in quantity.
By the Foreman— When I started in the morning the wind was very light from the south-east. The wind calmed down about 8 o'clock, and then a breeze came from the southwest The door was locked. The chest with the money in it was locked. Never had a quarrel with Wallace. There were two tomahawks outside close to the camp when I went away; when I returned, and after the fire was out I found one of these close to the place where the cedar box bad been. Am confident they were both outside when I went away. I was the last in the place and locked the door. Took the key and hid it outside the chimney. The handles of the tomahawks were burnt.
By the Coroner — Saw Wallace go in at one door, at the middle part of the building, before the fire broke out. Think it was Wallace who set the place afire, because I saw him go inside and come out and then I saw the smoke. Fung Tow and Woo Chung were in the boat with me when the fire broke out.
By a Juryman— There were some matches in the building— a tin box of lucifers — on the table, in another room from that in which the fire started. The dried fish stored away were packed in casks. There was a little straw on the floor upon which to pack the fish.
By P.C. Harris— When I came up to where Bowers and Wallace were standing I said, ' Mr. Wallace, what did you set fire to my place for?' Wallace replied, ' I did not do it; I saw the smoke coming from the chimney.' I replied, ''How is it that the chimney was burnt last?' Wallace answered, 'Because the house caught fire in the corner by the door.' The notes were loose in the cedar box. The watch produced was in the box with the silver. It was worth about £3. I could swear to the £10-note. I marked it with Chinese characters on the back.
By Hugh Wallace— Saw you first just before the fire. You were about a mile and a half away from me and on horseback. You went to the camp, alighted, and went inside the building, where you stayed a little while.
Woo Chung, of Point Pearce, deposed — Was fishing with Ah Looey. I saw Wallace go into the camp, and in ten minutes the fire broke out. I saw him go into the hut The fire broke out in the southern end of the hut. Ah Looey was the last in the hut. There was £20 in a box— £10 and ten one-pound notes. Heard when we came back Ah Looey accuse Wallace of setting fire to the place. Smoked a cigarette that morning, but it was on the beacb. No one smoked in the hut nor near it. Did not see Wallace smoke.
By a Juryman — Did not carry matches in my pockets, nor did either Ah Looey or my other mate. There was no cat in the place to overset the matches. It was not a hot day. Am certain it was Wallace was in the camp.
By Police-constable Harris— Lit my cigarette on the beach.
By H. Wallace— Did not see you before I saw you in the camp. We were sailing when I first saw you, about a mile and a half away.
Fung Tow, of Point Pearce, corroborated and said, in reply to P.C. Harris— Saw Wallace all the time from the moment he came out of the hut until we reached the beach. He came from the direction of the wells, and round the southern end of the hut.
By H. Wallace— I know it was you.
John Bowers, of Point Pearce, stated— About II o'clock I saw smoke at tbe Chinese camp. I told our Chinese cook, who said the camp was afire. I rode towards it Met Wallace at the fence about a mile from here. Be said, 'The place is all afire up there. I tried to put it out, and burnt my shirt in doing so.' He was on horseback. I galloped as hard as I could, and he followed. The place was all ablaze when we got there. Wallace and myself were the first who arrived. Then the Chineee, the three who have been examined to-day, came. They talked among themselves, but I could not understand them. Ah Looey blamed Wallace for setting tbe place afire. Wallace replied, 'Me injure you? I would sooner do anything to help you than injure you poor creatures.' Wallace told me whilst we were standing by the burning camp that he was at the well, filled the troughs, and saw the smoke, and that called his attention to the fire. He added that he went into the building and threw a couple of backets of water on the fire to quench it, but he saw it was beyond his means to save anything, and then he galloped down to me. Wallace is a perfect stranger in the district; he had not been here a week when the fire occurred. Think he is an occasional smoker. Be was not smoking when he came for me. The place was built of rushes altogether, excepting the kitchen where the chimney was. The floor was also usually covered with rushes. There was a light variable breeze that morning. My opinion is that the fire occurred through there being a wooden chimney. It was formed of sheaoak logs, and was the most substantial part of the building. The heaviest timber was in it, and that was in my opinion the reason why it was burning after the rest of the building. The building was in a blaze all over when Wallace and I arrived. Saw the interior of the building whilst it was burning, but did not notice a cedar chest.
By the Foreman- Should think we were at the building 20 minutes before the Chinese came. Wallace's shirt (produced) was burnt on the back when he came to me.
By Police-constable Harris— Met Wallace on the beach. When I started for the fire I saw the fishermen two miles away in their boat I am superintendent here for Mr. Rogers. It was Wallace's duty to go to the wells to water the sheep.
By H. Wallace— Ah Looey showed us the way in which he covered up the fire in the fireplace with dry sand. You were three-quarters of a mile away from me when I first saw you, and I could not recognise you. I saw that there was a man on horseback; that was all.
Police-constable Harris, of Moonta, deposed— Came to Point Pearce yesterday, and executed a search-warrant on H. Wallace, his person first, then his bunk and clothing. Found nothing of the goods missing from the Chinese Camp. On looking over the site of the fire in company with the Coroner and Jury, Ah Looey handed me the coin produced— a two-shilling piece, and I picked up in the same place several other coins produced, also the remains of a watch. The coins produced correspond with Ah Looe's report of coins missing. An application for an inquest was made on the report of Ah Looey, who illeged that his place had been burnt down and money taken.
Hugh Wallace, Point Pearce, after being duly cautioned that any statement he might make night be used against him if he were brought to trial, said — The only thing I can say is, I saw a glare of smoke crossing the wells where I was watering the sheep. I could not see the, Chinese camp from where I was, I concluded there must be a fire close to me. Went to the top of the ridge, about a hundred yards from the well, and saw the Chinamen's place in flames, at the end where the chimney was. Went down close to the fire. Saw it was impossible from the combustible nature of the building to render any assistance. Went back to the neighbourhood of the well, where the horse I ride was standing. Mounted the horse ; rode as speedily as possible to give the alarm at the kitchen here. On the way i met Borers coming. Said to him, 'These Chinamen's places are burnt down.' Rode back as quick as possible. When I got back all the building was consumed with the exception of the log chimney. The door being burnt I could see a bucket standing close to the door. Reached in, caught the bucket, went to their well, but only got half a bucket of water. Came up and pitched the water at the fire. Found I had a spark of fire on my shoulder in reaching for the bucket The flame was so strong i was nearly paralysed, and did not know what to do. Then I rede off for assistance as I have said. The enquiry lasted many hours, and at the conclusion the Jury gave in the verdict that there was not sufficient evidence to how how the fire originated.
Police Court, Moonta. JANUARY 16, 1877.
[Before E. H. Dernngton, and J. R. Corpe, Esqrs., J.J.P.] Charles Fare was charged with being drunk on Blanche Terrace, on January, 15th inst., and was fined 5s. LARCENY. Ah Tooey. a Chinaman, was charged with feloniously entering the premises of one Ah Looey, and stealing therefrom goods to the value of £30.
Mr. Burtt for the prisoner. Kong Hoon was sworn as interpreter. Ah Looey deposed— I live at Moonta. Am a hawker. I left home on Sunday the 14th in the morning, and went to Kadina. I did not return until ten o'clock, when I came home by the truck. When I left home the goods produced were in my house. I know some of the goods produced, because they have my mark on them; but some of them have not my mark on because it has been cut or rubbed out. The labels were on the rolls of ribbon on Sunday when I saw them last, but they have since been removed. I cannot swear to the socks produced, but I lost some like them. I cannot identify the six packets of tea produced, but I lost six packets like them. I lost three boxes, but I have not seen them since they were stolen. The goods were in the boxes. I value the eight pieces of lace at £4, the velvet at 26s., the frilling at 8s., the ribbon at £3 10s. The total value of the goods that I have lost is £60. By the Court— When I came home on Monday morning I missed the goods produced. By Mr. Burtt— Ah Tooey has sold me goods like these produced, and I paid him for them. I did not go to Ah Tooey's house on Saturday night. I did not seil goods for Ah Tooey. I boarded with him some time ago, and I paid him 10s. per week. I don't know if my key will open Ah Tooey's door. P. C. Harris deposed— Yesterday, the 15th inst., P. C. Burchell and myself executed a warrant to search prisoner's place. In the kitchen fireplace there was a fire burning. In scratching over the ashes I found the articles produced. I take the article to be charred ribbon, lead from boxes, and also the piece of tin from a corner of a box. I arrested prisoner, and told him the charge, and cautioned him. He said Ah Looey gave the things to him on Saturday, that he rubbed out the marks belonging to Ah Looey and put his own on, and that he burnt the boxes. By Mr. Burtt—Prisoner did not say he was innocent at the time I arrested him. Kong Hoon deposed—I was at Ah Looey's house on Saturday night. I slept there all night. Prisoner did not come there. Ah Looey was in the place all night. The boxes were put inside the room, where I saw them on Sunday morning at eight o'clock. Ah Tooey stayed in the house on Saturday night. Ah Looey and Lee Ping went to Kadina with me on Sunday afternoon at one o'clock. The boxes were in the room when we left. By Mr. Burtt— I was with Ah Tooey all the time, and he did not leave my company. By Serjeant O'Callaghan — Ah Looey stayed in Kadina with me all Sunday night. Prisoner made a statement to the effect following:— That prosecutor had stayed with him for ten weeks, when he (prosecutor) came first to live at Moonta. He was sick for some time and could not work. After that he bought some goods of prisoner to go hawking, and lodged with him for eight weeks longer. He had goods to the amount of £70, and owed for ten weeks board and lodging besides. About three weeks ago prosecutor had paid prisoner £35, which left over £35 still owing. On Saturday he (prisoner) had asked for the money, and was told he would be paid that night. When Ah Looey came he brought some goods (those produced in Court) for which £5 was to be allowed. He also brought three boxes which prisoner said belonged to himself. Mrs. Lee Ping told him on Sunday evening that Ah Looey had gone away ; and she did not know whether he was coming back again. He (prisoner) then got cross, broke up the boxes, and threw them in the fire. The Court was of opinion that it might, be difficult to prove felonious intent: that prisoner, being a foreigner, thought himself justified in taking the goods under cover of right and to protect himself : but from the evidence it appeared that the goods were taken in prosecutor's absence and without his consent, therefore the prisoner would be committed to take his trial at the next sittings of the Supreme Court.
There has been resident in Moonta for the past two or three years a " Heathen Chinee " rejoicing in the euphonious name of Ah Tooey, by which appellation, however, he has not been so generally known as by that of "John." John is a dealer in tea, drapery, and nicknacks, and keeps a well-stocked store in Ryan Street. But it is as a peripatetic vendor that John transacts most of his business, his general practice being to close his shop in the day, time and hawk his wares throughout the mining townships. Day after day, in sunshine and fain, John is to be seen jogging along with a load at either end of his bamboo heavy enough to break the back of a donkey. John's circle of customers, consisting principally of members of the fair sex, is extensive; his trade is thriving, and he is reputed to be making making. It has been rumoured-but we believe it to have been a scandal that more than one young lady has thrown her cap at the almond-eyed trader, but until within a short time since the, heart of Ah Tooey had been as hard and unimpressionable to such advances as the nether millstone. But John was fated to make a fool of himself; he was captivated by the bewitcheries of a young lady a stranger in the district, who came, saw, and conquered. ' He told his love in pigeon-English, and 'tis said she reciprocated the tender passion, or affected to do so. The upshot of it was-so the story goes-that they agreed to be married. The bride elect was engaged as shopwoman by the bridegroom-expectant; he boarded with her mother ; and matters appeared to be going on swimmingly until Tuesday morning last, when John was petrified on discovering that his ladye-loye had " bolted," taking with her, as he says, £3 of his money and a quantity of goods. He soon found out that she had gone by the Adelaide mail, and thereupon he gave information of the affair to the police, who telegraphed to the trooper at Port Wakefield, where, on the arrival of the coach, the girl was arrested, and was brought back to Moonta by the return conveyance. All that day John loudly bewailed his loss, reminding one of Shy-lock lament-
" My daughter! O my ducats ! O my daughter!.
Justice ! the law ! my ducats, and my daughter!"
On the following morning the case came on for hearing at the Moonta Police Court where Ah Tooey charged the girl with robbing him of £3 ; but the evidence adduced failed, to connect her with the theft, and she was discharged. John left the Court seemingly quite satisfied of the truth of the maxim Experientia docet. On the following "day the girl was brought before the Court on another information, charging her with robbing Ah Tooey of goods to the value of £20. After a lengthened hearing of the case, the Bench dismissed it. -Yorhe's Peninsula Advertiser.