Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Chinatown Shooting

A game of dominoes got out of hand at a Chinese lodging house in Frederick Street, leading to the execution of Pong Lun.

On 20th March 1904 four men were playing Mah Jong, a form of dominoes, at the lodging house at 22a Frederick Street (situated where Maritime Way now is) when 43 year old docks storekeeper Pong Lun appeared and asked the banker John Go Hing to take a bet, but this was refused as it was too late. Pong Lun then left the room and returned with a gun with which he shot twice at Go Hing, who was a laundryman in Rock Ferry.  One of the bullets went over his head but the other struck him in the stomach.

Pong Lun then left and fired some more shots in the street to deter any of the other players from following him. That night he returned to the lodging house where he was arrested by police on suspicion of attempted murder, telling them that he shot Go Hing because he had not paid back some money that was owed to him. Police then searched his room and found a box containing some ammunition.

Go Hing died three days later and on 10th May Pong Lun stood in the dock at the trial which saw a number of witnesses from the city's Chinese commnity give evidence as well as some Malay seamen. Some of the witnesses gave evidence on the Koran while others swore by smashing a saucer. Much of the evidence was given via an interpreter with so many witnesses having been in the room, there was little doubt as to what the outcome of the trial would be. The jury did not leave their box and after returning the guilty verdict made no recommendation of mercy.

Prior to passing sentence of death Justice Bucknill told Pong Lun that he had sent Go Hing 'defenceless and harmless, to his long rest.' At this point Go Hing's widow Martha screamed 'My fatherless child' and fainted, but he retained a stoic composure. There was hardly a dry eye in the court as Pong Lun remained impassive while he was told he would be taken to a place of execution and hanged by the neck until he was dead.

An appeal by a Chinese missionary was made to the Home Secretary, on the basis that Pong Lun had been drinking and that the Chinese community viewed life differently, but this was dismissed. Pong Lun was hanged at Walton on 31st May in a double execution along with wife murderer William Kirwan.

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