Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Chinese Sailor Shoots Friend Over Woman

Chinese sailor See Lee Wai was hanged in 1909 after he shot his friend in an apparent rage of jealousy over an English woman.

See Lee Wai and Yang Yap were good friends who used to regularly visit Amy Yap Sing, the English widow of a Chinese sailor who ran a boarding house in at 13 Dickenson Street (situated off Upper Frederick Street, near St Vincent de Paul school).

Mrs Sing was in bed with peritonitis when both men visited her on 3rd December 1908, before enjoying drinks in her kitchen and leaving on apparently good terms. The following evening however, See Lee Wai saw Amy then left as Yun Yap arrived, only to return with a revolver to shoot his friend in the stomach.

Southern Hospital (from
Yun Yap was taken to the Southern Hospital hospital in Caryl Street, where he was able to make a statement naming See Lee Wai as the gunman. The following night (a Saturday) at 10pm, a Chinese man was seen by a railway guard acting suspiciously at Lime Street station, claiming that he was waiting for a train to Glasgow. When the guard saw the name on the sailor's book in the ticket office, he recognised it as that of a man wanted in connection with a shooting and See Lee Wai was arrested by police.

When questioned See Lee said that the gun had gone off during a quarrel and he had been trying to wrestle it from Yun Yap. Three days later Yun Yap died of an infection to the wound and See Lee Wai was charged with murder, appearing before the Liverpool Assizes on 12th March 1909 before Lord Chief Justice Alverstone. Amy Yap Sing told the court that she had not see Yun Yap with a gun and a doctor said that the he could not have shot himself.

See Lee Wai, who ironically had been a prosecution witness at the trial of Pong Lun five years previously, was found guilty after the jury retired for only ten minutes. He was sentenced to the same fate as his compatriot and when a petition to the Home Secretary failed to reprieve him he treated the news with total indifference, He was hanged at Walton on 30th March 1909.

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