Hutchinson v. Wijesinghe
Present: Swan J.
A. HUTCHINSON, Appellant, and D. D. WIJESINGHE(S. I. Harbour Police), Respondent
S. C. 688—J. M. C. Colombo, 45,849
Customs Ordinance—Section 158—Prosecution thereunder—Burden of proof .
In a prosecution under section 158 of the Customs Ordinance for possessingan article suspected to have been stolen from any ship, boat, quay, &c., a dutyis cast upon the Court to satisfy itself that there were reasonable grounds forsuspecting that the article was stolen from any ship, &c. It is only after theCourt is so satisfied that it would become incumbent on the accused to give anaccount as to how he came by the article.
.^^.PPEAC from a judgment of the Joint Magistrate’s Court, Colombo.
D. 8. Jayawickreme, with E. A.G. de Silva, for the accused appellant.
Ananda Pereira, Crown Counsel, for the Attorney-General. •
Cur. adv. vult.
SWAN J.—Hutchinson v. Wij&ainghe
December 2, 1953. Swan J.—
I do not think I can allow this conviction to stand'. The accused wascharged under Section 158 of the Customs Ordinance which makes thepossession of certain articles suspected to have been stolen from anyship, boat, quay, warehouse or wharf of any port of this island an offence.The accused was found in possession of a brass valve valued at Rs. 25.There is nothing in the evidence from which the learned Magistratecould have been satisfied that, having regard to all the circumstancesof the case, there were reasonable grounds for suspecting this articleto have been stolen from any ship, boat, quay, warehouse or wharf inthe port of Colombo. It was only after the learned Magistrate was sosatisfied that it would have become incumbent on the accused tb givean account to the satisfaction of the Magistrate as to how he came bythis article. In the case of Sammie v. Nagoda Police1 Nagalingam J.considered Section 16 (1) of the Rubber Thefts Ordinance where a similarduty is cast upon the Magistrate to satisfy himself that there werereasonable grounds for suspecting the rubber to have been stolen, havingregard to all jthe circumstances. In that case the accused actuallypleaded guilty, but the learned Judge took the view that the Magistratewas not thereby relieved of the duty cast upon him ky'the section.
I set aside the conviction and acquit the accused.
(1951) 53 N. L. R. 255.