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The Chinawoman

Ken Oldis
Arcadia in association with the State Library of Victoria
Paperback 272pp Illustrated ISBN 9781740971645

The police-hunt for the murderers of an English prostitute fanned anti-Chinese hysteria in colonial Melbourne. The horrific crime was enveloped in mystery for months, until political pressure broke the silence and two Chinese suspects were delivered up to the English. The chief of detectives schemed to ensure his investigation was a success, while honest men warned, 'Justice seeks to arrive at Truth, the policeman aims at a conviction'.

At the sensational trial before hanging-judge Redmond Barry, the detectives' star witness intoned: 'I am Fook Shing. I must tell the truth. If I do not tell the truth may thunder kill me and fire come from heaven and burn me up'. Two men were convicted on the basis of highly suspect and circumstantial evidence. Public disquiet remained about police methods and the fairness of the trial.

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