Opium War Arsenic Poisoning

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Adapted from Esing Bakery Incident in Wikipedia: On 15 January 1857, between 300 and 500 predominantly European residents of the colony—a large proportion of the European population at the time—who had consumed loaves from the Esing Bakery fell ill with nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and dizziness. The bread had been adulterated with arsenic. The quantity involved was high enough to cause the poison to be vomited out before it could kill its victims . There were no deaths immediately attributable to the poisoning.

The defence noted that Cheong's own children had shown symptoms of poisoning; Attorney General Anstey argued that they had merely been seasick, and added that even if Cheong were innocent, it was "better to hang the wrong man than confess that British sagacity and activity have failed to discover the real criminals". Cheong himself called for his own beheading, along with the rest of his family, if he were found guilty, in accordance with Chinese practice. The jury rejected the arguments of the prosecution and returned a 5–1 verdict of 'not guilty'.

William Tarrant, the editor of the Friend of China, sued Cheong for damages. He was awarded $1,010.[30][n 4] Before the sentence could be executed, Bridges, now Acting Colonial Secretary, accepted a petition from the Chinese community for Cheong to be allowed to leave peaceably from Hong Kong after putting his affairs in order. Cheong was accordingly released and left the colony on 1 August, abandoning his business.[29]

Tarrant blamed Bridges publicly for permitting Cheong to escape, but was himself consequently sued for libel by Bridges and forced to pay a fine of £100.

Cheong himself made a prosperous living in Macau and Vietnam after his departure from Hong Kong, and later became consul for the Qing Empire in Vietnam. He died in 1900.[24] A portion of the poisoned bread, well-preserved by its high arsenic content, was kept in a cabinet of the office of the Chief Justice of the Hong Kong Supreme Court until the 1930s.