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Shark arm murder

Shark arm murder

In 1935, a captured shark vomited up a tattooed human arm. When medical examination of the arm revealed that it had not been bitten off by the shark but had been removed from its body in a non-surgical procedure, the focus of the investigation turned to murder.



Summary from Source

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After reading a report in a Sydney newspaper, Edwin Smith contacted police, suggesting that the arm could belong to his brother James, who had been missing for several weeks. Because of the well-preserved state of the arm, police managed to obtain some fingerprints, which confirmed that the arm had in fact belonged to Jim Smith. Smith was a bankrupt builder, a former SP bookmaker and boxer, and a small-time criminal with a record of minor convictions, who had drifted onto the edges of the underworld and became involved in the illegal gambling that was rife throughout Sydney at that time. Patrick Brady's taxi ride Police investigations found that Smith had last been seen drinking with his long-time friend, Patrick Brady, in the Cecil Hotel at Cronulla; they had then returned to a cottage rented by Brady on the shore of Gunnamatta Bay. On the morning after Jim Smith was seen for the last time, Brady hailed the cab in Cronulla and asked to be taken to North Sydney, where the cab was directed to pull up outside a house that turned out to be the home of middle-class businessman Reginald Lloyd Holmes. Brady's taxi journey linked Jim Smith's murder directly to Holmes. All the evidence the police had collected so far against Brady and Holmes was purely circumstantial.

So police arrested Brady, and took him to Central Police Station. The case seemed stalled until 20 May, when Holmes left his boatshed in a very fast speedboat, sped out into the harbour, and, pulling out a pistol, attempted suicide. The water police were alerted to these goings-on, and for four hours chased Holmes, out past Circular Quay, through the mid-morning ferry traffic, right down Sydney Harbour until, finally, he gave up just outside Sydney Heads. Holmes was arrested and started to talk, agreeing to be a witness against Brady, whom police then charged with the murder of Smith. With the death of Holmes, the Crown case against Brady for Smith's murder collapsed. Smith had been a police informer - a 'fizzer', or 'fizgig' as they were called at the time - and had informed on a young man called Eddie Weyman. Though the crimes were never formally linked, the author Alex Castles has offered the opinion that Weyman was a likely suspect for the murder of Holmes. Holmes was deeply involved in the lucrative but dangerous cocaine trade, and could well have been the victim of a gangland-style killing, as Sydney, in this period, was experiencing a crime wave.

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