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Murder victim identified by tattoo


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This happened in the 1930s but its an amazing story.

The shark arm case in 1935

A fisherman hooked a small shark off Coogee. A four-metre tiger shark then took the smaller shark and it was caught, too. Instead of dumping the catch, cutting it up on the beach or taking it to the fish markets, the fisherman took it to the Coogee aquarium, where it was thought it would make a wonderful attraction for the following Anzac Day weekend.

While spectators watched, the shark vomited up a human arm. The arm was identified as having belonged to a James Smith, of Gladesville, a former SP bookmaker and bankrupt builder with minor convictions. His wife said a distinctive tattoo of a boxer on the arm "resembled" her missing husband's tattoo. His fingerprints were also matched with police fingerprints.

Smith had last been seen drinking with his best friend, Patrick Brady, in a pub at Cronulla. Brady, well known to the law, was an expert forger. Another suspect, Reginald Holmes, tried to commit suicide, failed and accused Brady of the murder. Police let Holmes go and he was found shot dead.

Brady was charged with Smith's murder. However, the only evidence available to L.J. McKean, the senior crown prosecutor, was that Brady was the last person seen with Smith and that after being confronted by the police, he had told a large number of lies about his whereabouts and movements. The judge directed a verdict of not guilty. Brady, a World War I veteran, died in Concord Hospital in 1965.


Those lines look blown. Nothing worse than being identified by a poor quality tattoo.

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The lawyer serving Brady, Clive Evatt KC claimed to the coroner that there was not enough substance to begin the inquest. Evatt argued that an arm "did not constitute a body", and that Jim Smith, minus his arm, could still be alive.The case has remained unsolved to this day.

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