Sharks and murder: a Sydney story

Any aspiring crime novelists among you may relish the details of this report from tomorrow’s Sydney Morning Herald:

No wonder the Shark Arm Murder of 1935 remains Sydney’s best-known homicide. Apart from combining two of the city’s enduring interests, crime and sharks, the dismemberment of Jim Smith and its aftermath involved an unusually large number of suburbs, providing plenty of local colour.
. . .
For those uninitiated in the detail of the Shark Arm Murder, Jim Smith, a knockabout and police informer, was killed in Cronulla in a cottage called Cored Joy. According to Alex Castles’s book, most of his body was probably given a ”Sydney send-off” and dumped at sea.
But the arm itself , once detached, seems to have been taken by killer Patrick Brady on a journey to the McMahons Point residence of one Reginald Holmes, a pillar of the local Presbyterian church and cocaine smuggler. After the meeting with Holmes, Brady took the arm to Maroubra, and threw it into the ocean. It was eaten by a small shark that was then consumed by a four-metre tiger shark, which was caught and exhibited alive in a pool at the Coogee Aquarium Baths (now the Beach Palace Hotel). When the shark vomited the arm before a fascinated crowd on Anzac Day, police from Randwick and the city were called. During the investigation, Holmes, who ran his business from Lavender Bay, got into a motorboat, consumed a lot of brandy, and tried unsuccessfully to shoot himself. He then led the police on a four-hour chase around the harbour.
On the morning of the inquest into Smith’s death, Holmes was found dead in the driver’s seat of his Nash sedan in The Rocks, with three gunshot wounds in his chest. No one was convicted of the deaths of Smith or Holmes.”

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