On one of the busiest days at ‘Coogee Aquarium and Pools’ it wasn’t the exotic tiger shark on display in one pool that caught people’s attention, but the rat, the bird and the human arm that vomited.
Bert Hobson was the owner of the enclosure and, after having difficulties getting people to go to his new attractions, on a lucky day he came across a four-meter, one-tonne tiger shark just a few kilometers off the coast of Sydney, Australia. .
At that time, Hobson took it to his aquarium to become the biggest attraction and it was. In April 1935, during the local celebration of Anzac Day – where the soldiers who fell in the battle of Gallipoli are remembered – a large crowd gathered around the pool to see the promised shark.
However, the surprise was not because of the incredible creature, but because some time after being in the water under the expectant eyes of the people, the shark vomited up, among other things, a human arm that sparked the beginning of a murder mystery investigation.
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Hobson immediately contacted police, who had little trouble identifying who the left arm belonged to due to a tattoo of two boxers training on his forearm.
In addition, the authorities also concluded that the arm had not been eaten by the shark in an attack because it did not have that type of bite, but rather it had been cut up and then, apparently, fed to the shark.
Due to this, the investigation focused on a possible murder and the image of the tattoo was shared to find a victim, which gave a result: it was about Jimmy Smith.
Ever heard of early 1900s Australian fighter James Smith? Unless you’re from Sydney, really old or you specifically researched this, you likely have never heard of James Smith, whose arm a shark vomited up at an aquarium, sparking a sensational murder investigation
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— Patrick Connor (@PatrickMConnor) April 30, 2021
Smith was a 45-year-old boxer, English, although he lived in Gladesville, an Australian city. From what local media ‘Truth’ reported at the time, people spoke of Smith as a man who “didn’t have an enemy in the world” and who, moreover, had been promising at some point in his sport.
However, the police would soon realize that this was not entirely true.
Jimmy Smith’s business
Apparently, at the time, Smith was much more than just a boxer.
Shortly after the investigation began, it was discovered that, apparently, he had illegal business with Reginald Holmes, a well-known character of the time.
Holmes was part of a family that had been building boats and speedboats for several years. However, it was said that his fortune really came from his illicit businesses where he used said boats to transport cocaine that was later sold in the city.
Supposedly, Smith became a faithful worker for Holmes and even managed the boats in which the illegal drug trade was coordinated.
However, the hitherto good business took another course when both Holmes and Smith decided to join forces with Patrick Brady who, in fact, was possibly the last person to see Smith alive.
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Who killed Smith?
Apparently, the business between the three men did not go as planned and, paradoxically, among swindlers they swindled each other. However, Smith and Brady went out to play and drink on the night of April 7, which would end up being Smith’s last.
Brady was the first to be arrested as a suspect, but the man pointed to Holmes as a possible culprit.
When the police went to question Holmes, the man unleashed a boat chase in the port of ‘Circular Quay’, where he also shot himself in the head without killing himself, but only being unconscious. In the end, Holmes decided to collaborate with justice.
Apparently and from what he later confessed, Brady arrived home late at night with Smith’s amputated arm as the only evidence that he murdered him.
Holmes told police that Brady explained to him how he would have dismembered Smith and then put his remains in a trunk and dumped them in Gunnamatta Bay. Apparently, Brady was demanding a large sum of money from Holmes so as not to blame him for the murder and point him out for the business they had done.
As Holmes commented, Brady left his house, leaving him Smith’s arm, which he took and later threw into the ocean, where it was ingested precisely by the shark that would later arrive at the aquarium and that would start the entire search for the murderer.
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Despite the fact that Holmes had agreed to act as a witness in the trial against Brady, the man was found dead with three shots to the body hours before this process began.
With no witnesses to verify the story and no body to prove the murder, Brady was released and received no conviction. In fact, to the day of his death he denied involvement with Smith’s murder.
It was later reported that James Smith was a police informant, making everything even more complicated. The case has never been solved.
Here’s the tiger shark. Hello shark. Anyway, thanks for coming to my Australian boxing murder lesson. Have a good weekend. pic.twitter.com/LZLhRFWOQR
— Patrick Connor (@PatrickMConnor) April 30, 2021
According to local media reports, such as Australia’s ‘News’, the investigation also revealed that Jimmy Smith was a police informant.
To this day his body has never been found. The author of Holmes’s murder is also unknown, although the authorities suspected that he had been a hitman hired by himself.
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