Shark Arm Case - Identification of The Limb

Identification of The Limb

Fingerprints lifted from the hand identified the arm as that of former boxer and small-time criminal James (Jim) Smith, (born England 1890), who had been missing since April 7, 1935. Smith's arm and tattoo were also positively identified by his wife Gladys and his brother Edward Smith. Jim Smith led a high-risk lifestyle, as he was also a police informer. Examination revealed that the limb had been severed with a knife, which led to a murder investigation. Three days later, the aquarium owners killed the shark and gutted it, hampering the initial police investigation.

Early inquiries correctly led police to a Sydney businessman named Reginald William Lloyd Holmes (1892-1935). Holmes was a fraudster and smuggler who also ran a successful family boat-building business at Lavender Bay, New South Wales. Holmes had employed Smith several times to work insurance scams, including one in 1934 in which an over-insured pleasure cruiser named Pathfinder was sunk near Terrigal, New South Wales. Shortly afterward, the pair began a racket with Patrick John Brady, a convicted forger and ex-serviceman (born Rozelle NSW, 18 October 1893). With specimen signatures from Holmes' friends and clients provided by the boat-builder, Brady would forge cheques for small amounts against their bank accounts that he and Smith would then cash. Police were later able to establish that Jim Smith was blackmailing the wealthy Reginald Holmes.

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