In 1935, a tiger shark was captured off the coast of Coogee Bay and put on public display at the Coogee Aquarium Baths. Unfortunately, the shark became ill and vomited in front of a large crowd. Pretty unusual in itself, until someone noticed something weird in the water that had come from the shark’s mouth – the left forearm of a human being.
It’s as fascinating as it is disgusting. The arm was identified as James Smith because of the distinctive tattoo. You’re probably thinking that the silly bugger accidentally swam too far from the shore and ended up getting devoured – but you’d be wrong. Smith was a criminal and an examination revealed that the arm had been cut off with a knife. This led to a murder investigation.
The police found a man called Reginald William Lloyd Holmes, a fraudster who’d employed Smith to work on insurance scams. The pair then began a racket with Patrick John Brady, a convicted forger, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from innocent clients.
As with any illegal scheme involving a lot of money and more than one person (just watch ‘Diamond Dogs’ or ‘The Ladykillers’) things got a bit hairy, and after drinking one night with Patrick Brady at the Cecil Hotel in Cronulla, Smith was murdered. Insufficient evidence and no body (except the arm) meant no one was convicted of the murder.