A WARNING: Those site visitors of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Culture should be aware that there are photographs and images of the deceased.

The author of this blog is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and as such the views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent the views and opinions of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, its staff or Directors.

Learn more about the Association including membership requirements at

The Somerton Man Case. The body of a man found on an Australian beach close to a major Atomic Testing ground, he was probably poisoned, a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and an unbroken Code page found and associated to him. Set against a Cold War background in 1948, was this man a spy? We think so and this blog focuses on the evidence that was left behind and in some cases missed, the Code page, Dry Cleaning numbers, A Poem and a small, torn piece of paper bearing the words TAMAM SHUD.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Somerton Man: Why No Fingerprints?

If there was one aspect of this case that is of greatest concern it would be the absence of fingerprinting. The suitcase and contents not fingerprinted, the book or the torn piece not fingerprinted, bus ticket not fingerprinted, shoes not fingerprinted and Jestyn not fingerprinted. I can't find any reference in the evidence or notes that states that anything or anyone was fingerprinted with the lone exception of SM himself. If anyone has found such a reference it would be greatly appreciated if it could be shared. As it stands, this may be the only suspicious death dealt with by Police in Australia where fingerprints weren't taken from evidence.

To add some further weight to the view, the statistical likelihood of a male in their 40s taking their own life using poison and choosing a beach to do it is hundreds of thousands to one. I am sure the methematicians amongst us could provide the precise numbers. The only similar  event that gets close was the Marshall case and he was found poisoned, copy of the Rubaiyat, on a headland not that far from the sea and the rest we are all very familiar with.

Whilst SM's death may not have appeared to have been suspicious when he was discovered at the beach, it would have fallen into the category of sudden, unexplained and therefore suspicious until such time as proven otherwise. In fact it was at the RAH that the examining Doctor mentioned the likelihood of poisoning. That's almost as good as it gets as far as timing is concerned and the suspicious aspect should have immediately kicked off the correct Police procedures for what could be the most serious offence in the book.

The SA Police in those days was run very much like a military organisation, to the book.

Just months earlier to the discovery of SMs body Jimmy Durham went to a great deal of trouble taking fingerprints from a book that had been stolen from a second hand shop and getting a conviction from it, why then did he not do so for the SM case? He, or someone, went to huge lengths to examine and photograph the impressions left on the inside of the book but didn't apparently look for fingerprints with the obvious ones being SMs.

It is just possible that finding the answer to the question of why fingerprints were not taken could lead to, at the very least, some very viable options as to who or which organisation had knowledge of or sanctioned this apparent killing.

No comments: