What could be the reason why no fingerprints were taken off the items found in the suitcase?
Detective Sergeant Leane, Detective Brown, Detective Canney, PC Sutherland, Detective Gollan, Police photographer Durham, Professor Cleland, Coroner Cleland and Senior Government Analyst Cowan – all these gentlemen knew of the decision not to fingerprint the hard-surfaced items found in an unclaimed suitcase left at the Adelaide Train Station on November 30th, 1948. A suitcase believed to belong to a man found dead on Somerton Beach on December 1, 1948.
Some of the items being: a pair of scissors, a knife, brush handle, square of zinc, three pencils, a glass dish, button, soap dish, a razor strop, tube of toothpaste, cigarette lighter, a sixpence.
There is no record of any of them questioning this lack of basic police procedure.
But of course we all know that this could not have possibly been the case: standard investigative procedures are set to be followed, the basics are always done and the results reported up the chain of command, particularly when the case is classified as a murder.
However this case was an exception to the rules and it was left to Senior Government Analyst Cowan and Professor Cleland to provide the necessary proof of identification that the case did indeed belong to the deceased, a task that involved handling the evidence: a task that rewarded the investigation handsomely when the Tamam Shud slip showed up in the deceased’s fob pocket.
This finding no doubt surprised PC Moss, who swore under oath the Tamam Shud slip was not where it was subsequently found by Professor Cleland when the policeman searched the deceased’s clothing on December 1, 1948.
And it was found in a fob pocket so well hidden in a commonly made pair of Crusader Cloth trousers the late Emeritus Professor Cleland, in his evidence at the inquest, stated he forgot where he found the pocket the first time only to find it in the same place when he looked the second time.
As witnessed by Senior Government Analyst Cowan, who was reported to be trying on the dead man’s slippers at the time, hoping for a fit similar to the dead man’s shoes.