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54 First she did, then she didn’t

Detective Errol Canney was a robust man in both thought and word, and villains, he knew them all and not many thought of him kindly.

Now this woman, this Mrs Thompson who had invited him inside when he knocked on her door. Detective Canney had a few questions he wanted to ask her about the man found down the road.

‘You see,’ he said, ‘he had your name and phone number.’

Canney paused.

‘Why would that be?’

‘He had it written down?’

Canney nodded.

‘On what?’

‘A copy of the Rubaiyat.’

‘Can I see it?’

‘Sorry, it’s back at the station.’

Canney paused.

‘Did you give it to him?’


‘The dead man.’

‘No! Who is he?’

‘I’m afraid we have no idea. Have you ever given a Rubaiyat to anyone?’


Canney filled a page with notes as Mrs Thompson told him of her meetings with an engineer in a Sydney harbourside hotel. He had a possible for the body, an address and a workplace.

Lovely lady, very helpful. The Boss will be well pleased.


A day or so later ..

The viewing.

The Boss wasn’t at all pleased. Someone had cut the woman’s tongue off.

She had only answered his first question.

Then nothing.

Nothing but visible distress and an inability to raise her eyes from the floor. She had forbad herself to look at him.

No, she answered, I do not know him.

Then nothing.



13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Pete, I think Canney interviewed her the day before the viewing of the bust. One question is did he show her a photograph of SM? I would certainly have thought so. But why then the reaction when she saw the bust? For what it’s worth, my view is and has been for some time that the bust and the PM photos are quite different; could it be that Canney showed her a different photo?

    August 11, 2018
  2. Why would he do that?

    August 11, 2018
    • Perhaps to add to the shock value when she saw the bust?

      August 12, 2018
      • Don’t buy it. Canney was after a real reaction, not a counterfeit.

        August 12, 2018
  3. Clive #

    When you read “The Advertiser” 27 Jul 1949 Page 1 about the Rubaiyat, it almost reads as if there were two copies of the book handed in to the police? “News” 28 Jul 1949 Page 6 about Alf & Susie’s copies of the Rubaiyat-why the discrepancy in the dates Christmas 1944 and June 1945?

    August 11, 2018
  4. Clive #

    Not sure about a link! But, the things that strike me as being very odd about the 48 hours 26 to 28 July 1949 are: After Jessie gives Canney Alf’s details, NSW police interview Alf and then visit his house. Susie produces her own, unmarked copy of the Rubaiyat and, Alf produces his copy with Jestyn’s writing-so how many copies of the Rubaiyat did Alf & Susie have? And why two copies? Why dates differ? (see previous comments-11 Aug). Since Alf shows NSW police Jestyn’s prove of her writing in the Rubaiyat and the SA police had her phone number in the other Rubaiyat, why does the police investigation seem to suddenly grind to a halt? Were both the SA & NSW police instructed not to look any further into Jessie & Alf’s backgrounds?

    August 12, 2018
    • Rubaiyats were often given as gifts in those days, and there were dozens of publications .. Some homes may have had more than one copy …

      The police followed up the only lead they had and got nowhere … and I don’t think they suspected either her or Boxall of being involved in an Intelligence network.

      August 12, 2018
  5. Gordon, you say Canney may have shown Jessica ‘a different photo’ …. do you mean a different photo of SM, or a photo of someone different?

    More: I’ve tried searching but cannot find where an Adelaide newspaper first published SM’s pic …

    August 12, 2018
    • My comment stems from Paul Lawson’s statement that he constructed the bust from ‘the photographs’. On examining and looking carefully at the SM post mortem pics and the face of the bust, there is little by way of comparison to see. It seems reasonable then to suspect that there may have been other pics. The ‘reconstructed’ pics were made available on the 4th December, saw them in interstate papers but, like you, not in SA papers.

      August 12, 2018
      • Was there a possibility that Jessica didn’t see any pics of SM before viewing the bust?

        More: On June 7th, Lawson with the assistance of Det. Brown removed the body from the refrigeration facility and commenced to make a mould of the head and upper body. It was a very difficult process because the body began thawing and moisture had to be continually wiped with towels. Making a mould of the ears was not attempted at thie stage …etc GF 63

        Sounds to me like he used the head and shoulders for his mould rather than create one from photographs.

        August 12, 2018
  6. Clive #

    Hi Pete/Gordon, “News” (Adelaide) 3 Dec 1948 Page 1. SM photo.

    August 12, 2018

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