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69 The Littlemore Leane interview

This is all about dates.

On the second of July ’77 the producer of the ABC documentary on the Somerton Body case produced Research Report number 2. The news it contains is as startling as it is remarkable that no-one picked it up until September 2018.

Pages 1/2

‘Lionel Leane …. He is 74 years old and does not appear to be very spry. (a note here, I’m 74 years old and a known bolter) However while his mind wanders sometimes he is a clear, if slow talker and his appearance in the film will enhance the feeling of historic mystery. Lionel was on the investigation quite early in the piece …. some three weeks after the body was discovered.’ ( .. on December 1 1948)

(as confirmed by Feltus: Leane was one of a very small number of senior members holding that rank (Detective Sergeant) within the CIB. He was directly responsible for overseeing general matters requiring direction and the supervision of junior investigators. Leane first received notice of the body found on Somerton Beach on December 1, 1948 when he shared an official report with O/C Payneham)

‘He (Leane) was initially assigned to find the meaning of “Tamam Shud” and was eventually fully involved in the investigation’. ( Leane was placed in charge of the investigation on January 8. GF)

The interview with Leane is a melancholy read – he talks of a syringe, self administered curare, the slip found in a coat pocket, SM found dead on a seat. Assignments he undertook that Feltus says Brown completed. Leane could not recollect a woman connected to the case. But there is one response that stands out, even though Littlemore,  later to wear the expensive silks of a QC, unacceptably leads in with his loaded statement.

Q. One of the first jobs you had on the whole case, was those words “Tamam Shud”

A. Yeah.


Leane handed the unclaimed suitcase to Professor Cleland shortly after collecting it from the railway station on 19th December ’48.  Later, in a statement, he said Cleland informed him on the 19th April that he had found the Tamam Shud slip. We assume Cleland found it on the same date and not any earlier. It is unclear. We do not know if Cleland handed Leane the slip at the same time. That is also unclear, as is the reason for him hanging onto the evidence for so long, if in fact that was the case.

Two months later …

Brown said he received the slip from Leane with instructions to make enquiries. These enquiries commenced in early June, ’49. It is not clear why Leane waited two months to instruct Brown. Perhaps he was waiting for someone to hand him the slip Cleland found two months earlier. It is not clear.

yet ….

The first job Littlemore was referring to was the assignment given Leane on about December 22, 1948, when he was assigned to find out the meaning of the words Tamam Shud.

There were only two places where the police could have learned about the words Tamam Shud on December 22 : the slip or the book itself. Moss didn’t find the slip so that’s out and Leane wasn’t handed the Freeman book until after the inquest, so that’s out too.

This is not satisfactory.


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    The “News” Adelaide 8-12-48 Page 1, reports police examining a suitcase left at a city hotel.. You would have thought that the police would have been searching, by that date, at more likely places such as railway stations?

    September 23, 2018
  2. Here’s a body with nothing much on it but two tickets that lead back to the city and a railway station with a luggage office many times larger than any city hotel. A drover’s dog would head that way first … yet the police waited for Brown to join them before making the call.

    September 23, 2018

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