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This is quite a melodramatic thesis.

stop me if you’ve heard all this before


He travelled under the name Keane.

He was in the Adelaide train station about 10:50 am on the 30th of November 1948, suitcase in hand with a train ticket to Henley Beach where he had arranged to meet a courier.

A courier he had previously used in Sydney.

The woman known as Jestyn.

Keane didn’t take the Henley train, wary of being followed.

He checked his case into into the baggage office about fifteen minutes later after removing anything that might reveal his purpose.

Keane left the station for the city and caught a bus to Glenelg. An aborted Henley Beach meeting pre-arranged to take place opposite Bickford Terrace about 7:30 pm that evening. A place Jestyn had picked, a pathway and bench out of sight of the road.

He arrived in Glenelg in time for something to eat.

Keane waited at Bickford Terrace for five minutes, unsettled by the sight of a couple using the bench and a man lying against the sea-wall nearby. He aborted this meeting and walked back into town, tossing the Rubaiyat into an open car window on the way.

Keane was taken that night by the men who had followed him by car from the train station and they subdued him after a brief struggle. He was administered a fatal poison and laid in the backseat where he died.

His killers rifled his pockets, taking everything that identified him but leaving the Henley Beach and Glenelg tickets.

He was carried, dead, to the bottom of the steps opposite Bickford Terrace about 10:30 that evening. Placed with his head and shoulders on the sea wall and left with a part smoked cigarette on his collar, as if he had fallen asleep after having had too much too drink.

Six months later, after the Rubaiyat was handed in, the police traced a phone number written on the back to a woman living near to Bickford Terrace.

A Detective called by to interview her and his suspicions were aroused when she gave him two names, neither of them hers. Thompson then Thomson. Her real name was Jessica Harkness.

Harkness was escorted to view the corpse’s head and shoulder bust the next day accompanied by three Detectives and was asked a series of questions.

When asked if she knew Keane, she said no.

When asked if she had ever received a phone call from Keane, she said no.

When asked if she had met Keane on the 30th of November, she said no.

When asked if she was at Henley Beach on the 30th of November, she said no.

When asked if Keane had come to her house at Moseley Street on the 30th of November, she said no.

The detectives were convinced she was lying.

They were convinced she knew him.



The only consistent theory about the Tamam Shud slip is that once it was discovered the news would be spread widely, and this we believe was its sole purpose, to alert others in the network to abandon ship.


(1) Some liberties have been taken in framing the questions asked of Harkness by the police, common sense argues they are appropriate.

(2) Paul Lawson, a taxidermist and witness at the unveiling of the bust, told an interviewer recently that Harkness worked as an undercover courier when she lived in Sydney.

(3) Gerry Feltus notes in The Unknown Man that Olive Constance Neill described the man looking down at the body as wearing a navy suit and grey hat. She made no such declaration in her deposition.

(4) Gordon Strapps, the man accompanying Neill that evening, stated in his deposition the man lying on the sand in the evening was wearing brown striped trousers. Those worn by Keane were brown fawn coloured.


One Comment Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    And if the police had checked her background they probably would have found that she wasn’t a ‘Sister’ either. Bottom line is how did she manage to con the police, who, for all we know, accepted what she told them and walked away?

    October 15, 2018

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