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How Gerry Feltus laid it all out in plain view

Source: The Unknown Man by Gerry Feltus.

November 1948: Detective Sergeant RL (Lionel) Leane was one of a very small number of senior members holding that rank within the CIB.

He was directly responsible for overseeing general matters requiring direction and the supervisor of junior investigators.


On 21 December Detective Sergeant Leane sent copies of the official reports and the deceased’s fingerprints to all English-speaking countries, including the FBI.

On 8th January Leane was placed in charge of a dedicated Somerton Body Case Investigation Team.

On 11 January Detective Len Brown joined them.

Then ..

On 14 January Leane learnt there was an unclaimed suitcase in the railway luggage racks.

Later the same day Leane visited the cloakroom and took possession of some of the items in the suitcase, leaving the case in situ.

Leane then arranged for a photographer to take a picture of five items taken from the suitcase.

At some stage,  shortly after collecting the suitcase from the Railway Station, Leane gave the deceased’s property to Professor John Cleland, who examined the clothing and contents in the suitcase.

Leane then interviewed a Mr. Gray, the headmaster, who told him the the cut-down knife was, in his opinion, suitable for starting letters off and the scissors used for cutting around the letter.

Leane then interviewed Hugh Possa who was of the opinion the coat worn on the body was of American origin or made by someone in Australia who was familiar with ‘feather stitching.’

On 18 January Leane compiled a very comprehensive report for the interstate police and media.


There is no doubting Leane’s dedicated application to the case and as can be seen above, he undertook the lion’s share of the investigative work.

But now, in April, with the case over four months old they had nothing new. Nothing to go on. Nothing more to discuss. No new evidence.

Then the break-through..

On the 19th April, 1949, Professor Cleland informed Leane that he had found a small piece of paper in the fob pocket of the deceased’s trousers bearing the words Tamam Shud.

DS Leane: the go-getter of the case, the lead detective who rarely delegated, who personally visited train stations and luggage offices, tailor shops and trade schools in his determination to further the case, no doubt frustrated with the lack of progress until now.

The newspapers would have loved it, but they didn’t get the news from Leane until two weeks before the inquest.

Leane’s late decision to produce the Tamam Shud slip was not due to laziness or ineptitude, Feltus has showed him in a different light. DS Leane worked the case to the best of his ability and with what little he had.

The seven week delay in producing the slip cannot be put down to a lack of application.

There are secret implications.

There was Brown’s request to Lawson that he remain silent about a certain matter, giving rise to the thought that the relationship between Boxall, Harkness, the TS slip and the body was known at a much earlier stage than was publicly acknowledged. Known by somebody with the power to delay the investigation, knowing their time with it was constricted by the inquest date. They only had seven weeks.

There are secret implications.

There’s the conspiracy.

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