Inside DS Leane’s office on the 23rd of July 1949.
To begin …
Detective Sergeant Leane has a visitor this Saturday morning so the regular golf game is out. His is a surprise visitor: the chemist Freeman has found what might be a crucial piece of evidence in the Somerton Man case, one that has kept Adelaide at a high pitch of interest since the case inquest was adjourned the previous month. Freeman is waiting in the lobby of the CIB office now and is impatient to tell the Detective Sergeant all about it.
It happens that …
both men are seated in Leane’s office and Freeman watches as Leane carefully examines the Rubaiyat, because as Freeman had already explained, the book had only been handled twice since being found in the back footwell of his car by his brother-in-law who was travelling with his wife and Freeman on a jaunt on one day close to the time the Somerton Man was found dead not too far distant from his pharmacy.
Leane finished with his note-taking and after agreeing to leave the pharmacist’s name confidential Freeman exits the building and tootles back to his Glenelg dispensary, pleased to have been able to assist the local constabulary with their enquiries.
Leane considers getting his fingerprint man in before deciding to leave the job until Monday, the book has a lot of pages and the accountants are being difficult with the station’s overtime expense tally. He leaves his office for the evidence room and retrieves the Tamam Shud slip found in the Somerton Man’s fob pocket four months previously.
Leane returns to his office, carefully opens the book then places the Tamam Shud slip inside the torn out section on the last page. Now he is sure.
Leane telephones The Sun and suggests they send a reporter and photographer to his office, soonest.
The newspapermen arrive and after convincing the desk corporal they were invited, proceed to Leane’s office where, after the introductions, they are invited to observe the two items on his desk. A book and a very small piece of paper. Proudly, Leane demonstrates how well they fit and suggests that while he holds the book open with his thumb, carefully, they get their one picture. And after asking the Detective Sergeant most respectfully if they could take a photograph of the slip in its rightful position, the newsmen are surprised when Leane slips the slip into his desk drawer and closes it, firmly.
The newsmen then exit the CIB office and hurry back to their paper, anxious to get their sensational news in before the first edition deadline.
‘No problems about the pic,’ said the editor after he’d listened to their story, crestfallen as they were at having missed the first print run, ‘I just happened to have one handy myself.’
Note: some say the slip had been trimmed, well, he had the scissors for that but it doesn’t explain why he ripped it out of the book. But none of the above ever happened, did it?