In 2015 Professor Derek Abbott made an audio video presentation of the Somerton Man Case so full of mis-representations and errors of fact it had to be challenged.
Update 22 February 2022
With regard to Professor Abbott’s long held view that the Somerton Man may have died from positional asphyxia, it appears he may have reached this conclusion in the belief that TSM died in the propped up position as pictured on the front cover of Gerry Feltus’ book and as described by PC Moss on the morning he was found … however this does not take into account the body’s lividity and Professor Cleland’s view that TSM’s head was only slightly supported after his death.
Professor John Cleland – “The lividity around the ears and neck was perhaps surprising in view of his position, but it was explainable. It would depend on how much the head was supported, it may have been slight, perhaps no more than one’s head supported on a pillow.”
I remember reading one of Abbott’s contributions to either the UoA or Wikipedia site many years ago regarding TSM’s lividity where he, Abbott, quoted Cleland in reinforcement of his claim of positional asphyxia … as follows:
“The lividity around the ears and neck was perhaps surprising in view of his position, but it was explainable.”
Talk about selective editing, there was no mention of a pillow! The Professor should be ashamed of himself.
READ ON ……..
The audio / video presentation runs for about an hour which is more than enough time to have to listen to Abbott’s learned drone so we pick it up at about 11 minutes 55 seconds in where Abbott says Strapps and Lyons ‘both reported they noticed the trousers he was wearing were brown,’ which Abbott noted was ‘an important detail.’
Emphasis on the word BOTH.
Flick to the inquest papers page 19 – CORONER CALLS OLIVE CONSTANCE NEILL Of 54 Parkway Colonel Light Gardens Telephonist.
There is no mention of any trousers of any description in her deposition.
Flick to the inquest papers page 9 – CORONER CALLS: GORDON KENNETH STRAPPS Of 5 Seymour Tce. Woodlands Park Inspector SWORN BY CORONER:
“I should say he had brown striped trousers on. I thought they belonged to a suit, although I did not see his coat.”
Emphasis on the word STRIPED. Further emphasis on ‘should say’ …
17 Minutes and 42 seconds in.
The Professor gravely intones that PC Moss reported that there was ‘an unused cigarette behind his ear and a half-smoked cigarette wedged between his cheek and lapel.’
Flick to the inquest papers page 1 – Coroner calls: John Bain Lyons of 52 Whyte St., Somerton, Jewellery store proprietor. Sworn.
“The following morning, when Constable Moss was there we found a cigarette just above his ear, which he may have been trying to get. That cigarette had not been lit.”
Flick to the inquest papers page 3 – Coroner calls: John Moss, Police Constable stationed at Brighton. Sworn.
“There was a portion of a cigarette on the right collar of his coat, and held in position by his cheek.”
“The cigarette I found had been partly smoked. I made it my business to make an accurate record of what I found, and I am quite sure it had been partly smoked. More had been smoked than what remained. I was unable to form any opinion as to whether it had been kept behind his ear, or whether it had come out of his mouth. It is my opinion that it may have been in his mouth, he was smoking it, with his head sideways in the positioning which I found the head.”
Emphasis on the several mentions of just ONE CIGARETTE.
19 minutes and 7 seconds in.
“They (the box of Bryant and May matches) were found later, before the autopsy when the man was undressed and in one of his pockets.”
A reasonable man would have expected that a find this important would have merited a word or two on the deposition of whoever it was who found the matches, yes? But search as long as you like you won’t find one. The only mention of them being part of the evidence was made by DS Leane strangely enough, and to quote Feltus: the matches were ‘later established’ to be ‘with’ the body. But as to who found them and when, not a word.
Flick back to the inquest papers page 3 – Coroner calls: John Moss, Police Constable stationed at Brighton. Sworn.
“I searched the clothing, found a railway ticket to Henley Beach, also a bus ticket, a tramway bus ticket. There were cigarettes on the body, which were in a packet. I did not compare them with the one that was partly smoked. The packet produced looks like the cigarettes I found. The comb produced was on the body, also the chewing gum and the metal comb. The bus ticket produced and the railway ticket produced are similar to the tickets I found on the body.”
I don’t have to say it, do I? But I will. No matches.
And there’s more:
PC Moss took an interview after the event and is quite clear about the absence of matches. I quote:
“For instance, the fingers of the dead man were heavily nicotined and yet, although there was half a packet of cigarettes in one of his pockets, he didn’t have a match on him.
“It occurred to me as rather strange that if a man who was obviously such a heavy smoker was going to spend a little time on the beach he would have gone there without matches.”
Gordon Cramer described this interview as ‘hearsay.’
And as a note, the fob pocket sewn into the trousers the Somerton Man was wearing was of standard placement and design and would not have been one PC Moss missed when he searched the body.
So, the upshot of all this being that it may not in your best interests to take whatever the good Professor says about the Somerton Body case as being wholly accurate.
But wait …. There’s more!
29 minutes 53 seconds.
’He was wearing a buttoned up cardigan under his coat.’ Abbott.
The Professor went on to say that men who wore buttoned-up cardigans under their coats were of a ‘better class’ than those who didn’t, and he based that opinion on the fact that ‘Bertie’ Cleland, Emeritus Professor of Adelaide University had the same clothing habits, ie; he wore a buttoned up cardigan under his coat, see pic below.
I have no words to describe my reaction to this claim.
However it must be noted that the Somerton Man was found to be wearing a BROWN PULLOVER and not a buttoned up cardigan.
Key Event Omission.
The Professor fails to mention that the lividity on the body indicated that the Somerton Man died with his head only slightly elevated, perhaps only by a pillow according to Prof. Cleland, and not with his head and shoulders propped up on a seawall as he was found.
Provenance is always necessary to substantiate claims of authenticity.
The Professor also shows an image of a pocketbook sized edition of the Rubaiyat that he claims is the actual book found by Chemist Freeman and given that no pictures of the actual Rubaiyat are known to exist according to Gerry Feltus, together with the knowledge imparted by Detective Brown in his notes that the original book was lost by DS Leane early in the investigation, it leads us to question the provenance of Abbott’s copy, and provenance as we all know is something the Professor has always insisted upon to substantiate claims of authenticity.
In summary, one can only assume that Abbott left the early, heavy-duty research slogging to his more than willing UoA students, but as to why none of them ever drew his notice to the blunders on this representation is beyond belief, the same can be said for whoever edited it, if at all.
Link to a transcript of the inquest papers below
The 2015 audio/video presentation given by Professor Abbott can be found on the tamamshud.blogspot.