Dark deeds and skulduggery
I have just finished reading a book called 'Shark Arm'*, a true story of a 3-4 meter Tiger shark, regurgitating a human arm in a seaside aquarium in Sydney in 1935.
The shark was innocent. The arm belonged to one Jim Smith, a small time crook who was murdered and his body dumped into the sea. The arm had a distinctive tattoo which allowed for the identification and a subsequent murder investigation.
The men supposedly responsible, though never convicted, were a Reginald Homes who ran a boat yard just to the west of the Sydney Harbour bridge, and Albie Stannard who ran a boat yard more or less on the site of the present Sydney Opera House. They controlled a lot of the water based activity on the harbour at that time, and one of those activities was smuggling.
At this time a newly arrived immigrant family was making inroads in the harbour with their boatyard just to the east of the Harbour Bridge, in Neutral Bay. The family name was Halvorsen.
According to the witness statement taken by detectives investigating the shark arm murder the suspects wife Mrs Holmes also confided that her husband and Mr Stannard plotted to kidnap and 'bump Halvorsen off' in 1933 as he had been doing too well out of his 'running activities on the harbour'.
The plot failed when the hit-man couldn't get his boat to start and missed the rendezvous that Stannard had set up with Halvorsen on Stannard's luxurious yacht 'The Pathfinder'to discuss business.
Paradoxically this boat was then subject to a failed insurance scam over its attempted scuttling the following year, causing Stannard and Holmes to come to the notice of the police.
The book makes no mention whether it was Lars Halvorsen or his son Harold they were intending to murder that night. Lars Halvorsen died in 1936 and Harold took over running the company till his death in 2000.
To think, if not for a faulty boat motor, the Halvorsen brand of boats may never have come into existence.
*The Shark Arm, Roope & Meagher