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Coronial Inquest 1958

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The second and final Inquest was held on just one day, on March 14th 1958. It was issued by Coroner Thomas Erskine Cleland under the Coroners act of 1935.

“And I, said Justice of the peace and Coroner, do say that I am unable to  say who the deceased was. He died on the shore at Somerton on the 1st  December, 1948. I am unable to say how he died or what was the cause  of death.” ~ Thomas Erskine Cleland.

Because the investigation of a suspicious death falls under the jurisdiction of the coroner perhaps he should have at some point subpoenaed the major witnesses who were eventually identified, to give evidence. The only evidence used was a copy of the original Inquest report. . It would have been the 10 year anniversary of the Somerton man’s death that December. Prior to 1976 Coroners inquests in Western Australia were destroyed after 10 years, It seems to have been more of a formality than a real inquest, just a way of keeping the case open and preventing evidence from being destroyed.

The inquest, like the first, was adjourned Sine Die. This means it is still officially an open case.

The mysterious thing is that nothing appears to have happened in the 1958 inquest. The 1958 is simply a carbon copy of the original with no additional evidence or record of any new discussion. No new witnesses were called.

Another interesting fact is that none of the exhibits are contained in the first inquest document. The (paper) exhibits were all stored with the second inquest document. This explains why Justice John Haber Philips never got to see the bit of paper that Stanton Hicks wrote containing the name of two drug groups. Philips accessed the first inquest document and didn't realize there was a second one.

The exhibits were labelled C1 to C18 as follows:

C1: A packet containing (a) railway ticket to Henley Beach, (b) a Municipal Tramways Trust (MTT) tramway bus ticket, (c) packet of cigarettes, (d) two combs, (e) chewing gum. (Note: these items would have been handed back to the police and are no longer with the inquest file).

C2: Dwyer's chart of the Somerton Man's teeth

C3: Extract of a book on barbiturates, supplied by Dwyer who concluded the poison was not barbiturates.

C4: Luggage ticket found on the suitcase.

C5: Full frontal facial photo of Somerton Man taken shortly after Dwyer's autopsy.

C6: Profile facial photo of Somerton Man taken shortly after Dwyer's autopsy.

C7: Unspecified photo of Somerton Man returned to Jimmy Durham (was this identical to C5 or a photo not ever seen by the public?)

C8: Unspecified photo of Somerton Man returned to Jimmy Durham (was this identical to C6 or a photo not ever seen by the public?)

C9: The "Tamam Shud" paper plus a number of photographs of it. (Note: the piece of paper was handed back to the police and is no longer with the inquest file, but the photos are still in the inquest file. There were multiple photos presumably so some could be given away to the Press).

C10: Photo of plaster bust

C11: Photo of plaster bust (identical to C10)

C12: Photo of plaster bust given to the Press (identical to C10)

C13: Photo of plaster bust given to the Press (identical to C10)

C14: Photo of plaster bust given to the Press (identical to C10)

C15: Items of clothing found on the body (Note: this item was handed back to the police and is no longer with the inquest file).

C16: Brown suitcase. (Note: this item was handed back to the police and is no longer with the inquest file).

C17: The plaster bust itself. (Note: this item was handed back to the police and is no longer with the inquest file).

C18: Slip of paper written by Stanton Hicks listing two drug groups.

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