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from This Is London


Head found in shark's belly

by Frank Thorne

A human skull has been found inside a tiger shark caught off New South Wales, Australia.

  Fisherman Bob Van Leuwick looks into the mouth of the tiger shark he caught
Four recreational game fishermen found human body parts in the stomach of the shark when they cut it open after returning to shore.

"The first thing we found was a whale bone and we were interested to see what else the shark had eaten," said skipper Bob van Leuwick. "Then, all of a sudden, a human head rolled out. It was quite a shock."

Police are checking missing person files and trying to identify the remains. A post-mortem examination will be held tomorrow but it is not yet known whether the remains are those of a male or female.

Mr Van Leuwick said: "We slit the gut open to see what was inside it. Some bits and pieces came out that we didn't realise were part of a human. But then the skull rolled out and we realised we'd caught a man-eater."

Crime scene officers and a forensic pathologist were called and the remains were taken to a morgue in nearby Newcastle.

"The skull was pretty well preserved. It has all its teeth, so the police said they were pretty confident they could find out who the person was. I reckon the remains were no more than a week or two old," said Mr Van Leuwick.

The discovery recalled memories of Sydney's "shark arm case" of 1935 in which a tiger shark which had been put in an aquarium regurgitated a human arm with a rope tied to the wrist. The victim was identified but no one was ever convicted of murder.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd., 22 April 2002

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