Sunday, 1 March 2015

Dark history part II

Dark history part II

1949
Attempted Suicide
A LITHUANIAN migrant who jumped into the Derwent River from Princes Wharf, Hobart, on November 21 told rescuers that the world was no good and "I kills myself," according to evidence given in the Hobart Police Court yesterday. 
The man is Antanas Simkus, and he was charged with having attempted to kill himself by drowning.
The case was dismissed.
Evidence was given that Simkus told rescuers that he had received word from his brothers and sisters that they could not come to Australia and that the "Russians wanted him back."
James Roy O'Toole, stevedore, told the Coroner (Mr. G. F. Sorell) that he saw Simkus jump into the river from the end of the wharf.
Simkus appeared to hesitate two or three times before jumping, O'Toole said.  In the water, Simkus was keeping afloat with difficulty and was heading towards the centre of the river.  O'Toole said he called to two men in a fishing boat to go to Simkus' assistance, and he threw him a life-buoy.  Ernest Mayne Butler Ford, water side worker, said Simkus pushed the lifebuoy away and kept hitting at the man in the boat when being rescued. 
On the shore, Simkus said he did not want to live, and told of the message from his brothers and sisters.  Keith Frances, Kelly told how Simkus struggled when he and another man towed Simkus to the shore.
Through an interpreter, Simkus told Mr. Sorell that he could not possibly commit suicide as he was such a good-swimmer. He said he was very drunk, and "just went for a swim to refresh himself." He did not remember being on the wharf. He had been drinking cognac.

He assured the Coroner that he had no desire to do such a thing again.
Mr. Sorell said it was necessary for the Crown to prove that Simkus intended to kill himself. His actions and the, evidence were consistent with the whole affair being a drunken escapade. The evidence was not sufficient to prove Simkus tried to take his own life.

Dismissing the charge, Mr. Sorell paid a tribute to persons who had acted "promptly and with good sense" in rescuing Simkus.
The Mercury (Hobart) 2 December 1949

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