Record of Investigation Into Death
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Regulations 1996
I, Stephen Raymond Carey, Coroner, having investigated the death of
David Jocelyn HULL
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
Find That :
(a) The identity of the deceased is David Jocelyn Hull ("Mr Hull") who died at a time and date unable to be determined but most likely between 12 June and 13 June 1966 in the vicinity of "The Narrows" at Marion Bay in Tasmania.
(b) Mr Hull was a single man whose occupation was that of a professional fisherman.
(c) Mr Hull died as a result of drowning due to misadventure.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death :
On 11 June 1966 Mr Hull was at Fishermanfs Dock, Hobart, aboard the fishing vessel "Julie Anne" where he was preparing for a fishing trip between Hobart and Triabunna. It was Mr Hullfs expressed intention that he would travel via Slopen Main where he intended to visit his brother John Edward Hull ("Mr John Hull") who resided in that location. The owner of the "Julie Anne" was Peter Eric Delderfield who had purchased this vessel formally known as "Intruder" in March 1966 and operated the vessel alone until approximately Easter 1966. At that time Mr Hull commenced working on board with Mr Delderfield. However in late May 1966 Mr Hull began to operate the "Julie Anne" alone.
Mr Delderfield spoke to Mr Hull at approximately 2.00 pm on Saturday 11 June 1966 when Mr Hull indicated to him he intended to leave at approximately 3.00 pm, moor at his brother Mr John Hullfs location that evening, before fishing his way back to Triabunna with the intention of arriving in that location by Friday 17 June 1966.
Doris Jean Pettman states that on 12 June 1966 she was at the Pirates Bay jetty when she sighted the "Julie Anne" tie up for 10 minutes. During that time she spoke with Mr Hull whom she had known since he was a child and Mr Hull informed her that he was heading for Triabunna. Mrs Pettman saw an unknown man hand to Mr Hull a mattress rolled up in blankets and then saw Mr Hull depart from the jetty and head north.
Graeme Leslie Smith of Maydena stated on 12 June 1966 at 4.30 in the afternoon he was setting nets in Deep Bay, which is near the "Narrows" and inside a long reef at that entrance, when he saw a small fishing boat, which he later confirmed from photographs to be the "Julie Anne", anchored. Mr Smith did not observe anyone on board but noted that a swell had commenced to increase in size. He describes that by Sunday evening the sea had increased significantly and that by Monday morning it was extremely rough with waves 15-20 feet in height. Mr Smith described that the vessel he had seen at anchor would have been in an exposed position once the sea had become rough.
Kenneth Cyril Aylett states that he was staying at his shack located at Little Chinamanfs Bay on Forester Peninsula between 11 and 14 June 1966. He observed a boat that he did not recognise anchored in Deep Bay on the evening of 12 June 1966 and at that stage the sea was calm. Mr Aylett stated that on Monday morning 13 June 1966 the waters in Deep Bay had become very rough and it was his opinion that no boat could have gone in or out of the "Narrows" at that time due to the large waves.
On 14 June 1966 the "Julie Anne" was located broken up as wreckage on the beach and in waters off Marion Bay. An extensive search was conducted by land, sea and air upon the discovery of the wreckage during the period 14 to 29 June 1966 with Mr Hull not being located.
Initially Mr Charles Curle, the Superintendent of the Dennison Canal, Dunalley at that time informed police investigators that Mr Hull had not passed through the canal on 11 or 12 June 1966. However he later advised that he recalled Mr Hull passing through the canal although no official log entry was made of that fact. There is therefore a discrepancy in evidence as to whether Mr Hull had travelled via the Tasman Peninsula to the area near the "Narrows" or rather had passed through the Dennison Canal to that area. Given the passage of time this discrepancy cannot be resolved, however I do not consider that it is material as to the findings that I am required to make in relation to this investigation. I do conclude that as an experienced fisherman Mr Hull, if he had been in the more sheltered waters of Chinamanfs Bay, would not have attempted to traverse the "Narrows" into Marion Bay in the face of what was described as very rough seas. On the basis of the evidence now available I conclude that it was likely that "Julie Anne" was the vessel noted as being anchored in Deep Bay on 12 June 1966. Apparently upon the increase in sea conditions Mr Hull has attempted to relocate the vessel from the exposed position in which he was located and has come to grief either in the seas themselves off Marion Bay Beach or in an ill-fated attempt to enter the "Narrows" to seek shelter from the sea conditions.
An inspection of the wreckage of the "Julie Anne" showed signs consistent with the vessel coming into contact with a sandbar. If this had occurred in the seas that were being experienced at this time the vessel would have been easily breached, causing it to roll over and then be pounded by the sea. The inspection also determined that fishing line had tangled around the propeller and shaft to such an extent that there would have been a loss of efficiency of the power system of the vessel.
This matter was treated as a missing persons case and was reactivated in July 2010 by the Police Department Cold Case Unit. Further enquiries since that time have determined that there has been no contact by Mr Hull with surviving members of his family since the date of his disappearance. Enquiries have been had with a range of State and Commonwealth instrumentalities and also financial institutions and no record has been found of dealings involving Mr Hull.
Comments and Recommendations :
I am satisfied that a thorough investigation has been conducted into the disappearance of Mr Hull. Based upon the findings of that investigation I am satisfied that Mr Hull died at a time and date unable to be determined accurately, but between 12 and 13 June 1966 when the vessel that he was aboard, the "Julie Anne", floundered in heavy seas at or near the "Narrows" at Marion Bay in Tasmania.
I am satisfied that Mr Hull most likely died as a result of drowning when his vessel floundered in heavy seas.
Before concluding I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of Mr Hull.
Dated: The 3 day of October 2011 at Hobart in the State of Tasmania