ISBN 0 949089 29 x
ON the morning of Tuesday, September 13, 1983, Dr. Royal Cummings went to the Macquarie Point Sewerage Plant to collect a finger. Dr. Cummings, a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Doctor of Medicine and Pathology, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, had been a practicing pathologist for twenty years. He took the finger back to the Royal Hobart Hospital where he examined it and found it to be a right middle finger.
The next day, Wednesday, he visited a house in Hill Street, Hobart. The front door opened into a hallway leading through to the kitchen. Doors opened from the hallway Into two bedrooms and a bathroom. Dr. Cummings entered the main bedroom and found a large bloodstain on the carpet by the bed. There was blood on the bedding, and on the under sheet he found bloodstains and a small piece of tissue. Later he looked at It under his microscope and confirmed that it was a piece of fat.
In the hallway there were faint bloodstains on the wall and on the bathroom door; blood had dried on the tiles around the front of the bath, together with a scrap of yellow tissue, later found to be fat and muscle. Two more pieces of muscle tissue were discovered on a washing machine that was next to the bath.
Later Dr. Cummings went into the back yard to examine the gully trap. At the bottom was a pool of blood. Floating in the fluid were pieces of human tissue. Police Constable Cooper was with Dr. Cummings, and he proceeded to bail out the fluid from the gully trap. The fluid at the top was pink, but as more was removed it became red and then dark red. Fragments of muscle and tendon were laying at the bottom.
As a result of these findings, the next day, Thursday, saw plumbers and police excavating the back yard to uncover the sewer pipes leading from the house. The Hills hoist was uprooted and a large part of the small yard dug up.
On Friday Dr. Cummings watched as the pipes were broken open, and he then removed from them a quantity of human tissue. In all there was some 15 kilograms made up of 83 pieces. Sixty of these pieces were skin, fat and muscle, and it was not possible to tell which part of the body they came from. However 23 pieces were identified, including the heart, two pieces of lung, a piece of liver and some pieces of bowel. Also part of the uterus with the fallopian tubes and ovaries still attached was found. Dr. Cummings was later able to establish that the uterus was that of a woman who had had children, and the functioning ovaries showed that she was of child-bearing age.
There was more to come. The following Monday, Dr. Cummings was called out by police and taken through Lenah Valley, along Pottery Road, across a track, and finally to a place in the bush where a group of police were working under spotlights. It was one o’clock in the morning.
The Police already had removed tissue from a grave, and after being photographed by the Police photographer it was placed In plastic bags. Dr. Cummings took the bags back to the mortuary where he put them into a locked refrigerator. Over the next few days he was able to examine the further eight pieces of tissue from the grave.
The main item was a head to which was joined the four uppermost neck vertebrae. Missing from the head were the ears, nose, and the upper and lower jaws. Part of the scalp was missing, showing a section of exposed bone with black scorch marks; these, and the absence of much hair indicated that the head had been burned by fire.
A meticulous examination began. The skull showed some very fine fractures, consistent with fractures caused by heating. The head was partially sawn through, across the top, from the left side and down the entire right side and through the base of the skull, extending into the cranial cavity and partly severing the brain.
Two separate wounds were apparent on the skull, they had ragged, irregular edges, and were bruised. The shape of the wounds indicated that each had been caused by blows of considerable force, although not enough to fracture the skull, and the bruising showed they were caused before death. When Dr. Cummings later examined the brain, he found punctate haemorrhages in the area beneath the wounds, showing that they had caused concussion and possibly a state of unconsciousness.
On the 20th September, a second finger was located at the Sewerage Plant; it joined the four fingers found at 99 Hill Street and the thumb found at Pottery Road. Dr Cummings prepared a sketch of a body so he could colour in the parts that had been recovered. He used pink for Pottery Road, yellow for 99 Hill Street, and green for the Sewerage Plant. He used blue for the parts that were never found.
Dr. Thompson first wrote to us about his book in September 1991. Since then we have been in frequent contact, and have studied the transcript of the trial, and the media reports over the ten years since the killing. We believe that learning about his life will help readers to understand Rory Jack Thompson, and will assist informed and unemotional debate about his release or continued detention.
This is a factual book which avoids the sensationalism that has marked most of the media output. Apart from this note and the publisher’s Preface, nothing has been added to Dr. Thompson’s text, which he prepared in his cell on his computer.
Dr. Thompson arranged with us for any income to him arising from the sale of this book to be paid into his children’s Trust Fund.