Don’t kill the crocodile that killed our son, grieving parents plead

The remains of a five-year-old boy who disappeared in a flooded mangrove swamp more than a week ago have been found in the stomach of a 14-foot crocodile trapped nearby.

Jeremy Doble, whose father runs a crocodile-spotting tourism business in north Queensland, vanished while playing in the swamp with his seven-year-old brother, Ryan, and their boxer puppy. Ryan, who was towing Jeremy on a boogie board in waist-deep water at the time, told police he saw a crocodile shortly afterwards.

The nearby Daintree river, one of Queensland’s leading tourism destinations, is prime crocodile territory. Up to 100 mature specimens are believed to inhabit the 17-mile tidal stretch. Locals are well aware of the dangers, and it is not clear why the two boys were playing in the swamp, situated just behind the family property.

It is thought that on that fateful 8 February, Jeremy followed his dog into the river, where the crocodile was waiting. Their father, alerted by his elder son’s screams, plunged into the water but could not save the younger boy.

When a large-scale search proved fruitless, rangers laid traps and caught two crocodiles, a 10ft female and the larger male. Both were taken to Cairns where a vet examined them and X-rayed their stomach contents.

The female was released after no evidence was found to link her to the attack but the second crocodile – said to be the dominant male in the area – had Jeremy’s remains in its stomach.

Torrential rain and flooding this month have attracted more crocodiles into north Queensland’s waterways. Much of the state has been declared a disaster zone, with nearly 400,000 square miles and 3,000 homes affected. Last month the state’s Environmental Protection Agency issued a warning for people to be wary of crocodiles and to watch for other reptiles, such as snakes, turning up in houses.

Col Patterson, 44, who lives nearby, told The Courier-Mail newspaper that the reptiles were “hungry, aggressive and on the move” because the breeding season was almost over.

The male responsible for Jeremy’s death will not be euthanised but sent to a crocodile farm or zoo. The boy’s parents have specifically asked authorities not to kill the animal. However, the crocodile will not be put on public display because of its gruesome history.

The incident was the second fatal crocodile attack in the area in recent months. In September, Scottish-born Arthur Booker was eaten by a 14ft specimen while camping with his wife on the banks of the Endeavour river, near Cooktown, north of the Daintree.

Jeremy’s parents have declined to speak publicly. One Daintree resident, Keegan Penn, told The Courier-Mail the family were “numb with grief”. Mr Penn, also a tourism operator, said: “We are all saddened by it and very sorry for their loss. They are a happy family, and Jeremy was such a sweet, innocent young boy with a lovely nature.”

The number of saltwater crocodiles in Australia’s tropical waters has steadily increased since hunting was banned in 1971. Although they are a protected species, authorities are permitted to destroy individuals that threaten humans.

Since Jeremy’s disappearance, some locals have called for “an old-fashioned double-barrel croc hunt”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own