A Welsh tourist and charity worker who wrestled a shark away from children on an Australian beach has been fired upon his return to Britain for a breach of trust. It turns out that he had been on sick leave since April 2012.
The incident occurred at a beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast when a 1.8m dusky whaler approached the shore. The 62-year-old Welshman, Paul Marshallsea, dragged the shark back by its tail into deeper water, and away from a group of children.
“Where this shark actually came ashore, it is shallow for about five or six yards, and a lot of babies and toddlers splash about there – it could have been very nasty,” Marshallsea told the BBC. “My instincts took over and I just grabbed the shark by the tail,” he added.
However, it turned out that Marshallsea was on extended, stress-related sick leave from the children’s charity where he had worked for 10 years. His doctor had advised him and his wife to go on holiday, and they were visiting friends in Australia.
According to a letter addressed to Marshallsea that BBC reporters cited, he was fired for a breach of trust. “The breakdown of the trustees’ confidence and trust in you and your ability to perform the role is so great that we find that dismissal is the only course of action we can recommend,” the letter read.
Marshallsea was, reportedly, ‘disgusted’ by the dismissal. “If I hadn’t gone in to save the kinds on that beach that day my wife and I would still have a job,” he told WalesOnline.
“You think being in charge of running a children’s charity, they would have tapped me on the back.”