A warning to do-gooders everywhere

by Rose Sneyd15 Mar 2013

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.”


  • by Bree Vreedenburgh 15/03/2013 3:14:03 PM

    Fair enough if he was off because he'd done his back, but he was off for stress leave - and his doctor had recommended that he go on holiday - lawsuit coming?? I think so!!

  • by Australia - NFP Company also does this 16/03/2013 7:37:40 AM

    I was off work due to having a skin cancer removed, when I arrived back at work, I was met by HR and General Manager of Corporate Services, who travelled 700klms to ask why I needed 2 weeks off ? As previously, when having a sun cancer removed,I had worked. I had worked for the company for 5 years and had only taken 2 weeks sick leave which was ordered by my Doctor. Internal investigation began and continued and continued until finally I was told that my position was being made redunant !!! This Non For Profit Organisation now if anyone calls in sick, starts an investigation and before you know it, others have been made redundant. I was once told by the CEO that STRESS LEAVE is not allowed by this company and that she didn't care what the Doctor said. Another staff member was going to the Doctor a lot for personal reasons and when the CEO and the General Managers found out, they made it so hard for her that she was also pushed out. But the CEO is allowed to take her Dad on plane rides at the companies expense and runs her partner's and her own private business from her office, has paid wage subsidies to her partner for employing staff. The Australian Government needs to look at workplace bullying and who is paid for wage subsidies, not at all, they just continue to allow these things to happen.

  • by Leslie Allan 16/03/2013 8:50:05 AM

    I'm not sure we have the whole story here. If we have, what was his employer thinking? How does taking a holiday on recommendation from your doctor while on stress leave breach trust?

    Leslie Allan