Princes Wharf 1, Hobart: Police believe attempted theft led to man’s drowning death

Police have criticised a “disgraceful, cowardly act” that they believe led to the drowning death of a young man in Hobart’s harbour.

Emergency services were called to Hobart’s Princes Wharf 1 at 10pm on Monday after reports a man and a woman had fallen into the water.

The woman managed to climb out of the water and raise the alarm, but the man could not swim and struggled to stay afloat.

Despite the courageous rescue attempts of two passers-by who dived into the water to help, the 27-year-old man died at the scene.

After carrying out extensive inquiries into the drowning on Tuesday morning, police believe the man and woman were shoved into the water during an attempted robbery.

Detective Inspector David Gill said the pair were pushed into the water from behind by someone who wanted to steal the woman’s handbag.

“This is a disgraceful, cowardly act which has resulted in a terrible tragedy,” he said.

“We are calling on the person or people involved to come forward to police to assist us with our investigation so we can help provide closure to the family involved.”

Police said there were several people in the vicinity of the Princes Wharf 1 at the time of the drowning, including people who were fishing.

Inspector Gill acknowledged the “heroic efforts” of the two good Samaritans who attempted to rescue the 27-year-old man as well as the “outstanding efforts” of police and emergency services.

“This is a distressing incident and we are treating this as a very serious criminal investigation,” he said.

Anyone with pertinent information or footage is urged to contact police or Crime Stoppers.