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Shark attack victim Simon Nellist survived war in Afghanistan – we can’t believe he’s died going for a swim, says family

THE family of a Brit mauled to death by a shark say they can't believe he survived Afghanistan on to be killed while swimming.

Simon Nellist, who served two tours in Afghanistan, died after he was attacked by a 15ft great white shark while he was training for a charity ocean swim in Sydney.

The diving instructor, who moved down under six years ago where he met the “girl of his dreams” Jessie Ho, was just 150m away from the beach at Buchan Point, near Little Bay in Sydney when the predator struck.

His tragic death was the first fatal attack in the area in nearly 60 years.

And now his heartbroken relatives have said his mourning mum has been left wondering how her son "could he return from the frontline unscathed to then go to Australia, go out for a swim and get killed."

The swimmer's aunt Jacqui Seager from Maidstone, Kent, told the Daily Mail: "Simon always loved the sea. He was always very close to it. He loved wildlife and the world. 

"He had a real love affair with nature. He was a very kind and considerate man who just loved life.

"He was a strong guy and did two tours of Afghanistan. 

"His mum said how could he return from the frontline unscathed to then go to Australia, go out for a swim and get killed."

She had previously said her nature-loving nephew wouldn't have wanted the beast put down.


His aunt said she didn't think that Simon would have ever considered a shark could harm him and that he had a deep love of the ocean.

 The 62-year-old added: "I don't think Simon would want the shark to be killed. He loved nature. 

"He swam with sharks before. This isn't the first time he's gone out and seen them but he would still go out swimming. That's brave.

"I don't think he ever thought they would hurt him. Sadly, this time it managed to get to him.

"It's absolutely horrendous. We are all in shock."

Mum-of-three Mrs Seager also said Simon’s mum is “in bits” and the family are planning to fly out soon.

Earlier today Simon's pal shared a post he had written from their time in Afghanistan.

The photo shows Simon playing music from the band Rage Against The Machine with children in Afghanistan.

His friend wrote: "I've been thinking a lot about the children of Afghanistan recently. They were so nice, just good-hearted kids who had nothing. We made friends, played music and shared food.

"I hope they're okay. If they managed to escape, I hope we can look after as many of them as possible."

The heartbreak comes as Simon and Jessie were due to marry “in June or July” next year, his aunt said.

A pal of Simon’s told The Sun: “Him and Jessie were due to get married last year but that got put off because of Covid.

“It’s just horrendous. We spent most of yesterday just hoping and praying it wasn’t him. It’s still incredibly raw.”

“Simon was amazing. That’s all there is to say really. He was just the best.

“He was the nicest, kindest human. It is a huge loss.”

“In the last couple of years we haven’t been able to see him because of the Covid situation.”

The friend revealed Simon “fell in love” with Australia after going travelling around six years ago, following service in the RAF.


Experienced swimmer Simon “really knew the water”, they added.

“He was massively into wildlife and knew exactly what he was doing. He wasn’t daft. It’s just a freak accident.

“Simon was doing his diving and he would send us the most amazing videos of the wildlife out there. He was so respectful of the wildlife.

“He finished in the RAF about six years ago and he went travelling and then just fell in love with it out there. Then he fell in love with Jessie.

“I know he did some pretty big tours with the RAF.”

Simon grew up in Penzance, Cornwall, but is understood not to have been back for a few years.

What we know so far….

  • Witnesses said they heard Simon yell out for help.
  • The 35-year-old was probably mistaken for a seal, one expert has said.
  • The experienced swimmer was training for a charity ocean swim.
  • Simon has lived in Australia for number of years and was due to marry his girlfriend.
  • He spoke out against shark protection measures and swam with the creatures

The friend said Simon's family are currently still in the UK, adding: "They haven’t seen him in a few years. It’s too sad.”

Simon loved the sea and called for a ban on shark nets and swam with the huge beasts before his death, tragic posts reveal.

The Brit had spoken out about nets and drum lines, used to keep sharks away from swimmers, saying they indiscriminately killed wildlife.

Drum lines are giant hooks suspended on buoys that are baited with fish.

“Shark nets and drum lines protect no one and kill all kinds of marine life every year,” wrote Simon on Facebook.

And video posted on a Facebook page for divers in Sydney, shows him swimming beside 10 sharks.

Witnesses said they heard the victim yell out for help in desperation as the shark pounced just after 4.30pm on Wednesday.

The great white allegedly “attacked vertically” before dragging the man’s body out of the ocean.

Expert Lawrence Chlebeck said that the ferocious shark probably mistook the swimmer – reportedly wearing a wetsuit – for a seal when it launched and attacked the Brit.

And the 35-year-old was a regular swimmer in the bay where the frenzy occurred, according to local MP Michael Daley.

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