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Walter RichardsPrint Page Print this page

The monument commemorates Walter Richards who was murdered by Joshua Beard in January 1897. Joshua Beard was hanged on the 10th July 1897 for the crime which was the 43rd execution in South Australia. 

Adelaide: Monday June 14, 1897- THE CRIMINAL SESSIONS. "The most atrocious and cowardly murder which has ever come under my notice in this Court." In this not too emphatic language Mr Justice Bundey characterized the fearful crime for which in the Criminal Courts on Saturday Joshua Beard was sentenced to death. Besides committing the murder of poor Walter Newman Richards, the prisoner was strongly suspected of having in a similar manner slain another man named Joseph Marlo. As, however, the capital offence had been fully proved against him in one instance, the Crown Solicitor intimated that a nolle prosequi would be entered on the second charge.

The very great importance that might conceivably attach to the decision to adopt this course helps to illustrate what we have already said concerning the disputed point which delayed the proceedings at the beginning of the Criminal Sessions — the question whether it is advisable, or indeed essential, that the Attorney-General, who is charged with the duty of ordering such virtual verdicts, should be learned in the law. In truth a dastardly and foul deed was that of which, in the clearest possible circumstantial evidence, Beard was found guilty. The presiding Judge remarked that as a kangaroo-hunter the prisoner treated even the brute beasts that he slaughtered with more consideration than he showed to the young man whose friend and working mate he pretended to be. It is impossible from the evidence to resist the conclusion that this fiend in human shape actually shot the lad through the head while he lay asleep and that then, as life was not yet extinct, he battered out his unfortunate victim's brains with the butt-end of his rifle.

Never in South Australia, excepting in such atrocious cases as that of the murder by Spencer in the Northern Territory, has a more revolting crime been committed. There has been in the criminal annals of the colony a case in which a systematic assassin has received travellers with apparent hospitality only in order to kill them and steal their valuables; but even his crimes were not so revolting as that of Beard. The man who can in cold blood take the life of the companion of his work and travels must be an even more inhuman wretch than one who makes it his aim to kill strangers. This is the reason why the public mind has been so strongly stirred in connection with the series of alleged murders — apparently imitated by Beard— of which Butler stands accused in Sydney.

The very candour and openness with which Beard made some of his admissions stamp him as a man who had laid his plans and decided how much and how little it would be safe to tell. His solicitor utilized this feature of the evidence to enforce his plea that there had been no attempt at concealment; but when a really cunning culprit has a lie which he believes will be sufficiently plausible to cover the damning proofs of his guilt, he is often designedly free-spoken on other points. In this case the story, that Richards had accidentally shot himself while pulling his rifle out of a cart ought have been serviceable to Beard if the position and nature of the wound had not precluded the possibilty of the statement being true. Even from his lonely grave in the thinly populated Streaky Bay District the blood of Beard's young victim cried aloud for vengeance and by sheer force of indisputable facts the Jury were driven to the conclusion at which they arrived. Fitly the shadow of the gallows rests upon a wretch who slew without provocation, and he who did not show mercy to others has now himself no hope of merciful treatment on this earth.
South Australian Register (Adelaide), 14 June 1897.

 

Location

Address:Base of Mount Hall, 3 kilometres from Murphys Haystacks, Mortana, 5671
State:SA
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.059678
Long: 134.482202
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Crime
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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