ON THIS DAY…… 15th September 1869
Although old in appearance, Richard Atlas who also went by the alias of Ham and Eggs, was only 37 at the time of his death. Having lived in Wangaratta for 14 years, it is believed that Richard had inherited some £7000 and had previously travelled to Europe before he settled down. Deemed a harmless character who lived a secluded life on the banks of the Ovens River, Richard spent most of his days fishing and doing odd jobs. However it is reported that due to his over indulgence in alcohol he was often in trouble and had been before the police court 40 times, and had spent three months in Beechworth Gaol in an attempt to cure him of his inebriety.
On the 2nd of September 1869, it is believed that Altas was assaulted resulting in his death at Ward’s Railway Hotel. Arrested for the murder was Mr. Louis McDermott Ward, brewer and publican, and barman Mr. Joseph O’Grady. Immediately upon their arrest the prisoners were taken for identification to the Horse and Jockey Hotel where Atlas had been taken. Later that evening Dr. McMullen, having expressed his opinion that Atlas would not live till morning, ordered the two prisoners to be brought up before him at the Horse and Jockey Hotel. Altas’ evidence was recorded and the prisoners were remanded until the following day. Dr. Dobbyn, District Coroner, carried out a post mortem examination on Atlas’ remains and delivered a verdict of manslaughter. Ward was given bail of £400 and O’Grady £200. The assault is said to have consisted of a violent blow on the nose which was broken by O’Grady, and a kick in the stomach by Ward. The kick to the stomach was the fatal blow.