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Murder of Ellen Chute Part 4

July 24, 2020
I posted recently of the murder of Ellen Chute, who was the daughter of Patrick Boyle of Violet Town. Ellen was murdered by her husband Richard Chute in November 1871. There are links to Part 1, 2 and 3 at the bottom of this post. This is the concluding post in the series about this tragedy.
from: The Ovens and Murray Advertiser, Thursday, 18 April 1872, page 2.
(newspaper copy not included as it was smudged and difficult to read)
Mr. C.A. Smythe said that in this case, Dr. Dempster, medical officer of the gaol, had on the previous day sent him a report which had satisfied himself,
and the Crown Law officers, whom he had consulted, that a delay in hearing the case would be advisable on the ground of the mental condition of the accused, and it was therefore decided to try Chute at the next criminal sessions in Melbourne.


There were many postponements to Richard Chute’s trial, caused by the need to investigate his mental state. There was also concern to understand the new laws of lunacy which had recently been established. There were many newspaper reports about each postponement.

Finally in July 1872, Richard Chute was found guilty of murder on the grounds of insanity, and sentenced to life imprisonment in a mental institution. He was first held at Yarra Bend, Melbourne from 30 July 1872, after which he was transferred to J. Ward at Ararat Asylum for the Criminally Insane at Ararat, on 30.3.87. He spent his life there until his death on 26 June 1907.


Two months after her murder, Ellen Boyle’s body was exhumed to perform a second post-mortem, where it was hoped a definitive cause of death would be found.

From: Bendigo Advertiser, 09 January 1872, page 3

The body of Ellen Chute, whose husband is now in Beechworth gaol, on committal for her murder, was exhumed on Wednesday, at the Violet Town cemetery, for the purpose of a further post-mortem examination by Dr. Hutchinson, of Wangaratta. This proceeding was rendered necessary to fill up the missing link in the evidence, as to the actual cause of death. We (Ovens Spectator) suppose this link will cost the country £100, but in such a case an expense would not be grumbled at were it not that the medical evidence was so unnecessarily deficient.

Links to previous posts:

Murder of Ellen Chute Part 1 – Inquest
Murder of Ellen Chute Part 2

Murder of Ellen Chute Part 3



“CITY POLICE COURT.” Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918) 9 January 1872: 3. Wed. 20 Jul 2020 <;.
BEECHWORTH CIRCUIT COURT. (1872, April 18). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved July 21, 2020, from

ARARAT ASYLUM RECORDS: Public Records of Victoria

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