Shameful situation exposed after killing

 

Melbourne woman Courtney Herron knew something was wrong in the minutes before she was bludgeoned to death with a tree branch.

"Are you going to kill me?" she asked Henry Hammond at Royal Park in the early hours of May 25, last year.

The 28-year-old man picked up a branch and struck the woman, the Supreme Court of Victoria heard. His brutal attack lasted 50 minutes before he dragged her body into a clearing and covered it with leaves and sticks.

It was expected that he would be sent to a secure mental health facility under a custodial supervision order after he was found not guilty of murder due to mental impairment in August.

Courtney Herron who was found murdered in Royal Park in Parkville last May
Courtney Herron who was found murdered in Royal Park in Parkville last May

But a lack of beds at the hospital means the schizophrenic man will stay in prison until one becomes available. There are eight other men in prison also waiting for a bed.

"It's a lamentable fact that no bed for Mr Hammond is available at Thomas Embling Hospital," Victorian Supreme Court Justice Phillip Priest said on Monday.

Because of this "unhappy circumstance" Justice Priest adjourned the hearing until March 2021.

"There seems to have been a view...that in some way, he's been let off the hook, and that he was going to be going back into the community," Justice Priest said.

"I don't know where that idea came from. But if people are labouring under that misapprehension, it's completely wrong."

Henry Richard Hammond, 28, who was found not guilty because of mental impairment for the murder of Courtney Herron.
Henry Richard Hammond, 28, who was found not guilty because of mental impairment for the murder of Courtney Herron.

The director of the hospital's clinical services Dr Mark Ryan said he believed a bed would be available sooner.

"I would hope we won't be waiting six months …The hope is to get Mr Hammond in well before then," he told the court.

The court previously heard that in the grip of a relapse of schizophrenia the killer believed his victim was not who she claimed to be but "someone else … like a spirit".

Hammond thought the 25-year-old woman had hurt him in a past life and he was finally able to get his "revenge" on her during the attack.

"He felt like he had to destroy her," psychiatrist Dr Rajan Darjee told the court at an earlier hearing.

The doctor also told the court it was "virtually impossible" the man was faking mental illness and he had shown symptoms since 2017.

A vigil for murdered woman Courtney Herron held in Royal Park. Picture: Jason Edwards
A vigil for murdered woman Courtney Herron held in Royal Park. Picture: Jason Edwards

In interviews with police Hammond said he recognised his victim's "treachery towards him" and said the trees "dropped sticks for a reason".

Hours before the fatal attack the pair met when Hammond approached Ms Herron for a cigarette in Melbourne's CBD.

The young woman had even treated him to dinner before they smoked ice at her friend's house.

Footage of the pair at the restaurant showed they had "friendly banter and conversation".

Though drug use could have exacerbated his offending, it was not the cause but rather his "bizarre" delusions about Norse gods, Jesus and spirits.

Three dog walkers found Ms Herron's body in the morning and Hammond was arrested at the Salvation Army Centre on Bourke St.

Originally published as Shameful situation exposed after killing


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