Killer to spend 25 years in psych care

·2-min read

The man who beat Courtney Herron to death at a Melbourne park in 2019 has been ordered to spend 25 years in a psychiatric facility.

Henry Hammond was charged with Ms Herron's murder, but found not guilty by mental impairment.

Two psychologists told Victoria's Supreme Court that Hammond was schizophrenic and didn't know what he was doing, or that it was wrong.

He had met 25-year-old Ms Herron the day before her death in May 2019. She invited him to spend the day with her friends.

The group had felt uneasy about his presence but allowed him to tag along. Ms Herron treated him to dinner and in the early hours of the following morning they went for a walk in Melbourne's Royal Park.

Hammond picked up a tree branch and Ms Hammond asked him "are you going to kill me?".

He beat her to death over 50 minutes. Her body was found later in the morning by dog walkers. Hammond was arrested the following day.

Justice Phillip Priest had ordered that Hammond be held in custody until a bed was made available at a high-security mental health facility.

But he was told in September last year that there weren't enough beds and there were eight others in line ahead of Hammond for services.

Those close to Ms Herron believe Hammond is feigning his mental illness, but Dr Ranji Darjee said Hammond had symptoms including spiritual and religious delusions and grandiose beliefs dating back to 2017.

Hammond believed Ms Herron was a spirit connected to a past life who was there to hurt him, and that she would be reincarnated.

"I think he truly felt that he was under threat and if he didn't do what he did then he was going to come to very serious or fatal harm," Dr Darjee said.

While Hammond had used drugs in the period before the killing, his beliefs were entirely linked to his schizophrenia, the doctor said.

Justice Priest on Wednesday made a custodial supervision order, requiring Hammond to spend 25 years at Melbourne's Thomas Embling Hospital.

He'll be eligible for release from May 2044.