Slain Vic veteran's family call for appeal

Christopher Talbot

The family of a war veteran who was "beaten, bound and stabbed in the back 13 times" and left to die slowly on the eve of his 90th birthday are petitioning for his killer to spend longer behind bars.

Jonathon Jeffrey Cooper was in April sentenced to a minimum of 13 years, with a maximum of 16 years, for the murder of Kenneth Handford, and for theft and aggravated burglary in his victim's Springbank home in September 2015.

Mr Handford was attacked in his bed on the eve of his 90th birthday and left dying, slowly alone as the killer made off with his war medals and some cash.

"His pacemaker showed it took 4 hours and 38 minutes from the initial attack for him to succumb to his injuries," his family says in the petition.

Cooper, 29, pleaded guilty to the crimes in 2016.

Justice Jane Dixon said she would have sentenced Cooper to a minimum of 25 years in jail had he not pleaded guilty and offered to testify against an accomplice.

Mr Handford's family are now petitioning the Director of Public Prosecutions to lodge an appeal against the sentence, which they say is "grossly inadequate.'

"He was left to die while anchored to his bed, unable to get help and all alone," granddaughter Leah Handford says in the petition.

"We were not anticipating what we believe to be an inappropriate sentence for such a horrific crime against our much loved father, grandfather and great grandfather."

The family is also calling on Attorney-General Martin Pakula to reform current sentencing practices "to come into line with community expectations."

The state government says it will introduce legislation in the coming weeks for a new standard sentencing scheme for twelve of the most serious crimes including murder and rape.

If passed the standard sentence for murder would be 25 years.

The DPP is reportedly aware of the petition but has declined to comment.