Courtney Herron’s grieving father says her battered body was so disfigured after her death he wasn’t allowed to see her – as it’s revealed her accused killer won’t spend a day behind bars over her death.
Henry Richard Hammond will instead be transferred to a mental health facility after a court agreed he was unfit to stand trial.
The then 26-year-old allegedly bludgeoned Ms Herron, 25, to death and hid her body at a Melbourne park in May 2019.
Both were homeless at the time of the attack, and Hammond was charged with her murder the very next day.
He pleaded not guilty in late December, and on Monday, a court ruled he would not be held criminally responsible for the crime he is accused of committing.
A fresh-faced Courtney Herron – red bow in hair and ready to take on the world. She had ups and downs during her short life and was determined to make something of herself
Just three weeks before he allegedly killed Ms Herron, the drug-addled father-of-two was behind bars, sentenced to 10 months in prison for a separate incident involving his ex-girlfriend.
In August of 2018, a ‘drunk’ Hammond arrived on the doorstep of his former partner, threatening to kill her.
He found a knife in her kitchen and said: ‘Do you want this knife or the bigger knife? I’m going to kill you.’
He punched the 42-year-old woman in the face, broke her eye socket, grabbed her by the throat and attempted to strangle her.
Hammond told police he wanted to ‘shut her up’ and said he thought she was trying to steal his soul.
At the time of the assault, he was on bail for resisting a police officer.
John Herron (pictured with his daughter Courtney) has spoken up on her horrific death in Melbourne last year
An image of Courtney Herron put out by Victoria Police after her body was found bashed to death at a park just outside of Melbourne’s CBD
Her father, lawyer John Herron, told A Current Affair she would not be dead if it weren’t for the success of Hammond’s appeal
He successfully appealed the 10-month sentence, describing it as ‘manifestly excessive’.
Hammond spent just one more night in prison before he was released with a community corrections order. The court was aware he didn’t have a home to return to.
Three weeks later, Ms Herron was dead.
Her father, lawyer John Herron, told A Current Affair he believed she would still be alive if it weren’t for the success of Hammond’s appeal.
‘My daughter would be alive now if he (Hammond) wasn’t released,’ Mr Herron said.
‘The fact he was released from prison, early, on appeal (and) went straight onto the street.’
Mr Hammond appeared in court after the incident with no shoes on. He later pleaded not guilty because he was mentally unstable
Hammond (right), who is homeless, was accused of bludgeoning Ms Herron (left) to death
A message left by the mother of Courtney Herron at the scene of her death. The note was attached to flowers left there in a gut wrenching scene that brought those who saw it to tears
In the days to follow her death, police told Mr Herron that Hammond was ‘lucid’ in interviews and appeared to understand what he had allegedly done.
More recent psychiatric assessments have determined he would not have known what he was doing during the alleged killing.
‘We couldn’t have an open casket funeral,’ Mr Herron said.
‘Her head had to be reconstructed – such was the brutal nature of the [alleged] crime.’
Ms Herron had dreams of becoming a social worker, but had fallen in with the wrong crowd and began experimenting with drugs before she wound up living on the streets of Melbourne in the months leading to her death.
Henry Hammond, a 27-year-old homeless man, was charged with Courtney’s murder. On Monday, a court ordered he be sent to a mental health facility
The mother and grandmother of Melbourne woman Courtney Herron were pictured at the scene of her death to mourn
The court’s ruling means Hammond cannot be found guilty for the death of Ms Herron, and will instead be sent to a mental institution.
Mr Herron described the outcome as ‘devastating’.
‘He could have days trips – be out in 10 years (on) unsupervised day trips,’ Mr Herron said.
‘She was a really intelligent, vibrant girl. She could have put her mind to anything.
‘She doesn’t have a voice anymore and to have this conclude in this way – where it’s a not guilty outcome… it’s very devastating to us.’
Hammond will appear in the Supreme Court for a Consent Mental Impairment Hearing on August 17.
Ms Herron had been sleeping rough and struggling with drugs and mental health issues at the time of her death
A bright-eyed and smiling Courtney Herron before the weight of the world crushed her gentle spirit
Homeless man Henry Hammond pleaded not guilty to Ms Herron’s murder