A remorseless killer who brutally beat a random woman to death is enjoying meals in her favourite restaurant a little over two years after being placed in a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane.
Daily Mail Australia can reveal Henry Hammond has been repeatedly released on supervised day leave, four years after he bashed Melbourne woman Courtney Herron, 25, to death in May 2019.
Multiple sources have confirmed Hammond has been enjoying freedom, with grainy photographs showing him dining in at restaurants along Station Street in Fairfield – a stone’s throw from Thomas Embling Hospital in Melbourne‘s inner north-east.
Henry Hammond appears cuffed and slumped over as he visits a Japanese restaurant in Fairfield, Melbourne’s inner north-east
Courtney Herron was killed by Henry Hammond, who was found not guilty on grounds of mental impairment and sent to Thomas Embling Hospital for what ‘could’ be the next 25 years
Henry Hammond bashed Courtney so savagely in May 2019 that the mortician could not put her broken body back together.
The images appear to show Hammond dining at Matsuya Japanese restaurant.
Hammond can be seen sporting ‘Shaman-styled’ platted ponytails and appears slumped over.
Minders are seated across the table and Hammond’s hands are clasped together as if restrained.
A well-placed source told Daily Mail Australia that Hammond is also fond of eating at Narai Thai – a short stroll from Matsuya.
It was a restaurant frequented by Hammond’s victim and her friends before he cruelly took her life.
Courtney’s father and criminal defence lawyer John Herron has long feared his daughter’s killer was being prepared for release a little over three years after he was found not guilty by way of mental impairment.
In March 2020, Supreme Court of Victoria Justice Phillip Priest told Hammond he would be moved from Port Phillip Prison to Thomas Embling Hospital for what ‘could’ be the next 25 years.
Justice Priest further told the community Hammond would not be reviewed for early release for at least 24 months.
Speaking from Vietnam, Mr Herron told Daily Mail Australia on Thursday he was livid Hammond was being allowed back out into the community.
‘When Courtney lived with me in Thornbury, Narai Thai in Thornbury was one of our favourite restaurants that she and I went to. The family,’ he said.
‘That’s a real kick in the guts. It just makes me sick.
‘I’m absolutely appalled and it’s a sickening feeling to know that one of our favourite restaurants that we took Courtney to is now being frequented by her murderous and brutal killer.’
Henry Hammond appears to have retained his dishevelled appearance while housed in Thomas Embling Hospital
Hammond appears slumped over inside the Japanese restaurant
Hammond was known to wear long braided plats
Matsuya Japanese (left) and Narai Thai (right) in Fairfield
Hammond’s escorted jaunts along Courtney’s old stomping ground has not gone unnoticed by her friends.
A source claimed some of Courtney’s friends had been left traumatised after being confronted by Hammond in the wild.
‘He’s a freak when he goes out. He’d need to be caged like some kind of leopard,’ the source said.
Hammond is no stranger to causing mayhem inside restaurants.
He had been banned from entering the not-for-profit restaurant Lentil As Anything after going ballistic in there.
Mr Herron said Hammond had terrorised High Street in Northcote in the months before he killed his daughter.
‘He smashed up the windows of Lentil As Anything in Northcote and they had to lock the restaurant to keep him out.
‘So that area is very familiar with him and he terrorised that area for a good year and police began to stop responding to calls about his activities,’ he said.
John Herron clutches a photo of his precious daughter Courtney. He is furious Hammond has been let out of hospital on supervised day trips
Courtney Herron’s battered body is taken away from Royal Park in Melbourne on May 25, 2019
THE STEPS THAT PUT A KILLER BACK ON THE STREETS
December 17, 2018: Henry Hammond is sentenced to 10 months and 14 days over a savage attack on a woman
Hammond had bashed and strangled the woman and threatened to kill her
She only escaped by gouging his eyes
Hammond had previous offences from NSW related to domestic violence
April 1, 2019: Hammond had been behind bars for 231 days when he won an appeal in the County Court of Victoria
Judge John Carmody re-sentenced Hammond to time already served and added a community corrections order
May 25, 2019: Courtney Herron meets Hammond in Melbourne and treats him to dinner.
Security footage from the Fitzroy restaurant shows the pair happily engaged in conversation.
The pair join a group of Ms Herron’s friends and smoke ice together. Friends video their conversation because they were ‘acting strangely’.
May 26, 2019: Hammond and Ms Herron go for an early morning walk in Royal Park, before he beats her to death with a branch and buries her in piles of leaves and branches.
Dog walkers find Courtney Herron’s mangled body at 9.25am
May 28, 2019: Henry Hammond is charged with Ms Herron’s murder following a series of tip offs sparking a manhunt in Melbourne’s CBD
Hammond tells police he recognised the 25-year-old from a past life. He says he killed her in an act of revenge for killing his wife
May 31, 2019: Thousands attended a silent vigil organised for Ms Herron
September 16, 2019: Hammond is due to be assessed by a forensic psychiatrist
December 18, 2019: Hammond pleads not guilty to murder at Melbourne Magistrates Court
January 7, 2020: Ms Herron’s father John speaks up about his daughter’s death: ‘She died unnecessarily. ‘She had the world at her feet.’
July 21, 2020: Hammond is transferred to a mental health facility after a court agreed he was unfit to stand trial
August 17, 2020: A judge finds Hammond is not guilty of murdering Ms Herron because he has schizophrenia
Word of Hammond’s freedom has spread throughout the local community, with one worried father telling Daily Mail Australia he was always on alert while in the area.
‘I’ve eaten in those restaurants many times with my young daughter. If I saw him, I’d shoot him. It’s a disgrace what goes on in this state under the guise of therapeutic justice,’ the dad said.
‘People like that don’t deserve to be out eating a succulent Japanese meal. Hide the chopsticks.’
Daily Mail Australia contacted Victoria’s new Premier Jacinta Allan for comment about the development on Thursday, but did not receive a response.
Victoria’s Institute of Forensic Mental Health, Forensicare, also failed to respond to Daily Mail Australia’s questions.
News of Hammond’s occasional releases coincides with the day Melbourne woman Jill Meagher’s brutal murder was announced 11 years ago.
Ms Meagher had been on her way home in Brunswick – about six kilometres away from Fairfield – when Adrian Bayley raped and murdered her.
Her death sent shockwaves throughout Victoria and saw tough new parole laws put into place – laws that are now looking to be softened.
Hammond would not be the first killer to walk free from Thomas Embling on day release. Or cut loose in secret.
Thomas Embling psychiatrists have previously made no secret to Victorian courts that they believe releasing killers back into the community is in the best interests of their rehabilitation.
However, some Victorian judges believe telling the community – or the killers’ victims – about such initiatives is not in the killer’s best interest and suppress any trace of it ever happening.
Daily Mail Australia is aware of at least one savage killer found not guilty of murder by way of mental impairment in recent times already allowed back into the community on supervised day release.
Situated in Fairfield across the road from magnificent parkland and the Yarra River, criminally insane patients from Thomas Embling are sometimes known to gather both there and a nearby cafe.
Just last week Daily Mail Australia observed a patient under escort at the cafe.
Revelations reported by Daily Mail Australia last year about Hammond’s pending release disgusted Today host Karl Stefanovic.
Stefanovic said he ‘feels sick’ about the prospect of a killer walking free a little over a year after he was sent to a psychiatric hospital.
‘Can I tell you I don’t want to see his face, it makes me sick,’ Stefanovic said at the time.
‘I am shocked this could take place and if it was my child I don’t know what I would do.’
A Thomas Embling ‘patient’ enjoys a morning bowl of chips with his two minders at a nearby cafe
Crazed killers are known to frequent the Fairfield Park Boathouse & Tea Gardens (pictured)
Thomas Embling Hospital houses some of the most violent criminals in the state
John Herron and his daughter Courtney in happier times. She was savagely killed by Henry Hammond, who was found not guilty through mental impairment
Hammond was brutally bashed by another patient inside Thomas Embling just before Christmas 2021.
A well-placed source said the savage beating left Hammond in hospital, which in turn saw him transferred to Thomas Embling’s ‘transition unit’ on return.
The unit facilitates patients’ day releases and prepares them for imminent release.
It is understood Hammond impressed staff within the unit, which has led to hospital chiefs softening its stance on releasing him temporarily back into the community with a view to setting him free altogether.
Hammond – the son of millionaire parents from Sydney – ought never have been released onto the streets to kill in the first place.
Just months before he killed Ms Herron, he had been left on the footpath of Melbourne’s streets by the authorities.
The homeless son of wealthy investment banker Murray Hammond had been gifted a lucky break after another savage attack on a woman.
Hammond had convinced doctors he had believed he was the Norse God Odin and that he feared Ms Herron – a woman he had only just met – was possessed and would kill him.
Ms Herron’s body was found in between logs by three dog walkers in Royal Park in Parkville in May, 2019.
Hammond had smashed her head in during a frenzied attack which lasted close to an hour.
The brute was supposed to be behind bars serving a 10-month sentence over the August 2018 assault of another woman.
But a month before he would kill Ms Herron, he was released on a Community Correction Order after successfully appealing to the County Court that his imprisonment was ‘manifestly excessive’.