Courtney Herron’s chilling last words to homeless man before he bludgeoned her to death with a tree branch are revealed – as he’s found NOT GUILTY of murder
- Henry Hammond, 27, was charged after Ms Herron’s body was found in a park
- He told police he recognised the victim from a past life and killed her as revenge
- Hammond picked up tree branch and bludgeoned her repeatedly for 50 minutes
- Before brutal attack, court heard she had asked him ‘are you going to kill me?’
- The killer then gave young woman a ‘symbolic burial’ under piles of branches
Courtney Herron, 25, (pictured) was bludgeoned to death in Melbourne’s Royal Park in May 2019 by Henry Hammond, 27, after she treated him to dinner that night at a restaurant in Fitzroy
A young woman who was bludgeoned to death by a homeless man in a brutal assault lasting almost an hour became scared and asked him ‘are you going to kill me?’ moments before the attack began, a court has heard.
Henry Hammond, 27, was charged with the murder of Courtney Herron, 25, after a group of dog walkers found her disfigured body under a pile of branches in Royal Park in Melbourne’s inner-north in May 2019.
A judge on Monday found Hammond not guilty because he was suffering from schizophrenia when he killed Ms Herron.
Revealing harrowing details of the case for the first time, a special court hearing heard how a night out together ended with Hammond raising a tree branch to the 25-year-old and beating her repeatedly for about 50 minutes.
Ms Herron had treated Hammond to dinner that night at a restaurant in Fitzroy before they joined a group of her friends and smoked ice together, the court heard.
Hammond (pictured) told police the young woman had buried his wife alive in a past life, and that he killed her in an act of revenge. She asked him moments before the killing ‘are you going to kill me?’ when he picked up a tree branch during a walk through the park
Mourners are seen laying flowers at a makeshift mural for Courtney Herron whose body was found in Royal Park, Melbourne, Sunday, May 26
Ms Herron and Hammond had joined a group of her friends after the dinner and smoked ice together
Ms Herron’s (left and right) legs were tied together after the attack and she was dragged into a clearing and covered with branches
Hammond (pictured) has been found not guilty because he was suffering from schizophrenia when he killed Ms Herron
Friends took a video of their conversation because they were ‘acting strangely’.
The pair then headed to the park in the early hours of May 25.
Hammond picked up the tree branch and Ms Herron became scared, asking ‘are you going to kill me?’
A man sleeping nearby heard screams followed by hitting sounds and described Hammond as going ‘hell for leather’ for almost an hour.
Ms Herron’s legs were then tied together and she was dragged into a clearing and covered with branches, giving her what he described to police as a ‘symbolic burial’.
Hammond later told police the young woman had buried his wife alive in a past life, and he killed her in an act of revenge, the ABC reported.
Pictured: A map showing where Ms Herron was killed in Royal Park in Melbourne’s inner-north
Hammond believed Ms Herron was a spirit connected to a past life who was there to hurt him, and that she would be reincarnated Pictured: Forensic investigators at the scene of the crime
Two psychologists told Victoria’s Supreme Court that Hammond was schizophrenic and didn’t know what he was doing, or that it was wrong.
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.
Two psychologists told Victoria’s Supreme Court Hammond (right) was schizophrenic and didn’t know what he was doing, or that it was wrong
‘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, adding that it would be ‘virtually impossible’ for him to fake schizophrenia.
He also said drugs Hammond had used that day may have worsened or exacerbated his mental state.
Justice Phillip Priest ordered Hammond remain in custody until the matter returns to court in September.
TIMELINE: COURTNEY HERRON’S MURDER
May 25, 2019: Courtney Herron meets Henry 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 for 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.