Homeless man who bashed Melbourne woman Courtney Herron to death with a branch is found not guilty of murder – as horrific details of the killing are revealed for the first time
- 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 a tree branch and bludgeoned her for 50 minutes
- The killer then gave Ms Herron a ‘symbolic burial’ under piles of branches
A homeless man who bludgeoned Courtney Herron to death with a branch has been found not guilty of murder because he has schizophrenia.
Henry Hammond was charged with murder after the 25-year-old’s disfigured body was found under a pile of branches at Melbourne’s Royal Park in May 2019.
The 27-year-old was transferred to a mental facility last month after a court agreed he was unfit to stand trial.
But on Monday Justice Phillip Priest recorded a not guilty verdict in Victoria’s Supreme Court, as horrific details of the case were revealed for the first time.
Courtney Herron, 25, was beaten to death with a branch in a park in May 2019 by a homeless man
Hammond picked up a tree branch and Ms Herron (left) became scared, asking ‘are you going to kill me?’
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.
Friends took a video of their conversation because they were ‘acting strangely’. The pair then headed to the park.
Hammond picked up a tree branch and Ms Herron became scared, asking ‘are you going to kill me?’.
He struck her in the face and beat her repeatedly for 50 minutes.
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
Hammond (pictured) tied Ms Herron’s legs together and dragged into a clearing and covered with branches
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 that he killed her in an act of revenge, the ABC reported.
Two psychologists told Victoria’s Supreme Court that Hammond was schizophrenic and didn’t know what he was doing, or that it was wrong.
Two psychologists told Victoria’s Supreme Court that Hammond (right) was schizophrenic and didn’t know what he was doing, or that it was wrong
Those close to Ms Herron (pictured) believe Hammond is feigning his mental illness
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.
‘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.