The remorseless killer of Melbourne woman Courtney Herron is enjoying conjugal visits with a fellow ‘patient’ within the walls of one of Australia’s most notorious asylums for the criminally insane.
In August 2020, Henry Hammond was found not guilty of Courtney’s horrendous murder by a judge who accepted he was mentally impaired at the time.
Hammond had been aged 27 on May 25, 2019 when he so savagely bashed Courtney the mortician could not put her broken body back together.
Courtney Herron has received no justice in death
Henry Hammond is set to be released temporarily back into the community with a view to setting him free altogether
Courtney Herron’s mum visited the site where her daughter was murdered in May 2019
In March 2021, Supreme Court of Victoria Justice Phillip Priest ordered Hammond be moved from Port Phillip Prison to Thomas Embling Hospital under a custodial supervision order that could be reviewed as early as next year.
‘He’s a very aggressive prisoner. He’ll spit on the nurses, but he’s got a girlfriend who he’s met inside and they’re allowed to go in the conjugal room,’ a well placed source told Daily Mail Australia.
Hooking-up with females within Thomas Embling is a well known perk among killers hoping to get-off on murders with mental impairment pleas.
Bourke Street killer James Gargasoulas – who failed in his mental impairment bid – told psychologist Michael Daffern he was keen on serving time at Thomas Embling ‘because there would be females there’.
Daily Mail Australia revealed in August authorities were preparing to allow Hammond to walk free on day trips a little over a year after he was sent there.
Channel Nine Today host Karl Stefanovic condemned the proposal at the time, telling viewers the thought of Hammond being released made him ‘sick’.
‘I am shocked this could take place and if it was my child I don’t know what I would do,’ he said at the time.
While that plan was put on hold following the media firestorm that followed, the source told Daily Mail Australia Hammond remains in a unit of the hospital where killers are prepared for release.
Hammond was moved to the unit just before Christmas last year after he was severely bashed by other patients and has remained there since.
Revelations of Hammond’s hospital liaisons have rubbed salt into the wounds of Courtney’s family, who this week marked the fourth anniversary of her murder.
John Herron and his daughter Courtney in happier times. She was savagely murdered by Henry Hammond, who was found not guilty through mental impairment
A young Courtney Herron. Her father has precious memories of her from the time she was born
Courtney Herron was beaten to death in an attack that went for almost an hour. Her father John Herron has been denied justice
Daily Mail Australia contacted Forensicare, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health which operates Thomas Embling, for comment but did not receive a response.
John Herron – the father of Courtney and himself a criminal lawyer – told Daily Mail Australia he was appalled over his daughter’s treatment at the hands of Victoria’s justice system.
‘They’ve just been waiting for the last story to blow over and when it blew over they just said “let’s keep going”,’ Mr Herron said on Friday.
Courtney would have been aged 29 today had her life not been so cruelly cut short by Hammond.
‘Anniversaries really hit hard and it just brings everything back at one moment and you really reflect on the loss and you think about what Courtney could have been doing that particular day and she’d be getting on with her life,’ Mr Herron said.
‘You think the great tragedy, a young woman wasn’t able to fulfil her dreams. It’s just been cut short.’
Mr Herron said he was haunted by the way in which his daughter met her fate.
Hammond had convinced doctors he had believed he was the Norse God Odin and that he feared Courtney – a woman he had only just met – was possessed and would kill him.
Courtney’s body was found in between logs by three dog walkers in Royal Park in Parkville the morning of her murder.
Hammond had smashed her head in during a frenzied attack which lasted close to an hour.
‘I can’t bring my own mind to imagine the brutal way that she met her end, taking several minutes to die. I can’t put my mind in that space that she pleaded for her life and Hammond, the brute, just kept going for almost an hour,’ Mr Herron said.
John Herron clutches a photo of his precious daughter Courtney. He continues to fight the justice system in the hope others do not suffer Courtney and his own fate
Mourners gathered at a vigil for Courtney Herron following her murder.
There is not a day that passes Mr Herron can’t recall precious memories of his daughter.
‘I have a lot of reflections particularly when Courtney was a baby, picking her up out of the crib, her crying when I went to work, getting her first immunisation. You think of all that. It just never passes with a child like that,’ he said.
‘I remember the last time I hugged her. I remember it clearly. I remember hugging her on a holiday. That feeling of holding her in your arms.’
Mr Herron said he had been comforted by the number of people who had contacted him over the week to offer support.
‘All those people in the community want to keep Courtney’s memory alive and it’s really comforting,’ he said.
But Mr Herron said he remained frustrated by the Victorian justice system’s lacklustre regard for the life of women.
‘The system has not changed over the past four years. As many, if not more women are being killed and attacked and the system is more favourable to the perpetrator now than it was four years ago. Even via way of legislation where it’s easier to plead not guilty through mental impairment,’ he said.
‘There has been zero consideration for victims. That’s gone backwards. Hammond is sitting in Thomas Embling with a green light to do this again. He’s going to be out quickly and he’s inside resentful that he’s inside at all.’
In Victoria, killers like Hammond are routinely released from Thomas Embling under suppression orders designed to protect their identities on the outside.
‘He’s not thinking that he took a life, or how brutal he took it. He’s angry because he’s inside and he’ll be out shortly. The real immediate danger within the system is that he can be out soon, has no remorse and he could be onto other women and it’s suppressed and we know nothing about it,’ Mr Herron said.
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 24, 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 25, 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