Melbourne wife Courtney Herron’s ruthless killer enjoys conjugal visits with a fellow ‘patient’ within the walls of one of Australia’s most notorious insane asylums.
In August 2020, Henry Hammond was found not guilty of the gruesome murder of Courtney by a judge who accepted that he was mentally disabled at the time.
Hammond was 27 years old on May 25, 2019 when he beat Courtney so savagely that the undertaker was unable to put her broken body back together.
Courtney Herron has not received justice in death
Henry Hammond will be temporarily released back into the community to set him free completely
Courtney Herron’s mother visited the site where her daughter was murdered in May 2019
In March 2021, Supreme Court Justice of Victoria Phillip Priest ordered that Hammond be moved from Port Phillip Prison to Thomas Embling Hospital under a detention order that could be reviewed as early as next year.
“He’s a very aggressive prisoner. He will spit on the nurses but he has a girlfriend he met inside and they are allowed into the matrimonial room,” a well-placed source told Daily Mail Australia.
Dealing with women within Thomas Embling is a known perk among murderers hoping to kill with mental disorders.
Bourke Street killer James Gargasoulas – who failed his mental disability attempt – told psychologist Michael Daffern that he was eager to serve time with Thomas Embling “because there would be women there.”
Daily Mail Australia revealed in August that authorities were preparing to let Hammond go free on day trips just over a year after he was sent there.
Channel Nine Today presenter Karl Stefanovic condemned the proposal at the time, telling viewers that the thought of Hammond being released made him “sick”.
“I am shocked that this could happen 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 after the media frenzy that followed, the source told Daily Mail Australia that Hammond is staying in a ward of the hospital where killers are being prepared for release.
Hammond was transferred to the ward just before Christmas last year after being severely beaten by other patients and has remained there ever since.
Revelations about Hammond’s hospital contacts have rubbed salt into the wounds of Courtney’s family, which this week marked the fourth anniversary of her murder.
John Herron and his daughter Courtney in happier times. She was brutally murdered by Henry Hammond, who was found not guilty due to an intellectual disability
A young Courtney Herron. Her father has fond memories of her from birth
Courtney Herron was beaten to death in an attack that lasted nearly an hour. Her father John Herron has been denied justice
Daily Mail Australia contacted Forensicare, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health that Thomas Embling manages, for comment but received no response.
John Herron – Courtney’s father and a criminal lawyer himself – told Daily Mail Australia he was shocked at the treatment of his daughter by Victoria’s justice system.
“They just waited for the last story to blow over and when it did blow over they just said ‘let’s keep going’,” Mr Herron said on Friday.
Courtney would have turned 29 today if her life hadn’t been so cruelly cut short by Hammond.
“Anniversaries really hit hard and it brings everything back at some point and you really think about the loss and you think about what Courtney could have done that day and she would have moved on with her life,” Mr Herron said.
“You think of the great tragedy, a young woman could not fulfill her dreams. It just broke down.’
Mr. Herron said he was haunted by the way his daughter met her fate.
Hammond had convinced doctors that he believed he was the Norse god Odin and that he feared that Courtney – a woman he had only just met – was possessed and would kill him.
Courtney’s body was found among logs by three dog walkers at Royal Park in Parkville the morning of her murder.
Hammond had her head smashed in during a frenzied attack that lasted nearly an hour.
“I can’t imagine the cruel way she met her end and took several minutes to die. I can’t place my mind in that space that she begged for her life and Hammond, the brute, only went on for nearly an hour,” Mr. Herron said.
John Herron holds a photo of his precious daughter Courtney. He continues to fight the justice system in the hope that others will not suffer from Courtney and his own fate
Mourners gathered at a vigil for Courtney Herron after her murder.
Not a day goes by that Mr. Herron doesn’t remember fond memories of his daughter.
“I have a lot of thoughts, especially when Courtney was a baby, lifting her out of the crib, making her cry when I went to work, getting her first vaccination. You think about all that. It just never goes away with a kid like that,” he said.
“I remember the last time I hugged her. I remember clearly. I remember hugging her on vacation. That feeling of holding her in your arms.’
Mr Herron said he was comforted by the number of people who had contacted him this week to offer support.
“All those people in the community want to keep Courtney’s memory alive and that’s very reassuring,” he said.
But Mr Herron said he remained frustrated with the Victorian justice system’s lack of respect for women’s lives.
‘The system has not changed in the past four years. The same, if not more, women are being killed and assaulted and the system is more favorable to the perpetrator than it was four years ago. Even through legislation where it’s easier to plead not guilty on the grounds of intellectual disability,” he said.
Casualties have not been taken into account. That has gone backwards. Hammond is in Thomas Embling with the green light to do this again. He’ll be out soon and he’s mad he got in at all.’
In Victoria, killers like Hammond are routinely released by Thomas Embling under suppression orders designed to protect their identities on the outside.
“He doesn’t think he took a life, or how brutally he took it. He’s angry because he’s in and will soon be out again. The real immediate danger within the system is that he can get out quickly, have no regrets and see through other women and it’s suppressed and we don’t know about it,’ Mr Herron said.
THE STEPS THAT TAKE A KILLER BACK ON THE STREET
December 17, 2018: Henry Hammond is sentenced to 10 months and 14 days for savage assault on a woman
Hammond had beaten and strangled the woman and threatened to kill her
She only escaped by gouging out his eyes
Hammond had previous NSW domestic violence offenses
1 April 2019: Hammond spent 231 days behind bars as he won an appeal at the County Court of Victoria
Judge John Carmody re-sentenced Hammond to time already served and added a community correction 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 Mrs. Herron’s friends and smoke ice cream together. Friends filmed their conversation because they were behaving ‘strange’.
25 May 2019: Hammond and Mrs Herron take 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 mutilated body at 9:25 am
28 May 2019: Henry Hammond is charged with the murder of Mrs Herron after a series of tips led to a manhunt in Melbourne’s CBD
Hammond tells police he recognized the 25-year-old from a past life. He says he killed her in revenge for killing his wife
May 31, 2019: Thousands attended a silent vigil organized for Mrs. Herron
September 16, 2019: Hammond is evaluated by a forensic psychiatrist
18 December 2019: Hammond pleads not guilty to murder at Melbourne Magistrates Court
January 7, 2020: Mrs Herron’s father, John, speaks out about his daughter’s death: ‘She died needlessly. “She had the world at her feet.”
July 21, 2020: Hammond is transferred to a mental health facility after a court determined he was not fit to stand trial
August 17, 2020: A judge rules that Hammond is not guilty of Ms Herron’s murder because he has schizophrenia