Prison for vet’s cruel tor­men­tor

Herald Sun - - NEWS - RE­BEKAH CA­VANAGH re­bekah.ca­vanagh@news.com.au

AN ice ad­dict who hogtied a war vet­eran, watched his ac­com­plice stab him 13 times in the back then left the vic­tim to die on his 90th birth­day, has been jailed for at least 23 years.

Adam Lu­cas Wil­liamson pleaded guilty to mur­der, ag­gra­vated bur­glary and theft over the death of Ken Hand­ford at his Spring­bank farm­house near Bal­larat in Septem­ber 2015.

In the Supreme Court yes­ter­day, Jus­tice Jane Dixon said even though Wil­liamson, 40, did not de­liver the fa­tal blows, he was the “driv­ing force” be­hind the at­tack on the adored grand­fa­ther, an RAAF pilot dur­ing World War II.

High on ice, Wil­liamson and Jonathon Jeffrey Cooper woke Mr Hand­ford af­ter they broke in to his home to steal cash to feed their drug habits.

Their vic­tim was tied with the cord of his own dress­ing gown, be­fore Cooper re­peat­edly stabbed him as he strug­gled and cried out.

They then ran­sacked his home look­ing for valu­ables. They stole $3900 cash, jewel- lery and trea­sured war medals. Their vic­tim’s pace­maker re­vealed he did not die for at least an­other four hours.

Wil­liamson and Mr Hand­ford had had a dis­agree­ment while work­ing to­gether potato har­vest­ing. And Wil­liamson knew his el­derly vic­tim al­ways car­ried cash with him.

“You ex­ploited your knowl­edge of the de­ceased,” Jus­tice Dixon told him. “Your con­duct was bru­tal and cow­ardly.”

She sen­tenced Wil­liamson to 27 years’ jail, with a non-pa­role pe­riod of 23 years.

Mr Hand­ford’s fam­ily was left dev­as­tated last year when Jus­tice Dixon sen­tenced Cooper, 29, to just 16 years, with a 13-year non-pa­role pe­riod, for the killing. Af­ter col­lect­ing more than 30,000 sig­na­tures on a pe­ti­tion, the fam­ily suc­cess­fully begged the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions to lodge an ap­peal over the sen­tence.

In Fe­bru­ary, the Court of Ap­peal in­creased Cooper’s jail term by eight years, say­ing the orig­i­nal was “man­i­festly in­ad­e­quate”. He was or­dered to serve 24 years, with a min­i­mum of 20.

Out­side court yes­ter­day, Mr Hand­ford’s fam­ily said Wil­liamson’s sen­tence was “more ap­pro­pri­ate” than what Jus­tice Dixon had given to Cooper.

Leah Hand­ford, one of Mr Hand­ford’s five grand­chil­dren, said jus­tice had been served.

“They are both equally re­spon­si­ble for what hap­pened that night, but cer­tainly it wouldn’t have hap­pened with­out Wil­liamson,” she said.

“We now have an op­por­tu­nity to prop­erly grieve a much-loved man. He was a lar­rikin. Al­ways up for a laugh. One of the most gen­er­ous peo­ple you’d ever meet.”

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