Ac­com­plice jailed for 27 years as ‘driv­ing force’ in vet mur­der

The Australian - - THE NATION - DAVID KING

Adam Lu­cas Wil­liamson did not hold the knife that stabbed and killed World War II vet­eran Ken­neth Hand­ford.

But he was the “driv­ing force” be­hind the rob­bery and mur­der, se­lect­ing the 89-year-old great­grand­fa­ther as the tar­get and then let­ting “a ra­bid dog off a leash”, his ac­com­plice who struck the fa­tal blows.

Wil­liamson, 40, was sen­tenced yes­ter­day to a min­i­mum of 23 years’ jail af­ter plead­ing guilty to the statu­tory mur­der of Hand­ford in his home in Spring­bank, near Ballarat, on Septem­ber 14, 2015.

The court heard Wil­liamson had met Hand­ford while work­ing on a potato farm and knew the el­derly man did not like banks and was in the habit of keep­ing large amounts of cash at his home.

The two had ar­gued af­ter Wil­liamson al­legedly stole money from Hand­ford’s wal­let and Wil­liamson later de­cided to rob the vet­eran’s home in or­der to fund his ice habit.

Wil­liamson and his ac­com­plice, Jonathan Jef­frey Cooper, also an ice ad­dict, broke into Hand­ford’s cot­tage in the early morn­ing, woke him dur­ing the break-in and tied and gagged him.

Wil­liamson falsely told Cooper that Hand­ford was a pe­dophile. This lie had a deadly ef­fect; Cooper stabbed Hand­ford 13 times in the back.

In­for­ma­tion from Hand­ford’s car­diac pace­maker showed he lived for 4½ hours af­ter the at­tack

“He (Cooper) ul­ti­mately stabbed the de­ceased re­peat­edly in the back while he was tied up and un­able to de­fend him­self,” Supreme Court of Vic­to­ria judge Jane Dixon said to Wil­liamson.

“You are there­fore crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble even though you did not in­flict the stab wounds to Mr Hand­ford. Your con­duct was bru­tal and cow­ardly.”

The two stole Hand­ford’s war medals. Hand­ford’s body was found next day, on what would have been his 90th birth­day.

Speak­ing out­side court, Hand­ford’s grand­daugh­ter Leah said the fam­ily felt Wil­liamson’s 27year jail sen­tence was ap­pro­pri­ate fol­low­ing the death of her beloved “lar­rikin” grand­fa­ther.

“As far as I’m con­cerned, Wil­liamson let a ra­bid dog off the leash that night. They are both re­spon­si­ble,” she told re­porters.

“The fact that this fight is over means one thing for us. We don’t have to live like this any more and we’ll have an op­por­tu­nity to prop­erly grieve a much-loved man.”

Wil­liamson must serve 23 years in jail be­fore he is el­i­gi­ble for pa­role.

Cooper was jailed last year for 16 years. How­ever, his sen­tence has been in­creased to 24 years on ap­peal.

Adam Wil­liamson urged on his ac­com­plice

Vet­eran Ken­neth Hand­ford, who was stabbed to death

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