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