First appeared in The Moorabool News, October 20 2017
The owners of the Springbank house that Mr Handford had lived in for close to two decades have struggled daily with the callous murder that occurred in their home.
In a victim impact statement written by Anita Maher, she said Springbank, formerly a safe and quiet neighbourhood, had never been the same.
“It’s been two years since I found Ken Handford murdered in my husband’s childhood home, lying in his own pool of blood,” she said.
In September 2015, Ms Maher went to check on Mr Handford after a number of unanswered phone calls, and found him lying face up, with his hands and legs bound on his 90th birthday.
The property, which Ms Maher now refers to as a “cold and empty haunted house”, has remained uninhabited.
Ms Maher said since the ordeal, she has continued to replay the phone calls she was forced to make in order to tell Mr Handford’s family the horrific news.
“[Mr Handford] was not just our neighbour, but our family and a grandfather figure to our children”.
Defence lawyer Scott Johns said Williamson had behaved “out of character” on the night of the murder, and was “drug affected and driven by material gain”.
“[Williamson] was at the lowest point of his life; couch surfing and immersed in a life of drugs.
“He conceived the idea of the aggravated burglary…. And continued to thieve while the deceased was incapacitated”.
Mr Johns said since the ordeal, Williamson had expressed “sorrow and remorse for his horrific crime” – a statement that was met with disgust by Mr Handford’s family and friends in the court.
He said Williamson had no relevant criminal history and had reasonable prospects for rehabilitation.
Sentencing for Williamson has been adjourned as the court awaits the sentencing appeal for co-accused Jonathon Cooper.
The family of Ken Handford have been forced to relive his harrowing murder as the co-accused enters his second guilty plea in as many years.
Mr Handford’s daughter, Margaret Murray told the Supreme Court (sitting in Ballarat) on Tuesday that her last memory of her father was of his bruised and bloody body.
“That will stay with me until I take my own final breath,” she said.
It is the second time Ms Murray has had to talk in court about the 2015 ordeal that left her father, a WWII veteran and Springbank potato farmer, dead.
Mr Handford was tied up and stabbed 13 times at his isolated home on the eve of his 90th birthday in September 2015.
Adam Lucas Williamson, 40, has pleaded guilty to the murder and aggravated burglary, which saw him steal cash, a gold chain and nearly a dozen war medals from Mr Handford’s home.
It is the second time Williamson has pleaded guilty. He previously admitted the murder, however rescinded his plea in December 2016.
Ms Murray said she had had little to no healing in the last two years.
“The back and forth plea of guilty, not guilty, guilty has been an extension of our trauma,” she said.
“I have felt as powerless and irrelevant as my Dad did when these two people took his life”.
Earlier this year, Jonathon Cooper, the 29-year-old who stabbed Mr Handford, was jailed for 16 years, with a minimum of 13 years.
Cooper alleged that he had been manipulated by Williamson, who lied to him about Mr Handford being a paedophile.
Williamson’s defence lawyer, Scott Johns said his client rejected Cooper’s allegations.
He said Williamson, who had previously worked for Mr Handford on the Springbank farm, accepted that he was the driving force behind the burglary, however Cooper was not being led by the nose.
Mr Johns said since the incident, Williamson had shown signs of guilt and remorse.
However, Crown prosecutor Justin Lewis urged Justice Jane Dixon to be careful before coming to the conclusion that the accused was indeed remorseful.
“It is important to make a distinction between an accused who is sorry for the circumstances he finds himself in and one who is truly sorry,” he said.
More to come.