Dead war veteran’s medals hidden

The man charged with being an accessory in an alleged Springbank murder says he wants to help bring justice for dead war veteran Ken Handford.

The 39-year-old appeared in the Melbourne Supreme Court on July 5 for a plea hearing.

The court heard the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, assisted the two men charged with Mr Handford’s murder by hiding the four war medals and a Return from Active Service Badge that were stolen from the victim’s Springbank home.

In a statement read by the prosecutor, it was revealed the men attended Mr Handford’s home just after midnight on September 14 of last year.

Mr Handford was tied up and found with 13 stab wounds in his back, the court heard.

The war medals, alongside a large quantity of cash, were allegedly stolen from the property.

Mr Handford was found in his bedroom, where he is believed to have died more than four hours after the ordeal.

His body was found on his 90th birthday.

The prosecutor revealed the accused was familiar with one of the men charged over the incident through drug use.

The court heard the accused was asked if there was anywhere in the house in which he could hide some war medals. It was suggested to hide them in a gap between the wall and the oven in the kitchen.

On October 27, after arrests for the murder, the accused’s home was searched and the medals were located.

The man’s lawyer said his client had two motivations for his actions – the first being to avoid apprehension, and the second was so the medals wouldn’t be thrown into a lake.

He said despite the testimony not being in his initial police statement, it was believed he didn’t want the medals to be lost forever.

The lawyer said his client, who had struggled with an ongoing drug addiction since the age of 13, had attempted to take the medals to police the following day, however could not locate them again.

He said he had provided a plea of guilty at the earliest reasonable opportunity and was remorseful for his actions.

“My client would like to apologise to the family for his involvement and indicates that he is keen to assist in bringing the two accused to justice,” he said.

The 39-year-old is currently on remand for a number of unrelated issues, including shop theft, unlawful assault, theft of a motor vehicle and possession of methamphetamine.

Justice Forrest said he understood the difficult situation the man had been put in, stating that it would have been difficult for him to strongly resist the request of the (murder accused) in the middle of a drug scene.

“The offending is grave, and (the accused) knew that at the time of the assistance, but his actions, in the scheme of things, is quite modest”.

The hearing continues on Friday.

First appeared in The Ballarat Courier, July 6 2016