Ken Handford’s murderer gets more jail after family’s appeal

The man who stabbed war veteran Kenneth Handford to death in September 2015 at his home in Springbank was handed an extra eight years behind bars in the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal yesterday. 

In April last year, 29-year-old Jonathon Cooper was sentenced to 16 years behind bars for the murder with a non-parole period of 13 years.

On the back of the sentence, Mr Handford’s family launched a petition lobbying the Victorian Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecution for Cooper to be re-sentenced.

The petition gathered over 30,000 signatures  and on May 18, 2017, the DPP lodged a notice of appeal with the Victorian Supreme Court. 

Three judges in the Court of Appeal agreed the sentence originally given to Cooper did not reflect the gravity of the crime he had committed. 

He was re-sentenced to 24 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 20 years for the charges of murder, aggravated burglary, and theft. 

An artist's sketch of Jonathon Cooper in court.

An artist's sketch of Jonathon Cooper in court.

Transcripts from the appeal hearing show judges Mark Weinberg, Phillip Priest, and David Beach felt Cooper deserved more time behind bars than he was handed down last year. 

“The individual sentences imposed for Mr Handford’s murder, and for the aggravated burglary and theft, were wholly outside the range of sentencing options available to the sentencing judge in the proper exercise of the sentencing discretion.

“They cannot be permitted to stand.

“The murder perpetrated by Cooper was an extremely serious example of a very serious offence. In so far as such classifications have any utility, the present murder is at the high end of the spectrum of seriousness for the offence.

The Courier front page on May 10, 2017.

The Courier front page on May 10, 2017.

“The elderly victim was attacked whilst alone in his home, assaulted, trussed-up, terrorised, stabbed multiple times and left to slowly die.

“Given the viciousness and cruelty of the murder, the sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment is, in our view, so disproportionate to the seriousness of the crime as to demonstrate error in principle.”

The transcript also shows that if Cooper has not pleaded guilty to committing the murder, the judges would have sentenced him to life behind bars. 

On 10 October 2017, Cooper’s co-accused Adam Lucas Williamson pleaded guilty to unintentional killing in the course or furtherance of a crime of violence as well as to aggravated burglary and theft.

Williamson is yet to be sentenced for his part in the crime that robbed Ken Handford of his life.