A MAN charged with being an accessory in the alleged murder of 90-year-old war veteran Ken Handford has avoided further jail time.
Supreme Court Justice Terry Forrest on Friday sentenced the man, who helped hide the veteran’s World War II medals after his death on September 14 of last year, to 254 days’ imprisonment – the number of days the man has spent on remand after his arrest in October.
Justice Forrest said he took into consideration the 39-year-old’s early plea of guilty and willingness to cooperate with police and give evidence at the trial while deciding on an appropriate sentence.
“This exhibits a significant amount of remorse,” he said.
Despite a record of “persistently breaking the law” since an early age, Justice Forrest said one aims of the discounted sentenced was to act as an incentive for others to make a similar decision as the accused when facing serious charges.
“There appears to be an escalation in your offending,” he said.
“There is little to say about your adult life, your drug use has defined it.
“But you have written a statement setting out what your involvement was ... a complete encounter of your involvement and what you knew of the involvement of others.”
During the plea hearing earlier this week the court heard the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, assisted the two men charged with Mr Handford’s murder by hiding four war medals and a Return from Active Service Badge that were stolen from the victim’s Springbank home.
The court heard the man was familiar with one of the men charged over the murder through drug use, and was asked if there was anywhere in his house in which he could hide some war medals.
On October 27, after arrests for the murder, the accused’s house was searched and the medals were found in the kitchen.
The man’s lawyer said his client had two motivations for his actions – to avoid apprehension and to ensure the medals would not be thrown into a lake.
The lawyer added 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 find them again.
He said his client was “very remorseful” for his actions.
Justice Forrest said he accepted the accused did show a degree of remorse.
For a plea of guilty, he said he would have imposed a 20-month term of imprisonment with a non-parole period of 16 months.
“The challenge for you is to stay drug-free, your rehabilitation and health is bleak if you can’t rid yourself of your drug addiction,” Justice Forrest told the accused.
- With The Moorabool News
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