Murder sentence cannot heal family’s heartache

The man who murdered 90-year-old Springbank grandfather Ken Handford has had years discounted from his jail sentence, shocking many of the war veteran’s family members.

The 29-year-old man who stabbed Mr Handford on the morning of his 90th birthday has been jailed for 16 years.

But Supreme Court Justice Jane Dixon on Friday told the court during sentencing she was bound to give the accused a discount for his willingness to give evidence against his co-accused, and for the hardship he would suffer in prison being known as an informant.

But the discounted sentence came as a shock to many of Mr Handford’s family members who were listening in on the sentencing hearing from court at Ballarat.

Mr Handford’s youngest brother, Ron, said no sentence would ever be long enough to heal the heartache they suffered from the loss of their beloved “Kenny”.

“There is only one word to describe it, it stinks,” he told The Courier outside court.

Mr Handford’s murderer will need to serve 13 years behind bars before being eligible for parole.

Ron Handford

Ron Handford

Kenneth "Kenny" Handford was found lying face up, with his hands bound by his dressing gown cord and legs tied to his bed on the morning of September 15, his 90th birthday.

He had been stabbed 13 times in the back, with a sock which is believed to have been used as a gag laying beside him.

The accused, and a co-accused, kicked open the back door of Mr Handford's home on Bungaree-Barkstead Road in the early hours of September 14, before the accused stabbed him with a double-edged knife.

The pair had been overheard planning the home invasion a day earlier, believing Mr Handford (who was known not to like banks) may have $20,000 in cash hidden in his bedroom.

The court heard the accused had hit Mr Handford, who woke up during the aggravated burglary, in the head with his torch.

He used the same torch to hit Mr Handford’s hand as he reached for a phone.

After the stabbing attack, the accused men left the house with Mr Handford’s WWII medals, jewellery and $3900 in cash.

Mr Handford's pace maker showed he spent four hours and 38 minutes lying on the floor until he succumbed to his injuries.

The court heard the man who stabbed Mr Handford showed a friend his bloody knife and clothes following the tragic murder.

Justice Dixon told the accused man, who The Courier cannot name at this time due to legal reasons, the “targeted and pre-meditated” burglary was a serious example of that type of offending which saw the men invade Mr Handford’s “peaceful habitat”, a place he was entitled to feel safe.

“(Mr Handford) was a decent, law-abiding, elderly man,” she said.

“You alone stabbed him … he was abandoned by you in that perilous condition.

She said as a result of the actions of the accused, many members of the community were deprived of the ability to feel safe in their own homes.

But she said the murder had also significantly impacted Mr Handford’s extensive family who were due to celebrate his 90th birthday together on the day his body was discovered.

“What should have been a day of celebration was instead a day marked by sadness,” she said.

Justice Dixon told the accused his “angry impulse” to act on a lie told by his co-accused about the type of person Mr Handford was, was no excuse for what he did.

But she said the accused’s admissions to the stabbing, which until this time police could not prove which of the two men had undertaken, was significant in determining his remorse.

She added the accused’s promise to the court to give evidence against the co-accused if needed was also worthy of a discount in sentencing.

If not for a plea of guilty, the accused would have been jailed for 27 years, with a non-parole period of 25 years.

He has already served 542 days.