Public prosecutor to appeal sentence given to war veteran murderer

THE MAN who murdered 90-year-old war veteran Kenneth Handford could face more jail time if the public prosecutor is successful in appealing a 16-year murder sentence.

Mr Handford’s distraught family presented a petition to the department of public prosecutions on Wednesday, pleading for the appeal of the “grossly inadequate sentence” handed to 29-year-old Jonathon Jeffrey Cooper.

The petition, which also called Attorney General Martin Pakula to instate tighter sentencing inline with community expectations attracted more than 30,000 signatures in little over a week.

The DDP confirmed its director, John Champion, had lodged an appeal against the sentence imposed on Cooper on Friday afternoon.  Cooper had pleaded guilty to one charge of murder, one charge of aggravated burglary and one charge of theft.

Mr Handford’s granddaughter Leah Handford said the community support for the appeal was “mind-blowing”. Before the appeal was lodged she was devastated by the sentence. 

“We knew to anticipate limited justice but this is something else entirely. I remember it was like a sledgehammer to the guts – or to the heart,” Ms Handford said.

Cooper was jailed for 16-years by Justice Jane Dixon who told the court she was bound to give the accused a discount for his willingness to give evidence against his co-accused.

Mr Champion has appealed the sentence to the court of appeal on that the grounds that the sentence imposed “is manifestly inadequate”.

“The order for cumulation is manifestly inadequate,” Mr Champion said. 

Mr Handford was found lying face up, with his hands and legs bound on his 90th birthday. He had been stabbed 13 times in the back. 

Ms Handford says the shock of the sentencing transported the family back to the original trauma. 

She believes the tough, generous and humble grandfather would have been appalled.

“To me, it’s devalued pop’s life – but it has also devalued the seriousness of the crime. 

While the family’s immediate focus is appealing for Mr Handford’s killer to be jailed for the maximum of 27 years they want their experience to act as impetus for legislative reform

Attorney General Martin Pakula commended the family for their bravery in speaking out.

“I compliment their activism and for the message they are bringing to parliament about the need for sentences that are more in line with community standards,” Mr Pakula said.