Granddaughter reveals damage done as Handford killer gets 27 years

The granddaughter of murdered World War II veteran Kenneth Handford has told of the irreversible damage done to her family and the wider community following the final sentencing of one of the 90-year-old’s killers.

Justice for Ken: The Springbank home where Kenneth Handford (inset) was brutally murdered to two thieves in September 2015, alongside his granddaughter Leah Handford. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Justice for Ken: The Springbank home where Kenneth Handford (inset) was brutally murdered to two thieves in September 2015, alongside his granddaughter Leah Handford. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Adam Lucas Williamson, 40, was the "driving force" behind the fatal burglary at the Springbank home of Mr Handford in September 2015. 

On Tuesday he learned he would spend the next 27 years of his life behind bars for the crime, with a non-parole period of 23 years.

Speaking to The Courier on behalf of the family, Ms Handford said the barbaric killing had sent shockwaves through her family and the Springbank community which would take years to overcome. 

“I know from personal relationships that it’s made many people afraid to live in their own homes,” said Ms Hanford. 

“My children now know that things that go bump in the night can kill you.” 

Williamson and his accomplice Jonathan Jeffrey Cooper stole cash and precious war medals from Mr Hanford to fund their ice addictions. 

Police and investigators attend the scene of Kenneth Handford's murder in September 2015. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Police and investigators attend the scene of Kenneth Handford's murder in September 2015. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Mr Handford was found the next morning – September 15 – lying face up, with his hands bound by his dressing gown cord and legs tied to his bed. It was meant to be his 90th birthday.

Ms Handford said the murder had dictated the lives of her and her family since that fateful September day. 

“It’s been two-and-a-half years of not growing, not moving forward, not being able to get together as a family and appreciate each other,” Ms Handford said.  

“We can only hope now it’s over we can move on and remember him properly.” 

When Mr Handford’s body was discovered the following day he had been stabbed 13 times in the back. A sock, which is believed to have been used as a gag, was found laying beside him.

Williamson had falsely told his co-offender Cooper that Mr Handford was a paedophile before Cooper stabbed the veteran.

Read Justice Jane Dixon's full remarks below. 

Williamson had worked alongside Mr Handford at the Springbank potato farm for a number of years.  Williamson had been sacked from the job in 2014 after being suspected of stealing Mr Handford’s wallet. 

“Crimes such as yours diminish the confidence of the community in the security and safety of their domestic lives,” Justice Jane Dixon told Williamson her closing remarks.  

“You exploited your knowledge of the deceased in selecting his home as the target for the offence and you involved Cooper for the purpose of breaking in late at night when it was likely that Mr Handford would be in bed.  

“You participated in the ransacking of the home and theft of personal belongings whilst Mr Handford was left to die.”

The sentencing follows Cooper’s 24-year sentence in February this year.  Cooper had originally only been due to face 16 years in prison, however the Director of Public Prosecutions successfully argued the sentence was too lenient.

Alongside family members, Ms Handford formulated a petition titled ‘Justice for Ken’ to have a harsher penalty placed on her grandfather’s killers, which garnered more than 30,000 signatures. 

Courtney Pearce and Leah Handford with their Justice for Ken petition. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Courtney Pearce and Leah Handford with their Justice for Ken petition. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Ms Handford said Tuesday’s lengthy sentence was “vindication” for the hard work her family had put in to have Williamson’s accomplice’s sentence extended.   

She said she hoped her grandfather could now be remembered as a “strong, hard working larrikin”. 

“To have over 30,000 people stand up and say this is wrong, that support has definitely helped carry us through and has gone a long way to healing the damage done,” Ms Handford  said of the community response. 

“This is certainly something we’ve fighting for because we wanted to know Pop’s legacy would be that other criminals wouldn't get let off with lighter sentences.” 

  • With AAP