Killer gets 25-year term in psych ward
A man who beat Courtney Herron to death with a tree branch in a Melbourne park has been ordered to spend 25 years in a psychiatric hospital.
Supreme Court judge Phillip Priest on Wednesday placed Henry Hammond on the custodial supervision order at Thomas Embling Hospital.
The move comes seven months after Hammond was found not guilty due to mental impairment over the brutal killing of Ms Herron in Royal Park in Parkville about 4.30am on May 25, 2019.
Despite the verdict, Hammond, 28, was deemed too high a risk to be released into the community.
He remained in prison while authorities waited for a bed to become available at the Victorian Institute of Mental Health, which is run out of the hospital.
Justice Priest said he had been informed last month Hammond now had a spot at the hospital.
He said arrangements would be made to transfer him from the prison to the hospital.
"I will make a custodial supervision order - I will set 25 years as the nominal term," Justice Priest said.
The order is dated back to when Hammond was arrested on May 26.
An earlier court heard how Hammond had been suffering symptoms of schizophrenia since at least 2017, and his mental health had relapsed at the time of the attack, meaning he did not know what he was doing was wrong.
He had met Ms Herron the night before in Melbourne's CBD, before they were seen having "friendly banter" while dining together at Vegie Bar on Brunswick St.
They then joined some friends in Fitzroy to use drugs.
When walking through the park the next morning, Hammond picked up a tree branch, frightening Ms Herron, who asked: "Are you going to kill me?"
Hammond repeatedly struck her with a branch for an hour until her face became unrecognisable.
He then tied Ms Herron's feet together and dragged her lifeless body 20m to a nearby tree and smoked a cigarette.
Hammond later told police Ms Herron was a reincarnated spirit who had buried his wife alive in a past life and that he had to "destroy" her.
He went on to say the trees had dropped their branches for a reason - for him to seek revenge.
Originally published as Killer gets 25-year term in psych ward