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Family seeks justice

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Ken Handford and his grandson Photo - sumbitted
Ken Handford and his grandson Photo - sumbitted

By Jessica Howard

The family of murdered war veteran Ken Handford was gut wrenched when the convicted killer received a considerable discount on his jail term.

The Springbank farmer was found tied up on his bedroom floor on the morning of his 90th birthday. He had been stabbed 13 times in the back and left to die more than four-hours later.

The killer, Jonathon Jeffrey Cooper was jailed for 16 years, but will serve a minimum of 13 years.

Justice Jane Dixon said that his cooperation with the prosecution, admissions to the stabbing and evident remorse had attracted a sentencing discount.

She said without that, and his plea of guilty, Cooper would have been sentenced to 27 years behind bars – meaning he received a discount of 41 per cent.

Mr Handford’s granddaughter, Leah said the result was “grossly inadequate”.

“The sentence does not fit the crime at all. While we anticipated that justice would be limited, nothing could have prepared us for this,” she said.

“It is unbelievable that someone who, after murdering an innocent man, has been well behaved and as a result, can nearly half their total sentence. [Cooper] will be free to walk in a little over a decade and if he lives to Pop’s age, he will have 50-years of freedom. It just doesn’t add up”.

The Handford family last week launched a petition calling on Mr John Champion, the Director of Public Prosecutions, to lodge an appeal against the imposed sentence.

“We want to see [Cooper] jailed for the maximum of 27 years,” Ms Handford said.

“We are just spectators, but this [sentence] has landed us right back into the trauma of what happened. You can’t move forward in your life when you are constantly dealing with whatever outcome there is in court”.

The petition, published on May 8, had received close to 30,000 signatures at the time of writing. Ms Handford said the response was “phenomenal”.

“We have put a loose goal of 20,000 signatures, but regardless of what we have, we will still be sending it to Mr Champion. The DPP only has 28 days to appeal a sentence and this time will end on May 19”.

Following the appeal stage, Ms Handford said the petition will be forwarded to Attorney-General, Martin Pakula.

“We want to influence those that have the power to reform current sentencing practises so that they start to reflect community expectations.

“We need harsher sentences for serious and violent offences”.

To sign the petition, visit www.change.org/p/mr-champion-dpp-and-martin-90yo-murdered-convicted-criminal-sentenced-to-13years.