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Accused killer to testify


By Jessica Howard

One of the men accused of murdering Springbank war veteran Ken Handford could receive a reduced sentence after agreeing to testify in court.

Jonathon Cooper, 29, appeared in the Melbourne Supreme Court on Wednesday February 15.

His lawyer, Jason Gullaci, tendered to the court a 27-page hand written statement, signed by Cooper on January 31.

The statement comes after the co-accused, Adam Williamson, indicated that he may withdraw his guilty plea to the murder of Mr Handford, which occurred on September 15 2015.

Williamson’s lawyer, Richard Edney told the court in December last year that his client was not in the room when the 90-year-old great-grandfather was stabbed to death by Cooper.

Williamson had initially pleading guilty to theft, aggravated burglary and murder; however, Mr Edney said that his client was unaware that the murder was taking place, meaning it was necessary to withdraw his guilty plea to murder under section 3a of the Crimes Act.

Section 3a involves unintentional killing in the course of a crime of violence.

Cooper has since provided a detailed account of the incident, which Mr Gullaci said would, if necessary, be used as evidence in court.

Cooper made the commitment to testify under oath during the Supreme Court hearing on Wednesday.

Due to his cooperation, he could receive a reduced sentence, the court heard.

Mr Gullaci outlined a number of key assertions made in the statement, including the alleged presence of Williamson in the room at the time of the murder.

He said Cooper had explained the non-verbal communication that allegedly occurred between Williamson and Cooper prior to the stabbing.

Mr Gullaci said Williamson had falsely told Cooper that Mr Handford was a paedophile, as he was aware that Cooper had been sexually abused as a child.

It is alleged that Williamson made the false allegations in order to prey on Cooper’s vulnerabilities, leading him to lose control at the time of the incident and stabbing Mr Handford 13 times in the back with a knife.

Williamson, who also appeared in court, had not yet confirmed whether he would change his plea, and was remanded in custody for a further mention on February 23.

Justice Jane Dixson said Cooper would reappear in court when the future of Williamson’s matter was confirmed.