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‘Unimaginable tragedy:’ Courtney Herron’s father releases statement

Courtney Herron. Courtesy: 9News

The father of murdered Melbourne woman Courtney Herron, who was brutally bashed to death in an inner-city park, has described her death as an “unimaginable tragedy” and requested privacy for his family.

John Herron released a statement today, five days after the discovery of his 25-year-old daughter’s body in bushes at Royal Park.

“Our beloved Courtney was the victim of a fatal assault. A person is now in custody,” the statement reads.

“My daughter’s death is an unimaginable tragedy for our family. Please respect our right to grieve in private.”

Ms Herron’s body was found by dog walkers about 9.25am last Saturday, with investigators believing she was bludgeoned to death just hours earlier.

Ms Herron’s tearful family visited Royal Park in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Parkville earlier in the week, leaving tributes for the 25-year-old who had been living on the streets and battling mental health and drugs issues.

Courtney Herron’s former boyfriend Ahmet Ozkurt spoke to 9News of his anguish saying he still couldn’t believe his partner of three years had died.

I’m still thinking that maybe it’s somebody else,” he said.
“She didn’t deserve this.

“She was always smiling, she was funny, she was friendly.”
He said she had been trying to fix her life, following a battle with drugs.

Henry Hammond, 27, faced court on Monday charged with Ms Herron’s murder, with police saying the pair left a gathering in the CBD together.

Dressed in black, and without shoes, Mr Hammond said nothing during his short court appearance.
The court heard Mr Hammond had a number of mental health issues, including possible delusional disorder, possible autism spectrum disorder and historical diagnosis of ADHD.

He had previously taken medication to treat those conditions, including an anti-psychotic prescription.

He had been living out of a van near the Lentil as Anything charity kitchen in Thornbury, where he briefly volunteered.

The case was adjourned to September 16.
On Tuesday afternoon, the accused’s family said it was in “deep shock”.
“Our deepest sympathy and compassion goes out to Courtney’s family and friends on their heartbreaking loss,” a statement read.

“Henry Hammond grew up loved by his family and friends.
“For many years he has struggled with mental illness, more recently drug issues and homelessness.”

Ms Herron will be remembered at a community vigil tomorrow night at 5.30pm and a fundraising appeal has been set up to help fund her memorial.

More than $12,000 has been raised surpassing the initial goal of $10,000 with more than 400 pledging money.

We’re raising money to cover the costs of Courtney’s funeral expenses, to save her family from further grief at having to find funds to bury their daughter,” organisers wrote online.

Ms Herron’s death is the fourth killing of a young woman in a public Melbourne place in the past year, including the June rape and murder of aspiring comedian Eurydice Dixon, 22, in a neighbouring suburb.

“We cannot simply allow her death to go unnoticed and unmarked,” organisers wrote online.
“All people deserve to feel safe. All people deserve the right to move freely without fear of being attacked.”