A schizophrenic man who bludgeoned Courtney Herron, a woman from Melbourne, to death with a branch for nearly an hour was found not guilty of her murder because he believed she was a “spirit” who wanted to harm him.
Henry Richard Hammond was found not guilty of the 25-year-old ‘s murder because, when he beat her to death in May 2019, he was in the grip of a schizophrenic delusion, the Victorian Supreme Court heard on Monday.
The pair met at Melbourne’s CBD when Hammond approached Ms Herron for a cigarette, and later asked if he wanted to use drugs with her at a friend’s house. He agreed and the couple had dinner together at a restaurant in Fitzroy before returning to the friend’s apartment.
At the time, psychiatrist Dr Ranji Darjee told the court that Hammond suffered from religious delusions and grandiose beliefs.
Hammond concluded that Ms. Herron wasn’t who she wanted to be but “like a spirit, someone else,” he said.
“I think he truly felt that he was under threat and if he didn‘t do what he did then he was going to come to very serious or fatal harm,” the psychiatrist explained.
“He felt like he had to destroy her.”
When asked if it was possible for Hammond to fake his disease, the psychiatrist said it was “highly unlikely” because since 2017 he had shown symptoms.
Some of his convictions centred around gods of Norse and Jesus was told to the court.
Another doctor agreed that his actions in attacking Ms Herron could not be reasoned by Hammond.
I ‘m pleased with the evidence that intellectual illness is being made public, “ruled Justice Phillip Priest.
He ordered Hammond to remain in custody until yet another September hearing.