Homeless womans killing horrifies Australia


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Courtney Herron was killed in a Melbourne park, police say

The brutal killing of a young, homeless woman has renewed discussion in Australia about violence against women.

The body of Courtney Herron, 25, was found in a Melbourne park by walkers on Saturday, police said.

“She died as a result of a horrendous bashing – that’s the only way to describe it,” said Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper.

Police have arrested a 27-year-old homeless man. Henry Hammond appeared in court on Monday charged with murder.

His lawyer told the court he had some mental health issues. Mr Hammond was remanded in custody following his brief court appearance. His next trial hearing is in September.

Ms Herron’s death has sparked a wave of public grief and anger following a number of similar cases in Melbourne in the past year.

Her body was discovered just a short distance from another inner-city park, where comedian Eurydice Dixon was allegedly raped and killed by a stranger last June.

What have police said?

Police believe Ms Herron was attacked in Royal Park in the suburb of Parkville early on Saturday, and attempts made to conceal her body.

Police described it as a “particularly horrendous attack”. Initial post-mortem results showed no evidence of sexual assault.

Det Insp Stamper said Ms Herron’s family was “heartbroken”. Their daughter had experienced mental health and drug abuse problems and she had only “sporadic contact” with her family, he said.

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Ms Herron had a distant relationship with her family

In recent times she was believed to have been “couch surfing with friends and possibly rough sleeping as well,” said Det Insp Stamper.

‘This is about men’s behaviour’

Addressing media on Sunday, Assistant Police Commissioner Luke Cornelius said Melbourne was a safe city but men’s attitudes towards women needed to change.

“Violence against women is absolutely about men’s behaviour,” he said.

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Locals have left flowers and notes at the park where Ms Herron’s body was found

The premier of Victoria state, Daniel Andrew, made a similar statement saying: “This is not about the way women behave… this is most likely about the behaviour of men.”

He has previously blamed sexist attitudes in the wake of other killings. In January, 21-year-old Israeli Arab student Aya Maasarwe was allegedly attacked by a stranger while walking home.

The UN has said violence against women in Australia is “disturbingly common”, but experts say it is not an outlier among developed nations.

According to government figures, one in five women, and one in 20 men, have experienced sexual violence or threats since the age of 15.

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