Before she was killed, the man Courtney Herron loved was put in a detention centre.

In Melbourne’s Royal Park, flowers lie near a fallen tree trunk. The bright petals and wrapping paper look out of place alongside the fallen logs and dull green grass.

People mourned as they placed them on the ground, with cards reading “Fly high” and “You deserved so much better”.

It is a makeshift memorial for 25-year-old Courtney Herron, whose battered body was discovered by dog walkers in Royal Park in the inner Melbourne suburb of Parkville on Saturday morning.

Not much is yet known about the circumstances of Courtney’s death, but on Monday homeless man Henry Richard Hammond, 27, faced Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with her murder.

Carrying on Courtney’s mission.

Courtney’s mother Maxie told The Age her daughter was “believing, trusting, loving, but she was so vulnerable”.

“She was like a little damaged bird.”

She said Courtney struggled with mental health and drugs. The last time the family had contact with her was at Greek Easter this year.

In 2015, Courtney met Ahmet Ozkurt, a Kurdish refugee from Turkey who was working as an electrician.

They fell in love and over their three year relationship, Ahmet helped her to control her drug dependency and mental health.

Ahmet Ozkurt and Courtney Herron
Ahmet Ozkurt and Courtney Herron. Image: 9News.

The couple were planning to get married when Ahmet was taken to a detention centre after complications with his visa, which Courtney blamed herself for. She begged Maxie for help.

Her mother became Ahmet’s advocate, writing to politicians and immigration to help get Ahmet released. Following Courtney’s death, she plans to keep going.

“She begged me, 'Please, please do whatever you can to make this right for me'. If we as a family could right that wrong we would alleviate all that stress and pain and guilt she was carrying,” Maxie told The Age.

Ahmet spoke to 9News from the detention centre, saying he could not believe his partner of three years was gone.


"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."

A system that failed her.

When Jessica Bateman saw her friend Courtney just over two weeks ago, she didn’t have enough money to get home.

Courtney, who had been couch surfing and sleeping rough for some time, gave her $10.

It was a demonstration of how “generous” her friend was.

“I mean, she could’ve put that towards a bed, shelter for the night, safety, but she got me back home.”

courtney herron
"If she had a bed then none of this would have happened."

Jessica told The Project on Monday night she was "shocked and saddened" to hear of her friend's murder. Jessica had "worried immensely" about her.

"She was couch-surfing and when she couldn’t find a friend to couch-surf with, she’d spend nights in parks - the park that she was discovered in.

"We worried about each other but I worried about her more so because I live in a house, I’ve got support systems, I’ve got family and Courtney didn’t.

"She knew that her family loved her, but she wasn’t in touch with them. It was very, if you will, sporadic."

Jessica said Courtney was let down by a system that had failed to provide her with the assistance she needed with housing, drug dependency and mental illness.

"She was trying to get into public housing, she was trying to get onto methadone or something that would stop the withdrawal symptoms that she was going to face. The fear of withdrawal is what really kept her using," Jessica explained.

Courtney's ex-partner Terrick Edwards told The New Daily Courtney would turn up at his door "around once a month" while couchsurfing.


They had dated a few years ago and remained friends since.

Jessica told The New Daily Courtney was trying to find a home, but was struggling to get on Victoria's public housing waiting list.

"She was trying to get on a housing list but she said they are really long. She was really frustrated about that and when she told me, she was crying.

"If she had a bed then none of this would have happened."

"She was a great friend."

The arrest of Henry Hammond came after the sister of Courtney's ex-partner, Terrick, told The Age he regrets missing a phone call from Courtney on Friday night, and feels responsible for not offering her a safe place to stay.

"Our families are all still in shock and my brother is struggling to process this as he missed her call Friday and now feels so terrible," Nindara Edwards Norris said.

Police have not released many details about Courtney's death, but they have said the 25-year-old had suffered extreme violence.

"This was a particularly, particularly horrendous attack," Homicide squad Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said.

courtney herron
Courtney was described by those who knew her as "kind-hearted".

Insp Stamper said there had been some attempt made to conceal the body and there was no evidence the crime was sexually motivated.

Courtney had been couch surfing and sleeping rough for some time while struggling with drug and mental health issues, but Nindara Edwards Norris told The Age she should be remembered for "the lovely woman she was and not just another homeless person who died on the streets".

Insp Stamper said while she had been in sporadic contact with her family there were "a lot of people out there who knew and loved Courtney".

"When there's a child that suffered drug use, mental health issues, family relationships can be fragmented," he said.

"That doesn't mean that families out there don't love their children, and you know, our heart breaks for them.


"We are dealing with a heartbroken family again."

A friend of Courtney cried as she left flowers at the site of the attack.

"She was kind and she was lovely and she was a great friend," the friend told The Age.

A former high school classmate said Courtney was one of the most kind-hearted people he knew.

"[She was] always smiling and joking, trying to make herself and others happy. That's how I'll remember her."

This is about men's behaviour.

Speaking to the media on Saturday, Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said "Violence against women is absolutely about men’s behaviour, it’s not about women’s behaviour".

“Every time I hear about a woman being attacked – for me as a man – it gives me some pause for reflection about what it is in our community that makes men think it’s OK to attack women, or take what they want from women,” he said, The Age reports.

“We need to reflect on our own behaviour, the behaviour of men known to us. We need to reflect on what we say to our sons, about whether they’re respecting their playmates in the playground, or respecting women in the early days when they’re looking to embark on relationships with women. We as a society need to take an opportunity to reflect on how men view women in our community.”

This is an important change in sentiment from police, who came under fire for stating women should "take responsibility for your own safety" after the murder of Eurydice Dixon in June 2018.


At the time, the advice from Victoria Police Superintendent David Clayton – to take extra precautions and always be aware of surroundings – was interpreted by many as victim blaming.

Smiling, bruised accused killer in court.

Police arrested Henry Richard Hammond, 27, on Sunday and he faced Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday on a single charge of murder.

"It's a very tragic and complex situation," his lawyer Bernie Balmer said outside court after Hammond's brief appearance.

He told magistrate Donna Bakos that Hammond had a number of issues that would affect him in custody.

"There's a diagnosis of possible delusional disorder, possible autism spectrum disorder and historical diagnosis of ADHD," Balmer said.

Hammond has previously taken medication to treat those conditions, including an anti-psychotic prescription.

The magistrate ordered that he undergo a medical assessment.

Dressed in black, and without shoes, Hammond said nothing during the short court appearance.

With one black eye, he looked around the courtroom, sometimes smiling.

Prosecutor Madeleine Sargent originally asked for up to four months for police to compile their brief of evidence against Hammond.


A pathology report is still to be completed and officers are reviewing CCTV footage, she said.

Bakos gave police until August 5 to prepare the documents and ordered that Hammond be remanded in custody until a committal mention on September 16.

Melbourne reacts.

Courtney’s killing has sent shock waves among the wider Melbourne community with prominent and everyday Victorians outraged over the death of yet another young woman.

Impact for Women reports 24 women have been killed in Australia since the beginning of 2019, with the latest victim’s death marking the fourth killing of a lone woman in public in Melbourne in less than a year, The Age reported.

Over the weekend, friends of Courtney and others her laid floral tributes at the site where her body was found - just a short distance from Princes Park, where the body of aspiring comedian Eurydice Dixon was found on June 12 last year.

Dixon, 22, was raped and murdered. Aiia Maasarwe, 21, also died after being attacked while walking home near La Trobe University on January 15.

Most recently, 32-year-old Natalina Angok was found dead in Melbourne’s Chinatown in April after being murdered by a partner.

-With AAP.

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