By Lauren Duffy
A beautiful, intelligent, young girl facing a few challenges but determined to get through it is how Riddells Creek father John Herron remembers his daughter.
But the reality is Courtney Herron’s violent death has left a family devastated, heart-broken and reeling.
At the time of Ms Herron’s murder in Royal Park, Parkville, in May, police described the 25-year-old’s death as ‘a horrendous bashing’.
News stories followed reporting the public outcry, saying Ms Herron’s death had ‘horrified Melbourne’.
Six months on and Mr Herron struggled to find the words to describe the effect Courtney’s death had on him and his family.
“When it’s a violent event like what happened – it just puts a huge pall on the family and grief which will never go away,” he said.
Mr Herron said his work as a lawyer meant he regularly saw first-hand the result of people in violent situations.
“But it brings it home when it’s your daughter,” he said.
Mr Herron said violent deaths of young women in Melbourne were so prevalent that people had to ask him which one was his daughter.
“Someone said to me was that the comedian? I said no, it was the next one,” he said.
Mr Herron’s daughter was the third young woman murdered on Melbourne’s streets in the space of 12 months – following the deaths of comedian Eurydice Dixon and student Asia Maasarwe.
Mr Herron said every violent attack on a woman affected him.
“My heart sinks and I think – no, not again,” he said.
Mr Herron said the increase of illegal drugs and the role it played in violent crimes was a real concern.
He said through his work as a lawyer, particularly in his volunteer capacity at St Kilda Legal Service, incidents involving methamphetamine made up about 80 per cent of the cases.
Mr Herron said while family violence affected all strata of society, drugs played a major role.
“Young people are being put in situations because someone has taken methamphetamine and it is out of control,” he said.
Mr Herron wants to see better education for young people on the dangers of illegal drugs and a greater awareness of gender-based violence, through campaigns such as the 16 Days of Activism.
- Mr Herron’s letter to the editor below:
I noted with a heavy heart the Letters to the Editor from your last edition, letters on family violence and the effect of drugs and young people.
I also commend your publication’s stance on respect for women and your strong support for the 16 days of Activism.
Sadly, my daughter Courtney Herron, who was killed on May 25, 2019 in Melbourne, was commemorated by a place at the Kyneton Mechanical Institute.
For a father who has lost his only daughter, the unimaginable pain that loss bears are beyond words.
She was only 25 years of age and a life of promise cut short.
I would add that an often-overlooked aspect of family violence is the presence of illegal drugs in so many of these incidents.
While alcohol was and is also a prevalent factor in violence against women, the emergence of powerful methamphetamines in our society has added a new dimension.
I would ask that this issue be urgently addressed, and the message of its dangers resonated strongly through our community.