By Jessica Micallef
A Riddells Creek father can finally tell his murdered daughter’s story, after changes to a law which prevented families and sexual assault victims from speaking out.
John Herron’s daughter Courtney was brutally murdered in Royal Park in May last year.
The man charged with killing the 25-year-old was found not guilty.
“She was a vibrant and bright 25-year-old and it was a random encounter with the killer,” Mr Herron told Star Weekly.
“They were hanging with a group of friends and … went to dinner.
“They then went to a friends place.”
Mr Herron said Courtney was killed as she was walking back to her boyfriend’s place.
A law introduced by the state government earlier this year prevented Victorian
families and victims of sex crimes from telling their stories in public unless they obtained permission from the court.
Last month, The Justice Legislation Amendment (Supporting Victims and Other Matters) Bill 2020 was passed in state Parliament, allowing families and survivors to tell their story without seeking court permission.
Families and survivors can also self-publish their identity on social media.
Mr Herron said the legislation as it stood “wouldn’t have allowed victims to speak out”.
“My daughter has been killed so for me as a parent, life doesn’t get any worse.
“I have no fear of speaking out and I would take any consequences that would come in my way without hesitation.
“We shouldn’t have to fight the state to tell our stories. We want to tell our stories because we don’t want it to happen to other women.
“Courtney’s story can happen tomorrow to someone else.”
Sunbury resident Tracie Oldham said she was “brutalised sexually and tortured” until she was a teenager.
She said it was a huge relief that she could finally share her story.
“Though I was not murdered in the physical sense, I died inside every time,” she said.
“Grieving people need to tell their stories.
“Part of the healing process is the need for justice. Families of rape and murder victims have a need to see justice as part of recovery, speaking about their deceased loved ones.”