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Vic war vet's murder accused changes plea

AAP logoAAP 16/12/2016 Kaitlyn Offer

On the eve of his 90th birthday, a WWII veteran was tied up, assaulted and stabbed in his rural Victorian home - and now one of the two men who pleaded guilty to the attack has changed his mind.

The men, Adam Lucas Williamson and Jonathon Jeffrey Cooper, earlier this month pleaded guilty to theft, aggravated burglary and the murder of Kenneth Handford in his Springbank home in September 2015.

The pair were listed to face a plea hearing in the Supreme Court in Melbourne on Friday.

However, Justice Jane Dixon was told Williamson now wants to change his plea because he says he was not in the room when Mr Handford was stabbed.

Mr Handford's body was found by his neighbours tied and beaten on September 15, 2015 - his 90th birthday.

The war veteran's medals and cash were stolen in the burglary although some of the medals were returned.

The former farmer was well known around Springbank and Ballarat as a kind and generous man, and it was widely known he carried cash.

He was about to move in with his son and had begun packing up his rural property to make the move to Ballarat when he was murdered.

Justice Dixon said during Friday's hearing it did not seem to be disputed that Williamson knew Cooper had a double-bladed knife when they set out on the robbery.

"In effect, they are jointly armed with a knife," she said.

But, she said, if Williamson wanted to apply to change his plea, then a proper application needed to be made.

Williamson's attempt to change his plea means both men will not have their cases resolved before the new year.

Williamson will return to court on February 27 for a formal application to determine whether he can change his plea.

Cooper's plea hearing has been rescheduled to February 8 and a sentencing date will be set after that.

Both men were remanded in custody.

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