Pair charged over grisly death of Russell Hammond found bound and burnt

Two men have been charged over the death of a Victorian man whose bound and burned body was found near Geelong.

Russell Hammond

Drysdale man Russell Hammond was found dead in Corio after being strangled and his body burnt. Picture: Herald Sun
Source: Supplied

TWO men charged over the murder of Drysdale man Russell Hammond have appeared briefly in Geelong Magistrates’ Court this morning.

Gareth Giles, 24, and Chris Coulter, 18, both of Leopold, have been charged with offences including murder, arson and theft of a motor vehicle.

The court was told Mr Coulter was vulnerable in custody due to his age.

Mr Giles, who appeared in a forensic jumpsuit, is an asthmatic who needed Ventolin, the court heard.

Magistrate Stephen Myall was told it was their first time in custody.

Both men were remanded in custody until May 4.

According to court documents, both accused men have blamed each other for the death.

Mr Hammond’s body was found in a vacant block in Corio.

“The deceased had been bound and gagged and a cord was located around his neck,” the remand summary stated.

“He had also sustained considerable burns. A post mortem examination revealed that the deceased had died as a result of manual strangulation.”

Outside court, Mr Coulter’s father, Mark, said whoever killed Mr Hammond should be punished.

“It’s very, very wrong for the Hammond family,” Mr Coulter said.

“(Mr Hammond) was a young man. He did nothing wrong.”

Yesterday, Mr Hammond’s shattered parents made an emotional plea for help to find their son’s killer.

Helen and Brian Hammond described their 49-year-old son as a true gentleman who did not have an enemy in the world.

“He will be remembered as a very decent, thorough gentleman – a very good man, kind man and generous man with his time,” Mrs Hammond said.

The body was found in a paddock on Broderick Rd, near the Geelong Ring Rd, hours after his 1996 Mercedes-Benz C220 was discovered burnt out on Portarlington Rd, Leopold.

Homicide squad Det Sen-Sgt Stephen McIntyre said Mr Hammond was not known to police and had no known criminal associates.

“This is a homicide investigation. We don’t know how, why or when Russell died,” he said.

“We can’t say at this point of time whether Russell was conscious or if he was consenting at the time that he was tied up.”

Police are awaiting the results of an autopsy for clarity on the extent of his injuries.

Sen-Sgt McIntyre said Mr Hammond was homosexual, lived alone and was a quiet and private person.

He had worked night shift in a call centre in Melbourne and routinely stopped at Hungry Jack’s for breakfast on his way home to Drysdale.

Although Mr Hammond did not work the night before his death, he still went to Hungry Jack’s for breakfast and was last seen alive by a neighbour as he returned home about 8am last Thursday.

His body was found about 3pm that afternoon.

Mrs Hammond said she and her husband had just returned from a two-week cruise to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary, which had been paid for by Russell and his two siblings, and did not get a chance to see him before he died.

“We had a really happy and lovely time,” Mrs Hammond said tearfully. “And it’s terrible to think that this has happened … we were going to get together last Sunday for Brian’s birthday.”

– Mark Buttler, Wayne Flower

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