Wednesday 28 September 2016

Three Irish murders in one year that shook Melbourne - harrowing new documentary tells the story

Geraldine Gittens

Published 06/03/2016 | 18:28

Irish woman Jill Meagher who was murdered in Melbourne. Pic Ciara Wilkinson.
Dubliner David Greene who died in Melbourne following an attack in Aug 2012.
Jeweller Dermot O'Toole and wife Bridget.
Tom Meagher with his wife Jill

The moving stories of how ordinary families were devastated forever by the loss of their loved ones who were murdered in Melbourne will air on Irish screens tonight.

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Murder in Melbourne is a hard-hitting new RTÉ documentary which looks at the murders of three Irish nationals living in the Australian city between 2012 and 2013.

The film opens with the killing of Dublin born jeweller Dermot O’Toole in July 2013, then chronicles the murder of a 30-year-old David Greene in 2012, and finally covers the murder of journalist Jill Meagher a few days after David's murder.

All three were murdered in Melbourne, all within the space of a year and all by men who had previously been convicted of serious crimes.

Murder in Melbourne tells their stories and looks at the parole system in Victoria to examine how failings there laid the foundations for these otherwise unrelated murders.

The documentary includes interviews with family members, journalists and police as well as previously unreleased CCTV footage and images connected to these crimes.

Dublin born jeweller Dermot O’Toole and his wife Bridget had emigrated from Ireland in 1972. They eventually settled in Hastings, a small town on the outskirts of Melbourne where they opened their own business called the Jewel Shed.

CCTV footage of the murderer’s movements, and interviews with Bridget and family, recreate what turned out to be a failed and incredibly violent armed robbery, during which Bridget was seriously wounded and Dermot was fatally stabbed as he rushed to protect her.

The convicted armed robber by the name of Gavin Perry had been released by the Parole Board of Victoria. Perry was a highly dangerous career criminal who by the age of 27 already had over 200 criminal convictions. Soon after his release Perry went on a spree of armed robberies which eventually led to his botched raid on the Jewel Shed and the murder of Dermot O’Toole. He was eventually sentenced to twenty years for Dermot's murder.

Read More: ‘My husband died saving me and it’s just so wrong’ – family anger as killer gets 27 year sentence

David Greene was attacked while managing a hostel in Melbourne, one year earlier in August 2012. Before his death, Mr Greene was typical of the many young Irish people who moved to Australia following the economic bust in Ireland. A brick-layer by trade, he had grown up in Cabinteely, Dublin and had been in Australia for less than a year.

His parents, Aidan and Catherine Greene tell how they, on hearing of his attack, made the arduous journey to Melbourne where twelve days later his life support machine was turned off.

The family then faced his killer in court, a convicted criminal by the name of Luke Wentholt who had attacked their son during a party after suspecting that his girlfriend was attracted to Greene.

Within days, Jill Meagher was murdered. Jill’s murder became one of the highest profile murders in Australia in living history. It sent shockwaves through the countries of both Australia and Ireland, not just because of the brutality of her attack but because her murderer, Adrian Bayley a convicted rapist was out on parole.

Read More: 'It was chilling' - Jill Meagher's husband on the day he heard his wife's murderer speak in courtroom  

The film concludes with the O’Toole family’s campaign for tougher sentencing and tighter restrictions on parole in Victoria.

Murder in Melbourne airs Monday on RTE1 at 9.35pm.

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