Friday 19 December 2014

Jill Meagher's husband labels 35-year sentence for her murderer "a disgrace"

Peter Gregory

Published 19/06/2013 | 05:51

Jill Meagher on wedding day to Tom - unknown person in the middle
Jill Meagher on wedding day to Tom - unknown person in the middle
Murdered Jill Meagher - pictured here with her husband Tom
Jill Meagher's family leave the court with homicide squad detectives.
Sasha Chambers as so moved by Jill's brutal murder she attended every court session Bayley faced.

The husband of Jill Meagher, the Irishwoman brutally raped and murdered in Melbourne, has described the prison sentence handed down to Adrian Ernest Bayley as a "disgrace".

Adrian Ernest Bayley, 41, has been jailed for life, with a minimum jail term of 35 years. That means he would not be eligible for parole until he is 76.

"I don't think anything's enough. I can't think of a worse person than that man," Tom Meagher told ABC in Australia.

"I wasn't expecting anything else. I wasn't expecting the judge to hand down life without parole, simply because people had told me this wouldn't happen.

"I certainly don't think the sentence for the rape charge was enough at all. Given what this man has done in the past, I think that 15 years [for rape] is a disgrace, considering the maximum penalty for rape is 25."

Clearly in a distressed state of mind, Mr Meagher revealed how his life has been turned upside down over the past ninw months.

"It's made me extraordinarily angry, really fearful," he said. "I mean and that's the worst thing for me. Because the way Jill and I lived was very free of that.

"We trusted people that we met, just because I think that's a good way to live, just because you can be open with people and you can be honest with people if you're like that and I think that's been ruined for me. And I think that's the worst part of it. It's just not being able to be myself anymore.

"She was incredibly funny. Incredibly witty. Just so smart and intelligent that she just brightened up any room she was in."

Sentencing Bayley in the Victorian Supreme Court, Justice Geoffrey Nettle said he would have fixed a life term without parole had the accused not pleaded guilty.

“The combination of rape and murder of the kind you have committed is particularly heinous and, in your case, it is made even worse by your attempt to conceal (Jill’s) body, and the fact that the offending was committed while you were released on parole and on bail,” Justice Nettle said.

When Bayley dragged 29-year-old Jill, who was working for broadcaster ABC in Melbourne, into a laneway before raping and strangling her, he was on bail after appealing against a sentence for recklessly causing serious injury.

He was also on parole, having served eight years of an 11-year sentence for rapes on a number of women.

In a packed courtroom, Justice Nettle told Bayley his savage and degrading rape of Jill Meagher, combined with a previous record of sexual violence, showed “a dangerous propensity to subject women to rape and violence in order to satiate your perverted sexual desires”.

“I…infer from the facts…that you strangled Gillian Meagher with intent to kill her because she would otherwise have called the police or because of some form of perverted pleasure which derived from taking her life,” he said.

Outside court after the hearing, Jill’s father, George McKeon, said justice had been done. He thanked police and prosecutors as his wife Edith and Jill’s husband Tom Meagher stood behind him in front of an assembled media pack.

His statement read, 'This despicable crime against Jillian has happened and it has taken 9 months to get resolved and to get justice. The police and prosecutors have ensured that justice has been done and we as a family want to thank them for this. We have no sense of personal outrage just a feeling of great sadness and great loss. 'Gillian forever young and forever in our hearts.'"

Speaking on the Australian television after Bayley was caged, Tom Meagher said the case was not merely a story for others to tell, but affected real people.

“It’s not fair that it’s my wife, of course it’s not, but it’s not fair that it’s anybody,” he said.

“It’s… made me extraordinarily angry, really fearful. I mean, that’s the worst thing for me.”

Describing Adrian Bayley, the man given a minimum 35-year sentence for raping and murdering his wife, as “unrepentantly evil” , Mr Meagher said he believed Bayley’s 15-year sentence for rape was not enough.

He said that considering Bayley’s past record of sexual violence, 15 years was a “disgrace”, given that the maximum jail time for the crime was 25 years. 

Bayley pleaded guilty to raping and murdering Jill, who was about 550 metres from her home when he dragged her into a laneway in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick.  She had been attending a birthday party for a fellow ABC employee and had been walking home after having drinks at a bar.

Justice Nettle said Bayley told a psychologist he raped Jill after she slapped his face when he kissed her and tried to touch her bottom. Bayley said Jill was angry after the rape and told him she was going to call the police.

According to Bayley, Jill fell backwards and hit her head on concrete when he tried to calm her down. Bayley could feel blood coming from her head, but held his hand on her neck and maintained pressure until she stopped moving.

Bayley collected a car and took Jill’s body to a town about 55 kilometres from Melbourne, where he buried her. After initially lying to police about his involvement, Bayley eventually confessed after being shown evidence including CCTV footage from Brunswick.

Justice Nettle accepted Bayley’s guilty plea showed a small degree of genuine remorse, but the enormity of his offending, his background of multiple convictions for violent sexual offences and the need to protect the community meant a life sentence was required.

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