independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Jill's grieving dad: US legal action is stopping us dealing with her death

George McKeon with his wife Edith and their late daughter Jill Meagher.
George McKeon with his wife Edith and their late daughter Jill Meagher.

THE father of murder victim Jill Meagher has said he cannot get over his daughter's death due to legal action in the United States being taken by a former business partner.

George McKeon (56) told the Irish Independent that he faced being hit with a $270,000 (€196,500) judgment because a medical condition stops him from travelling to give evidence, and that the case was causing his family "extreme stress".

Mr McKeon suffers from a brain condition and has suffered three strokes in recent years, including one in the months before his daughter's death.

Jill (29), originally from Drogheda in Co Louth, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered in September 2012 following a night out in Melbourne with colleagues. Her killer, Adrian Bayley, was jailed for life last summer.

Mr McKeon said the legal action had stopped he and his wife Edith from dealing with his daughter's death.

"It's extremely stressful, and I'm totally powerless," Mr McKeon said. "This is just desperate.

"One of the reasons why this is so important is it's stopping us from going through recovery. I have to deal with this all the time.

"The difficulty I have is there's a court case in America which ran while I was dealing with Gillian's (Jill's) murder court case.

"The three judgments were obtained against me at a time when I was going back and forth to Melbourne for the trial of Gillian's killer. I couldn't concentrate on both," said Mr McKeon, who lives in Perth.

"I want to give my evidence, but I have to go to Dublin. I would die if I went to Dublin because I'd have another stroke."

The case centres on a dispute over a property deal in the US state of New Mexico. Mr McKeon is the principal of Capital Fund Securities, which invested in 500 apartments in the state some years ago. One of his partners, Realty International Associates, sued in February 2012, and is seeking almost €200,000 from him.

The case was postponed for five months in October 2012, after Mr McKeon suffered a stroke. There has been a series of court orders since then, and he has been told he must give evidence in the case in Dublin, where the company is registered. He was due to give evidence in Dublin yesterday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry, but was unable to attend. This means that Realty International Associates can now seek judgment against him, and ask the court to impose penalties for breaching a court order.

"I want to give my evidence by video link, and have offered since July. The company is basically my pension plan. It (a judgment) would eliminate $270,000."

He said he had appealed the court's decision not to allow him give evidence by video, and hoped for a positive outcome.

Realty International Associates could not be reached for comment.

Irish Independent

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