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Monday 16 January 2017

'We were pretty awful for the way we treated her husband’: Detective in charge of Jill Meagher case

Cian Murray

Published 17/09/2016 | 09:44

Irish woman Jill Meagher who was murdered in Melbourne. Pic Ciara Wilkinson.
Irish woman Jill Meagher who was murdered in Melbourne. Pic Ciara Wilkinson.

The detective in charge of the Jill Meagher murder case has described the treatment of her husband Tom as 'pretty awful.'

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Jill Meagher was murdered and raped while walking home from a pub in Brunswick, a suburb of Melbourne, in September 2012.

Adrian Bayley was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Before this, police treated Jill Meagher as a missing person and, according to a new documentary which highlights the details of the case, they questioned Tom Meagher regarding her disappearance.

Devastated: Tom Meagher’s wife Jill was murdered. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Devastated: Tom Meagher’s wife Jill was murdered. Photo: Gerry Mooney

In 'Conviction - Finding Jill', Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Butler, who led the investigation, indicated that Tom Meagher was harshly treated in the immediate aftermath of his wife's disappearance.

"It was necessary to do but when you think about it down the track, you're left thinking 'Jeez, we were pretty awful, for the way we've treated this poor guy. Not only has he lost his wife but now he's been treated pretty badly by us in some respects'," he said.

Jill Meagher, who was murdered in Australia in 2012 by Adrian Bayley, photographed with her husband Tom
Jill Meagher, who was murdered in Australia in 2012 by Adrian Bayley, photographed with her husband Tom

Butler also discussed the importance of ruling out those closest to Jill as early as possible in the investigation.

He added: "We were able to eliminate Tom reasonably quickly in this case. And the important thing with that was, let's say we never solved the case, the important thing with that is we can say 'Listen, it's not him, we've proven beyond any doubt that it's not him'."

The documentary also gives details of Bayley's interrogation, which saw the murderer only admit his crimes after Jill's sim card was found in his property.

The detective believes this was essential to preventing further deaths at the hand of Bayley.

He said: "[When they found the sim card, I said] if there is a God, let it be Jill's," before adding "in my view had we not caught Adrian Bayley, he wouldn't have stopped and we would be dealing with a serial killer."

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