Friday 19 January 2018

Jill Meagher killing: Bayley was free to murder despite 22 previous rapes

Australia admits it failed Jill by allowing sex predator out

Adrian Ernest Bayley being escorted by prison officers outside the Victoria Supreme Court in Melbourne
Adrian Ernest Bayley being escorted by prison officers outside the Victoria Supreme Court in Melbourne
Jill Meagher

Norrie Ross Melbourne

THE man convicted of murdering tragic Irish woman Jill Meagher has been revealed to be a "sexual predator" with more than 20 convictions for rape among a string of other serious offences.

Adrian Ernest Bayley (41) was on parole when he raped and strangled the 29-year-old ABC radio employee while she was walking home from a night out in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick last September.

Despite the maximum 25-year sentence for rape, Bayley served a total of just 11 years in prison despite a more than 20-year history of violent sex crimes.

The case shocked Australia and has lead to a "root and branch" review of the parole board in Victoria with state premier Denis Napthine last night admitting that it had "failed Jill Meagher". He said he was "shocked, surprised and astounded" that Bayley had been on the streets despite his string of serious crimes.

Bayley pleaded guilty to murdering Jill, from Drogheda, Co Louth, and it emerged in court that he had told police: "They should have the death penalty for people like me.

"How many chances does a person need? They should never have let me out."

Jill's family faced her killer in the Victoria Supreme Court, hearing that Bayley murdered her in a cowardly attempt to avoid a lengthy prison sentence for her rape. And they spoke of their devastation at her death in their heartbreaking victim impact statements.

Jill's dad George McKeon stood up in court and addressed the killer directly, telling Bayley in a strong, steady voice: "It is not okay to rape and murder my child. That is an absolute."

Confronted for first the first time by Jill's family, the 41-year-old could not look them in the eye. Instead he cut a craven figure, sitting in the prisoner's dock with his head bowed. Occasionally he appeared to wipe tears from his eyes but the court heard it is a stunt Bayley has pulled before to try to convince people he is remorseful.

Continuing his victim impact statement Mr McKeon told Justice Geoff Nettle that Bayley had inflicted "a brutal ending" to his daughter's life and that his crime was "something that will live with me for the rest of my life".

"I will never see my daughter bearing and rearing her children," he added.

In a statement read on behalf of Jill's husband Tom, he said that Bayley's crime meant that he now had "first-hand knowledge of how deeply depraved and disgusting a human being can be".

"Jill embodied everything I could ever ask for in a partner," he said.

"What was stolen from me on September 22, 2012 was love, my best friend and my entire world. What was stolen from us was our future, the possibility of a family and our lives together."

Jill's mother Edith McKeon was too ill to attend court but her statement revealed that she is now a broken woman.

"I have been shocked to the core of my being. I feel battered and bruised as a mother, never whole again without her," Mrs McKeon said.

"I can no longer live an ordinary life and my heart suffers from the deepest wound from which it will never recover. I was her mother for almost 30 years and she was taken so suddenly from my life.

"The impact of Jillian's murder has been catastrophic."

Jill's brother Michael said he was unable to complete a statement, saying that he had "no words, just pain in private."

Gavin Silbert, prosecuting, said Bayley should be caged for the rest of his life, citing a lack of remorse and his history of horrific attacks on women including convictions for 22 rapes against six victims.

"The Crown case is that he is a sexual predator," Mr Silbert said. "He well knew that that if he was convicted of the rape of Jill Meagher he would spend the next 20 years in jail. That's why he decided to kill her."

Victoria's premier Denis Napthine said the state's "flawed" parole system had failed Jill.

He said that changes implemented by his government mean that any violent or sexual offender who commits an offence while on parole is now immediately locked up.

"Our actions are the minimum we can do to try and make sure this never, ever happens again," Mr Napthine added.

The extent of Bayley's criminal history led even defence counsel Saul Holt to concede that a life term was open to the judge.

However, he argued that Bayley should not be given a minimum term.

Mr Holt said his client had shown genuine remorse and was filled with self loathing for what he had done.

Bayley will be sentenced on June 19.

Irish Independent

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