Monday 11 December 2017

'There's no sentence long enough for this monster'

Husband lashes out at justice system n Father says Jill 'forever in our hearts'

Jill Meagher and husband Tom
Jill Meagher and husband Tom
Sasha Chambers with a sign outside the courthouse
Family of Jill Meagher leave court after sentencing of Adrian Bayley
Jill Meagher, who was raped and murdered in Melbourne

Peter Gregory

THE husband of murdered Irish woman Jill Meagher has angrily hit out over how his wife's "unrepentantly evil" killer was let off too many times by the justice system.

Tom Meagher also described serial sex offender Adrian Ernest Bayley as a "monster" and a complete menace, and criticised the sentence the 41-year-old received for raping Jill (pictured with her husband).

Bayley was out on parole when he raped and strangled the 29-year-old ABC radio employee, who was on a night out with her work colleagues

It later emerged that he had served only 11 years in prison despite a history of violent sex crimes stretching back more than 20 years.

Asked about the life sentence, with a 35-year minimum, imposed on Bayley in the Victorian Supreme Court yesterday, Mr Meagher said: "I don't think anything's enough. I can't think of a worse person than that man."

He said he was not expecting Bayley to be denied the possibility of parole, but he believed the 15-year sentence given for the rape of Jill Meagher was "a disgrace", considering the maximum was 25 years.

"I don't know what the maximum penalty is for if it's not for that man. I don't know who else could fit the bill for the maximum sentence for rape," he said on Australian TV.

The sentence fixed for Bayley means he will not be eligible for parole until he is at least 76.

Australian politicians said the prospect of Bayley being released was remote.

Deputy premier of the state of Victoria, Peter Ryan, said Bayley will only be released after the minimum sentence of 35 years if the parole board finds he is fit for release after taking into account his history and behaviour in prison.

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.

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.

He said he saw little reason to suppose Bayley would ever be rehabilitated, but he set a non-parole period as an incentive for him to try.

Mr Meagher said it was baffling and bewildering when he heard about ideas of Bayley's remorse, when he was a serial offender who kept doing the same thing over and over again.

When Bayley dragged Jill 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 16 rapes on five women.

Mr Meagher said he was aware the victims were sex workers, and the apparent leniency shown to Bayley could send people like him a message to be careful who they raped, rather than warning them not to rape.

"I felt furious (about the penalty) and I'm still furious whenever I hear anybody say it, whenever I read it," he said. "My blood boils because it sends a disturbing message."

He said the parole system failed Jill and him because it failed to protect the innocent.

"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 very fearful, it's made me extraordinarily angry. I mean, that's the worst thing for me because the way Jill and I lived was very free, we trusted people."

Violence

A tearful Mr Meagher described his wife as incredibly funny and witty, and a person who would "brighten up any room that she was in".

In a packed courtroom yesterday, Justice Nettle told Bayley his savage rape of Jill, 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".

"You dragged her off the street, late at night, while she was going peaceably about her business within a stone's throw of her home," he said.

"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."

Outside court after the hearing, Jill's father, George McKeon, said: "Jill was brutally raped and murdered and is never coming back. Justice has now been done. Police and prosecutors, we thank you."

His statement read: "This despicable crime against Jillian has happened and it has taken nine 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. 'Jillian forever young and forever in our hearts.'"

Bayley pleaded guilty to raping and murdering Jill. He told a psychologist he raped Jill after she slapped his face when he kissed her and tried to touch her bottom. Bayley said he had "lost it" because he "always had trouble when someone put their hands on me – I fight."

In a police interview after the murder, Bayley said Jill was angry after being raped. She hit him with her mobile phone and told him she was going to call the police.

Irish Independent

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