Husband of Jill Meagher says sentence for rape ‘a disgrace’

Tom Meagher criticises Australian justice system for failing his wife

Jill Meagher’s family at her funeral. Photograph: RIP Jill  Meagher Facebook page

Jill Meagher’s family at her funeral. Photograph: RIP Jill Meagher Facebook page

Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 12:35

Jill Meagher’s husband has criticised the rape sentence handed down t o Adrian Ernest Bayley and said the Australian justice system failed his wife.

Speaking to ABC television after the 41-year-old was sentenced to life for the murder and 15 years for what the judge described as “a savage, violent rape of the worst kind,” Tom Meagher said the sentence for rape was not enough given what Bayley had done in the past.

“I think that 15 years is a disgrace considering the maximum penalty sentence for rape is 25 years. I don’t know what the maximum sentence is for if not for that man. I don’t know who else could fit the bill of a maximum sentence for rape than Adrian Ernest Bayley.”

Video: Statement by Jill Meagher's father

Asked whether Bayley had shown any remorse, Mr Meagher said he hadn’t seen any.

“No I don’t see how he was remorseful. I don’t see how a man who does the same thing over and over again can be considered remorseful… and I don’t think it matters.. Who cares if he has remorse?”

He said he was furious when he found out about Bayley’s previous convictions.

Bayley was first jailed in 1991 for sexual assault and served just 22 months of a five-year sentence.

In September 2000 he was jailed for a minimum of eight years for the rape of five prostitutes over a six-month period.

“I feel furious. I am still furious. My blood boils. It sends a disturbing message. This man is unrepentedly evil. He’s been let off too many times by our justice system. He is a obviously a complete menace,” he said

“It sends out a really dangerous message to society. I’m aware that his previous victims were sex workers. I’ll never be conveinced that had nothing to do with the leniency of his sentence. And as I said that sends a very disturbing messsage… What it says to women is be careful what you do because if we don’t like what you do you won’t get justice. What it says to people like Bayley is not don’t rape but be careful who you rape.”

Describing his wife as the “funniest girl in the world” he said the justice system had failed her.

“It didn’t protect the innocent.. It has made me extraordinarily angry and fearful..trust has been lost. I am not able to be myself anymore.”

Jill Meagher’s father George McKeon said justice had been done.

Standing on the steps of the Victoria Supreme Court building in Melbourne with his wife Edith and son Michael, Mr McKeon said Jill had lived a life “full of family, friends and her beloved Tom.”

“Jill was brutally raped and murdered and is never coming back. Because of Ben Leonard and the team at Victoria Police and Richard Lewis and his colleagues at Public Prosecutions Victoria, justice has now been done. Police and prosecutors, we thank you.”

Tom Meagher stood behind the McKeon family and at one stage put a protective arm over Mrs McKeon, declined to comment.

The McKeons and Mr Meagher had earlier sat in the packed courtroom just metres from Adrian Ernest Bayley (41) who was seated in the dock flanked by five security guards, to watch him being jailed for life with a minimum term of 35 years.

Jill Meagher’s aunt Catherine McKeon Halpin has said the family was “delighted” justice had been done and that there was “never a chance he will do this to another woman or that another family will go through what we have been going through…and will never stop going through”.

“Jill’s not coming back but he will suffer for what he has done,” she told RTÉ Radio of Adrian Bayley’s 35-year minimum sentence.

There was “no point” in being angry because it “just drags you down” and it “drags you into his [Adrian Bayley’s] place”, she said.

The family had to “pick up the pieces, get back to some semblance of normality,” but memories of their “beautiful niece” would always be with them and “life from that point of view will never be the same again,” she said.

She said Jill Meagher’s parents would now have to go through the “basic grieving period” after the trial which “ kept them going” as they had sought justice .