Uncle says ‘parole or no parole, the man should never have been walking the streets’

Jill Meagher’s uncle  and cousin, Michael  and Joy McKeon, at their home in Drogheda, Co Louth.  Photograph: Ciara Wilkinson

Jill Meagher’s uncle and cousin, Michael and Joy McKeon, at their home in Drogheda, Co Louth. Photograph: Ciara Wilkinson

Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 20:19

Jill Meagher’s killer should never have been walking the streets, her uncle Michael McKeon has said.

At his home in Drogheda after the sentencing of Adrian Bayley to life in prison for his niece’s rape and murder, he said there was relief that the legal process has finished.

The length of the sentence is in some way “just incidental in the sense that he [Bayley] was the man that he was; he should never have been let out. So it doesn’t really matter what amount of time [he got] . . . parole or no parole, the man should never have been walking the streets.”

The huge outpouring of support for the family in Melbourne had meant a lot to the family. They knew the horror of Jill’s death “wasn’t typical” of what happened in Melbourne.

“You knew the people of Australia and Melbourne did not want that within their communities; you could see similarities to Irish society in that you would not want that in Irish society,” he added.

His daughter Joy (20) said: “We got some sort of justice but at the same time we are not getting her back. She was a person to look up to, so it just sucks that we don’t have that person anymore. I think now we can come to the stage of moving on and think what would she want us to do.”

Her eldest cousin, who had visited them just weeks before her murder last September, “was just hilarious”, she added.

“I am sad she is gone but I know she would kick my ass if she knew I was sitting around doing nothing.”

For the future generations of McKeons, her cousin’s memory would be kept alive. “She is never really gone because we keep her in our hearts and minds and we will tell people about her; we will tell our children and grandchildren about her and say to them ‘you had a cousin Jillian and she was the best and someone to look up to’.”

Michael McKeon will travel to Australia next month to visit his brother George and other members of the family.

Meanwhile, Peter Ryan, the deputy premier the south Australian state of Victoria, where Jill was raped and murdered, said the prospect of Bayley being released was remote.

He added that the “hearts and minds” of Victorians went out to Jill Meagher and her family and friends.

He was confident new state government laws – which immediately send offenders back to jail if they are convicted of violent crimes while on parole – would prevent a similar incident from occurring.

Michael O’Brien, state government treasurer, said: “The general view would be that the person who did it should rot in jail before he rots in hell. And, I think that the sentence hopefully reflects that view.”