Victim impact statements from Jill Meagher’s family and friends
The following are victim impact statements read to the court in Melbourne today at Adrian Bayley’s plea hearing
George McKeon, father of Jill Meagher:
Sir, I am George McKeon, the father of Jill Meagher. Normally we called her Jillian.
These items are only some of the items that will fill my mind for the rest of my life. At the outset, it is hard to say, but it is just not okay to rape and murder my child. That is an absolute.
I am only 55 years of age, my mother is 82, and my daughter is dead.
In September 2012 I had a stroke and Jillian came over because I had the stroke and to help me get through it and extracted a promise from me that I would live and the reason she wanted me to live, which she said quite smartly, was she wanted her children to have a young granddad to run around with.
She loved life.
What happened? She walked, what was outlined to the court happened and she died. It was a brutal ending to her life and something that will live with me for the rest of my life.
I will never see my daughter bearing and rearing her children. I have no other daughters.
My wife of 30 years will never be a maternal grandmother, a distinction between a mother’s bond with the child and the children’s, so she’ll never be - that maternal line has ended.
We often - that is my wife and I in particular - we live in a lovely place in Western Australia.
We actually live opposite a park on the river, where daily there is young mothers and their children.
Every young child, small baby less than three months old, they just remind me of Jillian and they remind me of what would have been, that, by now, Jillian would be three to four months pregnant, we would be engrossed in the life of the babies coming along, and yet this - and she would have had children, presumably more than one.
This is a victim impact statement, so this is the impact on my wife and I. That is a life we will just never have.
We can’t have it. We can’t have any more children. Thank you.
Tom Meagher, husband:
I was introduced to Jill in November 2001 by our mutual friend, Kiera. It was an awkward first encounter.
I remember I couldn’t shake her hand because it was bandaged up. She had injured it the previous day in a characteristically clumsy fashion.
But this inelegant introduction began an 11-year adventure with the most wonderful person I have ever met.
Jill embodied everything I could ever ask for in a partner. Her sense of fun and adventure and her unquenchable lust for life pulled me through difficult times and lifted me even higher in good times.
Now, as I go through the worst time in my life, the person whose passion, intelligence and strength got me through before is no longer there to help me with this struggle.
What was stolen from me on 22 September 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.
What has been given to me is a lifetime of fear, insomnia, unending panic attacks, anger that I never wanted or asked for and first-hand knowledge of how deeply depraved and disgusting a human being can be.
My world view has been significantly altered and my belief in the good of humanity has been shaken to its core.
I hesitate to leave my apartment because of the feverish prospect of an anxiety attack that can pounce at the most inappropriate times.
Nightmare-ish and intrusive visions are constant and I don’t escape this in sleeping or waking hours.
I have been forced to move from our home in Brunswick, given its proximity to where Jill’s death occurred and I am constantly confused, disoriented and unfocused.
The pain of not being able to tell Jill that I loved her in her final moments, the knowledge that those last moments were terrifying and painful and the knowledge that with her final walk she had crossed paths with evil haunts me every day.
The initial stages of the police investigation necessitated a thorough examination of our apartment, our car and our private possessions, which was intrusive and extraordinarily uncomfortable.
This was soon followed by unwelcome messages from members of the public, who convinced themselves that I was involved in Jill’s disappearance.
This has exacerbated feelings of horror and a lack of faith in the decency of humanity. The frequency of media intrusion has ebbed and flowed but has never stopped completely.
I have been away from work for substantial periods of time, I have ongoing counselling for trauma and grief and, quite simply, my life will never be normal again.
Most of all, I miss Jill. I miss waking up late on a Sunday and having breakfast at 2 pm. I miss boozy afternoons in the sunshine, making plans, laughing with her and sharing my life with her.
I miss her insight, fun and wit, her huge smile and infectious personality.
I think of her every second of every day and I think of the pain of never being able to laugh with her again.
I think of the waste of a brilliant mind and a beautiful soul at the hands of a grotesque and soulless human being.
I think of how in love we were and of how much I’ve lost and how much of my life and dreams were built around Jill. I am half a person because of this crime.
Edith McKeon, mother:
I made a choice with my husband, not out of necessity, to come to Australia in 1990 as a family unit. Jillian was seven and her brother, Michael, was four. They thrived on life in this wonderful country that we choose to call home.
We went back for a time to Ireland, where Jillian met her lovely Tom at the age of 19. They married and chose Melbourne for the lifestyle, jobs and the future plans that have now been destroyed.
Jillian loved life and everything it had to offer and was keen to embrace her surroundings and very open to the world and its culture. She was funny, intelligent and had huge empathy for others.
She was my only daughter and I have been robbed of so many precious things we would have shared. My life stopped on 22 September 2012.
I have been shocked to the core of my being. I feel battered and bruised as a mother, never whole again without her.
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. The loneliness and sadness I feel is enormous.
I never realised how much I was thinking of her until she was so cruelly taken. Ordinary things like shopping, I would look at something and automatically think that it would suit Jillian. The emotional impact is huge
I suffer from insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks and I now look at the world so differently.
I have nightmares of her terror that night that she would have gone through. I can never forget what was done to her.
I come across ordinary young couples or young families and they are so happy and normal. It’s what Jillian and Tom should have had.
So it’s like so many stab wounds and reminders of the life we would have shared with them, that has been so cruelly taken away.
My personal relationship with my husband and son has changed, as we are all dealing with Jillian’s murder and the loss of her in different ways.
The emotional harm it has done to us as a family is devastating and inconsolable. We came here as a family of four and we were very close.
Jillian has been torn from all our hearts and the link that held us together has been shattered.
We now have to try and rebuild a new life and even the thought of that just makes me so sad. I have been given a life sentence.
Michael McKeon, brother:
No words, just pain in private. I am unable to complete a statement with adequate words to express the full impact of the brutal loss of my sister Jillian.
Jillian was my only sister, born of the same mother and father, raised in the same home.
We shared the same life, the same upbringing, values and dreams. I am in dreadful pain. I must carry on with living a full life, yet I will never forget my sister.
Effie Lyons, friend:
It is immensely difficult to express how the rape and murder of my beautiful, funny friend Jill has affected, and will continue to affect, my life.
The world that collapsed when she was missing has been put back together wrong.
Before and after, and juxtaposed uncomfortably, much of my time is occupied with thinking about her, about how much I miss her, about what happened to her or, conversely, trying not to think about her, an exercise in futility a lot of the time and an exhausting one.
This crime has come to define my life and how I experience the world.
It has tainted any moments of happiness with guilt. Everything has been warped. My perception about everything has irrevocably changed. I feel an innocence has been stolen from me, along with my friend.
I feel vulnerable, sad and incredibly angry, though none of these adjectives are remotely adequate.
I haven’t begun to come to terms with what has happened or process the emotions that began to pile up when she was missing. It was a manic, highly charged feverish time.
I drank and smoked copious amounts, I took sleeping pills, as going to sleep without would induce a horrific panicky feeling of hyper-alertness and awareness of a horror film I was in the middle of.
It would bring home the fearfulness of waking up in a nightmare, rather than the relief of waking from one.
Seeing her wedding photos or her lipstick marks on a glass in her apartment was profoundly disconcerting.
I had panic attacks for the first time in my life and I would realise that I had my fists and jaw clenched for hours only when they started to ache.
I have trouble sleeping and disturbing dreams infect my mind, enhancing the feeling of being an alien having to play out at normal living.
I lived and worked in Brunswick, my apartment overlooked Hope Street, and I had to walk the route she took that night innumerable times until I moved out of Melbourne. That was difficult.
Once everything had died down, once the flowers were removed and the rain had washed away the chalk messages written on the pavement, although I could still see the outlines, and keeping my head down to avoid places that reminded me of Jill or of her murder was when those outlines would confront me.
I had walked around Brunswick with Jill so often, had dinners or pints or a coffee with her in so many places that it was incredibly hard to have to continue to live there, to have to walk up Sydney Road and Hope Street, to pass our favourite places, to be constantly accosted by her death. From my balcony, I could see the lane where she was killed.
This proximity became increasingly impossible to live with. Jill is still everywhere around me - in books, films, music and comedy and TV shows we talked about.
She is a constant presence in my mind, the things we planned to do together, the profound and ridiculous conversations we had.
I read books that remind me of her and while there is something in this that makes me feel closer to her, it has an equal and opposite effect as well.
She will spring into my mind at the most inopportune times, queuing in the supermarket, in work or socialising. There is a chasm between myself and the people I encounter.
I have had my eyes opened to the intolerable immense disturbing cruelty of the world.
Each new story about rape, murder, kidnapping, violence against women and I am struck again.
I remember what it was like to be horrified from a distance to discuss these cases like gossip over coffee, but I don’t have that luxury any more.
I feel unfixable, that this is something that will get worse with time, as I wake up to the reality of losing my beautiful friend every day and live and try to function in a normal way. I wonder if what was so easily done to Jill could be done to me.
I will never recover from this crime. I may learn to live with it to disperse the impotent rage more effectively.
I will always miss Jill and yet while I remember her, there is the corruption of what happened.
I had a missed call from her shortly before she died. I was asleep, about 100 metres from where it happened.
I will always be haunted by questions. Words fail to express my anger and profound sorrow.
They are compounded by the sense that it could literally have happened to me instead of Jill. She invited me to the pub that night.
I would have taken that route home. I would have responded with indignation and hostility to a man approaching me.
I am acutely aware that given slightly different circumstances, Jill could be here reading her statement about me. This is a stark, painful realisation.
Catherine Hurley, ABC colleague:
The impact of the tragic death of our colleague and friend Jill Meagher on ABC local radio in Victoria has been profound.
Jill was a much-loved member of the local radio family.
She was witty, intelligent and great company. Her friends and workmates at the ABC miss her greatly.
The brutal and random nature of the crime created an outpouring of grief in the entire community, as well as in our own workplace, and dramatically affected the fabric of the team at 774 ABC Melbourne, our regional staff and further afield in other areas of the ABC.
Jill’s death left a gaping hole that was difficult to absorb for those of us who walked past her empty desk every day.
Experienced staff who have spent years covering difficult issues struggled with the senseless nature of this crime that cut short the life of a bright and vibrant professional administrator with the whole of her life ahead of her.
Jill had only been working with us for less than a year and we were still getting to know her.She had so much more to contribute. Her sudden death was particularly traumatic given the key nature of Jill’s role.
She was the glue that held the group together, chiefly ensuring that the business side of the radio station ran smoothly.
Jill was a trusted colleague and friend and her sudden death made it very hard for us to continue.
The random nature of the crime has made us more cautious. We can all empathise with her fate, thinking, “It could have been me or my sister or daughter.”
For such a trusting, kind person to meet such a violent end is hard to be absorb.
Many of us had nightmares and sleepless nights and episodes of prolonged sadness and have sought counselling from our employee assistance program.
At times we have all been distracted and struggled with the need to continue our work while the terrible details of crime unfold.
From the moment we realised that Jill had gone missing, we worked hard to assist the Homicide Squad with its investigation.
Jill’s family and friends were pro-active in the search for Jill from the outset, reaching out to the community on social media.
This meant there was unprecedented media interest in the case which put 774 ABC Melbourne in the spotlight while we were struggling to deal with our own feelings of loss.
The responsibility of balancing coverage of the crime appropriately with compassion and respect without giving it undue prominence because of our emotional interest was enormous.
While the team has been incredibly strong and supportive of each other, the crime has taken its toll on us all.
However, we are determined to ensure that this crime does not define us. This is not the type of behaviour tolerated in our community.
The unprecedented outpouring of grief from the people in Melbourne and the enormous media interest around the country and internationally reinforces the need for the court to ensure that the punishment fits the crime.