Facebook refuses to remove page on Meagher
TOM MEAGHER, whose wife Jill was killed in Melbourne on September 22nd, yesterday thanked Patricia Liapis, the owner of the shop whose CCTV camera footage helped find the man charged with murdering her.
The shop front has become an impromptu memorial site since Ms Meagher’s body was found last Friday, with mourners leaving flowers and messages. In preparation for her funeral, which will be held in Melbourne on Friday, thousands of flowers were removed from outside Ms Liapis’s Duchess Boutique yesterday and taken to a funeral home.
Ms Meagher, 29, who came from Drogheda, emigrated to Australia with her husband three years ago. Through the social networking site Facebook, Mr Meagher thanked the estimated 30,000 people who attended Sunday’s march in Melbourne in honour of his wife. “Thank you, Melbourne, for the march on Sydney Rd,” he wrote. “Jill’s family and friends are truly touched.”
Facebook has refused an Australian police request to remove a web page containing potentially prejudicial comments about the man accused of murdering Ms Meagher (29).
A Facebook page initially set up to help find Ms Meagher after she disappeared had about 160,000 supporters last night.
Although the police initially praised the role social media such as Facebook and Twitter played in the case, they are now concerned that any forthcoming trial could be prejudiced.
Adrian Ernest Bayley (41) has been charged with raping and murdering Ms Meagher and is to appear in court in January.
Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay is seeking legal advice over Facebook’s refusal to remove the page.
“Although social media’s been enormously helpful in this investigation, it’s also been very, very difficult and we had cause to speak to Facebook over the weekend and ask them to take a particular site down,” he said.
“Now, they’ve refused to do that. We’ve all got a social responsibility. Facebook is part of our community and I would have thought that it would have only been reasonable.
“When you see the hatred that’s incited by some of these sites, it is very much the antithesis of what we saw yesterday with 30,000 people taking to the streets saying let’s try and make this a safer and fairer community.”
Facebook has so far not commented on the matter, but has posted a police notice warning people to consider what they are writing on the website. Mr Meagher has also urged people to be cautious about what they say online.
Mr Lay said some of comments posted could jeopardise the case.
“We’ve got to remember that no matter how horrible this crime is, this gentleman has got to be afforded a fair trial. It’s not for Facebook pages or anyone else to be taking justice into their own hands.”
Victoria’s state premier Ted Baillieu says he is considering asking the Victorian Law Reform Commission to review whether legislative change is needed.
“In many ways social media is a recording of conversations that occur and perhaps traditionally occurred in pubs and clubs, in social venues,” he told ABC radio.
“It has moved from undefinable gossip into almost resourced gossip, and it does have an impact.”
Prison officers have also been warned not to use social media to express their views about Ms Meagher’s death after posts were found on Facebook.
MEMORIAL SERVICES: MELBOURNE, DROGHEDA
Jill Meagher’s family in Drogheda said her funeral service would be a private family affair in Melbourne on Friday morning.
A memorial Mass will also be held for her in Drogheda on Friday evening.
Michael McKeon, Ms Meagher’s uncle, said in a statement that her remains will be cremated.
“Jillian touched many people and has family and numerous friends in Ireland as well as Australia. For that reason we have decided to hold a memorial Mass for her in Drogheda, the town she first called home, on Friday so that she can be remembered on both sides of the world on the same day.”
The Mass will be held in St Peter’s Church, West Street, Drogheda, at 7pm. Family members will attend, but Mr McKeon’s statement stressed that it is open to all.