Jill Meagher's family devastated at news of death
THE FAMILY of murdered Irishwoman Jill Meagher last night said they were “devastated” at her death in the Australian city of Melbourne. Just 24 hours earlier, the family in Louth were still holding on to the hope that she would be found alive. When Australian police arrested a man, however, they feared the worst.
Speaking from Drogheda, where Jill lived before she and husband, Tom, left for Melbourne three years ago, her uncle Michael McKeon said: “We are devastated. We are heartbroken. She was the first grandchild my mother had and her aunts, uncles and cousins are powerless to describe their loss.
“There are no words to describe how we feel at what has happened. We had hoped yesterday when there was no evidence of foul play but when the man in the CCTV footage was arrested we feared the worst.”
At his home he waited with his wife, Liz, and his daughters for confirmation that their nightmare had become a reality.
Speaking after the Australian police confirmed that a man would be charged in relation to Ms Meagher’s death, Mr McKeon said they were aware that Facebook and Twitter users had helped in the search for his niece.
“We acknowledge the role that social media has played in the search for her. We believe that it has helped us to reach a conclusion, although it is not the one we had hoped and prayed for. We thank the people around the world who have supported us.”
Ms Meagher’s parents, George and Edith McKeon, flew to Melbourne last night from their home in Perth in western Australia.
They were joined there by Ms Meagher’s uncle, Denis, who flew out from Dublin yesterday, and by her other uncle, John, and his wife, Susan, who travelled from Sydney to Melbourne.
Mr McKeon said that although the family were all struggling to come to terms with what had happened, Ms Meagher’s husband, Tom, “will find the loss the most”.
“Both the McKeon family and Meagher family will have to plan now to grieve for Jillian and this is going to be one of the hardest things, given that only three years ago we came together for the marriage of this lovely couple.”
George and Edith McKeon were told about the arrest by their son, Michael, just before the police made a public announcement. Michael McKeon has been in Melbourne since last Saturday.
Ms Meagher declined an offer of a lift home from a colleague in the early hours of last Saturday morning, saying she would make the five-minute walk home alone from the bar where she had been drinking.
The arrest of Adrian Ernest Bayley (41) came after a public appeal for information following the release of CCTV footage that showed Ms Meagher being approached by a man in a blue hoodie. Several other women have come forward to say they had been attacked in the same area of the city.
A woman using the name Angela told Melbourne radio station Fox FM that a man had attempted to drag her into a car on the same street towards which Ms Meagher was believed to have been heading when she disappeared. She said she was walking along Hope Street late at night when a man in a silver Mercedes tried to abduct her.
“I just had this weird feeling and I turned around. There was a silver Mercedes following me and he stopped the car.
“It was obviously still on, but he pulled over and he’d opened the passenger side door and tried to pull me in, so I just ran,” she said.
Angela said she had to hide in a bush after a person in a house she sought help from refused to let her in.
It has also emerged that in April last year a 28-year-old woman told police she was sexually assaulted in the nearby Royal Park by a man who was wearing a grey or blue hooded top.
The man, who had short blonde hair and a thin build, allegedly pulled out a weapon and robbed the woman before sexually assaulting her.
Police have increased patrols in the suburb of Brunswick following Ms Meagher’s disappearance.
Highway patrol officers, plain-clothes detectives, bike patrol officers and uniformed police are patrolling the area.