‘I think of her every second of every day’, Jill Meagher’s husband tells court

Court told Bayley was on parole when he raped and murdered Drogheda woman

 

The husband of murdered Irish woman Jill Meagher has told the Victorian Supreme Court he felt like “half a human being” since her death, and was shocked by the depravity of her killer.

Tom Meagher’s victim impact statement was read to the court as Adrian Ernest Bayley (41) appeared in a plea hearing over Ms Meagher’s death on September 22nd last year.

Bayley pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of Ms Meagher earlier this year.

Mr Meagher said his wife’s death had left him “shattered to the core”. He said he missed the dream of having a family with Jill and that she was witty and had an unquenchable love of life.

The couple married in Ireland and moved to Melbourne in 2010.

Though his statement did not refer to Bayley by name, Mr Meagher said he was shocked by how “deeply depraved a human being can be”.

He said he had experienced fear, anger, insomnia and panic attacks since his wife’s death.

“I think of the waste of a brilliant mind ... at the hands of a grotesque human being,” he said.

Mr Meagher told the court: “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.”

He added: “Most of all, I miss Jill. I miss waking up late on a Sunday and having breakfast at 2 p.m. I miss boozy afternoons in the sunshine, making plans, laughing with her and sharing my life with her.

“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.”

The court was told that Bayley has previously been found guilty of more than 20 rape offences and was on parole for attacking five prostitutes at the time of Ms Meagher’s death.

Justice Geoff Nettle revoked a suppression order at Bayley’s pre-sentence hearing at Victoria’s Supreme Court, allowing details of his previous crimes, which have been reported by foreign media, to be released to the Australian public.

Bayley was responsible for a string of sexual and violent offences over the past two decades.

Video

The first of more than 20 rapes by Bayley was a violent assault on a 16-year-old friend of his sister, when he was 18-years-old.

In 2002, Bayley was convicted of raping five prostitutes in Elwood. Initially sentenced to 11 years in prison, he was released on parole in 2011, which would have lasted until March this year.

However, in February last year, he was accused of assaulting a man, with Geelong Magistrates Court sentencing him to three months in prison.

Bayley appealed against the prison term, freeing him from custody and ultimately allowing him to drag Ms Meagher into a laneway off Brunswick’s Hope Street to rape and strangle her.

The pre-sentence hearing was told that four months after his first rape, Bayley attempted to rape a 16-year-old hitchhiker he picked up in his car. He was sentenced to five years in prison for these first two assaults in 1991, but was released after two years.

In 2002, he pleaded guilty to 16 counts of rape committed between September 2000 and March 2001.

Bayley would drive prostitutes to a laneway behind a string of shops in Elwood, where he would park his car close to the wall so they couldn’t open the passenger door to escape.

At the time of the 2002 trial, Judge Tony Duckett said that Bayley had subjected his victims to “deliberate humiliation.”

“You used an array of threats and violence to force your victims to satisfy your gross sexual appetite,” judge Duckett said.

“Your conduct went far beyond mere sexual gratification.”

In the Victorian Supreme Court today, defence barrister Saul Holt said that Bayley accepted that a life sentence was “appropriate”, but asked for a specific non-parole period so that he had the chance of being released in the future.

Professor James Ogloff, a psychologist, told the court Bayley claims to have been sexually abused by his father and a female relative from the age of nine.

Bayley also told Mr Ogloff that he had feelings of remorse for what he had done and had attempted suicide after being arrested over Ms Meagher’s rape and murder.

Crown prosecutor, Gavin Silbert SC, said Bayley should never be released.

The prosecution played CCTV footage in court that showed Ms Meagher’s final moments, as she walked home along Sydney Road at 1.30am.

Ms Meagher (29) spoke briefly to her brother in Ireland on the phone before being attacked by Bayley.

Bayley left her body in the laneway until 4.22am, when he returned in his Holden Astra. He drove Ms Meagher’s body to Gisborne South, about 45km from the scene of the crime, where he buried her in a shallow grave.

George McKeon, Ms Meagher’s father, told the court: “It is just not okay to rape and murder my child.”

“It was a brutal end 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.”

A friend of Ms Meagher, Effie Lyons, spoke about declining an invitation to meet up with her friend on the night she died.

“I had a missed call from her shortly before she died. I was asleep, about 100 metres from where it happened,” she said in her victim impact statement.

“I am acutely aware that under slightly different circumstances, Jill could be here reading a statement about me.”

Bayley will be sentenced on Wednesday June 19th, at 9.30am.

Additional reporting: Guardian