State premier ‘shocked, surprised and astounded’ killer had still been on the streets

Judge allows details of Bayley’s violent history of rapes and assaults to be revealed

Murder victim Jill Meagher

Murder victim Jill Meagher


The premier of Victoria, the Australian state in which Irish woman Jill Meagher was murdered last year, said yesterday he was “shocked, surprised and astounded” her killer Adrian Bayley had still been out on the streets, free to kill her.

Bayley (41), who has pleaded guilty to her rape and murder, was out on parole at the time of the killing.

At his pre-sentence hearing yesterday in the Victorian Supreme Court, his lawyers said he accepted he should be given a life sentence for the killing the Co Louth woman.

Justice Geoffrey Nettle lifted a suppression order, allowing details of Bayley’s violent history to be revealed. He had been found guilty of more than 20 rape and assault offences dating back to 1990.

Bayley is to be sentenced next week.

Denis Napthine, premier of Victoria, told a press conference later: “This is a very serious and sad situation . . . there is no doubt the system failed Jill Meagher”.

Dr Napthine said the tragic case was a major reason why the government was determined to conduct a “root and branch” review of the parole board.

“Parole in Victoria is a privilege, not a right. That is why my government has changed the Victorian parole laws so that sex and violent offenders, who commit further offences while on parole, will go straight back to jail.”

He said under the changes to the law introduced after Ms Meagher’s death, Bayley would have gone straight back to jail after he broke his parole when he assaulted a man in Geelong in August 2011.

“Our actions are the minimum we can do to try and make sure this never, ever happens again,” he said.

“The system was flawed. The system failed Jill Meagher.”

The state government recently asked former high court judge Ian Callinan to review the workings of the parole board.

Paul Bell, the mayor of Drogheda, Ms Meagher’s home town, said she was the innocent victim of “an evil crime” and that questions need to be answered about how her killer was at large in the community.

In court yesterday, emotional victim impact statements were delivered on behalf of her family and friends. Bayley’s lawyer, Saul Holt SC, said his client understood he should be given a life sentence.

Part of Bayley’s apology read to the court said: “I’d like to apologise for my actions. That night I destroyed a precious life and many others. I do not ask for forgiveness.”

Chilling CCTV footage of Bayley’s movements in the hours before and after he raped and murdered Jill Meagher were also released to the media.

The summary of evidence also released reveals he and his then girlfriend argued about his possessiveness and jealousy. A friend with them calls it a night and leaves in a taxi. Bayley’s girlfriend tells him she is going to the toilet, then slips out of the bar and also hails a taxi.

Soon afterwards comes the now infamous vision of Bayley talking to Ms Meagher outside a boutique as she walked home following a Friday night out with work colleagues.

It was shortly after this that Bayley raped and murdered her in a laneway off Hope Street. He then went back to his Coburg home and put a shovel in his white Holden Astra, according to the police summary.

Grainy CCTV film showed the Astra entering the laneway at 4.22am and then leaving at 4.25am. The summary alleges that with Ms Meagher’s body in the boot of the car, Bayley drove out of town and buried her.

He got back in the car and started driving back towards the Calder Highway, but ran out of petrol. An unsuspecting motorist stopped to help, agreeing to drive Bayley to a Caltex service station in Sunbury.

The driver dropped Bayley back at the broken-down Astra and continued on his way.– (Additional reporting by the Age)