‘You have stolen from her parents their entitlement to see their daughter blossom’

Bayley, who was placed on the sex offenders register for life, bowed his head and showed no emotion as he was led away

 

Standing outside the Melbourne court where his daughter Jill Meagher’s rapist and murderer had been jailed for at least 35 years, an emotional George McKeon declared justice had been done.

‘‘Jill lived a life full of family, friends and her beloved Tom,’’ Mr McKeon said as he stood beside his wife, Edith, and son Michael on the steps of the Victorian Supreme Court building.

‘‘Jill was brutally raped and murdered and is never coming back.

“Because of Ben Leonard and the team at Victoria Police and Richard Lewis and his colleagues at Public Prosecutions Victoria, justice has now been done.

“Police and prosecutors, we thank you.”

Jill’s husband, Tom, who stood behind the McKeon family and at one stage put a protective arm over Mrs McKeon, did not comment.

The McKeons and Mr Meagher had earlier sat in the packed courtroom just metres from Jill’s killer, Adrian Ernest Bayley (41), who was seated in the dock flanked by five security guards, to watch him being jailed for life with a minimum term of 35 years.

Mrs McKeon, who has not been well and did not attend Bayley’s pre-sentence hearing last week, was in court yesterday to see the man who took her only daughter from her punished. She drank nervously from a cup of water and sat close to her husband while waiting for Justice Geoffrey Nettle to enter the courtroom just after 9.30am. Michael McKeon sat nearby while Mr Meagher took a seat at the back of the court.

Justice Nettle said Ms Meagher’s rape and murder has had ‘‘profound, terrible effects on the lives of other people.

‘‘On the evidence before me, Jillian Meagher was a vibrant, talented young woman who in all probability had the greater and best part of her life still in front of her,” the judge told Bayley.

‘‘By your crimes, you have deprived her of all that. You have also deprived her husband of her love and companionship and the prospect of the children to which they looked forward together.

‘‘You have stolen from her parents their entitlement to see their daughter blossom and mature as they grow old and to bear the grandchildren to which they looked forward.

‘‘And you have taken away from her brother the love and support of his only sister.

‘‘Each of their victim impact statements tells of grief and a sense of loss and dismay, which, for those of us who have not experienced it, can only be imagined.

‘‘The sentence I am to impose on you must have regard to to the suffering you have caused them.’’

Justice Nettle said while he saw little reason to suppose that Bayley would ever be rehabilitated given his past, he could not exclude the chance of improvement.

‘‘As bad as your crimes are, you will have the opportunity in jail to strive for rehabilitation and I propose to set a non-parole period as an incentive for you to try.’’

Justice Nettle sentenced Bayley, who had been on parole and on bail when he attacked Ms Meagher, to life imprisonment for murder and 15 years for rape and ordered he serve a non-parole period of 35 years.

He said if Bayley had not pleaded guilty he would have jailed him for life with no parole.

Bayley, who was placed on the sex offenders register for life, bowed his head and showed no emotion as he was led away.