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Jill Meagher's murderer sentenced to life in prison.

Jill Meagher

UPDATE 2: Jill Meagher’s husband, Tom, appeared on ABC’s 7.30 Report tonight. Although he has said little publicly since losing his wife, he gave a deeply moving interview this evening in remembrance of Jill. 

“My life completely and utterly changed in that one night. The support of family friends really pulled me through, and are still pulling me through. Nobody’s given up on me for a second,” Tom said. 

In his sentencing, Justice Nettle described Bayley as displaying “some small degree of genuine remorse”, an assessment which Tom refutes. 

“I don’t see how he was remorseful. I don’t see how a man who continually does the same thing over and over again, could be considered remorseful,” he explained. 

The most moving portion of the interview came when Tom was asked to describe what his wife had been like while she was alive. Clearing his throat, Tom said, “You would have met the funniest girl in the world. She was incredibly funny, and incredibly witty. Just so smart and intelligent. She brightened up any room she was in.”

Tom Meagher on ABC’s 7.30 Report

Tom explained that remembering Jill was difficult but said that, “It’s worth it to try, it’s worth it to try and remember Jill.” 

UPDATE: Adrian Earnest Bayley – the man who raped and killed 29-year-old Melbourne woman Jill Meagher – has been sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 35 years.

People in the public gallery were reportedly crying as Justice Geoffrey Nettle delivered the sentence in front of Meagher’s family and husband, Tom.

Justice Nettle described Bayley’s crimes as “heinous”. He said Bayley had wrecked many lives with his crimes and that the sentence should have regard to that. “Your killing of the deceased ranks among the worst kind,” Justice Nettle said.

Justice Nettle said Bayley continued to pose a threat to the general community of that protection of the community is paramount.

In a statement following the sentencing, Jill Meagher’s father spoke on behalf of her family saying: “Justice has been done”.

Last week when a suppression order was lifted on Bayley’s case, it was revealed that the 41-year-old had a history of violent crimes -including at least 20 convictions of rape and assault – and should have been in jail when he attacked Meagher.

At the time, Mamamia Editor Jamila Rizvi wrote:

I did not know Jill Meagher.

I never spoke to her. Or joked with her. I never saw her break out into giggles, nor did I ever seek out her wisdom or advice. I never hugged her in excitement, slapped her on the back in jest, praised her or congratulated her on her efforts. I never comforted her or calmed her, or counseled her or cared for her.

I never loved her.

But like countless other Australians, I know her smiling face. And I know her story.

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Or at least, I know how it ended.

Jill Meagher disappeared from a busy Melbourne street in September 2012. As her husband went to the police, desperately worried about why his beloved Jill has not returned home that night, the Australian public watched, wished and prayed with him during the days of agonising but desperate hope for her safe return.

Together, our whole country watched in horror as Jill’s damaged body was discovered and uncovered, as her harrowed family spoke of their loss and live on our television screens, lived out the stuff that nightmares are made of.

Next we saw Jill’s killer confess to police, we watched the spine-tingling security camera footage of his initial approach to the victim, and then, in turn, we were shocked as Adrian Bayley denied the murder charges brought against him, presumably in the hope of bargaining his way to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

No longer willing to be mere silent spectators of this random and senseless act of murder, tens of thousands of people took to the streets; all marching under the banner of Jill’s name.

And yesterday, as the Victorian Supreme Court lifted the supression order that shielded Jill’s killer from the distraught and angry critique of the media and the public, we learned that Jill’s death could have been prevented.

That Jill’s death should have been prevented.

I did not know Jill Meagher. But I know her story.

Or at least, I know how it ended.

A court reporter’s depiction of Adrian Bayley.

Adrian Bayley was not a one-time offender.

He was a violent man, who had been charged, tried and convicted of the rape of multiple women. He was a sexual predator.

He had served more than eight years in prison and while on parole, he had broken the jaw of a man in a Geelong and was consequently convicted of yet another violent crime.

He appealed that sentence.

Three months jail time was too harsh for a mere bar fight gone awry he argued.

And while the wheels of justice gradually turned, in their painstakingly slow and frustrating way, Bayley freely walked the streets of Melbourne. And he was able to offend again.

This time, raping the 29-year-old Jill Meagher three times, strangling her and then returning home briefly, before dumping her body in a shallow grave near Gisborne.

I did not know Jill Meagher. But I know her story.

Or at least, I know how it ended.

As a layperson, with little understanding or appreciation of the intricacies of our sentencing and parole system, I stand side-by-side with the rest of the Australian public and ask: How was this allowed to happen?

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How could a man who has committed multiple violent sex crimes be allowed to offend again? How could a man who had been convicted of an assault while on parole, not be behind bars?

How was a sentence of 11 years a sufficient punishment for his past crimes? How could the system have gotten it so wrong to have assessed this man was adequately rehabilitated and no longer a threat to society after only eight years?

How can the maximum sentence for rape is 25 years and yet he be permitted to serve less than a decade behind bars? How can a justice system be about deterrence when this human being was allowed to go free?

I did not know Jill Meagher. But I know her story.

Or at least, I know how it ended.

Peace march in Melbourne.

I have thought at length about why this woman’s death – unlike the many other Australian women who lose their lives at the hands of violence each year – has drawn so much public attention.

The outpouring of sincere and deeply felt grief by so many people, who like me, did not know Jill Meagher, has been quite remarkable. Seemingly endless column inches have been dedicated to Jill’s brutal rape and murder, and as consumers of the media, we have inhaled it.

And I think the reason is the very simple and singular thought: That could have been me.

Over the past 9 months, my girlfriends and I have shared tales in hushed undertones of crossing to the other side of the street because the man walking behind us made us uneasy.

We have haltingly admitted to each other that, that yes, we do a quick visual assessment in our heads of whether the guy at the bus stop might be dangerous or not.

We have bitten our lips in embarrassment as we confess to faking mobile phone calls, or holding a set of keys in our fists with the sharp end point out, or changing into a flat pair of shoes in preparedness to run.

It’s silly. It’s catastrophising. It’s all in our heads.

But we do it. Just. In. Case.

Because we don’t feel safe. And the fact that Jill Meagher’s life was taken by a man known to the police, a man previously convicted of violent crimes, a man who had raped women, a man who was freely walking the streets of Melbourne…. will only serve to make us feel more unsafe.

I did not know Jill Meagher. But I know her story.

Or, at least, I know how it ended: With every woman’s worst fear, becoming her reality.

If you’d like to petition Mark Dreyfus, QC MP, Attorney General Australia and the Hon Greg Smith, MP, Attorney General NSW for stronger sentencing for rape in Australia you can do so here.

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