Tom Meagher faces Jill's 'grotesque' killer

Tom Meagher has spoken in front of his late wife's killer Adrian Bayley and the SUPREME Court, saying he's felt like 'half a human' since she died.
What do we remember of Jill Meagher? She was taken horribly and she will never come back. The man who has pleaded guilty to her rape and MURDER has appeared in court again ahead of his sentencing next week and we know what we think of him. But what of her? The Irish girl, the one with the beautiful smile.
It was a week before the football grand final last year when a picture of her STARTED going around social media in Melbourne, gathering speed, concern gathering too. Then it hit the mainstream. She looked very open and warm in that first and still the most enduring picture. She looked like a young woman many people might know or might like to know.
In it she was standing near an open door wearing bright red lipstick and that radiant smile. Behind her was a shelf full of BOOKS. But the only reason we saw the picture was because she was gone. It would have been better to have never seen it at all.
Tens of thousands of people walk up Sydney Road in Brunswick in a peace march following Jill Meagher's death.
Tens of thousands of people walk up Sydney Road in Brunswick in a peace march following Jill Meagher's death. Photo: Jason South
Five days later after extraordinary police work and a series of events both real and symbolic, 29 white doves were released at her funeral, one for each of her years lived and all of them, the family explained, to denote her free spirit.
Jill Meagher lived in Brunswick and she had been out drinking on a Friday night with friends at two local bars after knocking off work at the ABC, where she worked as a coordinator in local radio and radio news.
She had decided to walk the short distance home by herself – actively decided, knocking back an offer from a friend who wanted to walk her -- and during the course of that short walk, near the imperfectly named Hope Street off Sydney Road, she was intercepted by Adrian Bayley, the Man in the Blue Hoodie, a man who at the time was on the prowl and very angry because of a perceived slight toward him from his girlfriend.
Jill Meagher and husband Tom on their wedding day.Click for more photos

Jill Meagher in pictures

Jill Meagher and husband Tom on their wedding day. Photo: Supplied
  • Jill Meagher and husband Tom on their wedding day.
  • Jill Meagher and husband Tom.
  • Jill Meagher and husband Tom.
  • ABC staffer Jill Meagher, pictured in July 2012.
  • Jill Meagher's mother Edith McKeon.
  • Jill Meagher in a photograph used for her memorial.
  • Jill Meagher.
  • A memorial at Jill Meagher's funeral.
  • A man places flowers at the site in Gisborne where Jill's body was found buried in a shallow grave.
The Supreme Court has now lifted the suppression order on his violent past revealing the 41-year-old had been committing brutal sexual crimes against women for half his life including five rapes in six months in 2000. The Victorian Parole Board failed to cancel his parole after a violent assault and a judge's warning that the public needed to be protected.
Bayley told police that before he violated and killed Meagher he had tried to talk to her when he saw her walking unsteadily down Sydney Road after midnight but she had “flipped” him and that made him even angrier than he was before.
Prosecutors say he raped her three times off Hope Street then strangled her. He went home to Coburg then later came back and took her body in his car to a dirt road near Gisborne where he shallow-buried her in the rain between a wattle tree and a farm fence.
picture Justin McManus.
Grave site on Blackhill rd. Gisbourne South where murdered woman Jill Meagher's body was found.
The spot where Jill Meagher was dumped and buried, then memorialised. Photo: Justin McManus
During this uneasy period in Melbourne two other homicides were playing out – two other women killed by men who by rights were not supposed to have been able to do so. One was Sarah Cafferkey, 20, of Bacchus Marsh, killed by a man she was friendly with who had been in prison for murder before and who had, according to court documents, “a history of substantial amphetamine use.” The man dumped her in a wheelie bin. His parole had only just expired.
The other woman was Sargun Ragi, murdered in Kew by her husband who had been banned from contact with her through a restraining order because of domestic violence. She was reportedly stabbed and then burnt. The man also died in the incident.
Jill Meagher's ugly death prompted two mass marches in Melbourne, one of 30,000 people and the other of 6000. A collective notion about rape and respect for women shifted for the good both times. Flowers and tributes from people who never knew her piled up outside the last place she was seen alive. She and her image and the terrible nature of her death mesmerised the city. Ragi and Cafferkey not so much.
“Jill's death tapped into all women's collective fears of the stranger and the dark alley,” says RMIT's Dr Anastasia Powell, a PHD in criminology and expert in hate-crimes against women.
But despite being a primal fear, it hardly ever happens. According to Dr Powell's research for VicHealth the most common form of death for Victorian women AGED 15-44 is "intimate partner violence". Not cars, not smoking, but being killed by a man they know.
Dr Powell also talks about a “broader global conversation about rape culture” that was happening when Jill Meagher was raped and killed, and this is true, there was a very real new-feminist uprising prior to, during and also after her death, which contributed to it being a kind of flashpoint, albeit one that appalled men as much as women.
“Jill was saying 'yes, I drink', and 'yes, I walk home alone' and 'yes, I wear high-heels'” says Dr Kirsty Duncanson, a social scientist of Latrobe University. “But she was also saying 'why shouldn't I?'”
State GOVERNMENT MONEY for more CCTV cameras was offered freely to inner-city councils in October last year, after the funeral. But the State Action Plan to Address Violence Against Women and their Children, released in the same month, had no new funding for domestic violence justice responses.
Then there was Jill Meagher's demographic. Her "type". White, employed, inner-city. Not a criminal. The ABC radio broadcaster Jon Faine knew Jill Meagher well, as did many of the ABC journalists covering her story. They saw her alive every day. Faine was able to say on air, when her body was found: “Jill's death must not come to define us. That's not what it's like to live in the Melbourne that we know,” and “…we will pay our respect to our friend, our colleague, and there is a very empty space in our office THIS MORNING.”
To Dr Duncanson, she was given a “personhood” by some media, particularly the ABC, who were very CLOSE to the story. The swiftly unfolding investigation, through video footage, social media and mainstream media, added to the intimacy.
“She became multi-dimensional, her story became richer,” Dr Duncanson says. “The people testifying to the shock of what happened weren't the abstract family representatives articulating their grief. It was her colleagues who viewers 'know'…as PEOPLE WHO join them in their living rooms every evening or journey with them to and from work on the radio.”
Duncanson says this victim "emblematically represented" the new Brunswick demographic of “young, white, middle class, UNIVERSITY EDUCATED, professional women”, many “newly married, or in long-term relationships and contemplating having children. Or else they have had children, and Jill Meagher very much appeared to be a younger version of themselves. So there is very much a sense of 'it could have been me.'”
So what then do we remember of her? I remember her funeral, one of the most extraordinary things I've seen, so joyous and celebratory and unconventional in the face of stone cold horror.
Melbourne and Victoria and Australia – and Ireland – will remember that picture of her smiling in front of the bookshelf. Many will also against their wishes also remember the media image of Adrian Bayley as he first EMERGED into the public gaze last year, muscle-bound and intimidating.
And of course we will always remember the unnerving video footage from inside the bridal boutique on Sydney Road, Brunswick, PLAYING out like some kind of ghastly reality TV nightmare, showing exactly how it came to be that he had the opportunity to do what he wanted or what he felt he needed to do to her.