Real Life

Tom Meagher gives his first interview since his wife Jill Meagher’s horrific death.

Tom Meagher: 'The justice system failed Jill'

Tom Meagher gives his first interview since his wife Jill Meagher's horrific death.

The husband of murdered rape victim Jill Meagher has slammed the justice system that he says failed to protect his wife.

In an interview following the conviction of Adrian Ernest Bayley, the man who raped and murdered his 29-year-old wife, Tom Meagher described Jill’s killer as “unreprentantly evil” saying he had been let off too many times.

Bayley was yesterday sentenced to 15 years in prison for rape and life for murder with a non-parole period of 35 years. Mr Meagher told ABC’s 7.30 his sentence was “a disgrace”.

“Given what this man has done in the past, I think that 15 years is a disgrace, considering the maximum penalty for rape is 25,” he said.

“I don’t know what the maximum penalty is for if it’s not for that man. Who else could fit the bill of a maximum sentence for rape than Adrian Ernest Bayley?”

He was first jailed in 1991 for sexual assault and served just 22 months of a five-year sentence, and in September 2000 he was jailed for a minimum of eight years for the rape of five women over a six-month period.

Having served only half of his sentence, Bayley was on parole in September last year when he raped and murdered Jill Meagher.

Mr Meagher said that the justice system had failed in punishing Bayley appropriately in his previous convictions.

“I think the number one priority [of the parole board] should be to protect the innocent. That’s what they didn’t do in this case and that’s why Jill’s not here,” he said.

Bayley’s previous attacks were on sex workers, and Mr Meagher said the leniency with which these crimes were treated by the justice system sent “a disturbing message”.

“Put it like this: if he’d raped five people like Jill that many times in that brutal a fashion, I don’t think he would have served eight years in prison,” he said.

“What it says to women is if we don’t like what you do, you won’t get justice, and what it says to people like Bayley is not ‘don’t rape’, but ‘be careful who you rape’.”

Mr Meagher said he remembers his wife as “the funniest girl in the world”, but that it is was still painful to think of her and what happened the night her life ended and his “changed forever”.

“It took ages to kind of separate my memories of her from what happened to her,” he said.

“I love to think about her, but it’s often very intrusive.”

Jill’s father John McKeon spoke yesterday following Bayley’s sentencing remembering his daughter who lived a life “filled with family, friends, and her beloved Tom”.

He thanked police and prosecutors, saying “justice has now been served”.

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