herald

Saturday 19 August 2017

'I could have saved Jill if I'd gone to the police'

Haunted: Ex-girlfriend of convicted killer Bayley says he raped her

THE former girlfriend of Jill Meagher's killer fears that she may have been able to prevent the horrific murder.

Loretta O'Neill has claimed that she was raped by Adrian Ernest Bayley in 2011 – but never made a complaint to police.

Ms O'Neill has said she will always regret not reporting the attack as it may have saved Jill's life.

Bayley will serve at least 35 years in jail for the abduction, rape and murder of the Drogheda woman.

"If I had gone to the cops and he was arrested, he would have been locked up and that poor woman could have been saved," Ms O'Neill said.

According to the mother-of-two, she is deeply affected by guilt and "what if" scenarios. She said she only found out about Bayley's horrific crimes when she was watching television on the night of his arrest.

Asked by an Australian magazine what message she had for the Meagher family, Ms O'Neill said: "I am so very, very, sorry."

It emerged last month that Bayley has lodged an appeal against the length of his sentence in the Australian Supreme Court. The development infuriated Jill's husband, Cabinteely man Tom Meagher.

Before handing down the sentence, Australian magistrate Geoffrey Nettle said Bayley's crimes ranked among the worst he had ever dealt with.

"The rape was savage and degrading. Your killing of the deceased ranks among the worst kind conceivable," he said.

Outrage

Jill disappeared while walking home from a night out in the Brunswick area of Melbourne on September 22 last year.

Her body was discovered several days later in a shallow grave outside the city.

The crimes sparked outrage in Australia and led to demands for a change to the country's law after it emerged that Bayley had been out on parole at the time of Jill's murder.

Meanwhile, a planned monument to Jill Meagher, which was proposed by mayor Oscar Yildiz in Brunswick has met with strong opposition.

Domestic violence campaigner Phil Cleary, whose sister Vicki was killed in the same area in 1987, attacked the idea on local radio station 3AW.

"Let's be candid; I think it's quite disgraceful," he said.

"There are a number of women over the years who have been murdered in Moreland.

"If you're going to have a monument, it's a generic monument about violence and women, not about picking out one woman.

"And I don't think her husband, Tom Meagher, would be agreeable on this.

"What is the mayor thinking? I just can't believe it," Mr Cleary said.

noconnor@herald.ie

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