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Accused set to change plea and admit murdering Jill Meagher: reports

Local media say Adrian Ernest Bayley’s court date has been moved forward, with speculation that he could change his plea.

A mourner holds a booklet with Jill Meagher's face during a memorial Mass in her native Co Louth last October.
A mourner holds a booklet with Jill Meagher's face during a memorial Mass in her native Co Louth last October.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

REPORTS IN AUSTRALIA say that the man charged with the murder of Louth woman Jill Meagher in Melbourne last year may change his plea and admit to murder tomorrow.

Adrian Bayley, 41, pleaded not guilty to murdering Meagher on September 22 last year, and had admitted only one of three charges of rape put against him – but it is now reported that Bayley could admit to the other charges as early as tomorrow.

The Age newspaper in Victoria reports that Bayley has capitulated after being refused a plea deal by the Office of Public Prosecutions.

Bayley had reportedly offered to plead guilty if the murder charge was reduced to manslaughter, but prosecutors refused.

The change of plea would have meant that Bayley could expect a shortened jail sentence, as his plea would avoid the need for a lengthy trial.

Court records show that Bayley has been scheduled to appear before the acting president of the Victoria Supreme Court tomorrow for an arraignment hearing – a procedure where an accused formally enters a plea against a criminal charge.

News.com.au said Bayley was expected to enter a guilty plea against the murder charge.

It cited records of interviews between Bayley and homocide detectives, where the 41-year-old admitted needing to take “responsibility” for his actions – and even said he hoped the death penalty could be reintroduced before he was sentenced.

“It’s no life, man,” it quoted him as saying. “They should have the death penalty for people like me anyway.”

He said he had stopped to speak to Meagher, who was last seen walking home after a night out with work colleagues, because she appeared lost and he wanted to help her. He said he had been aggravated when Meagher had dismissed him and “flipped me off”.

Bayley was due to stand trial for murder in September, in a hearing that was deliberately timed to avoid both the anniversary of Meagher’s death and what would have been her 31st birthday.

Read: Jill Meagher accused to face trial on 30 September

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Gavan Reilly

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