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Tom Meagher: To say the words 'my wife is missing' really just guts you

Jill Meagher’s husband says he will always hate his wife’s killer, Adrian Bayley.

Image: RTÉ Screengrab

TOM MEAGHER APPEARED on the Late Late Show last night and recalled the horrifying hours of 22 September 2012 when he realised his wife Jill was in trouble.

The 29-year-old Irish woman had gone for a night out with colleagues in Melbourne but by 1.30am she had stopped answering her phone and failed to return text messages.

“It was around 1.30 in the morning and I wasn’t overly concerned,” Meagher told Ryan Tubridy. ”It’s not outrageous that she’s out at 1.30 in the morning but as the seconds started going by and she wasn’t answering her phone and she wasn’t answering her text.”

“I started getting very panicked between 1.40am to 2am. And then from then on, it escalated,” he said, describing his “blind panic”.

“I phoned a couple of her friends. But obviously it was so late. None of her friends had heard from her.

I went out looking for her which was really a strange thing to do. Because, the streets were just completely empty. There was nobody on the streets. It was really eerie.

“You don’t know where to look. It’s just silence. This was 4 or 5 in the morning. You’re just walking around and you reach a point, ‘This city is so expansive. Where else can I look? What else can I do?’”

The next step was to call the police.

“That was a very confronting phone call to have to make. In the sense that you have to say the words my wife is missing. Just to say those words really just guts you,” continued Meagher, who said he clung to officers’ reassurances that his wife may have “gone out on a bender”.

I had to cling to something. I was hoping she had woke up on somebody’s couch. The likelihood of it happening was so slim but you had to cling to something.

Chilling CCTV  

Six days later, police released CCTV footage from outside a clothing store, located close to both the bar Jill had been out in and her home.

In the short clip, viewers could see a young woman – Jill – being approached by a man in a blue hoody. It soon transpired that the man was Adrian Bayley.

“I knew as soon as I saw that man standing in the doorway, he had done something to her,” revealed Meagher.

Jill hasn’t been home since Friday night and there is this man lurking in a shop doorway. The fact that you can see almost her last moments is horrifying.

He described the moment as numbing and chilling.

Source: fast time/YouTube

That night, detectives arrested Bayley and told the Meagher family that they were confident they had caught the right man, despite a lack of confession.

However, ten minutes after that update, Bayley confessed and eventually led police to a shallow grave 50km away, where Jill’s body had been buried.

Past horrors

Meagher spoke about how he went on to examine Bayley’s past in the wake of Jill’s murder. He was on parole when he raped and killed her.

“Prior to Jill’s murder, he had raped five women in the most brutal way you can imagine,” Meagher said last night.

“He did eight years for those rapes – for 16 counts of rape. He did eight years. Got 11, did eight. When he assaulted that man, he was on parole. It wasn’t cancelled. He was allowed to walk the streets.

I read court documents from the 2002 case when he raped those five women. I literally vomitted it was so disgusting. So brutal. I don’t know how anyone could have read those documents and let this man back out on the streets, ever.

Meagher held meetings with Melbourne’s patrol board to ascertain how Bayley’s parole had not been revoked following the assault.

The chairman conceded that there had been an error on the board’s part.

“They admitted they were at fault for not cancelling his parole when he assaulted that man. But that was it. That was as far as they would go. They still didn’t admit they were wrong to let him out in the first place – granting him his parole in the first place.”

‘I hate him’

Last Friday, Meagher published a blog to explain why he had decided to stand as an advocate against men’s violence towards women.

He mentioned the moment he heard Bayley speak out loud for the first time. He said it shocked him to hear a human, to hear him construct an intelligible sentence.

“I just froze. It was a moment of realisation that this man could be someone you pass on the street. Someone you worked with. And there has been  plenty of people who have come out afterwards and said they had no idea. And, how would you? These people don’t advertise themselves, obviously,” he added last night.

He didn’t say anything, you know. It was just a very ordinary sentence. It was just that he had formed that sentence. Something about that, I can’t explain what it is, punched me in the gut.

“I think it was because, I had assumed he was some snarling monster, some sort of inhuman – well, he is inhumane – but something other than human.”

Meagher said that he still hates his wife’s killer, noting that “ I’d have to have some religious experience to get to a point where I don’t”.

“At first, I had lots of thoughts of revenge. Lots of violent thoughts. I came to a point where I realised how self-destructive that was. But that didn’t happen overnight. That took a long time.”

Source: HotNews/YouTube

Talking about the present, Meagher said the White Ribbon Campaign has focused him and channeled his feelings into a more positive and productive action.

“I’m struggling on…the campaign has focused me,” he told Tubridy.

“We’re trying to engage men to fight the violence against women that you don’t see – well, all violence against women – but a lot of the violence against women you don’t see because of a don’t ask, don’t tell policy in society.

“The reason we are trying to engage men is because, well, number one, men are the overwhelming primary perpetrators of this crime and number two, most men are not violent. We want to make those men leaders of their peer groups. And to challenge those men when they say disparaging things about women or things they are uncomfortable aobut.”

Alan O’Neill, CEO of the Men’s Development Network which runs the campaign, was also briefly interviewed during the segment.

In a powerful moment, he asked the presenter to scan the 200-strong audience.

“In the last 20 years, 200 women have been murdered,” he said. “…117 of them in their own homes.”

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Fun loving and vivacious

At the top of the interview, Tom spoke about the start of his relationship with Jill back in 2001 in UCD, where they were both studying.

“We hit it off immediately, obviously. She was studying Sociology and English, so we were both doing Arts degrees. She was significantly more well-read than I was.

“She was quite an intimidating presence – she was always reading difficult literature. But she was a really fun-loving person, really vivacious and just a light in any room.”

The couple went travelling, spending a year in Melbourne “as young people always do”.

“Jill fell in love with Melbourne – just the lively atmosphere, the great lifestyle there,” added Meagher.  ”We came back to Ireland but had decided that one day we’d go back there. We got married in the meantime in 2008. We went back in 2009.

“Life was great…Jill was absolutely unstoppable.”

To find out more about the White Ribbon Campaign in Ireland visit the website or read Tom Meagher’s blog.  People can donate €4 to the campaign by texting WHITE RIBBON to 50300.

Watch the interview on the RTÉ Player here>

Tom Meagher on Late Late Show to take stand against men’s violence towards women

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