The husband of Jill Meagher, the Drogheda woman raped and murdered in Australia two years ago, has spoken out about his wife’s killer, saying he will never be able to forgive him.
Tom Meagher revealed strong feelings of hatred towards serial rapist Adrian Bayley, currently serving a 35-year jail sentence.
“He occupies my thoughts a lot less but every time he does occupy my thoughts I wish him nothing but harm. That’s not a pleasant thing to say, it’s not a pleasant thing to feel, but it’s also the truth.”
Jill had been walking home from a night out. Her body was found six days later in a shallow grave 50km from her home in Melbourne.
The public response to her murder was widespread. More than 30,000 people marched down Sydney Road in her memory three days after she was found.
After the tragedy, Tom said he became “obsessed” with Bayley, who has a long history of rape, and with the motivation behind men who commit such violent crimes.
He said: “It became an obsession to figure out what was going on, first of all what was going on with him, second of all what was going on with a system that would allow him to be on the streets in the first place.”
At the killer’s trial, Tom was struck by how human Bayley appeared.
“I didn’t expect him to be human at all. I had heard him make sort of utterances before but they were always kind of monosyllabic utterances into his chest. But I’d never actually heard him form a full sentence and it kind of triggered something in me that was a little bit… It triggered a need to know where this violence comes from.”
Tom began to research Bayley’s life, reading about his tumultuous early years.
“His father was quite abusive, physically abusive towards him and there was some talk about a woman who had abused him when he was about nine-years-old… Certainly there was a cycle of violence that went on in his life.”
Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke, Tom said he was physically ill when he heard about the pain Bayley had inflicted on other victims, the attacks spanning years of sexual crimes.
Tom also ruled out any form of rehabilitation for Bayley, saying he’d “gone way, way too far”.
“I think he’s done this too many times and he keeps repeating the same crime and there’s just no way back from that.”
Tom returned to Ireland last year and is currently working on the White Ribbon Project which encourages non-violent men to help end violence against women. The group is setting up a schools programme and has received support from groups including the FAI and the IRFU.
“These people have a lot of influence in the country and if they’re speaking out about it it’s a powerful message.”
The aim of the initiative is to encourage men to speak out against abuse and make it socially unacceptable.
“Our idea is to get a critical mass of non-violent men to make this really unacceptable so the stigma is shifted from the victim to the perpetrator.”
Tom also praised the efforts of feminism in recent years and draws on the movement for inspiration.
“The job of feminism is almost a bloodless revolution really like, it’s incredible. It’s something we always have to look at as a paradigm for how we should do things. And I think we have made massive progress, particularly among young people.”
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