Thousands march to pay tribute to Jill Meagher

It took superhuman effort to talk at all in the face of such appalling tragedy, but Edith McKeon somehow found the strength to thank the thousands that turned out in support of her murdered daughter.

Having travelled almost 3,500km from Perth to Melbourne to take part in a peace march in memory of 29-year-old Jill Meagher, Ms McKeon thanked the public for their support over the past number of days.

“I would like to thank the huge support here in Melbourne, it’s just been unbelievable. Just thank you, simply thank you,” she said.

“And I hope they put more cameras in here to keep people safe. And just thank you everybody, everybody for all your support.”

CCTV images played a significant role in helping police track down the Co Louth woman’s killer. It was after they released footage of Jill talking to a man wearing a blue hoodie on Sydney Road, Brunswick in Melbourne, that the breakthrough came and 41-year- old Adrian Ernest Bayley was later charged with her rape and murder.

Jill was on her way home when she vanished on the short walk to the apartment she shared with husband Thomas Meagher, less than a mile from Bar Etiquette in Sydney Road, Brunswick, where earlier she had celebrated a night out with colleagues from ABC radio. Her body was found in a shallow grave last Thursday, less than 30km away from the spot where she was last seen on Sept 22.

Those who took part in yesterday’s march held aloft flowers, photos of Jill and placards as they walked along the same street where she was last seen alive.

The marchers said that they had come joined in grief and called for more to be done to protect the local community.

“We’re shattered by what has happened… It could have happened to anybody,” said one woman.

A man marching said: “I’m worried about my kids. I’m sending a message to the authorities — get tough on this. We’ve had enough of it.”

Earlier in the day, traffic was closed to Sydney Road for more than an hour to accommodate the march.

Many carried signs urging an end to violence but not an end to women’s right to walk the streets at night.

“No Violence. Remember Jill Meagher,” read one placard.

“You should be able to go out at your own free will and feel safe doing it,” said Marilyn Sant, from Yarraville, 8km west of Melbourne.

Karyn Richardson, a mother of three daughters, said: “We just wanted to do something to try and stop this violence because you can’t help but think it could’ve been your own daughter.”

Police estimated more than 30,000 attended the march which stretched over a kilometre from Moreland Road to Brunswick Street.

Along the way, many men, women and children stopped to lay flowers at the Duchess Boutique. Others paused at the Brunswick Baptist Church to light a candle and say a prayer.

A condolence book was available outside the church for people to express their condolences.

One note summed up the spirit of the march: “Jill, I hope you watched today as thousands of people came out to honour your beautiful life and to ensure your life and death are never forgotten.

“The nature of your passing is not acceptable, and you have brought a community together to show we will not tolerate it.”

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