Jill did not die in vain, says Melbourne mayor

The decision by murdered Jill Meagher’s husband, Thomas, to return to Australia “took a lot of courage”, his mother Joan said.

Jill did not die in vain, says Melbourne mayor

With her husband Kevin, she welcomed the visit of the mayor of Moreland, Melbourne, to Ireland.

Mayor Oscar Yildiz told the Meagher and McKeon families yesterday that Jill “did not die in vain”.

The 29-year-old was raped and murdered in Melbourne nearly a year ago. It later emerged her killer, Adrian Bayley, had a history of sexual violence and was on parole when he attacked her.

Mr Yildiz said the State parole board “failed and we let somebody on the loose who, four times, didn’t report to his parole officer”.

However, he said: “They are now moving in the right direction to hopefully address the issue.”

Mrs Meagher said it was very difficult to have her son so far away and not to have been able to “give him a hug”.

“Jill has obviously not been forgotten and good things have happened since she was murdered and, with regard to the parole board and the law and all of that in Australia, at least she hasn’t died in vain.

“We still miss her and still think about her every single day and I don’t know how long that will go on for. She was a beautiful girl and a lovely addition to our family.”

She said the entire family has been, “overwhelmed by the amount of support from all over the world and also the outrage that has come out of this”.

She said Thomas came back to Ireland for Christmas and, “it would have been easy for him to stay here and not go back to Australia at all; I think he did the right thing but it took a lot of courage”.

“I think, down the road, it might make it easier for him now that he has faced all that, it might make it easier for him to move on.”

Jill’s aunt, Catherine Halpin McKeon, said as she welcomed Mr Yildiz to Drogheda: “We know you are here in a private capacity which makes your visit all the more special.

“The past year has been harrowing for one and all. Each, in our own way, has dealt with Jillian’s death as best we can. We have tried to be positive and give Jill’s death some meaning.”

Along with other women in Jill’s family, she fundraised for the Rape Crisis Centre by taking part in the Dublin City women’s mini-marathon.

Yesterday, she said abuse of women “is not unique to Australia but is in every town and city worldwide. When the law gets it wrong, it is up to our law makers to tackle it head on and get it right. If we can’t learn from history then our future is not safe”.

Mr Yildiz said the murder had “left a huge legacy in our city,” and, as a result, a number of councils have embarked on safety initiatives.

He was presented with a decorated plate salvaged from the shipwreck of the John Tayleur which sank en route from Liverpool to Melbourne in 1854.

It was carrying 654 passengers — nearly all were Irish — but just 290 survived. It will contribute to a memorial which the mayor hopes will be erected in Jill’s memory in Brunswick. He also said there may be a twinning of Brunswick with Drogheda.

A father of two daughters, Mr Yildiz is also a White Ribbon ambassador which is campaigning to end violence against women.

He is funding his own trip to Ireland and said: “I am quite horrified by what happened and this is my little way of saying I am sorry.”

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