Man admits rape and murder of Irish journalist

Jill Meagher was attacked as she walked home from a bar in Melbourne. Picture: Contributed
Jill Meagher was attacked as she walked home from a bar in Melbourne. Picture: Contributed
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The man charged with the rape and murder of Irish journalist Jill Meagher in Australia made an unscheduled appearance in court yesterday to formally change his plea.

Convicted serial rapist Adrian Ernest Bayley pleaded guilty to murdering Ms Meagher in an alleyway near her home in Melbourne last year.

Bayley, 41, stood in the dock at the supreme court at just after 2:15pm yesterday and pleaded guilty to one count of murdering Ms Meagher, 29, on 22 September last year in the suburb of Brunswick, and one count of raping her.

When the charges were read out to Bayley, he replied: “Guilty”.

Just hours earlier, a newspaper report revealed that Bayley’s mother was so worried about his state of mind, she warned authorities he was a danger to women.

Months before 29-year-old Ms Meagher, who worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), was raped and strangled, Bayley’s parents met authorities and pleaded with them over their grave concerns about his irrational behaviour, Melbourne’s Herald Sun revealed.

The tip-off led to a confrontation between an angry Bayley and his family, with whom he had been living after a court appearance.

As a result, he left the family home last year and moved in with his girlfriend in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg, only a mile away from where Ms Meagher lived.

Bayley’s family would not comment to the newspaper, saying they had no intention of speaking publicly about him.

Bayley went to the gym almost every day building his heavy physique and also attended judo lessons and entered tournaments for the contact sport, Ultimate Fighting.

Ms Meagher had moved with her husband from her home in County Louth, Ireland, three years ago and started a job as a journalist with ABC. After Bayley’s arrest, the Herald Sun also revealed a government official had tipped him off as police hunted him for Ms Meagher’s murder. The tip-off was investigated by police, who it is believed heard it on intercepted telephone calls.

No action was taken against the female official involved.

The homicide squad, the office of public prosecutions and Bayley’s defence have been at odds after Bayley indicated months ago he wanted the murder charge downgraded to manslaughter.

Bayley entered a not guilty plea last month to murder and two counts of rape. He admitted one count of raping Ms Meagher.

His plea of guilty means there will now be no trial. Instead, Bayley was remanded for a plea in mitigation hearing to be heard on 11 June.

Ms Meagher’s family, including her husband Tom and her parents, of Perth, Western Australia, were not in court for Bayley’s brief appearance.

Bayley served his first sentence for rape in the early Nineties and was released from jail in 1993 after serving three years.

The father of four was convicted in 2002 for the rape of five prostitutes and was sentenced to 11 years in jail.

He was released after serving eight years and was due to remain on parole until March this year.