I feel sick to my stomach today so I have to write something about this.
Jill Meagher was a young Irish girl living and working in Australia. She had a husband who loved her, a trendy apartment and a great job.
In the early hours of this morning she was found in a shallow grave 40 minutes from her home.
Jill Meagher disappeared in the early hours of Saturday morning and the whole nation has been transfixed on the search for her. There’s been an unprecedented grassroots social media campaign to spread notices and identify witnesses. We all watched the CCTV video of her walking past a boutique store talking to the man in the blue hoodie who, as it turns out, is the man who has this morning been charged with her rape and murder.
That footage is from around 1:45am on Saturday. Jill was walking home from the bar she’d been at along with friends from work. Friday night drinks – a tradition here in Australia and around the world.
When their outing ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning, one of her colleagues offered to walk Jill home. She declined. The bar was just 750 meters from her apartment, after all. It should have been an easy five minute walk – one that she’d made many times before – rather than a tragedy.
As Scotty used to say on Star Trek, you cannot change the laws of physics.
Jill Meagher was tiny. From the video footage, it looks like she might have weighed around 45 kilos, if that. On Friday night she was wearing shoes that elevated her height, but would have been less practical than flippers in terms of running away from a predator. Add some wine and an assailant that’s perhaps nearly twice her weight and, well, she never stood a chance one-on-one against this bit of pond scum.
Adopting the brace position would seem appropriate right now, Mr.
Jill Meagher did absolutely nothing wrong. She had every right to expect to be able to walk home safely after a night out with her work colleagues and friends. No-one should have to fear for their safety in a civilised society, let alone in their own neighbourhood, less than a kilometer from their own home.
But the fact of the matter is that there ARE arseholes out there. People with little or no moral compass, who will act on impulse to take advantage of someone who appears vulnerable. And unfortunately, given that we’re in a civilised society, we can rarely – and only in the most obvious cases of dangerous psychological disturbance – take these predators out of general circulation before they hurt someone.
I feel gutted, most of all, for Jill Meagher herself. She seems to have been the personification of that old, promising cliché that says a person has their whole life in front of them. Clichés are only clichés because they’re usually true. Jill’s plight has captured the attention of the nation because we wanted to believe there could be some hope in what was such a desperate situation. We wanted to believe that a bright, young, positive person wouldn’t have their life cut short by some home-grown heartless bastard in our town.
I feel gutted for her husband, Tom Meagher, whose life is forever scarred, forever changed.
I feel gutted for her brother, who she apparently called as she was approached by the man in the blue hoodie, perhaps in an attempt to ward him off. Her brother’s voice was, in all likelihood, the last friendly voice she ever heard. Apparently they spoke about her sick father.
I feel gutted for her parents, who also live in Australia. Her father has been ill, as mentioned, and I fear for what losing his daughter in such a way might do for his health. Jill’s mother pleaded to her assailant to come forward, to no avail. She spoke about how her daughter was tiny, but would have fought him with everything she had.
I feel gutted for Jill’s friend/colleague who reportedly offered more than once to walk her home. The guilt that he/she must be feeling right now would be horrendous.
I feel gutted that we’ve all had this reminder that men who are capable of such momentary acts of savagery still walk among us. They don’t care that they’re ending a life. They don’t care about the future they’re eliminating, the wider family that they’re hurting. All they care about is the moment, the opportunity they see in front of them.
And I feel gutted for the rest of us. I have family members and friends who have been, I’m sure, as vulnerable as Jill Meagher was last Saturday morning. They probably will be again at some time in the future. I read The Catcher in the Rye at school and I hated it. We can’t save everyone and we shouldn’t have to worry about saving everyone but the sad fact is that there are, and always will be, predatory scumbags that vulnerable people will need protection from.
I hope this bastard gets split in half by the justice system.