The tragedy of Jill Meagher

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.

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17 Comments

  1. sad. Humans are still Animals, just that some have yet to fully develop away from the sick predatory instincts. Like I often say and I mean this in no disrespect to the story, the more I learn about people, the more I love my dogs.

    This kind of news happens far too much here in the USA and I am quite sure too much all over the globe.

  2. I will never “get” how a scenario like this comes about. Because it should not happen. Due to the evil selfishness in one person, one is gone and has affected so many others, in ways that the perpetrator will never comprehend. It’s not a story anybody should have to endure. Where has human compassion gone here?

  3. As sentient beings we’re capable of embracing evil or good. We’re entrusted with much more than our “animal cousins” and have a greater responsibility, both to the stewardship of this planet and to the health and well being of our brothers and sisters on said planet. This man’s actions are a violation of that trust. He’ll have to answer for it.

  4. I will never, ever understand the twisted needs that lead people to such crimes.

    One of the absurdities of the ‘system’ as you call it is that these people generally AREN’T split in two. We in the US go out of our way to treat such people with the respect due the law-abiding citizen while we refuse additional resources to help prevent such things in the future.

    Said differently, I’m sick and tired of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal representation and ‘treatment’ for these scum while others do without. It makes me sick.

  5. Thank you Swade for writing this. I don’t want to even begin to imagine what she went through, or what her husband is going through now.

  6. A super sad story. They say if you have a son you worry about one boy/man, if you have a daughter you worry about 100s of boys/men. It’s a same that this is the case.

    However it’s turning into an interesting case.

    http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/trial-by-social-media-worry-in-meagher-case-20120928-26pe4.html

    Social media was used to find the guy, but now it has to stop as presumption of innocence is in danger. Once the social media ball starts rolling it’s hard to stop.

    1. Yeah, I saw that story earlier this afternoon. It’s an interesting one and I hope it doesn’t affect the ability to deliver a fair trial, but once the cat’s out of the social media bag…..

      They say in that story that the FB page for her search should be moderated now. Assuming it was set up by a family member or friend, I don’t think they’re going to spend time weeding out the loonies. They need to shut it down, which wasn’t easy from my experience with the “I won’t by from GM” page a few years ago.

      And another thing, I’ve already seen a full-faced photo of the alleged on FB and not because I went looking for it. It was re-posted by one of my friends and just appeared in my timeline.

  7. I feel sick from all the deaths of innocent. I feel sick from knowing people like Jill’s killer is out there.

    I sometimes feel as I’d like to screem out to all politicians that “Money isn’t an issue when it comes to justice, safety and giving the mentaly ill the care they need!!!”
    Because the truth is: There Are many people out there that are never given the care and attention they need and that sometimes leads to violent people being “created”. Fathers and mother misshandling their children, children that themself learn to hit children or women/men, children that grow up to become pedophiles, rapists, murderers etc… Why? Because people care to much about themselves And the Politicians rather spend the buck on other things than their own peoples wellbeing.

    I’m not saying this perp is mentaly ill… but most of them are and most of them could be stoped before they turn evil.

    Rest in peace Jill.

  8. Horrible. Such a thing should never have happened.

    “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.”

    To the collegue/friend who offered to escort Jill: this is not and can not ever be your fault. Do not ask yourself “what if” questions. Also this can never be Jill’s fault for refusing the offer. The only one to blame is the monster who did this.

    As human life can sadly never be replaced, I can only hope that the justice system can put the perpetrator out of streets.

  9. Loss of such a kind person , who must have belived in her safety , trust in others , makes for a loss in our own trust in what humans are becoming .Words of comfort for what transpired escape me , sadness is all I feel for she and her family and the extended family of honest kind people who have posted .

  10. Why was this woman out drinking with friends when she had a husband?
    Where was the husband to pick her up?
    I feel sorry for this woman but all women should know better that you should not walk alone late at night.
    She got so much publicity because she is young and pretty, if she was an ugly duckling then there would not be so much publicity.
    Enough is enough so please go away.

  11. *********************************************************************
    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.
    *********************************************************************

    That’s how things should be in an ideal world, where people should have no fear in their own homes of break-ins and burglary, etc., let alone on their way home.

  12. Just picked up on this….we have been following the news of the disappearance of 5-year old April Jones of Machynlleth who disappeared last week. A local man has been arrested and charged with abduction and MURDER, but no body…..but the police seemed to pick up enough forensic evidence to charge him so……

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