Jill Meagher's dad George McKeon provided a dignified end to one of the most shameful chapters in our history. This morning the vicious serial rapist who stole his daughter, was sentenced to a minimum 35 years in jail.
Adrian Bayley will be 76 years old when he’s eligible for release but for victims it doesn’t change the fact that a serial rapist like this should never have walked free in the first place. “If I had a choice I'd lock ‘em up for good and throw away the key”, said Meg.
Meg is a beautiful young mother who works in the medical profession -- she is also a survivor of rape. Just like the man who attacked Jill Meagher, Meg's assailant was a serial rapist out on parole. “He was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for the rapes of two women at knife point and attempted rape on a third -- he served four years of that nine year sentence”, Meg said.
Meg was a 20 year medical student studying in Wellington NZ, living in student accommodation. Three weeks after his release from jail, 35-year-old Akeel Al Baiiaty moved into the same hostel, dragged Meg into his room and changed her life forever. “He produced a knife and he used that knife on me. He grabbed a pillow and put it over my face and I pretty much accepted that this was going to be the end of my life”, Meg said.
Al Baiiaty was sentenced to preventive detention with a minimum of seven years -- that means his sentence is open ended and every year the parole board considers his release. “Every year I go back there and tell them how I don’t think he should be released and I do that purely because I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through”, Meg said.
A 38-year-old ex-prisoner, career criminal has been in and out of jail since he was 23. He's not a sex offender but for a combined eight years, prison was home -- he claims it is not harsh enough punishment. “In the mainstream in jail you get TV, you get a kettle, shower, toilet, everything in your cell, you get magazines, meals cooked every day, you got free gym membership”, he said.
An alcoholic who was sentenced mostly for driving offences and assaults, says when the going gets tough on the outside he and others deliberately re-offend. “Just getting behind in my rent, knew I was going to be homeless and that so I went and re-offended so I’d go back to jail”, he said.
Prisoners free top notch medical care adds further insult for victims like Meg. “I'm spending hundreds of dollars on medications every week, doctor’s appointments, I’ve had to have surgery, getting pregnant was difficult, I couldn’t have a normal delivery of my baby, its cost me tens of thousands of dollars and you know I’m still being punished for this”, Meg said.
“We have to accept that our society is failing women ad-nauseam because we don’t treat violence against them seriously enough”, said outspoken anti-violent campaigner, Phil Cleary.
Outside court today Phil said Adrian Bayley's 35 year minimum term was adequate but, “”... had the judge said its life it would have carried a symbolism that might have been good for the bigger argument about women”.
While Jill Meagher's killer is off the streets for life, Meg has a gruelling task ahead of her to help keep serial rapist Al Baiiaty behind bars. “He will be deported once he’s released from prison back to Iraq but who’s to say he won’t re-offend over there?” Meg said.