ADRIAN Bayley’s life sentence with a 35-year minimum term for the rape and murder of Jill Meagher was fair because features of the crime were “particularly callous” and “warranted condign punishment,” three Court of Appeal judges said today.
“The applicant was a violent sexual predator who killed his victim,” the justices said in their judgment. Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and Justices Marcia Neave and Paul Coghlan today released the reasons for their decision to refuse Bayley’s leave to appeal the length of his minimum term last month. “This was a case where the applicant was sentenced to one of the sternest sentences for this type of offending,” the justices stated.
“At the time of the attack the applicant was on parole. He was also on bail having been convicted of an unprovoked assault on a male passer-by and subsequently having appealed to the County Court on the sentence imposed in the Magistrates’ Court of three months’ jail.” After Bayley pleaded guilty to raping and murdering Ms Meagher, Justice Geoffrey Nettle threw the book at him and sentenced him to life with a 35-year minimum. Bayley appealed against the sentence, initially on the single ground that Justice Nettle made a mistake by inferring he intended to kill Ms Meagher because she would have called the police or for some form of perverted pleasure. “And relying on those inferences to find that in terms of moral culpability the applicant’s killing of the deceased ranks among the worst kinds conceivable,” the judgement stated. Bayley added another ground: that Justice Nettle erred in setting the 35-year minimum “by placing excessive weight on the need for community protection”.
In their judgment, the justices said: “The applicant submitted that the inference that he intended to kill Ms Meagher was not open; that the inference that he derived some form of perverted pleasure from killing her was not open; and the inference that he intended to kill Ms Meagher in order to avoid her calling the police was not open. “The Crown argued on the plea that the offending was a reckless killing. Eventually, the applicant conceded during the plea that whether the killing was intentional or reckless would not make a difference. “The applicant acknowledged that his prior criminal record revealed a ‘shocking history of gratuitous violence inflicted upon vulnerable women’.
“However, he submitted that his history could not give rise to an inference adverse to him; namely that he killed Ms Meagher because he derived some form of perverted pleasure from killing her.
“The point was made that this particular motivation was not asserted by the Crown nor discussed on the plea.”
The justices mentioned facts including the viciousness of the “stranger rape”, the fact Bayley was a large man and Ms Meagher a smaller woman, the fact he killed her to stop her reporting the rape to police and his “appalling history of violent offending “against individuals smaller and weaker than him – most of who were women”.
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