Jill Meagher a 'wonderful life force'


Murdered Melbourne woman Jill Meagher was the sort of colleague who would bring in the cake whenever it was someone's birthday.

Smart and cheerful, the popular 29-year-old was the life of the office at the ABC radio studios in Melbourne.

The Irish national disappeared in the early hours of last Saturday on a short walk to her Brunswick home from a bar where she had helped celebrate a workmate's birthday.

After a public plea for help from her husband Thomas Meagher and a large-scale social media campaign to solve the mystery, the discovery of her body in a shallow grave 50 kilometres northwest of the city on Friday realised her family's worst nightmare.

"It is not the outcome we had hoped and prayed for," Ms Meagher's uncle Michael McKeon said in a statement from Ireland issued on behalf of the family.

"We are devastated. We are heartbroken. She was the first grandchild my mother had and her aunties, uncles and cousins are powerless to describe their loss.

"There are no words to describe how we feel at what has happened."

Ms Meagher had called Melbourne home for only three years and had worked at the ABC for just nine months, yet her impact on her colleagues was significant.

On Friday they remembered a woman who "stood out ahead of the pack".

"She's the Irish girl that lights up a room," her boss at ABC Melbourne, Cath Hurley, said on ABC 24.

"She really stood out ahead of the pack, she was just a wonderful life force."

Last Friday's birthday drinks was exactly the sort of occasion the bubbly party-planner of the office relished.

"She was the life of the office, the kind of person who would organise the cupcakes ... when it was someone's birthday, organise for people to get together, make sure everyone got together and talked when they needed to," Ms Hurley said.

ABC radio host Jon Faine fought back tears as he broadcast his talk-back program on Friday.

"There's a very empty space in our office this morning," he said.

Coburg man Adrian Ernest Bayley, 41, has been charged with the rape and murder of Ms Meagher.

Police allege he is the man spotted on CCTV footage outside a bridal store trying to chat with Ms Meagher only 450 metres from her home as she walked alone from the nearby Sydney Road bar.

There has been an enormous public response to the Meagher case, with acting prime minister Wayne Swan saying all Australians are thinking of Mr Meagher and Jill's family.

Both the grieving family and Victoria Police have acknowledged the role social media played in the search for Ms Meagher.

A Facebook page titled "Help us find Jill Meagher" attracted more than 120,000 likes.

Despite being humbled by the support, Mr Meagher has urged people to be cautious in flooding social media sites with negative comments about the accused and the case.

"While I really appreciate all the support, I just would like to mention that negative comments in social media may hurt legal proceedings so please be mindful of that," he told reporters after a brief court appearance for Bayley.

Police issued a similar call for calm asking people to refrain from posting "inappropriate comments that might jeopardise a successful prosecution".

During the six-day search, a grim-faced Mr Meagher had described his wife as his "best friend" ever since the pair met at an Irish university, before travelling the world together and ending up in Melbourne.

He remained calm moments after coming face to face with her accused killer in court on Friday.

"Despite the fact that this is the worst thing we'll ever go through in our lives, I've been really humbled by the support of the Australian public, the tireless efforts of the police and all the friends and family who have put their lives on hold to help us out," he said.

Source AAP

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