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Australian jailed for life for rape, murder

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June 18, 2013 11:35 PM EST | AP

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MELBOURNE, Australia — A serial sex offender was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday for raping and murdering an Irish immigrant while free on parole after previous convictions for raping five women.

Adrian Ernest Bayley, 41, was sentenced by the Victoria state Supreme Court in Melbourne, and cannot be considered for parole for 35 years.

He pleaded guilty to raping and strangling Jill Meagher as she walked home from a bar after an evening out with work colleagues on Sept. 22 last year in Melbourne. The court heard that Meagher rejected a colleague's offer to escort her home.

Bayley accosted her on a busy street and dragged her into a lane only a few hundred meters (yards) from her home. He was caught on closed circuit TV approaching her.

The crime caused outrage in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, where a week later 30,000 people took to the streets near the lane where she was strangled to rally against violence toward women.

The 29-year-old Meagher was born in the Irish port city of Drogheda and worked in an administrative position for the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Her husband Tom Meagher told the court his faith in mankind had been destroyed.

"I think of the waste of a brilliant mind and a beautiful soul at the hands of a grotesque and soulless human being," he said in his victim impact statement.

"I am half a person because of this crime," he added.

Prosecutor Gavin Silbert had urged that Bayley be denied any possibility of parole. Justice Justice Geoffrey Nettle said he would have accepted Silbert's plea had Bayley not pleaded guilty.

"It was a savage violent rape of the worst kind," Nettle said in passing sentence. "Your killing of the deceased ranks among the worst kind conceivable."

Bayley had been free on parole after serving eight years for raping five women when he killed Meagher. That prison sentence had been his second for sex crimes.

After the sentencing, the victim's father George McKeon read a brief statement on behalf of the family outside court in which he thanked police and prosecutors.

"Jill was brutally raped and murdered and she is never coming back," McKeon said. "Justice has now been done."