Saturday August 24 2013
– He was the serial rapist the old Rape Squad wasn’t interested in. It was early 2000, and St Kilda’s streetwalkers were becoming wary of a fit young man preying on them – but were even more distrustful of police who worked the area.
Having served a three-year jail stint from 1991 and well clear of parole, Adrian Edwards – who changed his name by deed poll to Bayley in July 2000 – was now a father of four and growing tired of his unsatisfying sex life.
He had lied his way through a sex offenders program during his time in prison. The new Adrian Bayley began to use his drive home from an Abbotsford bakery to trawl for sex workers.
After all, as he would later tell police, he could do to them what he couldn’t do to his wife.
Unrepentant loner Bayley would even tell police it was “justifiable” to attack prostitutes after Operation Keeping – spearheaded by young local detectives who broke through a culture of disinterest to take on the case – snared him.
Bayley’s modus operandi was to negotiate a fee before driving his victim to a secluded horseshoe laneway off Kendall Street, Elwood, driving close to the fence and locking the doors.
Of his first victim he would declare: “I don’t believe it’s rape…I went there because I wasn’t getting sex at home.” A suspect in 16 sex assaults in one year, he would tell his second victim: “I am going to rape you.”
Even more ominous were Bayley’s degrading language and increasing use of violence.
By November-December of 2000, after nine months trawling to rape sex workers, he had escalated his attacks to include threatening to kill a victim and dump her body. “See who has the power,” he would gloat to his victim. “Make it easy on yourself. Don’t fight back, don’t struggle. I will fucking kill you.”
His explanation for this rape was again unequivocal: “Same as before. No satisfaction at home. Go down there to have sex – not to get caught by the missus.”
Bayley’s final two victims of that year were agIn blamed on his then partner.
“I wasn’t getting sex at home. It was less frequent.”
But the accompanying violence was more and more brutal, with his fourth victim punched in a particularly disturbing sexual act and his fifth threatened with a knife.
His partner, herself a victim of his physical abuse, was a mother of two.
In 1990, his then new wife, Debbie, stuck by her husband, despite him raping a family friend in their marital bed little more than a month into their marriage.
He was questioned by police and released.
The 19-year-old then randomly preyed on another two teenage girls in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs – one, 17, at a bus stop and another a 16-year old hitchhiker.
Debbie was three months pregnant and her husband was sent to jail for the next three years.
The next time police would raid his house, this time in Dandenong North in 2001, his next partner would be nursing a new baby as she attacked police at the door.
Bayley’s crimes against sex workers in 2000-01 may have gone unsolved had it not been for two dedicated detectives, one fresh from a stint at the now-defunct National Crime Authority, who were working the St Kilda beat.
The rape and assault of sex workers was not a priority for the force, including the Rape Squad, back then.
But senior detectives Jason Walsh and Nathan Kaeser won the confidence of sex workers after police, on shifts, had been unable to link a series of attacks.
Armed with new investigative techniques, Kaeser forensically analysed crime scenes and matched a partial registration of a red Mitsubishi Pajero belonging to an Adrian Bayley, formerly Edwards.
After Kaeser and Walsh painstakingly collected evidence, police executed a warrant on April 17th, 2001, seizing clothes and the car, and arresting Bayley .
Detectives even had to calm Bayley’s partner as she confronted police entering the tidy Dandenong North brick veneer house to arrest her husband.
Some of those sex workers assaulted by Bayley would never ply their trade again, such was the psychological and physical damage.
In 2001, when police had matched DNA through hair samples and forensically examined crime scenes and victims’ statements, they were surprised by the normality of Bayley’s home life.
His father, Ernie, would even tell police: “I thought something was strange because he was finishing at 9pm and getting home at 1am.”
In a similar scenario to when Homicide Squad detectives arrested Bayley last year, he showed signs of relief as he admitted his crimes following his initial denials.
But, in what would be a theme of his offending, Bayley in 2001 was given bail once he came up with $5000 surety – although he was facing 43 charges of rape, false imprisonment, threats to kill and recklessly causing injury.
Only five of his victims, among the most vulnerable in society, had the courage to face their vicious attacker.
Had their graphic accounts of Bayley’s horrendous crimes been given more weight in his 2002 sentencing, stringent measures to curtail his future offending, ending in murder, should have been taken.
And had the culture of many in Victoria Police been different at the turn of the century with regard to the rape of sex workers, Bayley might have been in jail in 2012 as one of Australia’s most prolific serial rapists.
Police also say Bayley, on parole after his release from prison in 2009, could not be placed on the 2004 Sex Offenders Register retrospectively, although paedophiles can be.
The force will not answer questions surrounding the retention of his DNA on the Victorian or national crime databases, although a saliva swab was taken in 2001.
Bayley is now facing charges relating to another race in 2000 and more sex assaults he is alleged to have committed in the middle of last year.
A Dutch backpacker told the media in July last year of getting into a car and being taken to an Elwood laneway before being attacked.
A face-fit with characteristics similar to Bayley was released, but he was not arrested.
Two months later, Ms Meagher’s rape and strangulation would end with 30,000 people marching along Sydney Road in Brunswick demanding increased safety for women here and nationwide.
But even now, some aspects of his evil story remain the same.
Despite Bayley’s prior convictions for sexual assaults, he was not given the maximum penalty of 25 years for raping Ms Meagher. Instead, he was sentenced to 15 years’ jail.
Two victims from 2001 have recently lodged compensation claims following the Jill Meagher case.
Their claims came as Victoria Police launched an internal review of the handling of Bayley since he first came to police attention in 1990.
What is undeniable is that changes are needed that will prevent another Bayley descending from abuser, to rapist, to murderer – Anthony Dowsley