Meagher family backs cop over death photo

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Jill Meagher’s family supports a veteran detective who has apologised for using a crime scene photo of the murdered woman in a public presentation.


Ms Meagher’s father told Homicide Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles he had nothing to apologise for after he showed a photo of her body in a shallow grave during a talk about his job at a cancer fundraising event in regional Victoria.

Even though Ms Meagher’s family supported his use of the photo, the incident prompted outrage on Thursday, including criticism from Victoria’s premier, who said he was “sickened” by it.

But Det Snr Sgt Iddles stressed that only one person out of more than 400 who attended the event last Friday complained about the photo.

“It’s been taken totally out of context. The people who should be alarmed by it are (Jill’s) parents and they’re not, they totally support me,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

He said Ms Meagher’s father told him he’d done nothing wrong, didn’t need to apologise and also had the full support of Ms Meagher’s widowed husband in using the photograph.

Ms Meagher was raped and murdered in September last year in a case that gripped Melbourne.

The respected detective, who played a key role in the high-profile investigation, said he’s surprised by the criticism because he’s given the presentation about half a dozen times – and always in a professional and compassionate manner.

“If I have offended you in any way, I totally apologise,” he said.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Stephen Fontana said using the photo was an unfortunate error of judgment, even though the family had no objections.

“It’s probably about us as an organisation, thinking about what is appropriate in terms of presentations,” he said.

But Bendigo councillor Mark Weragoda, who attended the event, said he supports the detective.

He said he was stunned by seeing the photo for a couple of seconds on a big screen, but feels the officer’s message about looking after each other has now been lost.

“I think this is a big overreaction,” he said.

His comments came after Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine said he was shocked to hear of the photo being shown.

“This sort of thing is just totally and utterly unacceptable,” he said.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said showing the photo wasn’t the right thing to do.

“Victoria Police saying sorry, the recognition that it was an error of judgment, hopefully that can be the end of it,” he said.

Police have now banned all further public presentations on operational matters until appropriate protocols have been developed.

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