The hunt for an Irish woman missing in Australia has been handed over to homicide police after her handbag was found in an alley.

Drogheda born radio reporter Jill Meagher was last seen leaving a bar in the early hours of Friday morning.

Her distraught husband Tom has again issued an appeal for information after her handbag and belongings were found just yards from the bar and her home.

The 29-year-old’s bag was discovered in a laneway but her mobile phone remains missing.

Police have also confirmed that she made a call to her brother shortly before her disappearance.

They are now scouring CCTV footage for evidence after handing over the investigation to their homicide department.

Tom Meagher, originally from Dublin, told the Irish Independent: “We’ve checked with all the hospitals, but I think that someone has done something to her.

“We don’t have any problems between us, she was very happy, so it’s very tough to come to terms with her disappearance. The worst part for me is the waiting and not knowing what’s happened.

“I’m not religious so I haven’t prayed or involved the church but I spoke to Jill’s family in Perth and my family in Dublin and they are all distraught.

“I am hoping she will walk through the door at any minute and this nightmare will be over. I can’t eat or sleep just worrying about what’s happened to her.

“She was not the type of person to go away from home and not tell me where she is.”

Jill’s brother Michael McKeon also revealed that his sister had sent a text message to her husband asking him to join her on a night out with work colleagues from ABC Radio.

Michael said: “Tom woke up around 2am and saw a text message from her asking him to come to the pub.

“He just started calling her and she wasn’t answering her phone. He took a walk down to the pub to see if she was around.

“At midday he got really worried because her phone had turned off and started going straight to message. He called all her friends before calling the police.

“She usually lets everyone know what she’s doing, she’s never done anything like this before.

“She wasn’t drunk because her co-workers said she was fine when she left. One of her friends offered to walk her home but she said she was just 10 minutes away.”

ABC Radio colleague Tom Wright told the paper that he was the last person to see Jill and had offered to walk her home.

He confirmed: “I said, ‘can I walk you home?’, because it’s late at night, and she said: ‘no, no, I live around here, I know it really well, don’t worry’.

“There was nothing to suggest disappearing as abruptly as she did.”

Jill’s family moved between Ireland and Australia when she was a child.

She has lived in Melbourne since 2009, working at ABC Radio, and her parents live in Perth.

Melbourne police have appealed for information. A spokesman said: “She wasn’t overly affected by alcohol and we’re appealing for help.

“It’s unknown as to what has happened. We will have better access to CCTV footage from businesses which open today, and if there’s footage then that will be viewed.”

Jill’s uncle Michael McKeon said she had visited family in Drogheda at the beginning of the month.

He said: “Jill is bubbly and well liked. It is worrying for us and the fact that we are here in Ireland and not there, you just feel you cannot do any more to help.

“We just hope that she is found and is okay.”

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