The man convicted of the murder of Jill Meagher raped a former girlfriend just over a year before the Drogheda girl’s death in Melbourne.

Loretta O’Neill has told an Australian newspaper that Adrian Ernest Bayley raped her at the start of their six month relationship.

The alleged rape took place before Bayley raped and then murdered the Irish radio reporter.

The Irish Independent reports that O’Neill is now ‘hugely regretful’ that she failed to report the rape to Australian police.

O’Neill has also said that she was unaware that Bayley was on parole for raping five women when she dated him.

The mum of two says she had no idea of his violent past and the string of sexual crimes he had already committed before they met.

She told Cleo magazine: “He was on parole. If I had gone to the cops and he was arrested, he would have been locked up and that poor woman could have been saved. Shit, I should’ve...”

O’Neill says she only discovered Bayley’s past after he was arrested for the rape and murder of 29-year-old Louth native Meagher.

Only then did she contact police and informed them of the alleged rape which may now lead to further charges.

The report says that the former retail assistant says she and Bayley were ‘getting ready for bed’ when he began taking off her pyjamas against her wishes.

She added: “I had already told him (at the beginning of the relationship) that I wouldn’t sleep with him straight away and that he needed to be patient.”

O’Neill said Bailey ignored her and allegedly raped her. She was too scared to do anything about it and added she feels sick she continued to date the man for several months afterwards.

She told the Meagher family: “I am so very, very, sorry.”

Bayley, 41, has lodged an appeal with the Australian Supreme Court over the length of his prison sentence. He was sentenced in June by Justice Geoffrey Nettle as life in prison with a minimum term of 35 years after he pleaded guilty to raping and killing Ms Meagher in the early hours of September 22 last year in a laneway in Brunswick.

Adrian Ernest Bayley (left) accused of raping and murdering Jill MeagherGoogle Images