Australian police have been forced to apologize after a top cop showed hundreds of people an image of murdered Irish journalist Jill Meagher’s semi-naked body in a shallow grave.

The photo of the 29-year-old Drogheda woman was displayed at a conference in Victoria by Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles.

The shot showed Meagher’s semi-naked body lying in the shallow grave after her murder by Adrian Bayley in Melbourne.

Iddles displayed the photograph during a speech about his role as a murder detective when he spoke at a Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia fundraiser.

Melbourne police acting deputy commissioner Steve Fontana has since apologized for the decision to display the image.

Fontana also banned all public presentations on operational matters by officers until new rules were put in place.

Deputy Commissioner Fontana told the Irish Sun newspaper: “This was a deeply unfortunate error of judgment and my sincere apologies are extended to Jill’s family, friends, the community, and in particular to her husband, Tom.

“Detective Senior Sergeant Iddles has been one of Victoria Police’s most dedicated and hard-working detectives for more than 30 years.

“I am saddened that a speech he delivered in good faith, at a charity fundraiser, will have caused further emotional anguish for the family.”

Family and friends of the murdered Irishwoman have expressed their outrage at the display while many of those present were also shocked by the graphic image.

One delegate added: “I was shocked, and where I was sitting a few people looked at each other and there were raised eyebrows.”

Another said: “I looked but I had to look away. It was a photo in a shallow grave. Obviously, they had just opened it.”

Jill’s devastated uncle Michael McKeon told the Irish Sun: “I just can’t understand it.”

Former Drogheda Lord Mayor and local councillor Paul Bell said: “This is so disappointing as Jill’s family have only begun the grieving process now after waiting for the sentencing process to be over. It’s appalling.

"I have the height of respect for the Australian police force for bringing the perpetrator to justice, but what happened here is just appalling. Jill should be left to rest in peace.”

Bizarrely a top Australian politician has defended the action.

Australian National Party MP Damien Drum said: “The talk was appropriate given the context of a homicide detective talking about the work that homicide detectives do day in, day out.”