The West

Update: Police in Melbourne have released CCTV images of missing ABC employee Jill Meagher as she was walking home minutes before her suspicious disappearance.

CCTV images show Ms Meagher talking to a man as she was walking home, minutes before her disappearance.

Police say the footage shows the 29-year-old woman walking outside a bridal dress shop on Brunswick’s Sydney Road at around 1.40am (AEST) on Saturday.

It shows a man in a blue top walking back and forth on Sydney Road. He then starts talking with Ms Meagher outside the bridal store at 1.42am to 1.43am.

She is in high heels and is carrying one or two bags.

He then walks off ahead of her and she waits behind for a moment, then continues walking.

The images are the last known of the woman before she vanished, which triggered a homicide investigation with fears she has been met with foul play.

Homicide squad chief John Potter said police had grave concerns for Ms Meagher, who had not been heard of since the early hours of Saturday morning despite widespread media coverage and hadn’t accessed her bank account.

“We do hold grave concerns for her welfare,” Detective-Inspector Potter said today.

He said the CCTV shows Ms Meagher and six other people, whom they have urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Police are particularly keen to speak to the man in the blue hoodie, who walked past the CCTV camera twice before talking to Ms Meagher.

“There may be a rational explanation to what’s happened but he certainly could help us,” Det Insp Potter said.

“It appears to be a casual conversation struck by looking at the footage but we don’t know.”

One of the men in the footage can be seen looking back and “must have seen something”, he said.

Ms Meagher left Bar Etiquette on Sydney Road at 1.33am (AEST) on Saturday.

She then appears to have crossed Sydney Road and then started to walk north, Det Insp Potter said.

He said Ms Meagher appeared to be holding her mobile phone in the footage.

“We think she’s holding her phone and it’s possible that she’s either about to phone or is phoning someone,” he said.

She called her brother in Perth at 1.43-1.45am, just after the footage ends.

Ms Meagher was carrying an ABC bag and her handbag.

The bag was found in a nearby laneway on Monday morning and police believe it may have been planted there.

Police have examined CCTV footage at the block of flats where Ms Meagher lives with her husband Thomas and say it does not show her arriving home.

One police theory is that Ms Meagher may have been abducted or had some kind of struggle after the phone call with her brother.

“We haven’t been able to rule that out at all and in fact we’re looking more and more at that as a possibility,” Det-Insp Potter said.

Police on Tuesday twice searched the Meaghers’ Brunswick apartment but Det Insp Potter again said it was routine and that police had no suspects at this point.

“We’ve ruled no one out but I will say we have no suspects at this time,” he said.

“Mr Meagher is not being treated in any way as a suspect,” he added.

He would not say what items police took from the home on Tuesday.

Mr Meagher, who reported his wife missing after she failed to return home from a night out, made numerous attempts to contact her on Saturday before going out in an attempt to find her.

Detectives are still trying to determine if Ms Meagher’s handbag was planted in a laneway, given it was not found in police searches of the area at the weekend.

About 140 calls have been made to Crime Stoppers about Ms Meagher’s disappearance.

Mr Meagher consented to police searching their home on Tuesday and Saturday.

“(Jill’s) husband has been nothing more than co-operative so we can’t read anything into that; this is something that we would normally do,” Detective-Inspector Potter told Fairfax Radio on Tuesday afternoon.

Ms Meagher was last seen having drinks with work colleagues at Bar Etiquette on inner-city Sydney Road about 1.30am (AEST) and can be seen on the footage apparently walking to her home, less than a kilometre away.

The CCTV footage now puts her known whereabouts to 10 to 11 minutes later, and within 450 metres of her home.

Police had been unsure if Ms Meagher was still in the bar when she called her brother in Perth about 1.45am but Det Insp Potter said they had now confirmed that she did leave the bar.

However, a mystery remains over male voices the brother could hear in the background during the brief call, during which the pair discussed their father’s health.

“The issue is if there was something sinister happening at that point she presumably wouldn’t be discussing the health of her dad,“ Det Insp Potter said.

Police believe Ms Meagher’s handbag found in a laneway, not far from where she lives on Lux Way, may have been planted.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay has said police searched the area thoroughly on Saturday and failed to find the handbag.

“That handbag’s turned up on the Monday. Either police have missed that or someone has placed the bag back at the location,” Mr Lay said.

The West Australian

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