'It could have been me'

Terrified … Stacey Scaife.
Terrified … Stacey Scaife.
Murder victim ... Jill Meagher.

Murder victim ... Jill Meagher.

A 23-YEAR-OLD woman was threatened to be killed only two blocks from where Jill Meagher was abducted, in uncannily similar circumstances.

Melbourne nurse Stacey Scaife went into Brunswick Police Station in December and asked if she could buy pepper spray to defend herself from a ''terrifying'' man who had approached her on two separate occasions in nearly exactly the same spot Ms Meagher was last seen alive.

The man crept up behind her on a dark side street wearing a black-hooded leather jacket, jeans and white shoes and told her he was going to strangle her with nunchucks while he ''wrenched'' black leather gloves.

Despite describing the threat to police and asking how she could defend herself in future, she said no details of the incident were recorded. At the time, Ms Scaife lived about 500 metres metres from murder-victim

Jill Meagher, 29, who was abducted in an opportunistic, random attack on Sydney Road just over a week ago.

Her body was found in a shallow grave in Gisborne on Thursday and 41-year-old Adrian Bayley was charged with her rape and murder in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday.

CCTV footage released last week of Ms Meagher speaking to Bayley on the night she died had left Ms Scaife in ''disbelief''.

She had ''no doubt'' the man in the footage was the same man who had threatened her own life nine months ago. ''It could have been me,'' she told The Sun-Herald yesterday.

She rang Crime Stoppers on Thursday afternoon.

Neither Crime Stoppers or the police have contacted Ms Scaife since.

The first time she was approached by the man was on the corner of Sydney Road and Hope Street in November - only metres from where Ms Meagher's discarded handbag was found.

Ms Scaife was with a group of friends when a man singled her out and started talking to her at a rapid pace about how he used to ''smash people with his brother in a boxing ring''.

The nurse believed he was either on drugs or having a manic-bipolar episode. He started to punch and kick the air around her ''pretending like he was in a boxing ring'' and Ms Scaife said when the lights went green she crossed the street to get away.

She said it was a lot more sinister the second time the same man approached her, about a month and a half later.

It was in early December and Ms Scaife was with a group of female friends at her flat on the corner of Hope and Breese streets when they decided to catch a train into town about 11pm. The group was walking along the dimly lit Upfield bike path towards Anstey Station when Ms Scaife fell behind the others to send a text message.

There was no one else on the bike track and Ms Scaife said a man ''came up behind me, close to my ear and started talking in a loud whisper''.

He had black leather gloves, the hood of his black leather jacket was pulled up, he had a backpack on and jeans and white shoes. ''I remember everything,'' she said.

''He was saying something about nunchucks and strangling me with them. He was talking really fast … and he just kept describing to me how he was going to kill me. He kept saying it over and over, 'I'm going to kill you'.''

As he was talking, the man was continuously pulling his gloves up and moving his hands ''like he was imagining strangling someone''.

''There was no swear words, it was more just him describing how he was going to do it. It was his voice and the way he was moving his hands. His demeanour was like he was really trying to frighten me. Had I been alone, I think he would have killed me,'' she said.

The man was trying to make direct eye contact with her, but Scaife recalled watching his hands in case he reached for a weapon from his backpack. Her friends were only about five metres ahead of her and came back to try and get the man away from Ms Scaife but he continued to walk ''shoulder to shoulder'' with her right up until they entered the busy train station.

The man was only walking alongside her for about a minute and never touched her, she said.

Since she had to walk down the same track every day in darkness for shift work at a hospital, Ms Scaife decided to go to the police. Shaken, she asked officers at the Brunswick Station where she could buy pepper spray but was told it was a prohibited weapon.

She was not asked to lay an official complaint but was told to call police from her mobile phone if he threatened her again.

Ms Scaife was disappointed that police did not record the incident at the time. ''They should have at least taken a description down as it happened in the same area. I've never felt safe after it happened. It made me feel bad for her, knowing what she went through and knowing how scared I was,'' she said.

Police would not comment on the Meagher case because it is before the courts.

''We understand the community's interest in this investigation of Jill Meagher, however Victoria Police does not disclose the specifics of our methodology or our investigative techniques,'' a spokeswoman said.

This story 'It could have been me' first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.