A magistrate today ordered any damaging material about the man accused of raping and murdering Jill Meagher be removed from the internet.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Felicity Broughton said because of the internet's unregulated and anarchic environment, there was a view any ban would be a futile gesture but she disagreed.
Ms Broughton said most websites such as Facebook had sophisticated, organised structures which could be held accountable.
She decided not to ban the publication of Adrian Ernest Bayley's images because identity did not appear to be an issue in the case.
The magistrate handed down her decision at 2.15pm today after Victoria Legal Aid lawyers acting for the alleged killer applied for suppression orders stopping the publication of any prejudicial material and images, photographs or likenesses of him.
Defence lawyer Helen Spowart tendered a vast amount of material sourced from the internet to the court which she said was designed to express or incite hatred in relation to Bayley.
The material had featured on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Bayley appeared via video-link today from the Melbourne Assessment Prison to hear Ms Broughton's decision.
Ms Broughton said there had been an extraordinary level of media and public interest in the case.
She said mainstream media had up to date been primarily responsible in its reporting of the case and the main thrust of the VLA application had been directed at the non-mainstream material online.
The prohibition order would remain in place until January 18 next year when Bayley is due to appear in court for a committal mention.
Ms Spowart had told the court the material fuelling the vilification of Bayley could irreparably damage his chances for a fair trial.
Bayley had been labelled in "sub-human terms" and the continued publication of the material could irredeemably contaminate any potential jurors.
A number of websites had refused to remove the damaging material about Bayley despite requests from Victoria Police.
Ms Spowart said the suppression order was needed to send a message to those responsible that continued defiance would result in criminal sanctions and would not be tolerated.
When Bayley had first appeared in court on September 28, Jill Meagher's distraught husband pleaded with people on social media to stop posting comments about Bayley.
Tom Meagher said the negative comments could impact on the legal proceedings against Bayley.
Police allege Bayley was the man in a blue hoodie seen on CCTV footage walking towards Ms Meagher, just before she went missing early on Saturday morning, September 22.
Ms Meagher, 29, who moved with her husband from Ireland to Melbourne three years ago, was allegedly abducted while walking home alone from a bar in Sydney Road.
She had left Bar Etiquette at 1.33am on Saturday after drinking with ABC colleagues, and planned to walk to the nearby flat she shared with her husband.
Police discovered Ms Meagher's body in a shallow grave beside a dirt road in Gisborne South, which is about 45 kilometres - or a 40-minute drive - from where Ms Meagher was last captured on CCTV footage walking north along Sydney Road.