independent

Thursday 24 April 2014

The real story behind Ireland's most chilling crimes - by ace reporter Ken Foy

Larry Murphy, the so-called Beast of Baltinglass, was tracked down to Amsterdam recently, 11 years after he was convicted of the rape and attempted murder of a young woman in Carlow on the night of February 1, 2000.

The 46-year-old former carpenter, also the main suspect in the disappearance of three other women, was filmed in the Dutch capital talking to female tourists, unaware they were chit-chatting with the man responsible for one of the State's most brutal and shocking crimes.

Murphy's is one of the 13 high-profile cases revisited by crime journalist Ken Foy in CSI Ireland, a book that takes readers behind the crime scene tapes and in doing so provides a chilling insight into the minds of the men and women responsible for these most heinous offences.

From so-called Black Widow Catherine Nevin to some of the most sinister gangland hits and wife killers Joe O'Reilly and Eamonn Lillis, Foy brings each case back to life, reinvigorating the established narratives with harrowing victim statements, testimony from the perpetrators, recollections from investigating officers and new insights from a number of sources.

Foy is able to provide a full and rounded account that, free from the reporting restrictions of an ongoing investigation or trial, gives an unparalleled insight into these "fascinating and disturbing cases".

The opening chapter exposes Murphy as a brutal and remorseless fiend who showed little sympathy for his victim.

Gagged with her own bra, the young woman told gardai how he repeatedly pretended he was going to take her home as he raped her several times.

Murphy even interspersed his assaults with information about himself.

"He told me he was married and had two boys. After having pleaded with him I knew he still wasn't going to bring me home," the victim told gardai.

In fact, Murphy, a keen hunter, drove her to a remote woodland spot where he tried to suffocate her using a plastic bag.

The arrival of two other hunters forced Murphy to flee the scene and undoubtedly saved the woman's life.

Murphy confessed to his crime, though Foy says gardai had built up a solid forensics case against the rapist.

There are 13 investigations in this book, and crime scene evidence and the rapid technological advances of the last decade played a major part in securing justice in some of them.

CSI Ireland looks at how garda techniques and the use of this new technology combine to make it much more difficult for killers to get away with their crimes these days.

As the book says, many of these cases would have been unsolvable as recently as only 20 years ago.

But advances in forensics and other scientific techniques have changed all that forever, an example being the way mobile phone, internet and CCTV was to play a hugely important role in the conviction of wife-killer Joe O'Reilly.

There have been many books on famous murders in recent decades, but this does what it says on the cover: it shows readers what goes on behind the tape.

Rachel Dugan

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