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Friday 22 September 2017

Ahern: I have no power to stop release of rapist

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern today revealed he has no power to interfere in the imminent release of one of Ireland's most notorious rapists.

Larry Murphy will walk free from jail tomorrow just 10-and-a-half years into a 15-year sentence for the violent sexual assault and attempted murder of a businesswoman.

The 45-year-old - who kidnapped his terrified victim in Carlow before repeatedly raping her in the Wicklow Mountains - was also a suspect in the disappearance of several young women in the 1990s.

Mr Ahern said he could assure the public no serious sex offenders are released early but are legally entitled to 25pc remission for good behaviour in prison.

"Any suggestion that I can as minister change, in relation to any particular individual, a court sentence is just absolutely nonsense," said Mr Ahern.

Fears have been growing around Murphy's hometown of Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, that the brutal sex attacker will return to the area where his ex-wife and family have rebuilt their lives.

His brother Tom has previously denied reports the rapist will be moving into his home.

A public meeting will be held in the nearby village of Grangecon by Sinn Fein tomorrow night - just hours after Murphy walks out of Arbour Hill prison.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said support is available to victims of rape and sexual abuse who may be affected by the publicity surrounding Murphy's release on the national 24-hour helpline 1 800 77 88 88.

Murphy was arrested in February 2000 the morning after hunters - who recognised him - saved the young woman as her attacker held a bag over her head in the boot of his car in a secluded spot in the mountains.

But the former carpenter was sentenced before the Sex Offenders Act was passed in 2001 so he is not subject to a post-release supervision order.

The convicted rapist - who did not take part in a rehabilitation programme while behind bars and has since applied for a driving licence and passport - has a week to give gardai his new address or claim to be of no fixed address.

Murphy was also investigated as part of Operation Trace, a garda inquiry into the disappearance of several women in Leinster including Annie McCarrick, 26, Jo Jo Dullard, 22, and teenager Deirdre Jacob.

Fine Gael's Wicklow TD Billy Timmins has called on Mr Ahern to cancel Murphy's remission and keep him in prison.

Mr Ahern said while he legally cannot extend a sentence or impose conditions, he stressed a number of case conferences between prison authorities, gardai and state agencies are held before the release of a serious sex offender to ensure they are rehabilitated and not a danger to the public.

"There has to be some understanding that if you try to deal with these in a particular way that you'll drive these people underground," he added.

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