independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Former Cork mayor guilty of sexual assaults on teenage girl

Former Cork mayor John Murray at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

THE VICTIM of sex assault by a former lord mayor of Cork wept as a jury convicted him of the attacks on her as a young teen.

Veteran Labour Party official John Murray (83) was convicted of a total of five sexual assault charges, following a harrowing four-day trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court

After the first verdict was returned, the victim – now in her 30s – started weeping and was hugged by family members.

After more than six hours of deliberation, the jury of seven men and five women convicted Murray on five of the six charges. He was found not guilty on the sixth charge.

One conviction was by unanimous verdict, while the other four were by 10-2 and 11-1 majority verdicts.

Judge Sean O Donnabhain remanded Murray in custody for sentencing on December 2.

The former lord mayor remained emotionless as he was led into custody.

Murray denied sexually assaulting the teen, who claimed the abuse happened after he whispered she was "a very beautiful girl" and that he would "love to f*** her".

The girl said she was left shocked and frightened by the assaults which happened in Murray's car, in a pub toilet and at another premises in Cork.

She said Murray groped her breasts and her groin area before sexually assaulting her.

She claimed that once, while sexually assaulting her with one hand, he rubbed his other hand on his groin area.

"I was very shocked. I was very upset. This was not something that I had ever experienced. I was frozen with fear," she said.

The complainant broke down several times during her evidence.

Murray, of 17 Gregg Road, Cork, vehemently denied all the charges, which relate to various dates between 1996 and 1998.

The first incident occurred three years after he was Lord Mayor but while he was still serving on Cork City Council.

Murray broke down in evidence as he said the claims left him "disgusted" and "sick to the stomach". The stress and panic attacks brought on by the allegations resulted in him being hospitalised for a fortnight.

He confirmed he had sought a meeting with the girl's family when the claims were first made – but said he only admitted he touched her because he was "scared for my life".

"I don't really know where it (the claims) are coming from . . . but to say all those things? I have never touched (anyone) in any such way or in any shape or form."

He said the meeting with the girl's family became very heated. "I was scared of my life. I got so scared – the house was completely in an uproar. I said: 'Is this what you want to hear? Okay, so I touched her breast and I touched her vagina. Now, take me out of here'."

Irish Independent

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