Monday 24 October 2016

Man who harassed couple for six months swears at judge and legal team during sentencing

Sonya McLean

Published 16/06/2015 | 16:44

Criminal Courts of Justice
Criminal Courts of Justice

A man who harassed a couple for almost six months has sacrificed a reduced prison term by cursing at the judge and his lawyers while being sentenced.

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George Murray (46), who suffers from a chronic mental illness, harassed the couple because he believed murderers were living in their home. He has been jailed for three and half years.

Murray called to the home of the couple a number of times ranting that he was going to kill and destroy the occupants of the house. On other occasions he screamed that he was going to kill the devil and take someone's head off.

Murray would bang on the couple's door and flip their letterbox. They installed CCTV cameras directly because of his behaviour and felt like prisoners in their own home.

They also had concerns for their 80-year-old next door neighbour as Murray would often go into her front garden.

Murray of Buckingham Street Lower, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to harassment and burglary at Church Avenue South, Rialto on dates between November 12, 2014 and March 3, 2015. He has 37 previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a three and a half year term and initially suspended the last 12 months of the sentence. However when Murray refused to enter his bond and shouted and cursed at the judge and his legal team the judge imposed the full three and half year term.

The judge acknowledged that Murray has a serious psychiatric problem but said his crime was serious and the occupants of the house had felt under threat and were left in distress.

Judge Nolan said it was going to take a lot of effort and a lot of work by medical practitioners to help Murray and noted that he also abuses cough mixture, cannabis and alcohol.

“If he could convince me he could change his ways it would be a strong mitigating factor but I cannot be convinced of that,” Judge Nolan said.

Murray shouted from the body of the court that he was sorry and was sick at the time. He promised that he would mend his ways but after the initial sentence was imposed he roared calling the judge “a dirt bird” and “a scumbag”.

Doctor Damien Smith a senior registrar at the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) told Sean Cleary BL, defending, that he has been treating Murray during his remand in Cloverhill.

He said Murray had been diagnosed as having a schizo effective disorder which is a combination of schizophrenia and a mood disorder.

He was placed on fortnightly anti-psychotic medication and a daily mood stabiliser and had been attending for treatment as an in-patient until May 2014, having last been released from the CMH in September 2012.

Dr Smith agreed that Murray's mood has stablised since his remand in custody and he is less volatile, irritable and hostile but added that he continues to have delusional beliefs in relation to the couple's home.

“He continues to hold the belief that over the past seven or eight years people have been living there who have been killing people,” Dr Smith said.

Murray shouted from the court that this was a lie and insisted that he doesn't still have delusions.

Dr Smith continued that he believed that Murray had no intention to harm the couple or return to the area and wished to continue with his medication.

He told Mr Cleary that the long-term prognosis for Murray was that he had a chronic enduring serious medical illness that required medication on an on-going basis.

He added that should Murray remain compliant with his treatment and not abuse cough medicine, cannabis and alcohol he was less likely to commit further crimes.

Garda Debbie O'Sullivan outlined a number of incidents when Murray arrived at the couple's home ranting, shouting and threatening them.

She told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting the couple had CCTV cameras installed because they were worried he was going to break in and hurt them.

Gda O'Sullivan said the couple were “genuinely” afraid of Murray and called the gardaí each time. On most occasions Murray had moved away by the time officers arrived.

On March 4 last the couple checked the CCTV cameras that evening and saw Murray in their neighbour's garden. The man was shouting he was going to cut someone's head off and kill the devil.

He then crossed the fence and began banging on their front door. He called gardaí and they arrested Murray when he arrived on the scene.

The couple provided gardaí with the footage from their cameras. They later prepared victim impact reports which were handed into court but not read out.

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