Sunday 22 October 2017

Victim weeps after former Cork mayor convicted of sexual assault

John Murray: at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. Cork Courts
John Murray: at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. Cork Courts
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE VICTIM of a 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 Cork Circuit Criminal Court trial.

After the first verdict was returned, the victim - who is now in her 30s - started weeping and was hugged by family members who also began sobbing.

After over 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 next.

The judge ordered the preparation of reports to assist in sentencing.

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 by pushing his hand inside her underwear and penetrating her with his finger.

The woman sobbed as she said one assault had left her sore and bleeding.

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

She said he had opened his trousers and taken out his penis.

"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 also 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 breasts and vagina because he was "scared for my life" at the meeting.

"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? Ok, so I touched her breast and I touched her vagina. Now, take me out of here."

Murray operated a successful taxi business until he was 78 and was involved in Cork politics throughout his life.

He was first elected to the then-Cork Corporation in 1985 having failed to win a seat in the 1979 Local Government elections.

He was re-elected in 1991 but, despite a high profile term as Lord Mayor, lost his seat at the 1999 election.

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