Sunday 4 December 2016

'He was a quiet fella, but not a weirdo'

Published 12/08/2010 | 05:00

A ROUGH, winding dirt track, so narrow that it permits only one car. There are no houses around, no passers by, nobody -- literally -- to hear you scream.

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The only sound is that of a cock crowing in the far distance, the buzz of insects and the patter of a soft rain.

This is Kilranelagh, the remote wooded townsland close to the Glen of Imaal where Larry Murphy's victim was taken and where, in an almost incredible stroke of luck, she was stumbled upon by two men out hunting.

In the right context, this would be a beautiful spot, with its sweeping vista of the Wicklow Mountains, the lush, still, plantations of spruce and beech trees and sightings of deer and shy red squirrels.

Instead, recalling what occurred here, it is chilling.

Just a little down the dirt track from where the terrifying ordeal occurred, is a field where a St Bridget's Headstone stands -- a stone with a hollowed out centre where locals have placed rosary beads, several weathered-looking prayer cards, mostly seeking vocations, and some corroded statues of the Virgin Mary. Local legend has it that this is the place where the King of Leinster was said to have been beheaded. Less than 1.6km away from the same dirt track is the family homestead of Larry Murphy.

He was a bit of a loner, say locals.

"A quiet fella but not someone known as a weirdo. He played football, drank a few pints but kept himself to himself," said one man.

The Murphy family are not Baltinglass natives but hailed from Stratford, a few kilometres outside town on the way to Blessington.

Murphy's father died two or three years ago, but his mother Elizabeth is still alive and living in the family home, about 6.4km from Baltinglass.

His brother, Thomas, a builder, who also lives close to the family home, gave a televised interview with Miriam O'Callaghan in which he said he could not put his hand over his heart and say that his brother was not involved in the disappearances of other women, like Jo Jo Dullard, Deirdre Jacob and Annie McCarrick.

Prey

In his younger days, Murphy went out with another local girl and their relationship lasted for over a year.

The skilled carpenter began to build a house on his aunt's land around 1994-95 -- around the time that Jo Jo Dullard disappeared.

His wife Margaret, who has cut all ties with him and is now in a new relationship, is described by locals as a "lovely girl -- nice, vibrant and attractive" who dotes on her children.

At the time he was arrested for the rape of the Carlow business woman in 2000, Murphy and his brother Thomas were in the middle of refurbishing an old house they purchased in Carlow town.

Murphy had a keen interest in hunting and stalked his prey for a month before kidnapping her.

He broke her nose and gagged her before bundling her into the boot of his Fiat Punto. He drove 13km to Beaconstown, where he had hunting rights, undressed her and raped her.

Afterwards, he told her he was married and gave her the names of his two young children and told her that he would bring her home.

Instead, he then brought her to Kilranelagh and the remote woodland areas where he had played as a boy.

Her life was only saved because of pure fate. After all that had happened that night, Murphy coolly got back into bed with his wife -- but the gardai were waiting patiently outside his house until dawn.

Irish Independent

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