Friday 28 April 2017

Hunter becomes the prey overnight

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

FROM prison door to car door, it took just 20 rapid steps and then Larry Murphy was a free agent once more. Free to disappear into the morning mill of the city, free to go where he chose. Or, at least, so the theory goes.

"Rapist," "dirty scumbag," shouted onlookers, who pressed forward in their eagerness to catch a glimpse of him.

"Give that woman back her life and her children," yelled someone else, presumably in a reference to Murphy's estranged wife.

But Murphy paid no more heed to the taunts of these ordinary people -- mostly local women, some of whom had gathered from early morning to watch his release -- than he would to the miaow of a kitten.

Eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses, a navy and white baseball cap pulled firmly down around his ears, he remained unshakeable, his mouth a thin line as he concentrated on his short walk.

No family members had driven from Baltinglass to collect him. Only a grey taxi stood waiting at the gate of Arbour Hill, as a garda helicopter hovered high overhead.

"He has some money but no friends," is how gardai describe Murphy's current situation.

Aside from the unmistakable dimple in his chin, he was barely recognisable as the man jailed more than 10 years ago for the rape and attempted murder of a Carlow woman, who endured a terrifying ordeal that was almost breathtaking in its brutality.

"I flipped," was the explanation he gave back then to his wife, who had just given birth to their second child less than a month beforehand.

Since that time, Murphy had clearly preoccupied himself with working out. His body appeared toned and sculpted, broader and more bulked out than it was before, the muscles clearly visible with his jawline clenched and square.

Anyone might mistake him for a body builder or professional gym instructor. Only his colour -- a yellow pallor -- gave him away as a man who had spent a decade inside.

And though he held his head high, even behind the dark glasses it was clear Murphy did not steal even a glance at the cameras fixed firmly upon him, nor did he utter a single word.

His attire -- a black hooded sweatshirt with a loud, gold New York Yankees logo emblazoned on the front, baggy jeans, Nike runners and the small rounded sunglasses -- looked slightly bizarre and dated in the cold light of 2010.

It had been a long morning. Most photographers had taken position outside Arbour Hill shortly after midnight, with more media following in the early hours of the morning. At 4am, the gardai arrived and at 4.15am, barriers were erected on the road outside the prison gates. They were not taking any chances.

Dawn was beginning to break. At 6am, the prison gates were unlocked and at 7.12am, a delivery of fresh milk was dropped off. Spirits began to flag as the waiting game continued until, at 9.17am, a prison van pulled up outside. However, the driver waved her hands in a negative -- she had nothing to do with Murphy's departure.

A carload of protesters who had spent some hours waiting in anticipation left just as another delivery, this time of grocery items, was being unloaded.

Curious onlookers began to cluster, among them Kathleen Sullivan, Patricia Cronin and Marian Patterson, who work nearby.

"It's very frightening," they agreed.

And then, finally, came the word. Murphy would walk down the driveway and the media could take their pictures but they could not cross the barrier. He would get into his car and leave.

It all happened at 10.17am as planned. Throwing a holdall bag into the back seat of the taxi, Murphy followed and, seeming not to utter a word to the taxi driver, the car roared off down the street towards the the quays with three motorcyclists and various media agencies following in hot pursuit.

Everyone wants to know where he intends to go.

What came as unexpected was his initial destination -- Coolock garda station.

A keen hunter, Murphy stalked his victim for over a month before he swooped. Now it was his turn to be the prey.

Irish Independent

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