Friday 2 December 2016

We can't watch Murphy all the time, gardai admit

No 24-hour tracking for freed sex offender

Shane Phelan and Michael Brennan

Published 12/08/2010 | 05:00

GARDAI have admitted they will not be able to watch rapist Larry Murphy around the clock following his expected release from prison today.

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Officers plan to closely monitor Murphy (45), but admit he will not be put under 24-hour surveillance.

The revelation comes as pressure mounts on Justice Minister Dermot Ahern to put an end to "automatic remission" of sentences for criminals.

Murphy is set to walk free from Arbour Hill Prison after serving just 10-and-a-half years for the rape, abduction and attempted murder of a then 28-year-old Co Carlow businesswoman in 2000.

He had been given a 15-year jail term, with the final year suspended, after pleading guilty at the Central Criminal Court in 2001.

Despite refusing to participate in any sex offender treatment programme, Murphy received automatic remission of one quarter of his sentence for being of "good behaviour" while behind bars.

Mr Ahern insisted yesterday he could not interfere in the decision to release Murphy. He said that legally, a sentence cannot be extended.

Murphy remains "a person of interest" to the garda investigation into the disappearance of a number of women in Leinster, including Annie McCarrick (26), Jo Jo Dullard (22) and Deirdre Jacob (18).

He was able to obtain a new passport and driving licence while behind bars, but has yet to inform authorities of where he plans to live following his release. He will not be obliged to do so until a week after he walks free.

Senior garda sources insisted Murphy would be closely watched. However, such monitoring will not be carried out on a round-the-clock basis as it would be impractical due to the drain it would place on policing resources.

Fears have been growing around Murphy's hometown of Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, that he could return to the area.

Murphy's brother Tom said last night that the rapist would not be welcomed home. "I'm not having Larry here. Under no circumstances is Larry coming to me either to live with me in the house or in the garage. The garage is strictly for domestic use and I just want to be left in peace at this stage, myself and my partner and the kids," he said.

A public meeting on the issue, organised by Sinn Fein, will be held in the nearby village of Grangecon tonight.

Offender

Should Murphy opt to continue living in Ireland, an inspector from the garda division where he ends up residing will be responsible for implementing the monitoring of him. Under garda sex offender management guidelines, this will involve regular visits by officers.

The inspector will have to ensure up-to-date information is maintained in respect of Murphy's whereabouts and movements. Any changes in Murphy's appearance or any vehicles used by him would have to be immediately noted.

This intelligence will have to be recorded on the garda PULSE computer system, so officers throughout the force can access information on his movements.

Murphy will also be monitored by officers from the garda Sex Offenders Management and Intelligence Unit, which is part of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The unit maintains records of everyone on the sex offenders' register.

Murphy will be obliged to notify gardai if he changes his name or address within seven days of doing so. He also has to inform gardai if he is leaving the country for more than seven days and provide an address where he will stay.

Amid concerns that the monitoring of sex offenders is not tight enough, Mr Ahern is looking at the possibility of reducing the seven-day time period. He is also considering requiring sex offenders to give additional information to gardai about their whereabouts.

Mr Ahern also plans to introduce a DNA database, to which all of those on the sex offenders' register will be legally required to supply DNA samples.

However, the minister indicated yesterday there were no plans to revise the remission regime. He said all sex offenders serve their full term and are not able to get early release, but like all prisoners, they are entitled to 25pc remission.

Under the 2007 Prison Rules Regulations, prisoners are entitled to a bigger remission -- one third of their sentence compared to one quarter -- if they can demonstrate further good conduct and that they are less likely to re-offend.

But according to the Department of Justice, this power has been used sparingly for "exceptional cases". Only one prisoner has been granted one-third remission so far.

Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan said the regulations needed to be urgently reformed.

"It is impossible to understand why automatic remission should apply in a case like this. It is quite simple, automatic remission for sex offenders must end," he said.

Mr Ahern has also been examining proposals to introduce legislation similar to Megan's Law in the US, which provides for the publication of the names and address of released sex offenders.

But the general view of those who took part in a consultation process was that this approach would be counterproductive and would probably drive sex offenders underground where they could not be monitored and where they were more likely to re-offend.

However, Mr Ahern is planning to give gardai the power to warn certain people if a sex offender poses a specific danger to them.

Irish Independent

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