Monday 20 January 2020

'Break the silence, take back your life,' woman raped by father urges victims of abuse

‘You destroyed my life,’ Sophia Murphy told her father John. Picture: Collins
‘You destroyed my life,’ Sophia Murphy told her father John. Picture: Collins
‘You destroyed my life,’ Sophia Murphy told her father John. Picture: Collins

Fiona Ferguson

A woman subjected to years of rape and abuse at the hands of her father has urged others who are suffering to "take back your life; break the silence".

John Murphy (61) has been jailed for 18 years for the "horrendous" sexual abuse of his daughter throughout her childhood from the age of three.

Murphy, formerly of Nephin View Manor, Foxford, Co Mayo, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the rape, indecent assault and sexual assault of his eldest daughter.

Sophia Murphy suffered the litany of abuse at locations in Co Galway and Co Mayo on dates between 1988 and 2001.

The former member of the Defence Forces also pleaded guilty to a final incident of sexual assault of Ms Murphy in 2010.

Murphy is currently serving an eight-year sentence in Arbour Hill prison for sexual abuse involving Ms Murphy's two younger sisters, imposed last February at Castlebar Circuit Court.

Ms Murphy, now aged 33, was aged between three and 15 at the time of the majority of the offences. She has waived her right to anonymity so her father can be named.

In her victim impact statement which she read to the court, Ms Murphy said: "Silence protects the abuser and imprisons the victim. Take back your life; break the silence. You are not a victim for sharing your story, you are a survivor."

She addressed her father during her statement.

"It's the only chance I'm ever going to get to tell you how much you destroyed my life, for your own sick pleasure. You put your horrible hands all over me. I was never my own person; you touched me whenever and wherever you wanted."

She described the pervasive nature of the abuse and the effect it had on her. "There is not a day in my life I don't remember you abusing me. You abused me sexually, emotionally and physically. You never left me alone," said Ms Murphy. "It was just never ending, day after day, night after night."

Mr Justice Michael White noted the "length, intensity and depravity of the sexual abuse". He said the garda evidence and Ms Murphy's victim impact statement had been "harrowing", adding the breach of trust from Murphy was a "very grave wrong".

Mr Justice White said that taking into account the depth, length and nature of this abuse, the headline sentence - before taking into account the mitigating factors - had to be life imprisonment.

The judge said in his view Murphy's remorse was genuine and he had acknowledged the great hurt he had caused his daughter. He noted Murphy's guilty pleas and his health problems.

Mr Justice White imposed consecutive sentences totalling 18 years, which were backdated to when Murphy went into custody in December 2017.

Murphy has 73 previous convictions for the sexual assault of four victims. He received an eight-year sentence in February for sexual abuse involving Ms Murphy's two younger sisters.

Irish Independent

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