Tuesday 28 January 2020

Leading paramedic spied on female colleague in toilets

Robert Murphy from Dooradoyle, Limerick
Robert Murphy from Dooradoyle, Limerick

A leading paramedic, who used his iPhone to spy on female colleagues in a toilet, has walked free from court without a conviction.

Robert Murphy, of Lissanalta Grove, Dooradoyle, Limerick, pleaded guilty in March this year to a charge of harassment, following the discovery of his phone in a unisex toilet at a HSE ambulance base at Tyone, Tipperary, on May 5th 2012.

Nenagh District Court heard of how one of Mr Murphy's female colleagues noticed a box of gloves with a number of holes punched in it, perched on a windowsill at the toilet. When she looked more closely she discovered Mr Murphy's phone recording her in video mode.

The victim in the case, who cannot be named, complained to her supervisor and Mr Murphy "held his hands up", Nenagh court heard.

The court previously heard he apologised and deleted the video recording in front of the victim, with whom he pleaded with not to take the matter any further.

The following day gardaí called to Mr Murphy's home and he admitted everything.

The father of three admitted hiding his phone in the toilet to record videos of women in the toilet for his own pleasure.

In court today solicitor Dan O'Gorman said Mr Murphy had "saved lives" and has "performed over and above the line of duty".

"He has put his life in danger (for the public's safety). If anyone is owed something by this country it is this man," his solicitor added.

Mr O'Gorman said he "could not see any service to the people of Ireland" in the State recording a conviction against his client.

"At 3am when people are being pulled out of ditches, he has stepped up to the plate in his duty to the State. I ask that the State reciprocate and step up to the mark," Mr O'Gorman said in mitigation.

He told Judge Elizabeth MacGrath: "This man failed on one occasion. He is a thoroughly decent man and is ready to take his place (back) in society."

Mr Murphy was supported in court by family and friends.

The senior ambulance paramedic is continuing to undergo counselling, and is presently "under the scrutiny of his employers", his solicitor said

Mr O'Gorman added: "He is facing serious disciplinary action by his employers...If a conviction is recorded it may have very serious consequences on his employment."

The court heard Mr Murphy had paid €5,000 compensation to the victim.

Mr O'Gorman previously told the court Mr Murphy was born in California and his mother was murdered when he was eight years old.

Mr Murphy's father was convicted of conspiracy to murder and jailed for ten years, after which Mr Murphy and his siblings were sent to Ireland to be cared for by relatives.

He said a psychological report carried out on Mr Murphy by an "expert doctor" was "extremely complimentary".

"The report describes a very troubled and extraordinary history of my client whose motivation has been through the build up of emotional stress and difficulties."

Mr O'Gorman told the court that "there was no particular good news on that front", referring to the health of Mr Murphy's wife - who was diagnosed with cancer four years ago.

While she was first having treatment, Mr Murphy "became distant", the court previously heard.

"He is of very low risk (of reoffending). There is nothing to suggest he is an danger to anyone," Mr O'Gorman said.

Inspector Bernard Barry, Nenagh gardaí, previously told the judge that Mr Murphy admitted what he had done as soon as gardaí approached him about it.

"From the get go, it was hands up," Insp Barry said.

The court has heard Mr Murphy is still employed by the HSE, but "serving his employers in a different area."

Judge MacGrath said the offer of compensation did not influence her decision on sentencing, as the victim was "most concerned" about this.

She said Mr Murphy had suffered "a traumatic life as a child" and had been subjected to shame and "opprobrium" when the case was highlighted in the media.

The judge noted Mr Murphy had "fully engaged" with the probation services.

The main aggravating factor, the Judge stated, was that Murphy had been "involved in a breach of trust with co-workers".

Judge MacGrath took into consideration Mr Murphy's previous unblemished character.

She also noted the "traumatic time as a child when his mother was murdered and his father's conviction and his having to move from the US to Ireland at a young age".

"I note his wife suffers from a serious illness and I note he (Murphy) has picked himself up and has a very responsible position in his job."

Judge MacGrath applied the Probation Act.

"I acknowledge the work of the frontline (emergency) services and what they provide to the public and he (Mr Murphy) has done that job. He has gone as far as he can go in making amends," Judge MacGrath said.


David Raleigh

Online Editors

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