Wednesday 15 August 2018

Man faces increased jail time for raping woman and abducting her son (4)

Michael Murray
Michael Murray

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A man jailed for 15 years for the rape and sexual assault of a woman whose child he abducted in the same incident faces an increased prison sentence following an appeal by prosecutors.

Michael Murray (46), formerly of Killiney Oaks, Killiney, in Dublin, was jailed for 15 years for rape, attempted rape, oral rape and aggravated sexual assault, child abduction, threats to kill or cause serious harm, false imprisonment and theft at a Dublin apartment on February 12 and 13, 2010.

The Central Criminal Court heard that Murray had lured his female victim into an apartment by telling her that an elderly woman was dying inside and needed her help.

He tied her up and assaulted her before taking her son (4) away, abandoning him in a city centre square late at night. He returned to the flat where he drugged and raped his victim.

Murray had denied the charges. However he was found guilty on all counts by a unanimous jury verdict.

The Director of Public Prosecutions are seeking a review of Murray's 15-year prison sentence on grounds that it is “unduly lenient”.

Counsel for the DPP, Seán Gillane SC, told the Court of Appeal today that there had been “a constellation of aggravating factors” including pre-meditation, deception, an extraordinary duration of time as well as egregious degradation and humiliation within the offences themselves.

But there was a further feature of aggravation which placed this case not just into the most serious of cases “but in the upper limit of even that range,” Mr Gillane submitted.

“There was an explicit threat to the victim that her child would be killed if she didn't give in to his sexual depredation” and “there was the placing of the hands on the child's throat,” Mr Gillane said.

“The future safety of her child was made dependent on her cooperation with his deviant desires.”

During the assault, Mr Gillane said it became apparent that the child saw his mother tied up and knew there was something “very, very wrong”.

“Almost unimaginably, in the course of being sexually assaulted and raped, she had to explain to her child” that Murray was a bad man and that he (the child) had to keep quiet.

Then there was the removal of the child and abandonment on the Luas tracks at 10pm at night, counsel said.

Murray finished his attack on the victim and left her bound and gagged. After a period of time, she ultimately freed herself and alerted people in her building.

Mr Gillane pointed to this period of time where she knew her child was no longer in the building and had been removed by the man who had threatened to kill her child. She spent that period of time not knowing whether her child was dead or alive.

Mr Gillane submitted that the trial judge erred in choosing 15 years as a starting point for the sentence before mitigation – of which there was none.

Counsel for Murray, Blaise O'Carroll SC, said the sentencing judge was a judge of “tremendous experience” who had listened to 29 days of evidence during the trial.

The sentencing judge had not come to a decision “off the cuff”, Mr O'Carroll said. He decided to adjourn sentencing for a week to consider the case in detail.

In his judgment, the sentencing judge carefully set out the principles he was bound by and the Director of Public Prosecutions had failed to point out any palpable error, Mr O'Carroll said.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would reserve its judgment.

Murray previously lost an appeal against his conviction in March.

Giving background facts to the case on that occasion, Mr Justice Birmingham said that at 4.10pm on the date in question, the complainant, a young Chinese woman, was walking home from work in the Smithfield area of Dublin accompanied by her four-year-old child when she was “lured” into an apartment by Murray on the false basis that there was a sick lady inside who needed help.

Thereafter, Murray locked them both into the apartment and subjected to the woman to an “escalating and relentless ordeal of rape, attempted rape, sexual degradation and violence, drugging her, binding and gagging her and threatening to kill both her and her young son”.

The episode was said to have lasted until Murray left the apartment at 5.30am, leaving her tied up in the bath. Murray had left the apartment at an earlier stage when he took her son away and “deposited him” on the street sometime around 10pm.

The trial was fully contested and Murray advanced a defence that the woman was a prostitute or escort who had been working for him in an agency that he ran. This proposition was utterly rejected by her.

Murray sought to appeal his conviction on grounds relating to the admissibility of interviews, issues relating to the manner in which the complainant was examined and cross examined, an issue relating to an alleged failure to disclose, an issue in relation to the failure of the judge to warn the jury about the risks of social media influence on the trial and an issue relating to the taking of certain exhibits from the location of the crime after it had ceased to be a designated crime scene.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the Court of Appeal was “quite satisfied” that none of his grounds were made out, that Murray's trial had not been shown to be unsatisfactory or the verdict unsafe.

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