'Rapist hid some of his past convictions'
Privacy case kept in the dark, court told
A SERIAL rapist, guilty of "horrific rapes and assault", concealed previous criminal convictions from the court he hopes will today restrain newspapers from publishing pictures of him or disclosing his whereabouts.
Barrister Eoin McCullough, counsel for several papers, told a judge yesterday that Michael Murray had not told the court of a previous conviction and imprisonment for rape in the UK as well as indecent exposure in front of children, larceny and intent to do bodily harm.
Paul O'Higgins, counsel for Murray, who was jailed in 1996 for the "horrific rape" of four women in less than a week, told the High Court that Murray was the victim of "an orgy of publicity" since his release from Castlerea Prison last year.
Murray has asked Ms Justice Mary Irvine for a permanent injunction restraining 'The Star', 'The Star on Sunday', 'The Sun', 'Evening Herald' and the 'News of the World' from publishing his address or pictures of him.
He claims he is being kept on the run from one address to another and is unable to hold down a job because of the publicity he alleges is aided by gardai passing his addresses to the newspapers.
Murray (49), originally from Dublin's south inner city, raped four women and sexually assaulted two others over a six- day period in 1995. Two of his victims said at his trial they believed he was going to strangle them. He was jailed in 1996 for 18 years and served 13.
The court heard that since his release in July last year, 'The Star' and its sister paper 'The Star on Sunday' had carried stories headlined: "Serial sex beast is free to roam the streets"; "Monster in our midst"; "Serial rape beast goes underground" and "Sex attack monster has job in hospital".
The 'Evening Herald' had published a large front page picture under the headline: "A danger to women." It had followed up with: "Public must know where he lives"; "Predator" and "Sex beast now lives in flat close to school".
'The Sun' and the 'News of the World' had stories about his living beside a girls' school. Both papers had asked readers that if they had seen "this beast" to contact their reporters.
Mr O'Higgins said Murray had been put in a situation where he was now living in B&Bs and hotel rooms until his identity was discovered through publicity. He had to give up a job as a gardener in St Mary's Hospital, Phoenix Park, Dublin.
Murray claimed in an affidavit to the court that because of the publicity and the effect it had on his retaining a permanent address he had been finding it difficult to comply with his reporting obligations under the Sex Offenders' Act and with the Probation Service.
Mr McCullough told Judge Irvine there was agreement between both legal teams that the issue for the court to decide was the balancing of Mr Murray's rights of privacy as against the right of the media to freedom of speech.
The court, crucially, had to take into account the public interest, he said. There was undoubtedly a right of the public being made aware of the identity and whereabouts of any dangerous person.
"There is no denying the fact that the plaintiff is a very dangerous person," Mr McCullough said. "In 1989 he was convicted and imprisoned for rape in the UK and very shortly after his return to Ireland he was guilty of acts of indecent exposure in front of young children," Mr McCullough said.
Murray had then carried out the four rapes and two sexual assaults associated with extreme violence, all of which had taken place at a time when he was awaiting a decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions relating to the indecent exposures.
Judge Irvine will sit in the High Court this morning at 9.30am to hear further legal argument by Mr O'Higgins on Murray's behalf.