AN ANGRY crowd gathered outside a government-run halfway house for ex-convicts last night amid speculation that freed rapist Larry Murphy was staying there.
The group of up to 60 protesters gathered outside Priorswood House in Coolock on Dublin's northside chanting "get him out".
Gardai last night denied Murphy was staying at the Department of Justice-built facility.
The director of Priorswood, Lisa Cuthbert, also insisted Murphy was not staying there.
"We understand the fear -- it's perfectly natural -- but this kind of response isn't helpful," she told the Irish Independent.
However, one local resident said people's fears were understandable after a number of alleged sightings of Murphy in the area.
"I can't understand why he was let out in the first place," Eddie Mitchell said. "Look at the reaction of the people here. I have two daughters aged 24 and 32. People are in fear."
Late last night, the crowd had been disperesed cbut not before some tried to jump the fence before being pushed back by gardai.
The tense incident, which highlighted public fears over Murphy's release, followed a dramatic day during which scores of officers and a garda helicopter were used to track his every move.
A senior garda source said his current location was known to them and that he was under observation.
"As is the case with all sex offenders, a plan is put in place to manage them on their release. The plan is working," the source said.
Murphy (45) walked free from Arbour Hill prison in Dublin yesterday morning after serving just 10-and-half years of a 15-year sentence for the rape, abduction and attempted murder of a young businesswoman.
As he left the prison complex in a taxi, a team of officers was immediately deployed to monitor his movements.
But within hours of his release, Murphy made an apparent attempt to shake off their attention.
With gardai following him in unmarked cars, the former carpenter alighted from a taxi near Grafton Street around 1pm and hurried through the pedestrian area towards St Stephen's Green where he vanished from view.
His whereabouts were quickly re-established by officers. But gardai have admitted they will not be able to monitor his movements 24 hours a day.
Murphy's release sparked outrage and a major debate over automatic 25pc remission for inmates for "good behaviour".
While in jail, Murphy refused to undergo any sex offender treatment programme or show any remorse.
He also remains a suspect in the disappearance of three women from different locations around Leinster during the 1990s.
Murphy emerged from Arbour Hill at 10.17am yesterday looking fitter and bulkier than when he was last seen in public 10 years ago.
Wearing a hooded top, baseball cap and sunglasses, and clutching a holdall, he got into a waiting taxi without making any comment to waiting media. A group of protesters who had gathered shouted abuse at him.
Uniformed gardai maintained a large presence outside the prison and a garda helicopter hovered overhead.
As the taxi drove off it was quickly followed by a three press photographers on motorcycles and a number of unmarked garda cars.
A short time later Murphy went into Coolock garda station where he complained that he was being harassed by members of the media.
He did not tell officers where he was planning to live or what his plans were for the future.
By law he is not obliged to provide an address to gardai until next Thursday.
Garda and prison sources said he paid the taxi fare out of his own money and was not assisted in any way.
Inmates are entitled to a €2.35-a-day gratuity while behind bars, which can build up to several thousand euros over the course of a sentence.
A public meeting was held in the nearby village of Grangecon last night to discuss his release.
Murphy's estranged wife left the area last weekend amid fears he could return.
The father-of-two kidnapped a woman in Carlow in February 2000 and repeatedly raped her before trying to kill her.
He hit her in the face, breaking her nose, before bundling her into her own car and tying her hands behind her back with her bra.
He then drove to an isolated location where he raped her.
Murphy then moved to another secluded area where the woman's ordeal continued.
He tried to suffocate her to death by placing a shopping bag over her head, but fled after being disturbed by two men out hunting.