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'Most terrifying night of my life' -- Murphy


Lisa Murphy and Gerald Kean

Lisa Murphy and Gerald Kean

Lisa Murphy and Gerald Kean

"It was the most terrifying night of my life," socialite Lisa Murphy said yesterday as she recovered from the horrifying ordeal when a masked gang broke into her home and stole her irreplaceable jewellery.

She spent yesterday morning lying down in a darkened room in Drayton Manor, the mansion near Brittas Bay in Co Wicklow where she was robbed at knifepoint last Thursday night. The darkness of the room matched her psychological state.

Her partner, celebrity solicitor Gerald Kean, said yesterday: "I am very concerned for her. She is very shook." Lisa hadn't slept a wink on Friday night after her horrendous ordeal -- when she was held by four balaclava-clad men, two of whom had knives and "very roughly" tied up and left for two hours by the criminal gang who stole jewellery worth over €1m from her and Kean.

The haul was said to include the valuable 10 carat diamond engagement ring given to her by wealthy dancer Michael Flatley in 2006 and said to be worth €500,000 at the time. Kean said a member of the gang wrenched a valuable ring from her finger before demanding: "Where's Michael's ring?"

"She is in an extremely agitated state," Kean said. "She is not good at all. Imagine being physically confronted by four masked men in khaki army gear, demanding she give them money and the engagement ring. Lisa is still trying to come to terms with what happened and what she has just been through. She is still very upset. She has a cut finger and bruises on her ankles and wrists."

Asked how he would assess his fiancee's psychological and emotional state yesterday he replied: "Oh, Jesus, she's very, very upset. Still very upset. I am just trying to be here for her and do my best for her."

Yesterday afternoon, Lisa lay on the couch in the living room looking blankly at the TV. "She wasn't taking anything in. She had no make-up on. You know Lisa is really upset when she is not wearing make-up," Kean said, trying to put a brave face on things. "We were supposed to fly over for the Champions League final, but obviously we couldn't go."

The beautiful blonde model and business woman was, said Kean, tearful and "still emotional and still upset".

He said that he told her to take a small cold crumb of comfort from the fact that "it could have been worse ... I am just getting her to talk about it. A lot of friends have called over to check on her. We are all concerned for her after what happened. It will take her a good while to get over this and she needs all her friends around her.

"She is only eating a little," said Kean, adding that he had asked Lisa did she want to stay at her parents in Dundrum. "She said she wanted to stay here."

It was in the house in Co Wicklow that the horrific ordeal began at 8.08pm on Thursday evening. Lisa had gone to the back door of the house she shares with Kean and opened the door to look into the garden. When she turned to go back in, she caught a glimpse of a silhouette of a man -- within seconds the man and three others had rushed in and had wrestled Lisa to the ground.

"Two of the men had knives," Kean said. "One held a knife to her throat and another man held a knife to her back."

They repeatedly asked Lisa for the codes to the safe. "I don't know any codes. I don't know them," she kept repeating as the men increased their verbal and physical threats, first in the kitchen and then in the hallway. She was screaming that she didn't know any codes. They kept asking when was Gerald coming back. She was also screaming because they had roughly and bloodily torn off Gerald's engagement ring from her finger.

Then one of the four said the most menacing thing of all to the terrified young woman: "Lisa, we can either make this hard or easy on you."

It was at this point at approximately 8.10pm that Lisa, with two knives pressed against her gave up the brave pretence of not knowing the codes, and told them the code to the safe in the bedroom.

"They took everything. All the jewellery we had, jewellery I had for my daughter [teenager Kirsten]. They kept asking Lisa where the cash was! I don't keep cash in my house. But they cleared out all the jewellery we had," Kean said. Although he refused to go into detail about the actual value of the stolen jewels. He said they are not covered by insurance.

The gang left the house at 8.15pm, leaving Lisa tied up for two hours until Kean, who was in a meeting at The Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin came back at approximately 10pm.

"She was hyperventilating with worry that I wasn't going to come back that night and she would be left tied up all night. She was in a terrible state. I was in shock when I came in and saw her," Gerald said adding that she was crying "Oh Jesus! Oh Jesus! I prayed to God and I prayed to Paul" -- referring to her late brother who was killed in a car accident in 1995 -- "that you were going to come back soon".

Kean said that he was just having a meeting and there was never any question of him not returning that night to the six-bedroomed house he shares with Lisa.

"I was wondering when I rang her and left messages and heard nothing back," he said. He said it was highly unusual for Lisa not to return calls or texts, He now knows why she didn't.

Kean doesn't believe the criminals who he says had, according to Lisa, "local accents" -- had cased the house to any great degree before the robbery.

"Lisa was in the house on Wednesday night and I came back there at 8pm with three men. So there was no pattern to it. They were in and gone in less than 10 minutes. They didn't go anywhere else in the house other than the kitchen, the hall and the bedroom."

Gerald didn't answer when asked what did he think he would have done had he got home and caught them in the act or indeed if he had been upstairs when they jumped on Lisa at the back door and tied her up.

Gardai are advising Kean against offering a substantial reward, a source close to the solicitor said last night.

Kean -- whose late father, also Gerald, was a garda sergeant from Cork and whose late uncle was the former Chief Justice Liam Hamilton -- said that he believes in zero tolerance similar to that administered by the American justice system with regards to this type of violent crime.

"If someone came into my home with a knife and had to intent to rob me and my family, I wouldn't be asking them to sit down and have a cup of tea. I think we need to get behind the gardai in Ireland and give them the support they need with regards to violent crime in Ireland."

In the meantime, Lisa needs all the emotional and physical help from her solicitor boyfriend she can get.

Sunday Independent