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Mum who killed beautiful son took her life in prison

A MOTHER who killed her beautiful son took her own life using wire likely to have been taken from a prison jewellery workshop, an inquest heard.

Ruth Murphy (48) was serving a life sentence for the murder of seven-year-old Karl, was drowned on Greystones beach 10 years ago after a nighttime picnic.

She was found unresponsive in the shower area of her room at the Dochas female prison in Dublin after tying plastic bags around her head using the wire on August 18, 2010, city coroner Dr Brian Farrell was told.

The jury at the inquest yesterday called on prison authorities to review and log all materials used in prison workshops and prevent the removal of "potentially dangerous items" to cells.

Assistant chief officer Jean O'Reilly, who raised the alarm during a routine check of rooms, broke down in tears giving evidence at the Dublin City Coroner's Court.

Ms O'Reilly called for medical help after finding Murphy, formerly of Alsac House, Newbridge, Co Kildare, unresponsive at 12.40am.

A post-mortem examination found that Murphy, who had a history of depression for which she was on medication, died from asphyxia due to the placing of plastic bags around her head.

One of the bags around her head was secured with a significant length of wire and yesterday the inquest heard that, on the balance of probability, the wire came from the jewellery workshop at the prison.

A garda investigation found there was no third-party involvement.

The prison has since changed its policy on allowing prisoners to have plastic carrier bags or for such bags to be used in rubbish bins in their rooms.


Speaking from the body of the court, her brother Ken Murphy said he did not know how the wire got from "the safe environment of a workshop to a prison cell... where she used it as an instrument in her demise".

Giving evidence, Governor Mary O'Connor said the wire was consistent with wire used in jewellery classes.

Murphy attended classes, Ms O'Connor said.

A jury of five men and one woman returned a verdict of death by suicide under the direction of coroner Dr Brian Farrell.