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Villagers' text alerts keep watch on Murphy

A SPOOKED Wicklow village has set up a mass text message system to guard against rapist Larry Murphy.

Local politicians, backed up by concerned residents, have developed the system following Murphy's early release from Arbour Hill prison.

Despite reports that Murphy is now living in the Dublin area, local activist Gerry O'Neill believes he will still try to return home to Baltinglass.

Villagers in Kilbride have signed up to the text system, which will warn locals about any criminal activity going on in the area, including Baltinglass, Moone, Dunlavin and Grangecon.

"There is still a huge sense of fear about Larry Murphy in the area," said Mr O'Neill.

"We heard he is living in Dublin but people are still very worried about him.

"We have a community alert system going in Kilbride where we send out a group text if any suspicious behaviour is noticed in the area.

"It has worked in Kilbride in terms of crime."

Local Garda inspector Gerry Connolly said he expected to meet community representatives soon about the plans.

"It's a good idea. Even if they see strange vehicles in the area, neighbours can inform each other."

It is hoped the alert system will help prevent burglaries, boost safety for women as well as elderly people living alone.

Kilbride Neighbourhood Watch's Austin Tisdall said up to 166 households had signed up there at very little cost, with each home contributing €2 since the system began last year.

"We used to have a lot of burglaries and joyriders. There's a lot less crime with everyone linked in now."

Murphy continues to be the prime suspect in the disappearances of Jo Jo Dullard (21); Deirdre Jacob (18); and Annie McCarrick (26).

Despite making a number of attempts to question Murphy over the disappearances, he has so far refused to cooperate with investigators.

The married father-of-two was released after serving 10 years of a 14-year sentence for the rape and attempted murder of a woman in Co Carlow.

He has reportedly begun receiving rehabilitative treatment and is living alone in the greater Dublin area, housed by the Probation Service. He agreed to undergo counselling after the hostile public reaction following his release from jail.