April 2021

Dangerous child-snatching paedophile who cruised the country looking for 9 to 14-year-old girls is released

A dangerous child-snatching paedophile who cruised the country looking for 9 to 14-year-old girls to rape has been freed from prison.

Dermot Murphy, whose light sentences for his horrific crimes have caused outrage in the past, had been behind bars since 2012.

He has served nine of the 13 years he got after he attempted to drag a young teenaged girl into a van who bravely managed to fight him off.

He previously served six years of a seven-year sentence he got in 1998 for the kidnap and rape of a 12-year-old girl after he drove her to a bog, stripped and sexually assaulted her.

This week Murphy was shielded from being approached by the Sunday World when a civilian vehicle was allowed into a prison complex to collect him.

The Athlone man who is considered a high-risk of re-offending is banned from driving for life and was whisked away in black SUV with two men.

Wearing a hat and Covid face-mask Murphy sat in the back of the car as it emerged from behind the steel gates at Arbour Hill prison.

During his criminal trials it emerged Murphy told gardaí how he would drive around looking for potential victims

He first came to attention in 1997 after he kidnapped the 12-year-old girl subjecting her to a terrifying and humiliating ordeal.

But it was her presence of mind to remember his vehicle registration that saw Murphy caught within hours of the horrific attack.

Then aged 28 he had stopped to talk to her on the pretext of looking for directions, but then forced her into his car and drove to an isolated location.

Brandishing a knife, he ordered the girl to strip and then raped and sexually assaulted her as she screamed out in pain

He assaulted again in the car and later watched her as she went to the toilet outside the vehicle before putting her clothes on.

Murphy told the terrified girl he knew where she lived, warning her not to tell anyone, and later disposed of a jacket and the knife in a doomed bid to get rid of forensic evidence.

Once free the girl quickly raised the alarm and was able to give the registration number of the car to gardaí.

Investigating officers found the girl’s socks and underwear in his bedroom which he had kept as mementos when he was arrested just hours after the attack.

Murphy who confessed everything revealed to a probation officer how he had driven around looking specifically for a girl aged from nine to 14.

He said he had done this in the past but the attack was the first time he had the opportunity to carry out his sinister plans.

He said that he had driven around with another male friend some weeks previously looking for a young girl to sexually assault but failed to find a target.

The trial judge at the time, Paul Carney, said there had been a high degree of premeditation and that there was an aggravated element associated with a forced sex act inflicted on the girl.

The judge also cited the humiliation and degradation the girl endured and the use of a knife which made her think she was going to be killed.

Judge Carney also referred to Murphy’s guilty plea and his remorse.

During the trial it as heard from character witnesses how everyone was shocked at his actions and had been well-regarded.

It was said Murphy was on the borderline of mild mental disability, having suffered a head injury in a childhood car accident and was remorseful and concerned for the girl.

But within a short time of being released after six years in prison Murphy was back cruising the country roads looking for a potential victim.

In 2007 he tried to abduct a 20-year-old woman in Laois using the same method, stopping and looking for directions.

He tried to drag her into the back of the van but ending up fleeing as a lorry approached.

He admitted that he thought the woman he targeted was much younger.

Details of the 2007 attempted snatch only came to light after he had been arrested in 2012 when again tried to drag a victim into his van.

This time it was a 13-year-old he had stopped using the same excuse of looking for directions.

He had been driving along rural roads from his flat in Waterford, to his childhood home near Athlone.

When he spotted the girl on her bicycle Murphy got out of his van on the pretext of clarifying the directions, then grabbed the girl.

Despite falling to the ground she fought back ferociously kicking him and then biting his leg as her top came off in the struggle before escaping his clutches.

DNA evidence from her top, which Murphy had later thrown in a ditch, matched the sample he later gave to gardaí.

A green hold-all containing clothes and rope which the girl had seen in his van as he held the door open were found in his home.

Gardaí used CCTV footage to retrace the van’s journey, and when they contacted Murphy to arrange an interview, he handed himself in.

“I don’t know what came over me. I feel sorry for the girl, maybe I need help,” he told gardaí.

In a victim impact statement read into the court record during the 2012 trial, the girl said she is afraid of being alone and is wary of all men, even with her parents.

She wonders if people are watching her and if Murphy will come back or has done the same thing to other girls who have not come forward.

She is sometimes worried and sad about what could have happened to her, and is always thinking about the incident.

His defence lawyer said at the hearing he had been doing well after his release from prison, before his new life in Cork was turned upside down by media publicity.

The presiding judge at the trial, Tony Hunt said Murphy is at high risk of reoffending said it was only the victim’s strength of character and physical strength which prevented something happening “which hardly bears thinking about.”

At the sentencing hearing he imprisoned Murphy for 13 years and also imposed a life-time driving ban.

He said a vehicle seemed to be “a significant tool for him in attempting to satisfy his perverse urges”.

Judge Hunt described him as a serious and dangerous recidivist offender with a serious perversion and ordered that he sign on with gardai for the rest of his life and undergo close supervision for 10 years after his release.

July 2012

Girl (13) praised for fighting off attacker

A JUDGE has praised the courage of a teenage girl who struggled free of her attacker.

A 13-year prison sentence was imposed on the man, who has a conviction for rape, for the attempted abduction of the 13-year-old girl. The charges against him also included the attempted abduction of a 20-year-old woman in a separate incident.

At Mullingar Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Tony Hunt described Dermot Murphy (43), Atlantic Coast Apartments, Tramore, Co Waterford, as a serious and dangerous recidivist offender, with a serious perversion.

He also disqualified him from driving for life, saying a vehicle seemed to be “a significant tool” for Murphy, who pulled up beside both victims and tried to drag them into his white van.

He had stopped both for directions and had intended to sexually assault both of them.

He admitted assault, attempted abduction and attempted child trafficking of the midlands girl, who was cycling to her friend’s house when he attacked her.

Judge Hunt said it was only her bravery, strength, clear presence of mind and sense of purpose that saved her from the appalling fate that Murphy had in mind for her.

Her top came off and she fell as she struggled with Murphy and was half-naked as she kicked and bit him before she managed to escape to a neighbour’s house.

Judge Hunt said her astute attention to detail led to Murphy’s arrest.

While in custody, he admitted attempting to abduct and threatening to kill a 20-year-old woman who was walking on a rural road in Laois in 2007.

She also struggled as he tried to pull her into the back of his van, but he fled when he was spooked by an approaching lorry.

Judge Hunt noted that all the evidence that led to Murphy being charged and convicted for the Laois offence was given by him, as the victim did not recognise him in an identity parade.

He referred to Murphy’s previous conviction for raping, falsely imprisoning and committing aggravated sexual assault on a 12-year-old girl in 1997.

He said treatment he received while serving almost seven years for those offences had not been effective.

Murphy required further rehabilitation and he ordered close Probation Service supervision for 10 years following his release. He was at high risk of reoffending, and the judge noted his unhappy childhood. He had been friends at a young age with a man who had groomed teenage girls and Murphy had watched as he sexually assaulted them.

Judge Hunt took Murphy’s co-operation, his remorse and his willingness to engage in treatment into consideration, but said he was a serious danger to girls aged between nine and 14 years.

All attempts to manage his behaviour in the past had been unsuccessful, he said, ordering that post-release, he must inform gardaí of his whereabouts for the rest of his life.

May 2012

Man planned to sexually assault teen victim after kidnap, court told

A MAN who attempted to abduct a teenage girl in the Midlands intended to sexually assault her, a court has heard.

Sentencing began yesterday in the case of Dermot Murphy (42), of Atlantic Coast Apartments, Tramore, Co Waterford, who admitted attempting to abduct a 13-year-old girl last July, intending to sexually assault her.

Murphy has also served a six-year and 10-month sentence in 1998 for the rape and false imprisonment of a young girl and completed a sex offenders’ course in prison.

Detective Sergeant Kieran Hanly, who described the victim’s bravery as “outstanding”, said Murphy got out of his van on the pretext of clarifying directions, then grabbed the girl, who fought back.

She fell to the ground but kicked Murphy and bit his leg, and her top came off during the struggle before she fled to safety.

DNA evidence from her top, which Murphy threw in a ditch, matched a sample he gave to gardai, and a green hold-all containing clothes and rope, which was found at his home, matched one the girl saw as Murphy held the rear van door open and tried to force her in.

He had set out that day with the intention of finding a girl, and the victim was the third young woman he had seen and attempted to engage.

Gardai used extensive CCTV footage to retrace the van’s journey, and when they contacted Murphy to arrange an interview, he handed himself in.

“I don’t know what came over me. I feel sorry for the girl, maybe I need help,” he told gardai.

Murphy pleaded guilty to attempted false imprisonment, attempted child trafficking and to assault causing harm to the girl.

In a victim impact statement read by Detective Sergeant Hanly, the girl, who was in court with her family, said she was afraid of being alone and was wary of all men, even with her parents.

She wonders if people are watching her and if Murphy will come back, or has done the same thing to other girls who have not come forward.

John Paul Shortt said his client had been doing well after his release from prison, before his life was turned upside down by media publicity.

He now wants to further engage in treatment and post-release supervision.

Scarring

Murphy was born to a very respectable family, but a deformity to his legs led to surgery and significant scarring, which led to a speech impediment, bullying in school and to Murphy not completing any state exams, Mr Shortt said.

His one relationship broke up because of his alcohol andgambling problems, and he became interested in young girls during his 20s.

Mr Shortt said Murphy’s perversions had developed to a highly dangerous level, but he was sorry and wanted help.

He is at high risk of reoffending and Judge Tony Hunt said it was only the victim’s strength of character and physical strength that prevented something happening “which hardly bears thinking about”.

Describing Murphy as a serious threat to society, with ongoing and unresolved problems, he remanded him in custody to July for psychiatric and other reports.

He would impose “a significant custodial sentence,” he said.