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.
Girl (13) praised for fighting off attacker