April 2015

OAP who abused two young girls sent to jail after judge rules his suspended sentence was too SOFT

Thomas Murtagh

A pensioner from Coventry who preyed on two young girls has finally been jailed after top judges ruled his suspended sentence was far too soft.

Thomas Michael Murtagh, 77, of King Richard Street, Hillfields, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of indecent assault at Warwick Crown Court on February 27.

He was given a two-year suspended sentence.

However, the case was referred to London’s Criminal Appeal Court by the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, who attacked the sentence as ‘unduly lenient’.

Today judges removed the suspension, meaning Murtagh must serve his two-year sentence behind bars.

Lady Justice Hallett told the court how the string of indecent assaults took place in the 1960s and 70s.

The two victims were aged under 13 when Murtagh molested them.

One of them telephoned Murtagh to confront him in 2008 and he admitted his offending, apologised and told his wife what he had done.

The same victim finally went to the police in 2014 and, when officers went to Murtagh’s home, he said: ‘I have waited 40 years for this’.

Lady Justice Hallett told the court: “This case does have exceptional features.

“Rarely will an offender admit what he has done when confronted by a victim, then admit it to his wife, then admit it to police and then admit it to the court.,

“Even more rarely will an offender volunteer the fact there was a second victim.”

Married for 48 years, Murtagh has many health issues, including asbestos-related lung problems, cystic fibrosis and heart complaints.

His poor health, remorse and ‘blameless’ life since the offending were taken into account, but the judge said there were also a number of aggravating features.

These included the age of the victims, the fact there was two of them, the duration and frequency of offending and the significant psychological damage both have suffered.

One of the women has ‘no happy childhood memories’, suffers from self-loathing, is on anti-depressants and has had thoughts of suicide.

The other is also on anti-depressants and has developed obsessive compulsive disorder, the court heard.

Lady Justice Hallett said she was satisfied the suspended sentence was ‘unduly lenient’.

“We feel we have no alternative but to lift the suspension,” added the judge, who was sitting with Mr Justice Kenneth Parker and Mr Justice Knowles.

“Therefore the sentence must be served as an immediate custodial sentence.”

Murtagh must report to Coventry police on Saturday to begin his jail term.