Accused man's children to tell of seeing mother's body

 

A Dublin man killed his wife and then told gardai she had not returned home from work though three of her children would give evidence they had seen her body in the garage at their home, a murder trial jury was told yesterday. The woman's body was found near a skip in the street.

Yesterday the prosecution opened its case in the Central Criminal Court against the husband of the Mrs Patricia Murphy (33) a mother of four, whose body was found beside a skip in Glasnevin in 1996.

It is alleged one of the children alerted the others "that there was a monster in the garage".

Mr David Patrick Murphy (36) of Munster Street, Phibsboro, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to the charge that between May 27th and May 28th, 1996 he murdered Mrs Murphy.

The jury heard the couple lived with their four children in Griffith Avenue, Drumcondra, having lived for nine years in Kilrush, Co Clare, where the deceased was from.

Mr Gregory Murphy SC, prosecuting, told the jury that neither manslaughter nor a defence of provocation or self-defence was an issue in the case.

The prosecution case relied solely on circumstantial evidence, he said, and the "straightforward" defence was: "It wasn't him".

There was an idea abroad that circumstantial evidence was not to be relied on, he said, but he would dispute that.

There was overwhelming circumstantial evidence to show Mr Murphy strangled his wife and then used "a certain amount of skill and ingenuity to try to convince the police otherwise", counsel claimed.

Mr Murphy told the jury Mr Murphy met his wife when he went to work as an electrician in Kilkee, Co Clare.

She was from Kilrush and they married and had four children, the eldest an eight-year-old girl, the youngest a four-month-old baby at the time of their mother's murder.

The accused later told gardai he was unhappy in Clare and so the family moved to Dublin. Counsel said that on the morning of May 27th, 1996, Mrs Murphy kissed her children goodbye, left her house and went to work in the Lismore guesthouse, Upper Drumcondra Road.

The manager of the guesthouse, Ms Geraldine Lynch, later gave evidence that Mrs Murphy left the job, which she had started only two days previously, at around 10:30 a.m.

Between 10:30 and 11 a.m. she was seen walking towards home wearing a multi-coloured jacket. The jury would later see this jacket was significant, the prosecutor said.

The next time she was seen in public was when her body was found by a builder, Mr Brian Gahon, at around 8 a.m. the following morning beside a skip outside the site he was working on.

The body was undressed, counsel said, with only a bra and panties on it.

There was no evidence of sexual interference. He alleged the perpetrator of the murder "being clever, too clever by half" had removed the clothing so no forensic link could be established.

Counsel said the prosecution relies for its case on the contested evidence of three of the Murphy's children, who allege their father fed them at supper time on the 27th and sent them to bed. Sometime before 1 a.m. the second-youngest child woke the others to say "that there was a monster in the garage".

"He was a playful little fellow, as you will see", Mr Gregory Murphy said. The others followed the boy downstairs, he continued, and when the light was put on in the garage, "Mother was lying on the floor dead".

Their father then appeared at the door connecting the kitchen with the garage, counsel alleged, and "he took the children upstairs, smacked them and put them to bed.

"You will hear three children say they saw their mother lying dead on the garage floor. Their father says she never came home", he said.

"The prosecution heavily relies on the children's evidence".

Mr Murphy went on to say the prosecution alleged the accused "did everything he had to do" to cover his tracks and conceal evidence before he rang gardai at 1 a.m. on the morning of the 28th to say his wife had not returned home.

He did not answer phone calls to the house four times the previous day, counsel claimed, and the question the jury had to ask was why he did not answer the phone if his wife was missing.

Mr Gregory Murphy also told the jury they would hear a witness tell how he saw a man throw a bag into the Tolka River in the early hours of May 28th. The prosecution could not prove this man was Mr Murphy.

A Garda sub-aqua squad later recovered the bag and it was found to contain Mrs Murphy's jacket and clothing, including a pair of jeans belonging to her husband.

The prosecution asked the jury to infer that Mr Murphy stripped his wife and then himself and threw the bag in the river to try to avoid forensic linkage through clothing.

Mr Murphy told the jury: "Unfortunately for Mr Murphy, there was a little bit of boxing that was too clever by half".

Their case was like Aesop's Fable, counsel said. One twig would break, but added together, all the twigs amounted to an "overwhelming" case against the accused.

A builder, Mr Brian Gahon, told the court he was working on a site building three houses at Woodpark, the Rise, Glasnevin. On the morning of May 28th 1996, shortly after 8 a.m., he came across the body of a partially clothed woman beside a skip.

She was lying on her left side facing the wall.

Mr Gahon agreed that at first he thought she was a "down-and-out" who had fallen but when he saw she was motionless, he alerted a co-worker and then rang the gardai and an ambulance.

He described taking a jumper from his van to cover the woman's shoulders while another man who worked nearby put his anorak over her body.

Det Sgt William Cooper gave evidence that he photographed the parcel tray of a child's buggy that was found in another waste skip on Valentia Road, Glasnevin.

Garda Thomas Conneally said when he went to the scene he noticed there was part of a black refuse sack under the body "as if the rest had been torn away".

Dr Y.M. Fakih said when he examined the right arm of Mrs Murphy's body at 8:56 a.m., rigor mortis was strongly present.

He also noted a strap mark around her neck, while her face was "very red".

Ms Ann Devlin, a teacher who lives on Griffith Avenue, told the jury she saw Mrs Murphy "walking briskly" in the direction of home at around 10:45 a.m. on the morning of the 27th.

A till receipt from a local shop she had just been in confirmed the approximate time.

Ms Yvonne Costello, a former student of the Dominican Convent, Griffith Avenue, gave evidence that she too saw Mrs Murphy who she said looked "very anxious and worried" and was carrying a bag, possibly containing clothes.

She identified a multi-coloured jacket with a predominant purple colour produced in court as "definitely like" the jacket the deceased had been wearing at the time she saw her.

Mr Sean Holland, a local resident, said he could not say for definite it was the jacket produced in court that Mrs Murphy had been wearing.

He agreed with Mr Brendan Grogan SC, defending, that in statements to gardai he told them "I didn't think she was wearing that jacket".

His wife, Ms Cepta Holland, said Mrs Murphy was wearing "a multi-coloured brown jacket", which was the usual one she wore.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Cyril Kelly.