Judge doubts man with over 100 convictions will ever rehabilitate

Philip Murphy (51) given seven years in jail for burglary and robbery offences in Cork

A man (51) has been jailed for seven years by a judge who said that he very much doubted the thief could ever be rehabilitated.

Philip Murphy was convicted by juries of robbery and burglary at two separate premises following two separate trials this year.

The man was sentenced to three years for a burglary at the African Missions property in Cork on July 23rd 2020 and sentenced to a further six years consecutive for a robbery at Mona's Antiques in Cork on August 4th 2020 by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

But Judge Ó Donnabháin suspended the final two years of the nine year term, leaving Murphy, from Killala Gardens, Knocknaheeny in Cork, to serve a seven year prison term for the offences after he was convicted at two separate trials.


Sentencing Murphy, who had 117 previous convictions, Judge Ó Donnabháin said in light of the extremely strong evidence against the accused for both crimes, he wondered what was going on in Murphy’s head when he pleaded not guilty and went through trial.

“I fail to see what motivates Mr Murphy. I doubt that at any stage in his life he will rehabilitate himself. The offence at the African Missions was a very mean offence. He entered what in effect was a care home, almost a hospital, for retired priests back from the missions in late stages of life.

“None of this seems to have penetrated Mr Murphy. There is no element of remorse, no insight, no co-operation. ... I am very worried about his lack of insight and his lack of ability to rehabilitate himself,” he added, before noting how he confronted a female staff member at the jewellers.

“A very short time later he vaulted the counter at Mona’s Antiques and swept this lady aside. ... It is clear from the trial this lady suffered enormously - she felt she lost her voice during the incident she was in such shock. It had a lasting effect on her but no effect on Mr Murphy.”

In the burglary at the African Missions on Blackrock Road on July 23rd 2020, witnesses saw a stranger entering and exiting buildings belonging to the order, before leaving on the 202 bus.

The jury took just half an hour to convict Murphy of the burglary in the trial in mid-June and then he went on trial a second time for the robbery at Mona's Antiques where staff member, Catherine Buckley told what happened to her when a masked raider entered the shop of August 14th 2020.

“He was up on top of the counter before I could think. I was pressing the panic button. I felt something - I don’t know what it was and I ended up lying on my back. I was dazed for a few seconds,” said Ms Buckley as she described how the raider made off with €6,000 worth of rings.

“The physical and emotional trauma has shaken me to the core. I have always been very calm and determined. That is lost to me. I am easily distressed and agitated. To the person responsible to this assault and robbery , shame on you.”

Ms Buckley, who twice managed to push the raider back including once pushing him off the counter, did not identify the raider who had a face mask but she did tell gardaí that he was wearing a distinctively patterned ‘paddy hat’.

A short time before the robbery, Det Garda Cormac Crotty was on duty in Cork city centre in relation to another matter when he spotted and identified Philip Murphy who was known to him. He made a note of seeing him wearing the unusual hat which he described in his Garda notebook.

Murphy denied the robbery but the jury took just less than half an hour to unanimously find him guilty of the charge at a trial earlier this month and Judge Ó Donnabháin remanded him in custody for sentence this week on both charges.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times