A convicted rapist has been sentenced to 16 further years in prison for a campaign of harassment and death threats directed at his victim and lawyers involved in his original trial – with the judge calling his actions an “unprecedented and deliberate” abuse of process.
Michael Murray (50), formerly of Seafield Road, Killiney, Co Dublin, was excluded from his sentence hearing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday.
He was found guilty earlier this month of making death threats against Dominic McGinn SC in November 2014 and Tony McGillicuddy BL in January 2015 – the barristers who prosecuted the rape case against him in the summer of 2013.
He was also convicted of harassing his victim by advertising her online as a prostitute, and making similar posts about Mr McGinn and his former defence solicitor in January and February 2015. He had pleaded not guilty to all of these offences.
Murray was jailed in 2013 for 15 years for falsely imprisoning, raping and sexually assaulting a woman at a Dublin apartment in February 2010, and abducting her child. His sentence was later increased to 19 years imprisonment by the Court of Appeal.
He has 34 previous convictions, including convictions for common assault, carrying firearms, robbery and aggravated burglary – with the offending dating back to 1987.
Mr McGinn, who had led the prosecution in Murray’s rape trial, described waking in the middle of the night on November 16, 2014, to receive a “devastating” phone call, telling the trial: “I answered it without really thinking about it. A male voice said ‘bang bang’.”
That same night, a phone call was received at Garda Headquarters saying: “Dom McGinn was going to be shot dead.”
Murray admitted making the call when he was interviewed by detectives. “I put out the hit on him. I wanted to do it myself,” he said.
"If you call me a rapist, I'll kill you. I don't care who the f**k you are. I'll smash him into pieces. I'll throw him into Dún Laoghaire Harbour if you like," he told detectives.
The following February, Mr McGillicuddy, who was the junior counsel in the rape trial, was working late at his office when a blocked number rang. “You prosecuted a man that we know, you and Dominic McGinn, and I am telling you we are going to kill you,” the voice said.
Mr McGinn, along with Murray’s defence solicitor in the 2013 trial, and the woman he was convicted of raping, received calls and texts from unknown numbers in January and February of 2015, the court heard.
“I was terrified. I wondered why so many calls,” the rape victim told the court through an interpreter. “I didn’t understand why they have my contact number.”
Some of the callers mentioned online ads. Mr McGinn and the female defence solicitor all described googling their names and phone numbers to discover ads describing them as prostitutes on a website called BackPage.com. The rape victim’s husband found an ad referring to her in the same way.
Phone browser data recovered from a mobile phone seized from Murray found six different ads had been placed using the phone.
“I intended to use the threats as a mechanism to get them before the courts. I do say I had a lawful excuse. The lawful reason was because of how the previous trial was conducted,” Murray told his trial when he was called to give evidence in his defence.
He was excluded from court for the closing stages after claiming he had been offered a list with the names and addresses of the jurors.
They found him guilty on all five counts on the indictment by unanimous verdict on July 5th, 2021. He had pleaded guilty to having the phone in jail before the trial opened.
There was no mitigation offered at Murray’s sentence hearing on Thursday, but Murray sought to address the court and was allowed enter the witness box.
“I came to court for justice in my trial of 2013,” Murray said, calling it “an insult to justice and the criminal system”.
Judge O’Connor stopped him and said: “I am not going to allow Mr Murray to use these proceedings to have any form of attack on the victim in the original trial.”
She said she would insist on reading his prepared statement before allowing him to continue reading it. “He either shows it to me or he takes it back to where he’s sitting,” she said.
“I’m telling the truth, that’s all,” Murray said.
She ordered him back to the dock, but Murray took up the copy of the New Testament he had sworn on and threw it at Judge O’Connor. It passed to her right and hit a monitor on the wall behind her.
“Mr Murray is to be excluded from this court for the remainder of this sentence hearing,” Judge O’Connor said. “The DAR [Digital Audio Recording] is to remain on.”
He was taken back into the custody area and the court rose. When the court returned, Judge O’Connor said; “It was a Bible – that was the literature which Mr Murray threw.”
She proceeded to read Murray’s statement.
“It criticises the judicial process. It criticises this court for the trial. It says that he was subjected to a total abuse of the laws of the State. [He claims] there is no longer any separation of powers between the government and the judiciary.”
Passing sentence, Judge O’Connor said Murray’s strategy to bring about the trial by making threats against members of the Bar was an “unprecedented and deliberate abuse of proceedings”.
He had “chosen to visit on his victims unwanted and unsavoury calls” by posting ads of a “particularly repulsive nature calculated to cause distress,” she said.
Judge O’Connor said harassing a woman he had been convicted of violently raping in this manner was “a more egregious aggravating factor” and that the calls had left her “terrified” and subjected her to “additional re-victimisation”.
Calling Murray’s actions towards the barristers “a fundamental attack on our system of justice”, she said she intended to send a “strong message” in sentencing him.
“He attempted to interfere with the integrity of the trial process and made a clear attempt to derail the trial and cause its collapse,” she said. “The accused appears to be incapable of rehabilitation at this point. No mitigation has been presented on his behalf . . . and it is not on this court to invent mitigation.”
Judge O’Connor sentenced Murray to nine years in prison for the threat to kill Mr McGinn and seven years for the threat to Mr McGillicuddy.
The judge sentenced Murray to the maximum seven years for the harassment of the woman he is convicted of raping “in the context of re-victimising [her] after such serious and violent offending.”
She ordered sentences of four years for the harassment of Mr McGinn and the female defence solicitor and five years for possession of the mobile phone in prison.
Judge O’Connor ordered that the nine-year sentence for the threat to Mr McGinn and seven-year term for harassing his victim be served consecutively to each other, for an effective operative sentence of 16 years imprisonment.
The judge ordered that this sentence is to date from the end of his original 19-year sentence for rape.
She also ordered that Murray have no contact or communication with the three people he is convicted of harassing for the next 30 years.
“Judge, on my own behalf, my juniors’ and my solicitor I want to express my utter disgust at the behaviour of our client towards you this morning,” said Barry White SC, defending.