Jobstown trial garda: Paul Murphy ‘smiling and chuckling’

Garda tells court he was verbally abused for helping woman who stumbled

Paul Murphy (right) and six other men are charged with falsely imprisoning former Tánaiste Joan Burton during an anti-water charges protest three years ago. The other men (clockwise from top left) are: Scott Masterson, Michael Murphy, Kieran Mahon, Frank Donaghy, Ken Purcell and Michael Banks. Photographs: Collins

Paul Murphy (right) and six other men are charged with falsely imprisoning former Tánaiste Joan Burton during an anti-water charges protest three years ago. The other men (clockwise from top left) are: Scott Masterson, Michael Murphy, Kieran Mahon, Frank Donaghy, Ken Purcell and Michael Banks. Photographs: Collins

 

The Solidarity TD Paul Murphy was “smiling and chuckling” during the events at Jobstown in 2014 and appeared to be “enjoying the day”, a Garda witness has told the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Garda Jonathan Ryan was giving evidence on Monday in the continuing trial of Mr Murphy and six other men who have all pleaded not guilty to the false imprisonment of the former Labour Party leader, Joan Burton, and her then assistant, Karen O’Connell, at Jobstown during a water charges protest.

Responding to Seán Guerin SC, for Mr Murphy, the witness said it was not the case that he was trying with his evidence to portray Mr Murphy in the “worst possible light”.

Earlier, Garda Ryan told Tony McGillicuddy BL, for the prosecution, there had been a vote organised by Mr Murphy as to whether the crowd would continue to keep the women inside a Garda Jeep, which the protesters had surrounded, and the vote in favour of doing so was “unanimous”. Mr Murphy appeared to be “delighted” with this.

The jury was shown footage of Mr Murphy addressing the protesters and saying there would be a vote on whether to keep the two women inside the Jeep, or slow march the vehicle to a nearby by-pass, where it would be let go.

Mr Murphy was seen voting in favour of the latter proposal, as was another defendant, Solidarity councillor Michael Murphy. However, the majority of the crowd voted in favour of continuing to restrict the two women.

Mr Guerin asked the witness about his understanding of the word unanimous. Garda Ryan said he thought it meant a majority decision. He said he may have used the wrong word, and was not trying to mislead or deceive.

Mr Guerin, referring to a remark by the witness as to the quality of the video footage, said its quality was better than the quality of the Garda’s evidence. Garda Ryan said his evidence was “truthful and honest”.

He told Mr McGillicuddy that shortly after he arrived he helped a woman who had stumbled, but was verbally abused for doing so. He was called a woman beater, a disgrace, and coward and a scumbag. He said defendant Michael Banks abused him in this way, and was laughing at the time and trying to goad him and make him lose his temper.

“It was a deliberate act, to try to anger me,” he told Ciarán O’Loughlin SC, for Mr Banks. “Sneering is the word I would use.”

Seven men have pleaded not guilty to the false imprisonment of Ms Burton and Ms O’Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent on November 15th, 2014, at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Co Dublin.

The accused are: Paul Murphy, of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght: Solidarity councillor Kieran Mahon, Bolbrook Grove, Tallaght; Michael Murphy, Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden; Scott Masterson, a self-employed courier, of Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght; Ken Purcell, a precision operative, of Kiltalown Green, Tallaght; Frank Donaghy, a retired construction worker, of Alpine Rise, Belgard Heights, Tallaght, and Michael Banks, of Brookview Green, Tallaght, whom the court was told does not have an occupation that brings him into contact with the public.

Garda Ryan described the event when he arrived as “quite hostile”, with personal abuse being hurled at the two women who were at that point inside an unmarked Garda Avensis. Ms Burton was being called “cunt, slut, bitch, everything”.

A cordon of two lines of gardaí was formed to move the women to a Jeep, but it dissolved almost immediately when the crowd pushed in on it. The women got to the Jeep, but it was surrounded and could only inch forward. “All sense and logic seemed to have been lost at this point.”

He said he could recall Mr Banks acting in a very aggressive manner and Michael Murphy standing at the Avensis shouting abuse and pointing at Ms Burton.

Mr Guerin said that Garda Ryan, in his statement, had referred to Paul Murphy being “in charge” of the crowd, but that the video showed that the protesters had voted against the proposal which he supported.

Garda Ryan said Paul Murphy had “control and influence” on the crowd on the day. “I stand by that.”

Mr Guerin said the video confirmed that Paul Murphy was not in control. Garda Ryan said the video confirmed that Paul Murphy had held a vote, as he had stated in his evidence. “My evidence has been honest. I saw Paul Murphy in control.”

Garda John Healy told the trial that Paul Murphy “seemed to be one of the top men, I suppose, on the day”.

The politician showed “a blatant disregard for my safety and the safety of my colleagues during the course of the day,” he said.

The witness told Mr Guerin he did not see protesters who objected to suggestions made on the day by Paul Murphy and did not hear him receiving abuse from protesters. He said he himself was called a “Free State bastard”.

Judge Melanie Greally told the jury it was envisaged that the prosecution case would conclude by the end of this week. The trial would not sit next week.

There would be closing speeches the following week, and then her charge.