Ex-Cork mayor tells of disgust on hearing sexual assault complaint

Cork politician John Murray (83) denies abusing woman when she was a teenager

A former lord mayor of Cork today told a court how he was disgusted and sickened when he read a statement of complaint by a young woman alleging that he had sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager.

John Murray (83) of Gregg Road in Cork has pleaded not guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to six counts of sexually assaulting the girl while in her early teens at four locations in the city on various dates between March 1996 and October 1998.

Today Mr Murray took the witness box to deny the charges, saying that none of the assaults alleged by the young woman ever happened and he spoke of his shock and disgust when he discovered what she alleged he had done to her.

"I read her statement and I was sick to my stomach when I read it," said Mr Murray, adding that none of what the young woman alleged ever happened and describing her allegations as "untrue" or "incorrect" when they were put to him by his counsel, Alice Fawsitt SC.

Mr Murray, a long standing member of the Labour Party in Cork, was first elected to Cork City Council in the 1985 local elections and re-elected in 1991. Two years later he was elected Lord Mayor of Cork under a pact between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour.

Cross-examined by prosecution barrister, Dermot Sheehan BL about a meeting with the girl and her family in 2011 at which they said that Mr Murray made admissions regarding the abuse, Mr Murray said that he never abused the girl.

“I said ‘Is this what you want me to say – I touched her breasts and I touched her vagina’ – I said that but it wasn’t true, I never touched her, I only said it out of duress because of the rumpus that was being created in the house. I should never have said it,” he said.

Mr Murray said he was scared and only said that he touched her breasts and vagina to calm the situation even though it wasn’t true. He denied that he ever apologised for sexually assaulting the girl because he never did sexually assault her.

Stressing that he was treated with courtesy by the gardaí when they arrested him, he said the arrest came just four days after he was discharged from hospital following serious surgery for an aneurysm and he had 100 stitches in his leg at the time.

The case continues.