Gardaí speak to Larry Murphy as part of Deirdre Jacob inquiry

Convicted rapist questioned in connection with 1998 disappearance of Kildare woman

Larry Murphy leaving Arbour Hill Prison in 2010 after serving his sentence for rape. File photograph: Alan Betson

Larry Murphy leaving Arbour Hill Prison in 2010 after serving his sentence for rape. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

Cold-case detectives investigating the disappearance of Deirdre Jacob in Co Kildare 20 years ago have spoken to convicted rapist Larry Murphy about the matter.

Gardaí travelled to the UK to interview Murphy, who was released in 2010 having served 10 years of a 15-year sentence for the kidnapping, rape and attempted murder of a woman in the Wicklow mountains in 2001. Murphy, who is originally from Baltinglass in Co Wicklow, is suspected of being linked to the disappearance of several other women who went missing in the east of Ireland in the 1990s. However, investigators have never arrested him in connection with these cases.

Officers spoke to Murphy briefly and asked him about Ms Jacob but received no useful information. It is understood they intend to make another attempt to speak to him in the near future.

Ms Jacob was 19 when she went missing while walking near her home in Roseberry, Newbridge, on July 28th, 1998. She had gone to get a bank draft to pay for student accommodation in London where she was studying to become a primary-school teacher.

Murphy has long been suspected of involvement in her disappearance but this is the first time he has been actively sought for interview. Sources said there was insufficient evidence to seek Murphy’s extradition.

Detectives from the Garda cold-case unit, the serious crime review team, recently received information from a man who spent time with Murphy in prison. This man claimed Murphy boasted to him about kidnapping a girl near Newbridge at about the time Ms Jacob went missing.

On the basis of the information, gardaí in August upgraded the inquiry into Ms Jacob’s disappearance to a murder investigation.

It is the second time the prisoner had given the information to gardaí. He was previously interviewed by now-retired detective Alan Bailey, who led the Operation Trace taskforce investigation into the missing women.

Mr Bailey wrote in his book Missing, Presumed that this prisoner heard Murphy say he had pulled his car alongside a girl near Newbridge and asked for directions.

“When the youngster leaned in through the open passenger window to try to see where he was pointing to, he is alleged to have grabbed her by her hair, and roughly dragged her down into the car, forcing her into the front passenger seat,” Mr Bailey wrote.