Rapist is chief suspect in bomb hoax targeting Minister for Justice

Former escort agency owner Michael Murray (50) has a ‘depraved’ and violent history

While serving his rape sentence, Murray waged a campaign of threats, intimidation and harassment from his prison cell, against his rape victim and three barristers involved in his 2013 trial. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

While serving his rape sentence, Murray waged a campaign of threats, intimidation and harassment from his prison cell, against his rape victim and three barristers involved in his 2013 trial. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

A criminal who ran an escort agency and who has now been jailed for threats to kill barristers, and advertising a woman he raped as a prostitute, is the chief suspect in a hoax bomb scare targeting Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

Gardaí believe Michael Murray (50) arranged for a mobile phone to be smuggled in to him while he served a sentence for rape and a litany of other violent offences, including child abduction.

He then used the phone to threaten and harass the woman he raped, as well as the barristers who prosecuted him for the rape in 2013 – and one of his own defence lawyers.

Murray, formerly of Killiney Oaks, Killiney, Co Dublin, and also with a previous address in Cork City, was enraged about his conviction, which he continues to deny.

He claims the follow-up harassment was designed to ensure he ended up before the courts again and thus able to question the barristers who ran the original rape prosecution.

Last March, a bomb threat made to the Samaritans targeting Ms McEntee was traced back to the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise where Murray was held.

Found to be a hoax, it was, nevertheless, investigated by gardaí. Murray, who ran an escort agency in Dublin and the midlands, was identified as the chief suspect and was interviewed by the Garda.

Murray has over 30 convictions including for burglary and firearms offences. However, he sprang to public attention following a highly unusual attack in 2010 on a woman, and her young son, in Dublin.

The case took 3½ years to reach the courts and concluded after a 22-day trial, during which the disturbing “terrifying ordeal of sexual depravity” was detailed before the Central Criminal Court.

A woman passing an apartment building at 5pm or so with her young son (4), whom she had just collected from playschool, was enticed inside by Murray, who claimed someone was dying and needed help.

Two-day ordeal

There, she was subjected to a two-day ordeal. Once inside, Murray took the woman’s phone and demanded she have sex with him. He took the woman’s young son to another room and when he came back the woman had broken a bottle and was holding the glass to her neck threatening to kill herself if Murray did not let them go.

The State’s case was that Murray was a heavy consumer of pornography and was acting out a fantasy. He was also snorting the drug mephedrone, sold in headshops at the time.

He beat the woman and threatened to kill her son. The victim then succumbed to his demands and performed a range of sex acts in a bid to keep herself and her son alive while they were being held captive.

“I had no way out so I had to do what he said,” she told the jury. Murray then drugged her and put her in a bath and the woman said while she felt very drowsy she kept herself awake by biting her lip.

At one point he tied the woman up before leaving the apartment to steal money using her bank cards; returning to beat and sexually assault her again.

Murray then left the apartment again, driving off in his car with the boy at about 10pm, some five hours into the ordeal. He left the boy on a footpath near the Luas line in Smithfield in Dublin’s north inner city. The child was later found wandering alone in the early hours by a taxi driver, who took the 4-year-old to a Garda station.

Murray returned the apartment again. He left again around 5am. Once she realised Murray had gone, the woman threw plates out the window to raise the alarm, while arming herself with a knife in case Murray returned.

A passerby called gardaí. She learned her son was safe when she was brought to hospital. The apartment was owned by Murray’s wife’s family and he was quickly traced and arrested the next day after going on a drinking binge.

However, before his arrest he sent texts to his wife claiming he had killed a man and was leaving Ireland to fly to London. He thanked her for loving him and urged her to “remember the good times”.

Manacled

When he was due to be sentenced, in October 2013, the Central Criminal Court was told he had refused to come into the court that day because his hands and feet had been manacled by prison officers.

Prison staff explained to the court that razor blades had been found on his person and that Murray had told the officers he intended to use the blades to “go for a journalist if he got a chance”.

“I would strongly advise, knowing Michael Murray, that he would remain manacled,” a prison officer told Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy. “He can be quite plausible and within a minute he can be quite volatile,” he added.

Murray was jailed for 15 years, later increased to 19 years when the leniency of the sentence was appealed. He was convicted on two counts of sexual assault, two counts of rape, attempted vaginal and anal rape, oral rape and aggravated sexual assault, child abduction, threats to kill or cause serious harm, false imprisonment, stealing a bank card and stealing cash from two ATMs.

While serving that sentence he waged a campaign of threats, intimidation and harassment from his prison cell, against his rape victim and three barristers involved in his 2013 trial; on both the prosecution and defence side. He threatened to kill Dominic McGinn SC and his colleague Tony McGillicuddy BL – both of whom received menacing calls in the night informing them they were going to be killed.

He also harassed his rape victim by posting her name and phone number online in an ad offering her as a prostitute, and doing the same to Dominic McGinn and his own defence solicitor, prompted calls from men seeking sex.