Girl (13) fought off sex attacker


A man who attempted to abduct a teenage girl in the Midlands intended to sexually assault her, Mullingar Circuit Court has heard.

Sentencing began today in the case of Dermot Murphy (42), Atlantic Coast Apartments, Tramore, Co Waterford, who admitted attempting to abduct a 13-year-old girl last July, intending to sexually assault her.

He pleaded guilty to attempted false imprisonment, attempted child trafficking and to assault causing harm to the girl, who was on her bicycle when he approached her.

Det Sgt Kieran Hanly, who described the victim’s bravery as “outstanding,” said Murphy got out of his van on the pretext of clarifying directions, then grabbed the girl, who fought back.

She fell to the ground but kicked Murphy and bit his leg. Her top came off during the struggle before she fled to safety.

DNA evidence from her top, which Murphy threw in a ditch, matched a sample he gave to gardaí. A green hold-all containing clothes and rope which was found at his home matched one the girl saw as Murphy held the rear van door open and tried to force her in.

He had set out that day with the intention of finding a girl, and the victim was the third young woman he had seen and attempted to engage.

Gardaí used extensive CCTV footage to retrace the van’s journey, and when they contacted Murphy to arrange an interview, he handed himself in. “I don’t know what came over me. I feel sorry for the girl, maybe I need help,” he told gardaí.

In a victim impact statement read by Det Sgt Hanly, the girl said she is afraid of being alone and is wary of all men, even with her parents. She wonders if people are watching her and if Murphy will come back, or has done the same thing to other girls who have not come forward. She is sometimes worried and sad about what could have happened to her, and is always thinking about the incident.

Murphy was jailed for seven years in 1998 for the rape and false imprisonment of a young girl. He completed a sex offenders’ course in prison.

John Paul Shortt, SC said his client had been doing well after his release from prison, before his stable new life in Cork was turned upside down by media publicity.

He had been seeking “some assistance to curb his perverted urges,” but had to leave, Mr Shortt said. He now wants to further engage in treatment and post-release supervision.

The court heard Murphy is at high risk of reoffending.

Judge Tony Hunt said it was only the victim’s strength of character and physical strength which prevented something happening “which hardly bears thinking about”.

Describing Murphy as a serious threat to society, with ongoing and unresolved problems, he remanded him in custody to July for psychiatric and other reports. He will impose “a significant custodial sentence,” he said.