Murder accused repeatedly denies having killed his wife

 

The foster mother who took care of the children of Mrs Patricia Murphy after she was killed testified yesterday that one of the children had said that before she died, he held her hand, she had opened her eyes and had said "hello" before going "to sleep".

The accused man, Mr David Murphy, giving direct evidence, told a Central Criminal Court jury yesterday he did not kill his wife and he "was not going to change my story just to suit the police".

Mr Murphy (36), from Munster Street, Phibsboro, denied that he murdered his wife, Patricia (33) on May 27th or 28th, 1996, in their house in Griffith Avenue and that he dumped her body beside a skip in The Rise, Glasnevin.

Questioned by his counsel about video-link evidence from his children alleging they saw their mother dead in the garage, and in particular the evidence of a threeyear-old boy who said he saw "Daddy hitting Mammy with a hammer", Mr Murphy said: "That never happened, ever."

It neither happened "in the course of that day or my marriage at all", he said. "I honestly don't know why my children said this.

"I do know that at the start they made statements which were read to the court that bear out what I am saying. I did not have a lot of contact with them in the year and a half leading up to when they made these statements so I don't know why they say it and what went on in that year."

Earlier, a care worker told the jury how under an order made by Judge James Paul McDonnell in the District Court she did not question the children about their mother's death. "I took those guidelines extremely seriously and I was always conscious and aware of them when I was with the children," she said.

In March 1997 the two youngest boys began to mention the garage and the presence of a monster in the garage. In April 1997, the eldest girl also spoke of this. The children spoke of this without any probing, prompting or suggesting, she said.

The children's foster mother was then called as the first defence witness. As with the previous witness, she cannot be named or otherwise identified by order of Mr Justice Cyril Kelly.

She told the jury that early in June 1996, when she was putting the two boys to bed, the youngest, then three, said: "Dad shouldn't have done that to Mam." "What," the child was asked. "He hit her with the hammer, the big one," he said. When he was asked where he replied: "In the garden." The child then told the witness "Mammy fell asleep" and "Dad put Mammy in the garage."

He held his mother's hand, he told her, and she opened her eyes and said "hello" to him and then went to sleep.

As the three-year-old was telling her this, his five-year-old brother kept on interrupting and saying, "It's all a dream, don't mind," the foster mother said.

On another occasion when the older boy was on his own and she asked him about the night his brother had spoken about these events, he shouted "No" at her and told her again that it hadn't happened. "He was very aggressive," and shouted "It was in his dreams."

In his evidence, Mr David Murphy told the defence barrister, Mr Brendan Grogan SC, that he and Patricia Murphy "enjoyed a very good marriage". "We understood each other and we were good friends, but like all couples we did have the odd argument," he said, "but they were few and far between."

He went on to say that he did not answer the door to his landlord's agent when he came to collect the rent on Monday, May 27th, "because Patricia dealt with money matters in our house and I didn't have a lot to do with it".

After the man left, he said, he got worried that Patricia had not yet returned home. He woke up his eldest daughter, got her to mind the house, and went out twice looking for her.

He was out 15 minutes to half an hour each time, he said. He did not bring the child's buggy nor did he go near The Rise, where his wife's body was found the following morning. The second time he went out, he got back home "after 11 but before half eleven".

Asked had he killed his wife, he said "No, I did not." He gave the same reply each time Mr Grogan put other prosecution allegations to him.

Asked did he know what happened to the undertray of the buggy, he said he did not know. The tray was on the buggy in a photograph taken from a video recording in Drumcondra Post Office on the morning of May 27th at 8:54 a.m. It was found in a skip on Valentia Road days later.

Mr Murphy told his counsel: "I don't know, but I feel that the tray may have fell off on the way to the school or on the way back because the school is at the bottom of Valentia Road." He said he had passed that way four or five times that day.

A 13-page statement he made to gardai on the day his wife's body was found was "totally true", he said. He did not at any stage indicate to gardai that he was not telling them the truth or that he would tell them the truth sometime later. "At no point did I imply anything like that," he said. "I had been telling them the truth all along - they just weren't listening to me."

Mr Murphy agreed he had spoken to his landlord, Mr Fergus Darcy, about the pressure he was under from gardai. "I meant that I was being put under a lot of pressure from the police," he said, "but I was not going to change my story just to suit the police."

He alleged he was under constant pressure from investigating gardai, Det Sgt Tom McCarrick and Det Garda Bridget Shelly. Both called to his house a number of times and messages were left on his answerphone, he said.

He also alleged that Det Sgt McCarrick had put his foot in the door when he came to his house on Sunday, June 23rd, 1996, and had not gone, despite being told that Mr Murphy was on his way to visit his wife's grave.

Cross-examined by Mr Gregory Murphy SC, prosecuting, Mr Murphy said it was true that in general he and his wife had a loving relationship. "We loved our children greatly," he told the jury, and that love was reciprocated.

If the prosecution case was correct, his five-year-old son would appear to have been defending him when questioned by a foster mother, Mr Gregory Murphy said. "He would, but he was telling the truth," the accused man replied.

Was it not the case that his children were torn between loyalty for their dead mother and loyalty to him, he was asked. "I can see that, but I don't think that's what happened," he replied.

He did not know what had happened in the year after Patricia was found dead but he believed that after being questioned constantly the children eventually "gave the answer that was wanted".

Was he asking the jury to believe that the children "would shop their father to complete strangers", Mr Murphy asked. "That's right," the accused man replied.

Was he really saying that "they would prefer to see you go to jail to stop some bothersome questioning", counsel asked. David Murphy said he was, "but children do not have any conception of what prison is like".

The care worker was under strict orders not to talk to the children, counsel said. Mr Murphy accepted this, but said the order applied to her but not to other people, including gardai.

The children had told the story "when they were free of any influence you had over them", the prosecution suggested, and all three of them made the same complaint, that they saw their mother dead in the garage.

"Their stories don't match but all three made the complaint, yes", the accused man replied. Did he accept that they were "not shaken in their evidence", he was asked. "I do," he replied. So was he saying they were "leaned on"? "That's what I'm saying," Mr Murphy said.

Was he implying that there was some kind of conspiracy between the gardai, the social worker and the foster mother? "No, I am not implying that," he said.

"Well, you can't have it every way," counsel said, going on to claim that if the accused man was saying the children were influenced then it could only point to a criminal conspiracy by the police and all the other parties involved with the children.

Mr Murphy repeated that he was not implying that. But the implication of what he was saying had to be that, Mr Murphy said. "It does not have to be," the accused man replied. "Once again, what my children have said is untrue."

He had shown "a curious lack of curiosity" about his wife's whereabouts on the 27th, the prosecution counsel said. "It is not strange," Mr Murphy said. "I didn't think I needed to know where Patricia was 24 hours a day."

He could indeed have checked with neighbours and gone to the guesthouse where she worked, he agreed, "or I could have done it to give myself an alibi". He had gone out walking around the area in the evening because "I thought I might meet Patricia."

Mr Murphy said the prosecution's claims that he was in "in a bit of a flurry" having murdered his wife and that his "expeditions" were to find a place to dump her body were "not true".

He may as well have got a bus to Letterkenny to look for her, counsel suggested. What if she had been raped?

"If that had happened, Patricia had her purse with identification in it," the accused man replied. He would have been informed by telephone if something had happened.

"But you were not answering it," Mr Gregory Murphy told him. The accused man said he was answering it that day, but when the landlord's agent rang four times in the evening, he did not hear the phone.

Counsel read from a memo of an interview with gardai where Mr Murphy said he did not answer the phone "because I was afraid it might be the owner".

There was a difference between sitting in a cold police station with "two burly policemen" and sitting in court, the accused man replied. His mind was clearer now.

Counsel formally put it to the accused man: "You very coldly, and in cold blood murdered your wife and have come along here to brazen it out." "I didn't," Mr Murphy replied.

Closing speeches and the judge's charge to the jury will be heard on Monday in the Central Criminal Court.