The sentencing of a man for sexually assaulting two women in Dublin city centre four years ago has been adjourned because the prison he is on remand in is currently in lockdown.
Philip Murphy (40) was not produced from the Midlands Prison on Wednesday and Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the case to April 16 next for sentence. She said it is likely that she will be imposing a custodial sentence so the adjournment should not impact Murphy.
The Midlands Prison is currently in lockdown after a number of prisoners and staff have tested positive for Covid-19.
The case had been adjourned last November after evidence was heard at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Murphy had just been released from serving a 10-year prison sentence for falsely imprisoning a woman, when he sexually assaulted the two women in February 2016.
He was extradited from the UK in early 2020 following lengthy legal argument.
Murphy, of no fixed abode in the Dublin 8 area, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexually assaulting the two women at Jervis Lane and O'Rahilly Parade in Dublin on February 25, 2016.
During both incidents, Murphy grabbed the women from behind as they were walking on their own through the city in the early hours of the morning, told them he wanted to have sex with them and said he was going to kill them.
“You're going to die tonight,” he repeatedly told one victim.
Detective Garda Emma Ryan told Philipp Rahn BL, prosecuting, at the sentence hearing last November, that Murphy's first victim was walking home from her work in a restaurant shortly after midnight on the night in question when Murphy grabbed her from behind by the mouth.
He told the woman: “Don't scream or I'm going to kill you. I just want to fuck. I can pay you for it.”
The woman was terrified, but tried to lead Murphy along the road towards help before screaming loudly, the court heard.
People in nearby apartments looked out their windows at the sound of the screaming, causing Murphy to flee. The woman also ran home before contacting gardaí.
Twenty minutes later, another woman was walking along Moore Street, on her way to work when Murphy came up behind her, put his hand over her mouth and pushed her into O'Rahilly Parade.
He stroked her shoulder and touched her chest area, repeatedly telling her: “You're going to die tonight,” the court heard.
“He was looking at me like I was naked, like I was a piece of meat,” the woman told gardaí. “He kept telling me I was going to die, that he was going to cut my throat.”
A man walked past and the woman tried to scream, as Murphy squeezed her throat. The passer-by looked their way and a passing bin truck driver also noticed her calling for help. Murphy again fled the scene and the men came to the woman's aid.
Gardaí at Store Street launched an investigation and sourced CCTV footage of both areas. In footage of the first incident, Murphy could be seen putting on a pair of gloves before jogging after the first victim. In footage of the second incident, he could also be seen walking closely behind the woman.
Murphy's probation officers and former prison officers identified him from the footage. He had been released from prison just two days prior to the incident after serving the bulk of a 10-year sentence for false imprisonment.
He has 10 previous convictions in total, including public order offences and production of a Stanley knife.
Murphy was arrested, questioned and released without charge while a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
During the garda interview, Murphy denied carrying out the offences. He said he had received psychological treatment in prison and “didn't treat women like that anymore”. He also claimed he was gay and no longer attracted to women.
A decision was made to charge him in October 2017, but by then he could not be located, Det Gda Ryan said.
Murphy was eventually arrested in July 2019 in the UK on foot of a European arrest warrant. He remained in custody in the UK for nearly a year due to legal issues before being extradited to Ireland in June this year. He has been in custody ever since.
Judge Melanie Greally noted that any sentence handed down to Murphy would require a lengthy probation period. She had adjourned the case to Wednesday to allow for the preparation of a probation report.