A convicted rapist has been found guilty of making death threats to the barristers who prosecuted him and harassing others involved in his 2013 trial, including his victim.
Michael Murray (50), formerly of Seafield Road, Killiney, Co Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to threatening to kill Dominic McGinn SC and his colleague Tony McGillicuddy BL.
He also denied harassing the woman he is convicted of raping 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.
Following a 15-day trial at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, a jury of eight men and four women took one hour and 13 minutes to reach unanimous verdicts in respect of both charges of making threats to kill and the three charges of harassment.
Mr McGinn described waking in the middle of the night on November 6, 2014, to receive “devastating” phone call, telling Seán Gillane SC, prosecuting: “I answered it without really thinking about it. A male voice said ‘bang bang’.”
The following February, his colleague Mr McGillicuddy was working late when he too got a call from a blocked number.
“You prosecuted a man that we know, you and Dominic McGinn, and I am telling you we are going to kill you,” the voice said.
Mr McGinn, along with Murray’s defence solicitor in the 2013 trial, and the woman he was convicted of raping, received calls and texts from unknown numbers in January and February of 2015, the court heard.
“I was terrified. I wondered why so many calls,” his victim told the court through an interpreter. “I didn’t understand why they have my contact number.”
Murray’s former defence solicitor told the court that after one of the callers mentioned an ad, she did a google search for her own name and number.
“I found there were ads with both pieces of information. I found a number of ads that were very upsetting,” she told Mr Gillane.
Barry White SC, defending, opened the case for the defence by having Murray take the stand.
“I intended to use the threats as a mechanism to get them before the courts. I do say I had a lawful excuse. The lawful reason was because of how the previous trial was conducted,” Murray said.
“I was hoping to be allowed to ask questions in relation to the previous trial and how it was conducted and why evidence wasn’t handed over in cross-examining the witnesses. The order of the court is that I’m not allowed to do that. I don’t know why.”
“In relation to the ads, you put them up, you devised them – the sexual services that were supposed to be on offer,” said Mr Gillane, cross-examining him.
“I devised them,” Murray said.
“You intended that it would cause them distress?” Mr Gillane asked.
“Yes,” Murray said.
“That six-letter word ‘rapist’ is out there and positioned directly at the man sitting behind me. You have to totally disregard it,” Mr White told the jury in his closing speech.
“He’d exhausted the appeals mechanism. A second appeal is possible, but you can’t bring that willy-nilly... you have to have a basis: newly-disclosed facts. That is what Mr Murray was doing – he told you so.”
“He was seeking a method of getting before the courts to air his grievances and uncover some fact which would enable to overturn his rape conviction.”
Murray was excluded from the courtroom for the final two days of his trial, after claiming he had been “offered the names and addresses of the jury members”.
After making inquiries, Judge Karen O’Connor said: “I am satisfied that he does not have the names of the jury list and never had.”
In her charge she said the jury should consider the words “without lawful excuse” to be objective rather than subjective, and that they could reasonably judge whether Mr Murray had a lawful excuse.
She said a garda dealing with a hostage situation would be an example of someone with a lawful excuse to make a threat to kill – a circumstance where there would be an immediate threat to life.
The jury returned with guilty verdicts on the five contested counts on the indictment shortly after 5pm on Monday evening.
Murray had already pleaded guilty to having a mobile phone in custody – a phone given to him by his former solicitor, Joanne Kangley.
Judge O’Connor thanked the jury and said they would be excused from serving on a jury again for life if they wished.
She remanded Murray in custody and adjourned the matter for sentence on July 29, next.
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