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Former Defence Forces member jailed for 18 years for 'horrendous' sexual abuse of daughter

John Murphy abused his daughter Sophia on dates between 1988 and 2001, and also in 2010.

File photo
File photo
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

A FORMER MEMBER of the Irish Defence Forces has been jailed for 18 years for the “horrendous” sexual abuse of his daughter throughout her childhood from the age of three.

John Murphy (61), formerly of Nephin View Manor, Foxford, Co Mayo, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the rape, indecent assault and sexual assault of his eldest daughter, Sophia Murphy, at locations in Co Galway and Co Mayo on dates between 1988 and 2001.

He also pleaded guilty to a final incident of sexual assault of his daughter in 2010.

Murphy is currently serving an eight-year sentence in Arbour Hill prison for sexual abuse involving Ms Murphy’s two younger sisters, imposed last February at Castlebar Circuit Court.

Ms Murphy, now aged 33, was aged between three and 15 years of age at the time of the majority of the offences. She has waived her right to anonymity so her father can be named.

In her victim impact statement which she read to the court, Ms Murphy outlined that she wished to go public to encourage other people in her position to come forward.

“Silence protects the abuser and imprisons the victim. Take back your life; break the silence. You are not a victim for sharing your story, you are a survivor,” said Sophia Murphy.

She addressed her father during her statement: “Dad, you stripped me of every human right, my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my confidence, my innocence, my childhood, my education, my teenage years, a normal life, even my own voice – until today.”

Mr Justice Michael White noted the “length, intensity and depravity of the sexual abuse”. He said the garda evidence and Ms Murphy’s victim impact statement had been “harrowing and exceptional”.

He said Sophia Murphy had shown “remarkable lucidity” in her victim impact statement and was a “very dignified person” who had overcome the abuse to become a loving mother and partner and take up fulfilling employment.

In outlining the aggravating factors, Mr Justice White took into account the impact of the abuse on Ms Murphy and the particularly serious nature of the abuse, perpetrated over a period of time.

He said the breach of trust from a man who should have been protecting his daughter was a “very grave wrong”. He said Ms Murphy had great love and affection for her father but hated what he was doing.

Mr Justice White said that taking into account the depth, length and nature of this abuse, the headline sentence – before taking into account the mitigating factors – had to be life imprisonment.

The judge said in his view, Murphy’s remorse was genuine and he had acknowledged the great hurt he had caused his daughter. He noted Murphy’s guilty pleas and his serious health problems.

Mr Justice White imposed consecutive sentences totalling 18 years, which were backdated to when Murphy went into custody in December 2017.

Garda Thomasina McHale told Patrick Reynolds BL, prosecuting, that she received a request in May 2015 to call to Sophia Murphy’s home, where she reported that she had been extensively sexually abused by her father as a child. A further incident was alleged to have taken place when she was 25 years old, in 2010.

Sophia Murphy later gave a 110-page written statement to gardaí outlining the details of the abuse, which occurred initially at family homes in Co Galway, as well as later in Co Mayo. She was also sexually abused in the family car while on the way to visit her grandmother.

Garda McHale outlined to the court that the abuse involved licking and touching of the child’s genitals, digital penetration of her vagina and anus and the use of a vibrator. Murphy also admitted raping his daughter when interviewed by gardaí.

Ms Murphy outlined to gardaí that throughout her childhood, there had been constant grabbing and touching. Her father would grab her bum or breasts numerous times over the course of 24 hours.

She told gardaí she could not explain how often the sexual abuse happened, she said it was horrendous and happened at every opportunity. She said that her father had all the control.

Murphy was arrested in October 2016 and interviewed by gardaí. He admitted sexually abusing his daughter two or three times per week and raping her when she was about 13 or 14 years old.

Murphy has 73 previous convictions for the sexual assault of four victims. He received an eight-year sentence in February for sexual abuse involving Ms Murphy’s two younger sisters.

Murphy, who worked in the defence forces and security, was aged between 31 and 44 years old during the time he abused his young daughter.

Diarmuid Connolly BL, defending, asked the court to take into account Murphy’s co-operation with gardaí and the value of his early guilty plea in this case. He said he had been given very definite instructions by his client to apologise to Sophia Murphy.

He said a probation report from February 2016 put Murphy at low risk of re-offending. He said his client had not taken up opportunities he had to avail of bail, proving his contrition and remorse.

He asked the court to take into account the publicity which the case would attract. He said his client was not an old man but was a sick man, who had also suffered extensive psychiatric issues.

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Fiona Ferguson

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