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Convicted rapist sues State over recording of confidential phone calls

He is seeking an injunction preventing the authorities from intercepting and recording phone calls between him and his lawyers.

Image: Shutterstock/George Cosmin Marin

A MAN JAILED for 15 years for raping a mother after abducting her and her four-year-old son has brought a High Court action over what he claims is the unlawful recording of phone calls between him and his lawyers by the prison authorities.

The action has been brought by Michael Murray (43) who claims several telephone communications he made from the Midlands Prison, where he is incarcerated, to solicitors on various dates were recorded by the prison authorities.

In proceedings against the Prison Service and the Minister for Justice Murray seeks injunctions preventing the authorities from intercepting and recording phone calls between him and his lawyers. He also seeks a declaration the prison authorities have acted outside their powers and seeks damages for a breach of his constitutional rights.

Murray, who has appealed his conviction, further seeks an independent review into the matter. His case is due before the court later this year, and will be opposed by the State.

Tight security

On Friday, amid tight security in the Four Courts, a pre-hearing motion in the case came before High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns.

Murray, who is representing himself in the proceedings, said while he had been furnished with recordings of several phone calls he made to his solicitors he believed more calls involving him were recorded.

Murray asked the court for an order compelling the state to provide him with all documents, records and relevant material to telephone communications between him and his legal advisors.

He also told the court a computer he had in the prison to access the recordings had been seized following a request from the Gardai. His concern was that the recordings of what are confidential conversations could be access by other parties. He also sought an order requesting the return of the computer.

Colm Smyth SC for the State said calls were recorded because Murray had not used designated confidential phonelines available to prisoners to have conversations with their lawyers.

Several recordings of conversations between Murray and his lawyers were “inadvertently” made, counsel said. Copies of the recordings were given to Murray, counsel said, adding that it had no issue with the discovery of material sought by Murray.

Confidential lines

Counsel said additional confidential lines are being put in place in prisons to facilitate conversations between prisoners and their legal advisers. Counsel added prisoners not using the confidential phones are now informed in a prerecorded message the call will be recorded.

Counsel said the computer, which was loaned to Murray by the Prison Service to allow access the recordings, was taken by the Gardai as part of an investigation, and it was not within his client’s powers to hand it back.

In his ruling Mr Justice Kearns said Murray was entitled to discovery of the recordings of all phone calls Murray made to his legal advisers between May and July 2013, when he was on trial at the Central Criminal Court. The Judge said the issue about the computer was a matter for the full hearing of the action.

In 2013 Murray formerly of Killiney Oaks, Killiney, Dublin and with a previous address at Devonshire Street, Cork City, was jailed for 15 years by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy at the Central Criminal Court after being found guilty of several serious offences.

The offences included rape, attempted rape, oral rape and aggravated sexual assault, child abduction, threats to kill or cause serious harm, false imprisonment, stealing a bank card and cash.

The offences all occurred February 12th and 13th, 2010 in a Dublin apartment. Murray denied the charges, however he was found guilty on all counts by a unanimous jury decision.

The court heard Murray lured the woman into an apartment by telling her that an elderly woman was dying inside and needed her help.

He tied her up and assaulted her before taking her son away and abandoning him in a city centre square late at night. He returned to the flat where he drugged and raped his victim.

He has appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeal. That is on hold until his High Court action has been determined.

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About the author:

Aodhan O Faolain

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