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Dublin: 18 °C Wednesday 5 August, 2020
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Sexual assault victim just wanted to be believed

A former lord mayor of Cork was sentenced to 12 months in jail yesterday for sexually assaulting a teenager in the 1990s.

John Murray
John Murray
Image: RTÉ News Screengrab

A SUPPORT GROUP for victims of sexual crime has said that Ireland’s judicial system is not fit for dealing with offences of a sexual nature.

Mary Crilly of the Sexual Violence Centre in Cork told TheJournal.ie that although the country’s laws are implemented effectively, the overall adversarial system keeps conviction rates extremely low.

Her comments come following the sentencing of the former mayor of Cork John Murray yesterday.

The 83-year-old was jailed for 12 months after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in the 1990s.

Murray had pleaded not guilty to six charges but was found guilty on five counts following a four-day trial earlier this year.

Crilly said the victim, who her group has supported throughout the investigation and trial, welcomed the sentence but was surprised by it.

“It was unexpected in a way too,” she said. “She didn’t expect a custodial sentence. It was always about him being held accountable. It wasn’t about what he got, it was about being believed.”

The assaults took place between 1996 and 1998 when the victim was in her teens. However, she did not tell anybody about the attacks until years later.

“It was something she needed to do,” continued Crilly. “He is a big, tall man. He had a lot of power. He would have been intimidating and intrusive.

“It was like most cases. It is difficult to get evidence, difficult to be believed but she was able to explain it very well. There were other reasons she didn’t report. There were other people in the family who had died who she wouldn’t have exposed the truth to.”

The victim, who had to give evidence in court as Murray had pleaded his innocence, said she changed from an outgoing child to a withdrawn and angry teenager.

For the most serious charge, Murray was sentenced to four years in prison with the final three years were suspended on one count. On the other four, he was sentenced to two years, with the final year suspended.

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