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Rapist and child abductor loses case taken against State over recorded solicitor calls

The details of the calls were not given to gardaí.

Image: Eric Risberg

A MAN JAILED for 15 years for the rape and sexual assault of a woman whose child he abducted in the same incident has lost a High Court action taken against the State after it emerged his solicitors’ calls were recorded in prison.

The action was brought by Michael Murray (43), formerly of Killiney Oaks, Killiney, Dublin, who was jailed at the Central Criminal Court in 2013 for 15 years for rape, attempted rape, oral rape and aggravated sexual assault, child abduction, threats to kill or cause serious harm, false imprisonment and theft.

Murray, who represented himself for the High Court case taken against the Irish Prison Service and the Minister for Justice, had sought injunctions restraining prison authorities from intercepting his calls, certain declarations and damages.

Dismissing his application today, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan said it was common case that in May and July 2013 some of Murray’s phone calls were recorded by the prison authorities which included phone calls between him and his solicitors.

Just an anomaly

The Irish Prison Service allegedly told his former solicitor that an anomaly had occurred within the phone system whereby a number of prisoners had calls to their solicitors recorded and Murray was among them, Mr Justice Noonan said.

Inmates in Irish prisons fill out a form entitled “Application for Phone Calls” which permits them to list up to 12 contact numbers, the contact’s name and their relationship to the prisoner, the judge said.

The form states that the “the first number must be your solicitor” and “all calls except those to the Samaritans and your solicitor will be monitored and recorded”.

Walter Burke, a manager of the Irish Prison Service, told the court that it came to light in March 2014 that phone calls going in and out of garda stations had been recorded and on foot of that, checks were made within prisons.

Mr Burke said some prisoners had calls to their solicitors inadvertently recorded because some solicitor contact numbers were put on lines outside of line number one on their phone call application forms.

No gardaí involvement

Although Murray had seven calls to solicitors inadvertently recorded, Mr Burke said the content of the calls was not accessed by prison staff or any other party.

Under no circumstances were the contents of the calls passed to the gardaí, Mr Burke stated.

Murray drew particular attention to two phone calls to his solicitors on 23 July 2013, on the evening before day 21 of his trial, during which he discussed privileged matters in relation to his defence.

Both calls were made from lines other than the designated solicitor line, number one.

Mr Justice Noonan said it was beyond dispute that the recording of Murray’s telephone calls was “inappropriate and ought not to have occurred”.

There was however, “undisputed evidence” that the calls weren’t accessed. Similarly, evidence was unchallenged that the recordings were made inadvertently, he said.

Murray had not put any evidence before the court to demonstrate the slightest prejudice arising from what appears to have been a “technical infringement at best of his rights”, the judge said.

Once the prison authorities became alive to the inadvertent recording, Mr Justice Noonan said, steps were immediately taken to rectify the position.

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No damage done

Mr Justice Noonan said there was no ongoing or threatened infringement of Murray’s rights in this matter.

No declaration was required to vindicate his rights and no issue of damages could arise.

Accordingly, he dismissed Murray’s application and awarded costs against him.

His crime

The Central Criminal Court had heard that Murray lured his female victim 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, abandoning him in a city centre square late at night. He returned to the flat where he drugged and raped his victim.

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

He has appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeal which has been on hold until the determination of the High Court case.

Read: Man who lured teenager to his death with text messages ‘from a girl’ launches appeal

About the author:

Ruaidhrí Giblin

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