A man jailed for the rape and sexual assault of a woman has had his 15-year prison sentence increased to 19 years, following an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions. He abducted the woman’s child in the same incident.
Michael Murray, aged 46, formerly of Killiney Oaks, Killiney, in Dublin, was jailed 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, at a Dublin apartment on February 12 and 13, 2010.
The Central Criminal Court heard that Murray lured his victim into an apartment by telling her that an elderly woman was dying inside. He tied her up and assaulted her, before taking her son, 4, away, abandoning him in a city centre square late at night. He returned to the flat, where he drugged and raped his victim.
Murray had denied the charges. However, he was found guilty on all counts by a unanimous jury verdict.
The Director of Public Prosecutions sought a review of Murray’s 15-year prison sentence on grounds that it is “unduly lenient”.
Setting aside Murray’s 15-year sentence yesterday, the three-judge Court of Appeal substituted a sentence of 19 years, to begin from the same date.
Giving judgement, Mr Justice George Birmingham said 15 years is obviously a significant sentence, but the appalling nature of the offence, Murray’s very significant prior record, and the “complete absence of mitigation” meant the sentence was “inadequate and inadequate to a significant extent”.
Mr Justice Birmingham said it is “immediately apparent” Murray has an “apalling record”, having served “many substantial” prison sentences, in respect of serious offences, often involving violence, though none of his convictions were for sexual offences.
It was “simply to state the obvious”, the judge said, that it was an offence of the “utmost seriousness”, falling within the most serious category of rape, involving multiple aggravating factors.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the Central Criminal Court judge that there is “absolutely no mitigation here”.
Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said a sentence of 20 or 21 years would have been appropriate and the three-judge court would have imposed this sentence, had it been called on to do so at first instance.
Murray’s 20 previous convictions mostly related to theft and burglary and three related to firearms offences.
Counsel for the DPP, Seán Gillane SC, submitted to the Court of Appeal that there had been “a constellation of aggravating factors”, including premeditation, deception, an extraordinary duration of time, as well as egregious degradation and humiliation.
But there was a further feature of aggravation, which placed this case not just into the most serious of cases, “but in the upper limit of even that range,” Mr Gillane submitted. “There was an explicit threat to the victim that her child would be killed, if she didn’t give in to his sexual depredation” and “there was the placing of the hands on the child’s throat,” Mr Gillane said.
“The future safety of her child was made dependent on her co-operation with his deviant desires.”
During the assault, Mr Gillane said it became apparent that the child saw his mother tied up and knew there was something “very, very wrong”.
“Almost unimaginably, in the course of being sexually assaulted and raped, she had to explain to her child” that Murray was a bad man and that he (the child) had to keep quiet.
Then, there was the abandonment of the child on the Luas tracks at 10pm at night, counsel said.
Murray finished his attack on the victim and left her bound and gagged.
After a period of time, she freed herself and alerted people in her building.
Mr Gillane pointed to this period of time, when she knew her child was no longer in the building and had been removed by the man who had threatened to him. She spent that period of time not knowing whether her child was dead or alive.
Mr Gillane submitted that the trial judge erred in choosing 15 years as a starting point for the sentence, before mitigation, of which there was none.
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