A man who carried out random sex attacks on two women in Dublin city centre days after being released from custody has been jailed for six years.
Philip Murphy, aged 40, had just been released from serving a 10-year prison sentence for falsely imprisoning a woman when he sexually assaulted the two women in February 2016.
During both incidents, Murphy grabbed the women from behind as they were walking on their own through the city in the early hours of the morning, told them he wanted to have sex with them and said he was going to kill them.
“You're going to die tonight,” he repeatedly told one victim.
Murphy was extradited from the UK in early 2020. He was due to be sentenced in February, but was not produced from the Midlands Prison as it was in lockdown after a number of prisoners and staff tested positive for Covid-19.
Murphy, of no fixed abode in the Dublin 8 area, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexually assaulting the two women at Jervis Lane and O'Rahilly Parade in Dublin city centre on February 25, 2016.
Passing sentence today, Judge Melanie Greally said there was “every reason to conclude” that Murphy intended to engage in “very serious acts of sexual violence” but for the bravery and actions of the victims.
Judge Greally said the offending was aggravated by the fact he had recently been released from prison for the false imprisonment of a female. She said Murphy has a difficulty with alcohol and substance abuse which contributes to his offending behaviour.
She said the culpability in this case is “considerable” and the harm caused to the victims is “very substantial indeed”.
Judge Greally sentenced Murphy to six years imprisonment. She also ordered that he must undergo four years of post-release supervision by the Probation Service during which time he must comply with all lawful directions of his Probation Officer.
She said that a failure to comply with this order constitutes a separate summary offence with a maximum sentence of 12 months imprisonment.
At a previous sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Emma Ryan told Philipp Rahn BL, prosecuting, that Murphy's first victim was walking home from her work in a restaurant shortly after midnight on the night in question when Murphy grabbed her from behind by the mouth.
He told the woman: “Don't scream or I'm going to kill you. I just want to fuck. I can pay you for it.”
The woman was terrified, but tried to lead Murphy along the road towards help before screaming loudly, the court heard.
People in nearby apartments looked out their windows at the sound of the screaming, causing Murphy to flee. The woman also ran home before contacting gardaí.
Twenty minutes later, another woman was walking along Moore Street on her way to work when Murphy came up behind her, put his hand over her mouth and pushed her into O'Rahilly Parade.
He stroked her shoulder and touched her chest area, repeatedly telling her: “You're going to die tonight,” the court heard.
“He was looking at me like I was naked, like I was a piece of meat,” the woman told gardaí.
A man walked past and the woman tried to scream, as Murphy squeezed her throat. The passer-by looked their way and a passing bin truck driver also noticed her calling for help. Murphy again fled the scene and the men came to the woman's aid.
Gardaí at Store Street launched an investigation and sourced CCTV footage of both areas. In footage of the first incident, Murphy could be seen putting on a pair of gloves before jogging after the first victim. In footage of the second incident, he could also be seen walking closely behind the woman.
Murphy's probation officers and former prison officers identified him from the footage. He had been released from prison just two days prior to the incident after serving the bulk of a 10-year sentence for false imprisonment.
He has 10 previous convictions in total, including public order offences and production of a Stanley knife.
Murphy was arrested, questioned and released without charge while a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
During the garda interview, Murphy denied carrying out the offences. He said he had received psychological treatment in prison and “didn't treat women like that anymore”.
He also claimed he was gay and no longer attracted to women. A decision was made to charge him in October 2017, but by then he could not be located, Det Gda Ryan said.
Murphy was eventually arrested in July 2019 in the UK on foot of a European arrest warrant. He remained in custody in the UK for nearly a year due to legal issues before being extradited to Ireland in June this year. He has been in custody ever since.