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Convicted rapist handed over smuggled prison phone to get back at solicitor, court hears

“He told me that he had a phone in his anus and that it had been given to him by his solicitor”
Michael Murray

Michael Murray

Stephen Bourke

A former prison officer says a convicted rapist on trial accused of making death threats told him he wanted to hand over his phone to gardaí because he wanted to get back at the solicitor who smuggled it to him in prison.

Michael Murray (50), formerly of Killiney, Co Dublin, is charged with threatening to kill Dominic McGinn SC and Tony McGillicuddy BL -- the barristers who prosecuted him for rape in 2013.

Murray is also charged with the harassment of Mr McGinn, along with the woman he raped and his own former solicitor by posting their names and phone numbers online in ads for prostitutes.

He has pleaded not guilty to all of these charges.

David McDonald was the senior prison officer in charge of a specialist group in the Prison Service called the Operational Support Unit in 2015.

He told Sean Gillane, SC, prosecuting, that he had a “long conversation” with Murray on May 11, 2015.

“He told me that he had a phone in his anus and that it had been given to him by his solicitor.”

Murray was angry about a sum of cash he claimed had gone missing from a German bank account, Mr McDonald said, and admitted he had been using the phone to contact the prosecuting barristers in his trial for rape.

He said “McGinn” was one of the names he remembers Murray mentioning.

“Mainly the conversation was around that he wanted to get at his solicitor. He wanted to get back at her.”

Murray was “adamant” he would not surrender the phone to prison officers, he said.

“He felt evidence on the phone would be wiped and said he’d only give it to gardaí,” McDonald said.

Murray was then examined in the prison’s “Boss chair” -- a machine which scans body cavities – which showed there was metal contained in Murray’s groin area, he said.

In cross-examination, Barry White SC, defending, asked what a phone is worth in prison.

“They’re usually rented out, so a phone may be handed to a prisoner for a night and that may cost €80. If it’s found the prisoner becomes liable for the loss of the phone,” Mr McDonald said.

That could be a sum of between €1,800 and €2,500, he said.

“Is it a usual occurrence or a rarity for a prisoner to advise a prison officer he has a phone with certain information on it,” Mr White asked.

“The fact he actually informed me and Garda Ryan he was using the phone to make threats is a bit bizarre,” Mr McDonald said.

But he said it was “not unique” and that prisoners might “trade that for favour – transfer to an open centre or something”.

“Mainly the conversation was he wanted to get at his solicitor,” Mr McDonald said, saying Murray was “very bitter”.

“Michael was adamant he wasn’t handing over the phone to anyone except the gardaí. Then that changed to he wouldn’t hand it over except under a Section 42 warrant.”

Mr White raised asked whether Mr McDonald’s team had intercepted phone calls between Mr Murray and his legal advisors.

“No, absolutely not.”

Mr White asked if Murray had mentioned any other names than McGinn when he said he had been making threats.

“He said he was making threats to the prosecuting counsel. He said he was setting them up on sex sites as rent boys,” Mr McDonald said.

At the opening of the trial, Murray pleaded guilty to having the phone without the consent of the governor of the Midlands Prison on May 11, 2015.

His defence accepts he received it from his former solicitor, Ms Joanne Kangley, who was convicted of giving a mobile phone to a prisoner at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.

The trial continues on Friday before Judge Karen O’Connor and a jury.

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