‘If I were a betting man, I would say he has cash stashed away, and the first place I would look is South Africa. He had significant business dealings over there’
The retired garda, who had several unsuspecting Irish celebrities at his lavish retirement party in 2010, has been exposed as a common criminal.
But how he managed to climb to one of the highest ranks of An Garda Síochána is a question many have asked.
He comes from a highly respectable family. His father is a former chief superintendent, and two of his brothers work in law enforcement and are widely respected.
Murphy’s crimes have devastated his wife and children, his parents and siblings.
TheSunday World spoke with some of his former colleagues and a source with links to the criminal fraternity about who John Murphy really was.
On the surface, he was a successful, competent and committed garda with a family pedigree dedicated to public service.
But Murphy was much more than that. His public and private lives were very different from each other.
Yesterday, during his sentencing hearing, his defence counsel told the court how Murphy, now aged 62, had run up debts of €855,000 due to shambolic business decisions made in the 10 years since his retirement.
Michael O’Higgins SC said Murphy had “whatever the opposite of the Midas touch is” and that any investments he made “went down the drain”.
He said Murphy consumed large amounts of alcohol every day “for as long as anyone could remember” and was a functioning alcoholic. He said Murphy’s drinking had “clouded his judgment and brought him to this sorry pass”.
But others take a more cynical view of what brought Murphy to this juncture in his life.
“He is hungry, hungry, hungry, hungry for money,” says one former associate.
“I find it very hard to believe he is in that kind of debt. He might be on paper, but not in the real world. He knew how to make money. He amassed a lot over the years.
“He has connections all over the world.
“If I were a betting man, I would say he has cash stashed away, and the first place I would look is South Africa. He had significant business dealings over there.
“He was very close to a senior South African politician.
“He had a knack for charming people.
“You wouldn’t realise the kind of person he was straight away.”
Criminal elements say Murphy operated with impunity when he was a member of the force.
It is suspected he smuggled vast amounts of cigarettes through Dublin Port, having paid off customs officials.
“He would have done business with anyone, anyone who could make him money,” our source said.
The fact Murphy is now a convicted drug dealer is due to his own stupidity. His house was raided over a different and more serious matter. He was suspected of conspiring with members of the Hutch gang.
He was originally arrested on suspicion of enhancing the ability of a criminal organisation to commit or facilitate a serious offence.
Detectives expected to retrieve phones and electronic devices during the raid but were shocked to find drugs worth €260,000 stashed in his house, a garden shed and – barely hidden – on the backseat of his car.
But his criminality was long suspected while he was a garda. There were concerns about his underworld connections and how he handled criminal intelligence sources.
On one occasion, he is known to have arranged an apprenticeship at a state body for the son of a major criminal.
He was also subject to internal inquiries about running informants “off the books”, several of whom worked in the drugs trade.
He denied all wrongdoing and was not subject to any criminal proceedings, but his retirement at age 50 was widely seen as him jumping before he was pushed.
Gardaí suspect he has maintained connections with underworld figures since his retirement.
One source told the Sunday World that Murphy sought out the assistance of dissident republicans to intimidate a business associate who owed him money.
“They kept their end of the bargain, and Murphy was supposed to pay them but told them f**k off when the time came. That’s the kind of person he was. He didn’t fear dissidents who were capable of a lot back then.
“When he was in the guards, if you didn’t do what he wanted, he would send his boys in a squad car to your house to lift you.
“He was an accomplished smuggler, and cigarettes was the least of it,” our source said.
In sentencing him yesterday, Judge Martin Nolan said Murphy was holding the drugs for some type of financial reward in order to alleviate his debts but that “he should have known better”.
Murphy came forward to the Circuit Court on signed guilty pleas entered at Dublin District Court to an offence of possession for sale or supply of cannabis at his home in Clontarf, Dublin, on September 29, 2021.
A former associate says simply: “He got away light.
“His family must be embarrassed to hell.
“It’s no surprise he is where he is because he pulled every stroke in the book.
“And I honestly never knew any guard as bad as him for backhanders.”