contempt | 

Rapist Michael Murray who threw Bible at judge loses court challenge

Murray was given a 16-year prison sentence for making threats to the barristers who had prosecuted him

Tim HealySunday World

Convicted rapist Michael Murray has lost a High Court challenge over his loss of prison privileges after he threw a Bible at a judge who had just sentenced him to 16 years.

He threw the Bible, narrowly missing Judge Karen O’Connor, in July 2021 after he was sentenced for threats to kill his legal team.

The sanction was imposed on him by the Midlands Prison Governor, where he had already been serving a sentence for rape, after he returned from court. He lost privileges for 40 days as a result, including restrictions on his recreation time, limits on visits and limiting phone calls to one per week.

At that hearing in which he threw the Bible, Murray was given a 16-year prison sentence for making threats to the barristers who had prosecuted him, and for harassing others involved in his trial, including his victim.

After the prison sanctions were imposed, he brought a High Court challenge arguing any penalty was a matter for a court to deal with by way of contempt orders. It was not for the prison to do so as at the time he was in the custody of the courts rather than the prison he argued.

In his judgment dismissing Murray's action against the prison governor, Mr Justice Charles Meenan said the governor was "lawfully entitled" to discipline and sanction Murray in the manner which he did.

Murray (51), formerly of Seafield Road, Killiney in Co Dublin, was being sentenced in July 2021 after he was earlier found guilty by a jury at the Circuit Criminal Court of threatening to kill barristers Dominic McGinn SC and Tony McGillicuddy SC.

He was also convicted of harassing Mr McGinn, along with his victim and his own former solicitor, by advertising them online as prostitutes.

He had denied the charges.

Murray was excluded from his July 2021 sentence hearing, and moved to another courtroom after he threw the bible at the judge.

He had previously been convicted in 2013 of the rape and sexual assault of a woman whose child he abducted. Murray made the threats to the parties on dates between late 2014 and early 2015, while he was serving a 19-year sentence for the rape.

Arising out of his behaviour at the sentencing hearing a complaint about his conduct was made to the Governor of the Midlands Prison by prison officers who had attended court.

Following a disciplinary process Murray the 40-day loss of privileges was imposed.

Murray's internal appeal against the sanction to the Operations Directorate of the Prison Service was dismissed.

Mr Justice Meenan said even though Murray was liable for sanction for being in contempt of court after he threw the bible, this did not preclude disciplinary sanctions under the 2007 Prison Rules being applied to him.

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