evidence | 

Gardaí tried to identify Larry Murphy in CCTV taken on day Deirdre Jacob disappeared

It emerged yesterday that, after reviewing the new evidence, the DPP has decided not to prosecute

Convicted rapist Larry Murphy

Deirdre Jacob. Photo: Collins Agency

A picture of a young Deirdre Jacob

CCTV pictures of Deirdre Jacob taken in Newbridge

Maeve SheehanSunday Independent

The garda investigation into the murder of Deirdre Jacob identified a “person of interest” that officers suspected could be the convicted rapist Larry Murphy, standing outside the post office in Newbridge on the day she vanished in 1998.

The “person of interest” was detected in 20-year-old CCTV footage taken from Newbridge town at the time the 18-year-old student disappeared, and was put through rigorous forensic enhancement.

The enhanced CCTV images showed a man outside the post office — one of the last places Ms Jacob had called to before she went missing.

The person was “in and around the post office” close to the time Ms Jacob called in to post a bank draft to London, according to the sources.

Detectives had set out to “rule in or rule out” the now-56-year-old Murphy from their investigations. They tracked down a number of his former work colleagues and other people who knew Murphy back in 1998, when he was a jobbing carpenter in Leinster. Most were living overseas, requiring gardaí to travel abroad to interview them.

Each was asked to identify the individual in the enhanced CCTV footage, but gardaí received conflicting accounts. However it is understood that at least one person identified the individual in the image as resembling Larry Murphy.

Deirdre Jacob. Photo: Collins Agency

The images of the “person of interest” and garda attempts to identify him formed a central plank of evidence in the Deirdre Jacob murder file that gardaí submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions last year. The file was submitted after her case was upgraded from a ‘missing person’ to ‘murder’ in 2018.

It emerged yesterday that, after reviewing the new evidence, the DPP has decided not to prosecute.

A garda statement said: “As part of this investigation a file was forwarded to the DPP, and was recently returned with a direction of ‘no prosecution’. The family of Ms Jacob have been informed and are being continuously liaised with.”

Michael and Bernadette Jacob last saw their daughter on July 28, 1998. Deirdre was home on holidays from the UK, where she was studying to become a primary teacher. She walked into town to get a bank draft to pay for student accommodation in London.

The investigation centred around CCTV footage taken on the day Deirdre disappeared

She left home at 12.50pm. She called into her grandmother’s sweet shop, and then visited AIB bank to get a draft to pay her rent in the UK. Afterwards she went to the post office.

She called to her grandmother’s shop once again, before starting out on the 25-minute walk home. She left after 2.30pm.

She was last seen by a neighbour around 3pm on the grass verge almost directly across the road from her parents’ home.

Murphy first emerged as a suspect in the disappearance of Ms Jacob and five other missing women in February 2000. He had been arrested after abducting a woman from a car park in Carlow town and raping her repeatedly in the mountains. The woman survived, thanks to two hunters who chanced upon the brutal scene and recognised Murphy.

A striking feature of the attack was how he punched the woman in the face and forced her into the footwell of the car.

A picture of a young Deirdre Jacob

Detectives suspected but could not prove that Murphy was in Newbridge around the time Deirdre disappeared. Invoices and receipts suggested he was in Newbridge doing carpentry work in a disco bar in July 1998. Gardaí could not find witnesses to confirm he was there.

The renewed murder investigation was launched in 2018 and centred around CCTV footage taken from near the post office on the day Ms Jacob disappeared.

Gardaí sent photos of Murphy, taken while he was in custody, for scientific analysis in the UK, with experts assessing the probability that the “person of interest” in the CCTV images was Larry Murphy. They examined CCTV footage from various parts of the town, and on various days, in the week of Deirdre’s disappearance, that also captured images of the same “person of interest”.

This evidence proved inconclusive.

CCTV pictures of Deirdre Jacob taken in Newbridge

Other evidence included in the file to the DPP included an assessment of statements from a former prisoner, who alleged a decade ago that Murphy had confessed to Ms Jacob’s murder to him.

He said Murphy claimed he stopped to ask her for directions, then pulled her through the window and forced her into the footwell of the car.

Detectives were struck by the consistency of his statement over time.

In 2019, detectives attempted to interview Murphy in his new home in London but he declined to speak to them.

The investigation into the murder of Ms Jacob continues.

Gardaí have appealed for witnesses to continue to come forward.

They can call Kildare garda station on (045) 521222 or the Garda Confidential Line at 1800 666 111.

Today's Headlines

More Irish Crime

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos