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shock crimes Operation Trace has not forgotten about rapist Larry Murphy

Officers await direction on whether the Wicklow carpenter should be held culpable for Deirdre Jacob's murder.

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Larry Murphy

Larry Murphy

Larry Murphy

Twenty-one years ago this week, a young Carlow businesswoman was abducted, raped and almost murdered by Larry Murphy.

The Wicklow carpenter served ten years in prison for the heinous crime.

While jailed, he emerged as a suspect for involvement in the disappearance of three other women who vanished in the Leinster area. Murphy was visited in jail several times by officers probing the missing women, all of whom are presumed murdered.

But the carpenter steadfastly refused to co-operate.

Yet detectives persevered.

And week last year, Valentine's Day, officers investigating the disappearance of Deirdre Jacob sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) seeking charges against the Wicklow man, now the chief suspect in the teenager's disappearance, which was upgraded to murder in 2018.

Investigating officers await a direction "any day now" on whether Ireland's most infamous rapist should be held criminally culpable for the murder of the 18-year-old trainee teacher.

"We haven't forgotten about Larry Murphy. The DPP has been considering a case against our chief suspect for exactly one year," according to a senior source.

"No news is good news. The longer the garda evidence is considered, the better a signal this is for investigators, as all aspects of the case are being fully considered."

The Wicklow carpenter is currently living in the UK.

Gardai know exactly how to find him and extradite him back to Ireland, should the DPP direct charges. "Larry Murphy is a figure of fascination for the media," added the well-placed source. "But gardai deal in facts and evidence.

"At present, Larry Murphy been convicted of just one attack on a woman. As bad an attack as is imaginable."

On February 11th 2020 when Larry Murphy committed the crime that defined his life, while almost ending that of his victim.

After he was arrested his calmness in custody disturbed gardai. He maintained composure despite insurmountable evidence.

He was charged and taken to prison on remand. At first, his wife Margaret visited him where he claimed he was innocent.

But knowing he could not beat the charge, Murphy opted to plead guilty, effectively ending his marriage.

Larry Murphy has never met his son, who his wife gave birth to a few months after her husband's arrest.

The method of the Carlow woman's rape, kidnap and attempted murder suggested to gardai that Murphy was a seasoned predator.

Operation Trace was set up by former Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne to investigate the disappearance of six women who all vanished from the Leinster area between 1993 and 1998. Its objective, aside from solving the cases, was to try and establish if a serial killer was involved.

The Wicklow carpenter has been ruled out of involvement in the cases of Ciara Breen, Fiona Pender and Fiona Sinnott.

But Operation Trace concluded that there was commonality in the cases of Annie McCarrick, Jo Jo Dullard and Deirdre Jacob.

There is circumstantial evidence linking him to the disappearances of both Jo Jo Dullard and Annie McCarrick.

He remains a suspect, sources confirm. But the evidence against him in relation to Deirdre Jacob is far stronger.

Deirdre disappeared in July 1998, as she made her way towards her home in Newbridge, Co Kildare. Murphy initially became a person of interest to detectives after it emerged he had visited the shop owned by Deirdre's grandmother.

As part of a 2017 review of the case, CCTV footage from the day of the disappearance was digitised, resulting in new witnesses.

A prisoner who implicated Murphy in Deirdre's murder has also been re-interviewed.

He maintains that Murphy confessed to the murder while they got drunk together behind bars.

On the 21st anniversary of her disappearance in 2019, Deirdre's family expressed confidence in the garda investigation.

"We have always been positive, because you have to be," said her father Michael. "If you don't hold a positive outlook, the world collapses around you."

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