Brave victim tells of her horror at the hands of two murderers on day release
A brave young schoolteacher has revealed the horror moment she realised a man who had held her captive was a violent murderer on day release from prison.
Kim Murrin told how a man who had forced his way into her apartment told her when he eventually left: "If anyone ever hurts you tell them Patrick Harris will find them and kill them."
She quickly checked the name online and discovered he had been jailed for a fatal knife attack.
Kim was even more shocked when gardaí later told her that Harris' accomplice that day was also a convicted murderer on temporary release.
At Sligo Circuit Court last week, Patrick Harris (45), formerly of Loughan House, Blacklion, Cavan, and co-accused Gary Gleeson (37), also with an address at the open prison, pleaded guilty to two counts of false imprisonment.
The court also heard how they attacked an elderly man after going on a drunken rampage.
Kim Murrin (28), from Co. Donegal, was alone in a friend's apartment in Sligo in August 2019, when two men knocked on the door, named a woman and asked if she lived there.
When Kim told them that nobody of that name lived there, they left.
However, hours later, they returned again and demanded to see the named woman and this time they forced their way in.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World, Kim recalled: 'I wasn't too worried at first, as I actually thought they may have really been looking for someone of that name.
"One of them then said that this woman was a prostitute and that she owed them money and they asked me was I a prostitute as well, and at that point I did fear something bad might happen."
Bravely, Kim stayed calm and spun the raiders a story which they bought into, but her tale hid a secret sorrow.
"I told them my dad was sharing the apartment with me and was due in from work any minute, but the truth was that Dad was in Sligo hospital suffering from cancer, he eventually passed away from that earlier this year.
"The reason I was staying in Sligo in the first place was to make it easier to visit him.
"When I lied and told them he was due home they left. Gleeson warned me not to contact the guards before Harris said the strangest thing.
"He turned round and went, 'If anyone ever hurts you tell them Patrick Harris will find them and kill them'.
"There was something about the way he said it made me feel he meant it.
"I was a bit shaken up but composed myself enough to video them as they were leaving - then I googled the name he gave me on my phone."
What Kim discovered then was the chilling fact she had just been face-to-face with a killer.
She remembered: "The first thing that came up was he had a conviction for murder dating back to 2002, when he and another man, Michael Norton, stabbed a chap called Noel Kearney to death in Finglas, Dublin.
"Of course, that could have been another Patrick Harris but my instinct was that it was the same man, I just got an eerie feeling that it was him.
"I immediately rang a friend who worked in Elvery's in Sligo and he persuaded me to go to the guards."
When officers arrived they viewed the footage Kim had managed to take and realised they had dealt with the duo earlier that day when the pair were warned about drinking on the street.
They had given cops their correct names and almost immediately they revealed the name of Harris' sidekick.
"They told me that Gleeson, who was also on day release from the open prison, had been convicted of a brutal murder in 2003." The news rocked Kim and sent her into a temporary downward spiral. "I was stressed out anyway as I knew Dad's condition was serious and this piling on top of that did get to me, I'll admit to that.
"I'd like to think I am a strong woman who can handle most things but that was a tough time.
"I didn't want to let on to the family how upset I was as they had enough to be worrying about without me inflicting more drama on them, but I had stopped eating and began missing days at work.
"I didn't even tell the school what had happened, I just kept taking sick days, which is most unlike me as I love my job, but the whole 'what if' thing just flooded my brain.
"I remember if I ever read about somebody allowing strangers into their apartment I'd think how stupid they were to do that and how it would never happen to me. Yet it did, and I am still not quite sure how.
"I still don't know what to think about what happened, I mean they had a bag with them and I now wonder had they a weapon in it.
"It's hard to know what their intentions were and even now that I am back living in Dublin I don't like being alone in my home, so I have bought Luca - a loveable little dog that is my guardian angel."
Kim remains defiant though and has a message for her captors.
"If you are reading this you haven't broken me I'm still here and strong enough to get over the hell you put me through."
When they left Kim in her apartment the pair attacked 73-year-old Billy Clarke in his apartment.
They threatened him they would do away with his family and come back and kill him and dragged him into his apartment which they proceeded to ransack. They threw him on a bed and tied clothes around his face so he couldn't see, all the while shouting at him.
They stole €1,500 and a watch from the terrified pensioner before they were subsequently arrested at Sligo bus station.
Gleeson was found in possession of the watch and €950, while Harris had €500 in cash.
Judge Francis Comerford sentenced Harris to eight years and three months in prison for the false imprisonment of Mr Clarke, with the final 18 months suspended, while Gleeson was sentenced to eight years and three months in prison with the final year suspended.
Both men received six-year concurrent sentences for Ms Murrin's false imprisonment.
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