A retired senior Garda detective has denied his team was “waiting for more calls” to be made on an illegally-held prison phone before arresting a convicted rapist for questioning about them.
Michael Murray (50), formerly of Seafield Road, Killiney, Co Dublin, is on trial at Dublin Circuit Court in Dublin, charged with making death threats in late 2014 and early 2015 against the two barristers who prosecuted him for rape, Dominic McGinn SC and Tony McGillicuddy BL.
He is also charged with harassing the woman he is convicted of raping by advertising her online as a prostitute in early 2015, and of doing the same to his own defence solicitor and to Mr McGinn.
Murray denies these charges, but has pleaded guilty to possessing a mobile phone which fell out of his rectum as he was strip-searched by prison officers on February 11th, 2015.
Retired Detective Superintendent Kevin Dolan told the court he was the officer who applied to Portlaoise District Court to have Murray arrested at the Midlands Prison in May 2015 for questioning over the calls.
“I recall being informed of the threat on Mr McGinn in mid-November ,” he told Barry White SC, defending, under cross-examination.
Mr White asked why no “no endeavour” was made to contact authorities at the prison sooner, given that the SIM card had been traced to Murray’s wife.
“No inquiries were made of the prison prior to Mr Murray surrendering the phone himself,” he said.
“I do know that a lot of avenues in the gathering of evidence were pursued during that time,” Det Supt Dolan said.
“Some or all of the complainants had a connection to a particular trial in 2015, the calls that were being made all seemed to relate to that trial, and yet the prisoner is allowed remain happily in his cell?” asked counsel.
'Wanted to be sure'
“Not necessarily,” Det Supt Dolan said. “I wanted to be sure that we could rule him in or out in this investigation. That took the gathering of a lot of information prior to my seeking of a warrant in the District Court,” he said.
“I would have been satisfied to apply for an arrest warrant with or without that phone,” he said.
“Here are the counsel involved who’ve been receiving death threats. Here is the couple in the case... one and one makes two – may I have a warrant,” Mr White said.
“That’s correct – that’s what happened,” Det Supt Dolan said.
“That’s what eventually happened in May – six months after you had the prime suspect,” Mr White said. “Was there perhaps an alternative reason notice was not taken... namely that you were waiting for more calls to be made on that phone?”
“That’s what you’re asking me?” said Det Supt Dolan. “Absolutely not.”
'Have a hunch'
“I would suggest to you that an arrest would have been effected before he surrendered the phone,” counsel said.
“The investigation was carried out and explored every possibility. I have a duty of care not alone to Mr Murray but also to the injured parties,” Det Supt Dolan said. “I wanted to make sure as much evidence was gathered by the investigating team.
“When you go to the District Court for a warrant you have to apply before a judge?” asked Seán Gillane SC, prosecuting.
“You have to put evidence before the court to get a warrant,” Det Supt Dolan said.
“You’re not able to go into court and say you have a hunch?” counsel asked.
“To be entertained, judge,” said Det Supt Dolan.
Detective Sergeant Don Griffin told the court Murray was a “prime suspect” when it became known the SIM card was registered to Mrs Marie Murray.
“We didn’t know whether he had absolute possession of that phone – those phones were circulating in prison and available for rent,” he said. “We had only one shot at it. If we missed it the phone was gone.”
Mr Gillane concluded the prosecution's evidence on Monday.
The defence case is expected to open before Judge Karen O’Connor and a jury on Tuesday.