A convicted rapist claims he has a “lawful excuse” for carrying out a campaign of death threats and harassment – in the hope that people involved in his original trial would say something under cross-examination which would give him grounds for another appeal.
Michael Murray has pleaded not guilty to charges of making threats to kill against Dominic McGinn SC and Tony McGillicuddy BL in late 2014 and early 2015.
He has also pleaded not guilty to charges of harassing Mr McGinn, along with his victim and his own former solicitor, by advertising them online as prostitutes.
On Tuesday, Murray gave evidence for the first time on day 11 of his trial, as Barry White SC, opened the defence's case.
“I made phone calls to each one of them to put them in the witness box before the court and ask them certain questions about the trial,” he told Mr White.
“As regards the threats... did you intend that they be taken seriously?” Mr White asked.
“No I did not. I did not,” Murray said. “I intended to use the threats as a mechanism to get them before the courts. I do say I had a lawful excuse. The lawful reason was because of how the previous trial was conducted,” he said.
“I was hoping to be allowed to ask questions in relation to the previous trial and how it was conducted and why evidence wasn’t handed over in cross-examining the witnesses. The order of the court is that I’m not allowed to do that,” he said.
The jury heard Murray’s original sentence for rape had been appealed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and his sentence was ultimately increased by the Court of Appeal from 15 years to 19 – meaning it would run until 2024.
Mr White put it to Murray that his intention was to find some new evidence that might allow him to bring another appeal. “As I’ve explained and I’ll explain again, I have no agenda in relation to the DPP’s office or any prosecutor or anyone else. I only have an issue in relation to the trial.”
Cross-examining Murray, Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, asked: “Do these words ring a bell: ‘To cause as much f**king damage as you could’?”
“They do indeed,” Murray said.
“They’re your words,” Mr Gillane said. “You now say none of this was meant.”
“Mr Gillane as I said this morning, they were a mechanism to get to court,” Murray said.
“You intended Mr McGinn and in turn Mr McGillicuddy to believe that harm would come to them,” submitted counsel.
“In my opinion they did wrong and if you do wrong you have to be answerable to that,” Murray said.
“You intended to alarm them,” said counsel.
“Yes, I intended to alarm them, yes I did,” replied Murray.
Mr Gillane asked whether he expected Mr McGinn to take the threat seriously. “I don’t know, I wasn’t the person receiving it,” Murray said.
“Did you care?” counsel asked.
“Not particularly,” replied Murray.
“In relation to the ads, you put them up, you devised them – the sexual services that were supposed to be on offer,” said counsel.
“I devised them,” Murray said.
“You intended that it would cause them distress?” asked counsel.
“Yes,” replied Murray.
“You accept then absolutely your intention would be that that they’d be harassed,” Mr Gillane said
“Yeah, that was my intention Mr Gillane. I’m not trying to hide anything here,” Murray said.
“Mr Murray, I think we’re in agreement on some matters,” said Mr Gillane. “You harassed [your former solicitor]. You harassed [the complainant in the 2013 trial]. You harassed Mr McGinn. You threatened Mr McGinn and you threatened Mr McGillicuddy,” he said.
“We’re in agreement with that, Mr Gillane,” said Murray.
“You’re in agreement with certain matters,” said Mr White as he re-examined Murray. “What then, is your defence?”
“I’m saying I had lawful excuse to carry out these actions because of their actions in the trial,” Murray said.
The trial continues tomorrow before Judge Karen O’Connor and a jury.