Serial sex-attacker has jail sentence increased by four years

“You're going to die tonight,” he repeatedly told one victim
Serial sex-attacker has jail sentence increased by four years

Peter Doyle

A serial sex offender who carried out attacks on two women in Dublin city centre days after being released from a 10-year sentence for false imprisonment has had his jail term increased by four years.

Philip Murphy (41) had just been released from serving a 10-year prison sentence for falsely imprisoning a woman when he sexually assaulted the two women in February 2016.

During both incidents, Murphy grabbed the women from behind as they were walking on their own through the city in the early hours of the morning, told them he wanted to have sex with them and said he was going to kill them.

“You're going to die tonight,” he repeatedly told one victim.

Murphy, of no fixed abode later pleaded guilty to the two assaults and was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for each offence by Judge Melanie Greally following a hearing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last April.

Both sentences were to run concurrently, the judge ordered.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) later appealed the sentence handed down by Judge Melanie Greally at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last April of the grounds that it was unduly lenient.

Philipp Rahn SC, for the DPP, told the Court of Appeal on Tuesday that the sentencing court “ought to have considered the imposition of consecutive sentences”.

“There were multiple victims and this would have reflected the harm inflicted on each of the victims,” Mr Rahn said, adding that one of Murphy’s victims had to give up her job as a result of the trauma she has endured in the aftermath of the attack.

Error in principle

Mr Rahn said that although Murphy had been convicted for two offences, the attacks had effectively represented a “crime spree” and therefore consecutive sentencing “comes into play”.

“It was an error in principle not to [impose consecutive sentences] in these particular circumstances,” he added.

Noting that the accused had only just completed a length custodial term when he carried out the two assaults, Mr Rahn said that the sentencing judge had placed insufficient weight to the respondent’s previous convictions.

Quashing the original sentence, Mr Justice George Birmingham, sitting with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, said there had been “an error in principle” and the original sentence had been “unduly lenient”.

Mr Justice Birmingham also noted that “a very striking feature of the case” was that the respondent had been released from prison the day before the attacks took place.

He ordered that Murphy would now serve a total of 10 years behind bars for both offences.


Earlier, Michael O’Higgins SC, for Murphy, told the three-judge court that his client had shown remorse for his actions and had spared his victims a trial by pleading guilty at an early stage.

Counsel also suggested that even if consecutive sentences had been imposed, in all likelihood his client would have been looking at serving a similar amount of time behind bars.

Mr O’Higgins based his rationale on proposing a two-year term of the first assault followed by a four-year sentence for the second attack, and claiming that in those circumstances “no one would have said” a six-year consecutive sentence was unduly lenient.

Mr O’Higgins also said law on consecutive sentencing would have to be considered and pointed to cases of addicts who steal from shops to feed their habit.

“Recidivist offenders with drug habits often ‘do’ the Centra, the Spar, and what used to be called Xtra-Vision, and no one would suggest they deserved consecutive sentences,” Mr O’Higgins said.

The defence barrister also claimed that his client had a ‘predilection’ for this type of offending.

However, when he was queried on this by Mr Justice John Edwards, Mr O’Higgins conceded he had no evidence to back up this claim.

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