A former teacher who told a young schoolgirl that he wanted to take her virginity and asked her for naked pictures of herself in sexual exchanges on Instagram has appeared in court.
John Murphy (42) a married father of one from Ferncourt Crescent, Ballycullen, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to a charge of the sexual exploitation of a child between June 2017 and June 2018 before a sitting of Wicklow Circuit Criminal Court.
Murphy, who comes originally from Galway and was teaching mathematics and science at a school in Tallaght at the time of the offending, also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of the possession of child pornography between December 2007 and December 2010.
Detective Garda Sandra Forde told the court that the case arose after the girl’s mother became aware of hundreds of texts between Murphy and the girl when she discovered her daughter’s Instagram account open on her mobile phone.
Det Garda Forde said the exchanges had been going on for around 12 months between June 2017 and June 2018 and had just ended before they had been discovered by the girl’s mother.
She said many of the texts were of a general conversation, but there were also a lot of texts of a sexual nature.
Det Garda Forde said the girl had initially told Murphy she was 17 but shortly after they began texting told him he was 16 when she was actually 15.
The court heard Murphy had a number of graphical sexual exchanges with the girl in which he looked for naked pictures of her and expressed a desire to have sex with her and take her virginity.
Det Garda Forde said child sexual abuse images, which included 10 images and nine chat logs describing sexual acts, were discovered after a Toshiba laptop seized from his home in January 2019.
She said the material dated from around 2009.
The witness said two videos depicting children having sex with each other were of the most extreme form of child sexual abuse images.
Det Garda Forde said no images of the girl were found on Murphy’s computer but noted that the girl had informed gardaí that she had sent images of her in her underwear to him.
Cross-examined by Paul Murray SC, the garda agreed that Murphy had been naive in that he had told the girl his age and about being a teacher in Tallaght.
“He did not make any great attempt to hide his identity,” she acknowledged.
However, Det Garda Forde confirmed that Murphy had not made any concrete attempt to try and meet the girl in person.
Mr Murray also pointed out that Murphy had never asked the girl to do “something uncomfortable.”
Counsel for the DPP, James Kelly, described how Murphy had texted the girl in which he stated he wanted to have sex with the girl and wanted to be on top “as I like to see a girl’s face when I am inside her.”
He said he liked to kiss a girl on the lips while he was having sex which was uncommon.
In another text, Murphy wrote: “I’m not going to lie, I would like if you lost your virginity to me.”
When the girl asked him if he had any kinks, Murphy replied: “Apart from liking teenagers?
On another occasion, Murphy remarked that it was a pity that proposed changes to the age of consent had not been made.
Victim impact statement
“It’s 15 in most of Europe and who’s to say that’s wrong,” Murphy observed.
In a victim impact statement, the girl, who is now aged 21, said she suffered nightmares that Murphy would find her, kidnap her and ask to do “unspeakable things.”
“He knew so much about me that I felt I could not stop talking,” she remarked.
The teenager said she would have panic attacks that someone was watching her.
“I felt dirty and used and felt more like a property than a person,” she said.
The girl said she also suffered with her mental health as well as from anorexia and post-traumatic stress disorder.
She also described having thoughts “day and night” about harming or killing herself.
The court heard she now had tattoos on her arms where she had burnt herself.
The girl said she had also turned to starving herself and going for food for up to four days in order to make herself “more desirable” which became “a deadly addiction.”
She had also been hospitalised for having suicide ideation.
The girl said she felt there had been irreparable damage to her body and she feared she might never be able to have children.
Mr Murray told the court that Murphy had suffered “an exceptional and spectacular fall from grace.”
The barrister said his client wished to apologise to the girl and her family and expressed his remorse for his actions.
Mr Murray said Murphy had no previous convictions and already had received a long-time sentence by the fact that his 20-year career as a teacher was over.
The barrister expressed surprise that a probation report indicated his client had some “in-built hostility to women.”
Judge Patrick Quinn remanded Murphy on bail for a sentence date to be fixed in May.