A convicted rapist has been excluded from court for the rest of his trial on charges of making death threats and harassment.
Michael Murray (50), has pleaded not guilty to making threats to kill against barristers Dominic McGinn and Tony McGillicuddy, who prosecuted him for rape in 2013.
He has also pleaded not guilty to harassing Mr McGinn by advertising him online as a prostitute, and charges of doing the same to his victim and former defence solicitor.
Moments before the jury was to begin hearing the evidence of the final defence witness on Thursday, Murray spoke up from the dock and claimed he had been “offered the names and addresses of the jury members”.
“I have excluded Mr Murray from the courtroom, but he’s in the precincts of this building and in a position to hear proceedings,” Judge Karen O’Connor told the jury on Friday.
“I have made inquiries through the Courts Service. I am satisfied that he does not have the names of the jury list and never had,” she said.
'Hamlet without the prince'
Mr White concluded his closing arguments for the defence on the fourteenth day of the trial on Friday in the absence of his client.
“We are now Hamlet without the prince,” he said.
He had not been involved with the trial when Dominic McGinn gave evidence, he said, but he intended to pass comment on the evidence of the other legal professionals who gave evidence: Tony McGillicuddy and Murray’s former defence solicitor in the 2013 trial.
“You saw the demeanour of those witnesses. I thought they were people who would honestly and openly answer – not fence with counsel under cross-examination. Are they people who are easily harassed or frightened? I would suggest they are not. They are people on a mission. They have an agenda.”
“Nobody was taking these threats seriously,” he said. “Put yourself into the shoes of Mr Murray. Mr Murray has his own grievances in relation to the trial in 2013 in which he was convicted of rape. He has told you what his agenda was in making these calls and posting these posts.”
“You will recall that no steps were taken to approach the prison, or to block the phone. That might be something you find suspicious, impossible to comprehend. Maybe they’re hoping to give Michael Murray enough rope to hang himself,” he said.
“Matters remained as they were not until gardaí took action, but until Mr Murray himself took action.”
“He was seeking a method of getting before the courts to air his grievances and uncover some fact which would enable to overturn his rape conviction.”
He argued the words “without lawful excuse” in the death threat charges are “to be interpreted as subjective rather than objective”.
“It was clear in the mind of Mr Murray when he did so – he believed this was lawful. He had a cause célèbre. He had a mission.”
“Look to the sign outside this building: ‘The Court of Criminal Justice’. Mr Murray came here using his devised method to seek to get justice in relation to his previous trial. I ask you for justice for Mr Murray. I ask you to acquit him.”
“That he had some lawful reason doesn’t even arise and isn’t even true in his own account of it. ‘I intended to damage them’ -- that’s what he wanted to do,” said Seán Gillane, as he closed the prosecution case Thursday.
“You don’t have to take it from him me – take it from him he is guilty of these offences, but he hasn’t the courage to simply say so,” he added.
Judge O’Connor will finish charging the jury on Monday before they begin their deliberations.