An attempt was made to delete call records from a phone found by prison officers in the anus of a convicted rapist accused of making death threats to two barristers, a court has heard.
Michael Murray (50) is on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, charged with making threats to kill against two barristers who prosecuted him for rape in 2013, Dominic McGinn SC and Tony McGillicuddy BL.
Murray is also accused of harassing Mr McGinn, along with his former defence solicitor and the woman he was convicted of raping, by advertising them on the internet as prostitutes. The accused man has denied all charges.
Mr McGillicuddy told Seán Gillane SC, prosecuting, that he was working late in his office on the night of February 9, 2015, when a blocked number rang his mobile phone at 10.28pm.
“Am I speaking to Tony?” said a male voice.
“Who is this?” Mr McGillicuddy replied.
“You prosecuted a man that we know, you and Dominic McGinn. I am telling you we are going to kill you,” the voice said.
Mr McGillicuddy immediately hung up.
“All I could say was it sounded like it may have been someone in their forties with a Dublin accent,” he said.
The call lasted 43 seconds, he said.
He immediately rang gardaí at the Bridewell, and then phoned Dominic McGinn.
“We had done a trial in 2013 – June 2013 into July ‘13 – prosecuting Michael Murray for rape and other charges,” he said.
“That it immediately caused me to ring the gardaí – that’s not something I’d do lightly. I was disturbed enough that I had to ring Dominic McGinn at half past ten.”
“You’re clearly an experienced criminal lawyer,” said Michael White, SC, defending, as he opened his cross-examination. “Would you explain to the jury the presumption of innocence?”
“I’m here to give evidence, Mr White, I’m not here to give legal opinion,” Mr McGillicuddy said.
Mr White asked why he had made reference in his evidence to Murray’s rape trial.
“I was asked if I had worked with McGinn on any occasion,” he replied.
He said the question of admissibility of Murray’s previous convictions was “a matter for the judge and for you to debate with the judge”.
As Mr McGillicuddy was excused, Murray raised his voice and spoke from the dock.
“Tell the jury why you won’t stand over the evidence in the original trial,” he said.
Murray’s former defence solicitor, who can’t be named for legal reasons, also gave evidence yesterday.
She told Mr Gillane she started receiving texts linked to the ads on January 20, 2015, and became suspicious when a man unknown to her called up and addressed her by her first name.
“I decided to Google my name and number. I found there were ads with both pieces of information. I found a number of ads that were very upsetting – they had my name and my number.”
She called gardaí.
Garda Sergeant Gary Farrell said he extracted data from the Samsung Galaxy S3 phone seized from Murray using a specialist forensic device on February 16 2015.
“I was informed that it had been removed from the anus of Mr Murray,” he said. “There were clear signs — pieces of excrement on the phone.”
He was asked to carry out a number of searches for keywords and phone numbers relating to complainants in the case, which turned up internet searches, a number of saved contacts, and call logs.
He said he extracted the phone’s data twice – with a second method turning up extra call logs, indicating they had been deleted some time before.
He also found 112 references in the data to BackPage.com, the website Murray is accused of using to post the ads.
“Male escort, 21,” read an ad posted on January 19, 2015. It listed Mr McGinn’s phone number as a contact.
“Loves playing with toys, likes giving good spanking, last long time, ride of your life, call my reception,” read another, posted on January 22, 2015.
The trial will continue today before Judge Karen O’Connor and a jury.