UN­SOLVED MUR­DERS: In the first of four spe­cial cold-case re­ports, we re­visit the grue­some stab­bing to death of school­girl Raonaid Mur­ray, who was vi­ciously at­tacked and died just yards from her home in south Dublin Some­body is still shield­ing the per­son w

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Front Page -

‘It was easy to imag­ine the poorly lit and misty laneway, the mur­derer wait­ing in the shad­ows, like a hor­ror movie’ ‘Most of the gardai were men in early mid­dle age, with teenage daugh­ters’

RAONAID Mur­ray was just at that point in her teens where her child­ish fea­tures were trans­form­ing into a newly de­fined adult beauty. In her early teens, she had hung around with a group of young Goths in Dun Laoghaire.

She stood out in the group as the tall one with the straight, al­most per­ox­ide blonde hair. I knew her to see be­cause my daugh­ters and she shared friends.

I didn’t know her name but knew her as a girl who was best friends with two neigh­bours’ daugh­ters grow­ing up, like my own, in ‘mid­dle-class’ south County Dublin. So it was strange to be alerted to a story, go to the scene, then re­turn home, park the car and walk over to some friends’ homes and find them in shock.

Satur­day, Septem­ber 4, 1999 was a warm late-sum­mer day. The even­ing be­fore had been misty, still and hu­mid. It was one of the last warm Fri­day nights of the sum­mer and peo­ple had been so­cial­is­ing and din­ing in their back gar­dens in Gle­nageary.

A group of friends still sit­ting out­side just be­fore mid­night in their back gar­den in Silch­ester Road heard a girl shout­ing some­thing like “Leave me alone!” “Go away!”and, they agreed, “Fuck off” around mid­night. Then the sounds stopped and they paid no fur­ther at­ten­tion.

The last thing on any­one’s mind in Silch­ester Road was that a mur­der was tak­ing place. Some crit­ics of the me­dia later said there was ev­i­dence of a hi­er­ar­chy in the cov­er­age of Raonaid’s mur­der — that if she was a from a poorer, work­ing-class area, the story would not have re­ceived as much at­ten­tion.

But in this case, it was sim­ply that it was easy to imag­ine the poorly lit, misty laneway and the mur­derer wait­ing in the shad­ows. It was stuff straight out of a Hol­ly­wood teenage hor­ror movie.

The garda divi­sion that cov­ers Dun Laoghaire and much of south County Dublin has the low­est homi­cide rate of the six di­vi­sions in the city.

It has no gang-re­lated mur­ders or ma­jor or­gan­ised gangs, other than the Pro­vi­sional IRA, which used the Dun Laoghaire area for safe houses for on-the-run mem­bers from the North and for ‘lo­gis­ti­cal’ and ‘fundrais­ing’ ac­tiv­i­ties.

The man in charge of the IRA’s ‘Eng­land’ divi­sion, re­spon­si­ble for bomb­ings and other at­tacks in Bri­tain, lived qui­etly in a large semi-de­tached house not far from where Raonaid was murdered.

The area is supplied with il­licit drugs by gangs in the cen­tre and south of Dublin city. There are plenty of minor deal­ers but none, even to this date, that is used to se­ri­ous or homi­ci­dal vi­o­lence.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, hard­ened crim­i­nals from Dublin city come out to Dun Laoghaire but gen­er­ally to get off­side when things are too hot in the city cen­tre or to so­cialise and re­lax. Fred­die Thomp­son’s crew used to come out on sum­mer days with jet skis.

There is the oc­ca­sional ‘do­mes­tic’ mur­der and al­most all of these are solved. The last re­main­ing high-pro­file un­solved mur­der was that of a new­born baby in April 1973. The child’s mother was Cynthia Owen, nee Mur­phy, one of a fam­ily of abused chil­dren who grew up in a squalid coun­cil house in Dalkey. When she gave birth at the age of 11, Cynthia’s grand­mother stabbed the baby to death and then car­ried the body wrapped in news­pa­per to Dun Laoghaire, leav­ing it in an al­ley­way off Ge­orge’s Street in the town cen­tre. Decades later, Cynthia re­turned to seek jus­tice for what had be­fallen her in child­hood. But that case too was never solved.

Cynthia ex­posed the fact, which was ac­cepted in the area, that there was a pae­dophile ring and that this in­cluded well-known lo­cal fig­ures.

While a large num­ber of peo­ple seemed to know who the pae­dophiles were, al­most no one was pre­pared to come for­ward with ev­i­den­tial or even cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence that would have sup­ported Cynthia’s cam­paign and given her and her abused sib­lings jus­tice.

So Dun Laoghaire and its en­vi­rons con­tained fig­ures at the time of Raonaid’s death who were ca­pa­ble of child rape and com­plicit in mur­der and more peo­ple who made the de­ci­sion to stay silent about the atrocity in­flicted on the Mur­phy chil­dren. It is not un­der­stand­able or ac­cept­able in civilised so­ci­ety but then thou­sands of peo­ple knew about cler­i­cal rapists and abusers but did noth­ing.

Raonaid was stabbed mul­ti­ple times, with death caused by one of four wounds that deeply pen­e­trated her shoul­der, sev­er­ing an artery.

She sur­vived only long enough to crawl about 200 feet out of the laneway where she had been at­tacked and into Silch­ester Cres­cent, just around the corner from where she lived. Some of the es­ti­mated 31 stab wounds barely pen­e­trated her light cloth­ing.

Her as­sailant could have been male or fe­male. That, sources con­firmed last week, re­mains the case. There was at least one fe­male sus­pect, a young woman who had fam­ily links to the IRA. She was known for her ag­gres­sive and vi­o­lent be­hav­iour.

Af­ter Raonaid’s mur­der, she left Dun Laoghaire and was later re­ported to have moved abroad. Fe­male DNA was also found un­der Raonaid’s fin­ger­nails but she’d worked that even­ing in the bou­tique and would have had phys­i­cal con­tact with other women.

The IRA has long had a track record of pro­tect­ing its own, no mat­ter what. It has pro­tected known pae­dophiles within its ranks and one of its worst of­fend­ers, a west Belfast man, lived in the south Dublin area from the mid-1970s on­wards af­ter he had been forced to leave the North, where he was ac­cused of rap­ing young girls in Belfast and Newry, Co Down.

Gardai be­lieved he went on to rape an­other child in the Dun Laoghaire area but the fam­ily was per­suaded, either by vi­o­lence or other means, not to make any for­mal com­plaint. The rapist was even­tu­ally spir­ited out of Ire­land, it is be­lieved to the United States.

The fe­male sus­pect in Raonaid’s case was also be­lieved to have been in­volved in a re­la­tion­ship with a young man in the area. Word reached in­ves­ti­ga­tors that this young man may have been fix­ated with Raonaid and this may have led to dis­cord in the re­la­tion­ship and anger di­rected to­wards Raonaid.

There was, how­ever, no ev­i­dence to sup­port this. The cou­ple were ques­tioned un­der cau­tion but both pro­fessed to know noth­ing of the mur­der. DNA was taken from the young woman but it did not match that found on Raonaid.

The only pos­i­tive wit­ness ev­i­dence in the brief peri-

od be­tween Raonaid leav­ing friends in Scotts Bar in the cen­tre of Dun Laoghaire and the 15-minute walk to her home in Silch­ester Park was of an ar­gu­ment with a young man in Gle­nageary Road Up­per on Raonaid’s most likely route home. The de­scrip­tion given to gardai some­what fit­ted the boyfriend in the ‘jeal­ousy’ sce­nario.

The mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion was headed by then chief su­per­in­ten­dent Martin Don­nel­lan, who was head of the Na­tional Bureau of Crime In­ves­ti­ga­tion in Har­court Square in Dublin. The lo­cal chief su­per­in­ten­dent at the time was Pat Cul­hane, who has since died.

Gardai who worked the case say that Cul­hane, once a lead­ing fig­ure in the old Garda Mur­der Squad, was a ‘prob­lem’ in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and wanted to beat Don­nel­lan’s team to an ar­rest.

A later re-in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the case by the Se­ri­ous Crime Re­view Team found se­ri­ous prob­lems in the ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­clud­ing a fail­ure to share in­for­ma­tion and com­pet­ing loy­al­ties among in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

This may have ham­pered parts of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion but did not have a se­verely dam­ag­ing ef­fect, re­li­able sources say. Don­nel­lan’s team and all the lo­cal gardai worked flat out on the case. The bulk of the ex­pe­ri­enced

The killer was al­most cer­tainly splat­tered with blood. In the broad ini­tial sweep for sus­pects and the gath­er­ing of hun­dreds of wit­ness state­ments, a state­ment from a taxi driver, from Cabra but re­turn­ing from a fare to Dalkey in the early hours, stood out. He was hailed by a young man with blood on his trousers near the cen­tre of Dun Laoghaire.

The driver took the man up New­town­park Av­enue to­wards Foxrock and be­came sus­pi­cious that he was be­ing di­rected to­wards a fake ad­dress when he was asked to turn left into Granville Park near the N11. He turned and waited and saw the young man lin­ger­ing be­hind a hedge as though wait­ing for the driver to leave.

It took over a month to iden­tify this young man, a cook who worked in the Dun Laoghaire area at the time. He was ques­tioned and de­nied know­ing Raonaid. He was sub­se­quently ar­rested in re­la­tion to an­other as­sault on a young woman out­side a disco in Wick­low a year later.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion iden­ti­fied 22 ‘red alert’ sus­pects in all.

Of­fi­cers were quite sur­prised at the amount of ‘weirdos’ liv­ing in and around the area at the time. One young man who came to their at­ten­tion, also a cook by trade, had a shock­ing ar­ray of vi­o­lent pornog­ra­phy, along with mar­tial arts equip­ment, in­clud­ing two Sa­mu­rai swords. But he had a solid al­ibi.

There was a ho­tel worker pre­vi­ously ac­cused of falsely im­pris­on­ing one woman and as­sault­ing an­other. He told gardai he did not know Raonaid but friends said he did.

There was a butcher who also had a his­tory of vi­o­lence in­ves­ti­ga­tors were to­wards women and who men in early mid­dle age, sev­eral was said to have drunk­enly with teenage daugh­ters. bragged about hav­ing killed

The laneway where Raonaid Raonaid. was stabbed was stripped There was also a ‘drug­gie’ of un­der­growth but there was type, said to be part of a very no sign of a weapon or of the weird set of peo­ple who held iden­tity of the per­pe­tra­tor. in de­praved par­ties in a base

There was no eye­wit­ness ment flat in one of the squares ev­i­dence that could point to of large Vic­to­rian ter­raced an es­cape route. The area is houses near the scene criss-crossed with public laneways, of the mur­der. He was sev­eral of which were said to be ob­sessed over­grown at the time. One with Raonaid. lane al­most di­rectly op­po­site There was a con­the mur­der scene leads on to victed rapist who had the path along the Dart line been in court in Dun known as the Met­als, which Laoghaire the day beruns for a mile be­tween Dun fore the mur­der but Laoghaire and Killiney Hill was able to give a con­vinc­ing and is mostly shaded by trees ac­count of his and shrub­bery. move­ments.

And, there was an­other young man, a bar worker, who said he knew Raonaid but had no per­sonal con­tact with her. He was later ar­rested for al­legedly threat­en­ing a fe­male part­ner with a knife.

Yet an­other man who knew Raonaid was sub­se­quently ar­rested for an at­tack on a woman and gardai found vi­o­lent pornog­ra­phy, in­clud­ing bes­tial­ity, on his com­puter.

In all, 210 men and women were ear­marked as po­ten­tial sus­pects, ‘per­sons of in­ter­est’.

One of these was Farah Swaleh Noor, the vi­o­lent, drink- and drug-ad­dicted So­mali im­mi­grant who was killed and then dis­mem­bered by ‘Scis­sor sis­ters’ Linda and Char­lotte Mul­hall in March 2005. Dur­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tions into that case, gardai dis­cov­ered that on the same day as Raonaid’s mur­der, Noor had been drink­ing beer on the seafront at Sandy­cove be­side Dun Laoghaire. His route home to a hos­tel in Deans­grange would have taken him through Gle­nageary.

Noor also bragged to the Mul­halls that he had murdered Raonaid but he was a fan­ta­sist and gardai could es­tab­lish no link.

South County Dublin’s most no­to­ri­ous in­hab­i­tant, Gra­ham Dwyer, was also a young post­bury grad­u­ate ar­chi­tect liv­ing in the south of the city at the time. He had never come to the at­ten­tion of gardai un­til he murdered and tried to

se­cretly Dun Laoghaire woman Elaine O’Hara in Au­gust 2012.

Dur­ing this in­ves­ti­ga­tion, gardai re­vis­ited the ev­i­dence in Roanaid’s case to see if there was any con­nec­tion.

Dwyer had in­flicted mul­ti­ple stab wounds on women and had a sex­ual fix­a­tion linked to re­peated stab­bing, a per­ver­sion known as pi­querism. As part of this re-ex­am­i­na­tion, I was called to give a state­ment about an in­ci­dent I re­ported on about a month af­ter Raonaid’s mur­der, 14 years ear­lier. A young man had come down the laneway at the back of my house in the early hours of a Sun­day morn­ing, dropped his trousers and be­gun mas­tur­bat­ing. I called the gardai and handed over the CCTV tape from the cam­era over­look­ing the lane. I was shown one of the images and the young man in the pic­ture bore a re­sem­blance to Dwyer.

Gardai in­ter­viewed 3,500 peo­ple in Raonaid’s case, in­clud­ing everyone they could iden­tify who had been so­cial­is­ing in the town cen­tre that even­ing. The en­tire crew of the LE Emer, which was docked in Dun Laoghaire for the week­end, were in­ter­viewed and were able to ac­count for their move­ments.

DNA swabs were taken from 50 women but none matched that found on Raonaid’s fin­ger­nails. A se­nior source in­volved in the con­tin­u­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion said that it has con­tin­ued, qui­etly, to be a pri­or­ity case and gardai “will not let it go”. But noth­ing to date has pointed firmly to any sin­gle sus­pect. Some­one, the source said “knows what hap­pened” and al­most as in­ex­pli­ca­ble as the mur­der is this ret­i­cence to come for­ward and tell what they know. There were fail­ings, some se­ri­ous, in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Raonaid’s case but the fact re­mains that some­one pro­tected — and con­tin­ues to pro­tect — the mur­derer of a beau­ti­ful in­no­cent young woman. And that is not all. The fam­i­lies of vic­tims and al­most all sen­tient peo­ple re­quire that in cases such as this there is a law and or­der process that re­sults in a per­pe­tra­tor be­ing un­cov­ered, brought to jus­tice and sen­tenced to a lengthy time in jail. ‘Life’ im­pris­on­ment in a case where some­one killed an­other per­son in hot tem­per and was guilty of no other of­fences could mean as lit­tle as six or seven years in jail. The killer of Raonaid Mur­ray or those close to him or her should know this and know that af­ter serv­ing such a term in jail they, at least, would have what is po­litely termed ‘clo­sure’. There will never be any ‘clo­sure’ for Raonaid’s fam­ily and friends.

Raonaid’s friends that I know have their own chil­dren now. She was just like my daugh­ters and was done to death in a place I had cho­sen to live in be­cause it was, on the sur­face, safe. It hit me in this case more than any other — and I’ve cov­ered hun­dreds of mur­ders — that this whole idea of ‘clo­sure’ is non­sense. Jus­tice is needed.

‘There was no sign of a weapon or of the iden­tity of the per­pe­tra­tor’

BRU­TAL CRIME: Raonaid (above) was stabbed to death in this laneway (left) at Silch­ester Road, Dun Laoghaire. One sus­pect Noor (below), the vi­o­lent, was Farah Swaleh drink- and drug-ad­dicted later mur­dered by the So­mali man who was so-called ‘Scis­sor...

AN­GUISH: Raonaid’s par­ents Deirdre and Jim Murray

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