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LAWLOR'S JAILMATE GUILTY OF MURDER; High on heroin, Murphy knifed snoring prisoner.

Byline: RITA O'REILLY

A PRISONER was given jailed for life yesterday for the stab murder of a cellmate who annoyed him by snoring.

Laurence Murphy, 24, was being held in the same basement in Mountjoy Prison where shamed TD Liam Lawlor served his one-week sentence.

Murphy murdered Thomas 'Tomo' Brady, 22, from Neilstown, Dublin, at Mountjoy in April 2000.

After the trial at the Central Criminal Court, Brady's family disclosed that it was they who had had him charged and sent to prison for robbing from the family home.

They said they could not get him help for his heroin habit elsewhere.

Before being sent to Mountjoy, Brady had never been to prison.

He and Murphy, of Cabra, Dublin, shared a cell for two-and-a-half weeks before the stabbing.

The jury took just under an hour-and-a-half to reach its unanimous verdict after a three-day trial.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns jailed Murphy for life as he stood motionless in the dock, surrounded by prison officers and Gardai.

Addressing Murphy, the judge said: "You have heard the verdict of the jury.

"There is only one sentence available to me by the law, which is life imprisonment."

Murphy stabbed Brady with "a butter knife" he had sharpened and concealed in the cell.

During the trial he claimed he could not remember when he had sharpened the knife and bound the handle to form a grip.

Murphy told the court: "I don't know because I had three or four similar knives the exact same."

His defence was that he did not intend to kill or hurt Brady.

He claimed his "brain was numb" and he couldn't think when he went to Brady's bed and thrust the knife three inches into Brady's chest and heart.

Murphy first told prison officers he stabbed his cellmate "because he wouldn't stop snoring".

He later told Gardai he said that as it was the first thing that came into his head.

Murphy added: "I don't know why I did it. I didn't mean to kill this fellow. I was strung out on heroin and it was affecting me in a major way."

He said earlier that day, that both he and Brady had smoked heroin and took sleeping tablets.

By bedtime, the drugs had worn off and Murphy could not get to sleep.

He took the knife from where he had wedged it under a chair in the cell and brought it to his bed, where he sat "just looking at it" and thinking.

After a short while, he got up and went over to his cellmate, who was lying facing the wall, asleep.

According to the state pathologist, Dr John Harbison, it took "a very considerable thrust to drive such a round-ended knife" into Brady's chest.

In his defence Murphy told the jury he was "angry and bitter" at "the system" when he knifed Brady.

He said: "I was thinking about my son.

"At the time I was doing five years and I was thinking about being out, being with him, and suddenly it just came over me." Under cross-examination, Murphy added that the last thought that came into his head before he stabbed his cellmate was, "F*** the world".

He told lawyer Paul McDermott that he was angry and bitter at the time.

The trial heard that from the age of 15, Murphy had spent most of his life in prison and that his father had also spent long periods in jail.

The court heard that Murphy was admitted to the Central Mental Hospital twice in the years before he stabbed Brady and once afterwards.

He had 15 separate referrals for psychiatric assessment on his file, the earliest dating back to 1994 in Glasgow.

Murphy was originally jailed for five years for robbery and an assault on a Garda.

His prison file showed 10 records of disciplinary offences, the deputy governor of Mountjoy, Vincent Duffy, told the court.

These included one, three weeks before the stabbing, when prison staff removed another knife from Murphy's possession and took away his recreational privileges for fighting with another prisoner on a separate landing of the jail.

In his closing speech to the jury, lawyer Mr McDermott said they might find themselves sympathising with Mr Murphy for what seemed like a "rough deal" in life.

But he reminded them that Murphy had "brooded" on the bed about his life and other people's lives.

Then "out of jealousy or simple bitterness" he took the knife and thrust it into his cellmate's chest with such force that it left an impression on the skin that the state pathologist concluded was the attacker's thumb mark.

The prosecutor said that it was not enough for Murphy to say he did not intend to kill or hurt.

The jury had to examine Murphy's credibility and ask why, if his mind was numb, he could remember everything he did.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict.

CAPTION(S):

PARENTS: Tommy and Jean Brady yesterday; GOODBYE: Murphy kisses a friend after verdict; GUILTY: Laurence Murphy was given a life sentence
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 18, 2002
Words:840
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