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HMA v Michael Murphy


Nov 4, 2021

At the High Court at Edinburgh today Lady Carmichael sentenced Michael Murphy to seven years’ imprisonment after the offender was found guilty of sexual and physical assaults.

On sentencing, Lady Carmichael made the following statement in Court:

“You are now 88 years of age. This offending took place many years ago. All of it took place in the context of your work in List D Schools more than 30 years ago. The social worker who provided a report is concerned that you have not engaged with prison interventions in relation to sexual offending. Some of the risk assessments place you at moderate risk of sexual reoffending. Given that there is no suggestion that you have offended in a similar way in the past 30 years, and having regard to your age, however, it does not appear to me that the need for protection of the public in the future is as acute as in some other cases.   

The jury convicted you of 29 charges involving physical and sexual assaults on boys in your care at St Ninian’s and St Joseph’s List D schools. The witnesses at the trial described habitual brutality on your part, and a number of them described indecent conduct and assaults of various types. Some of both the physical and sexual assaults were carried out using an electrical generator. You were in a position of trust and of power over vulnerable young boys who were placed in these schools by the state. A number of them described enduring psychological harm from their time as pupils, to which your behaviour contributed.

The most serious charges relate to your conduct to two complainers. They are charges 7 and 29, which involve penetrative sexual assaults, and charges 6 and 28, which are serious physical assaults. The offending in charge 6 resulted in a boy losing a finger. All of the most serious offending on this indictment was committed at St Ninian’s school.

You are currently serving a sentence of 7 years imposed in 2016 in relation to physical and sexual assaults which you committed at St Joseph’s School. In 2003 you were convicted of a number of assaults on pupils at St Ninian’s School, for which you received a sentence of one year.

You are not due to be released from your current sentence until you are 89 years of age, and any sentence I impose in addition to that will result in your imprisonment until you very advanced indeed in years. Had those not been your circumstances, I would have imposed a longer custodial sentence. Taking all of that into account, I am imposing a sentence of 7 years to be served from the expiry of your current sentence.”

4 November 2021