Shalford man jailed for 30 months for exposing himself to schoolgirls

Thomas Murphy, of Church End, Shalford

Thomas Murphy, of Church End, Shalford - Credit: Archant

A father-of-two who was convicted by a jury of indecently exposing himself to four schoolgirls and two women after protesting his innocence for a year has now admitted he was guilty of the offences, a court has heard.

Thomas Murphy, 41, confessed to a probation officer following his trial that he had stood naked at windows of his village home in Shalford and masturbated in full view of the victims.

He said he had been too embarrassed and worried about the effect on his family to admit what he had done earlier.

Jailing him for 30 months Judge David Goodin criticised Murphy for putting the victims through the “miserable experience” of giving evidence during which they were cross-examined and accused of lying about what they had seen.

He said there had also been “regrettable” messages on Facebook from Murphy’s supporters following his trial in June.

Judge Goodin said after maintaining his innocence throughout the trial process, 20 minutes into his interview with a probation officer Murphy had made full admissions to the offences.

“That will be a comfort now to your victims who were accused of being liars or conspirators,” he added.

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“I’m afraid it’s rather too late to assist you greatly on sentence,” said the judge.

Murphy, of Church End, had denied two offences of indecent exposure and six offences of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child but was found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court. The offences were committed between July 2014 and June last year.

In addition to being jailed Murphy was made subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order restricting his contact with girls under-16.

He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register and banned from contacting the victims.

During his trial the court heard Murphy, whose home overlooked a play area, had stood naked at windows in his house and coughed or tapped on the window to get the attention of the victims in the case.

Four of the victims were schoolgirls, who were usually in school uniform.

Richard Kelly, prosecuting, said since the trial friends and relatives of Murphy had spoken about the “injustice” of the case on social media.

At yesterday’s sentencing hearing one of the schoolgirl victims broke down in tears while reading a victim impact statement to the court in which she described her anger at being accused of being a liar during the trial.

She also outlined the stress the case had put on her and her family and said she lived in fear of bumping into Murphy.

She described what he’d done as “disgusting” and said she had been called a “tramp” on Facebook by one of Murphy’s relatives.

Adam Budworth, for Murphy, said his client had denied the offences during the trial due to the embarrassment and the impact on his family and had not admitted the offences to the probation officer to “improve his chances” when he was sentenced.

“He is truly sorry for putting the witnesses through the ordeal of giving evidence “ said Mr Budworth.

Murphy had previous convictions for violence and anti-social behaviour but none for sexual offences.