Mum convicted of plot to murder son jailed for 17 years

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14 March 2017 12:24PM

A mother convicted of plotting with her youngest son to murder his older brother has been jailed for 17 years.

Alison Murphy, 52, who denied the allegation, was convicted by a Carlisle Crown Court jury which heard compelling evidence of text messages she sent to her 23-year-old son Gary Murphy, urging him to kill his brother.

He was given an indefinite hospital order after the court heard that he is suffering from Asperger's syndrome, and that his mother had manipulated this.

But in an unusual turn of events, victim Tony Murphy today repeated a claim he made earlier - telling the judge that his mother was innocent.

"This whole thing has ruined my life," he said.

"I blame Gary and feel sorry for my mum. Her life has been ruined because I believe she is innocent."

During the trial, the jury heard that in one text one text message, Alison Murphy told her youngest son: “I definitely think he should be killed.”

Just an hour later, he plunged a knife into his 26-year-old brother Tony’s neck, severing a jugular vein. His life was saved by emergency surgery.

The horrifying attack happened at Alison Murphy’s Copeland Avenue home in Whitehaven late on April 15 this year.

Gary Murphy's barrister told the court that he now felt remorse. His mother's barrister said she had accommodated and fed her older son and tried to help him overcome his problem with alcohol.

She had also had a hard life and had found her time in custody difficult.

During her trial, the jury of seven woman and five men heard damning evidence of events leading up to the attack. They convicted the victim’s mother after considering powerful text message evidence.

The court heard how Alison Murphy sent the messages to Gary Murphy, encouraging him to kill Tony.

The most damning was sent at around 9.30pm, and in it Alison Murphy told her son: “I definitely think he should be killed but not sure stabbings is the right method. We should make him fall in the harbour or off a cliff.”

In a reply, Gary Murphy said: “I’m fine with whatever as long as he dies.”

Tony Murphy later told police that on the day of the attack he had been out drinking before returning to the home he shared with his mother.

He was sitting on the sofa when his mother came home, followed by Gary.

It was when Alison Murphy left the room that Gary used the knife, stabbing Tony in the neck. “At first I thought he was hugging me,” the victim told the court.

He said: “Then I thought he was hitting me. Then I looked down and saw blood dripping on my trainers and on the floor.”

Mr Murphy, who lost a litre and a half of blood in the attack, then fought desperately for his life, putting his younger brother into a headlock as he wrestled the knife from his hand, bleeding heavily as he did so.

Any suspicion of Alison Murphy was deflected when she called the ambulance.

But the truth was revealed by her text messages.

In her interviews, she denied involvement, blaming Gary’s actions on his anger at her decision to let Anthony live with her.

She admitted that Gary had warned her that if she let her brother move back in he had told her: “I’ll come down in the middle of the night and stab him to death on the sofa”.

Confronted with her text message, Alison Murphy laughed.

Today's sentences have been welcomed by a senior detective from Cumbria Constabulary.

Detective Chief Inspector Roy Ledingham said: "Gary Murphy intended to kill his brother that day and it is only through luck and the excellent work of medical staff that he does not find himself being sentenced for murder today.

"The evidence put before the court clearly showed the attack on his brother was not only pre-meditated but carried out following the encouragement of the mother.

"It was a brutal attack and I welcome the sentences handed down today."