Tele: Michael Murphy coronial inquest: Anita Cobby killer targeted by prisoners

Anita Cobby murderer Michael Murphy spent most of his prison life in protection or in segregation because his crime made him a target for other prisoners, the NSW coroner’s court heard today.

Murphy was one of five people, including his brothers Gary and Les who were jailed for life with the order never to be released for the brutal murder of the Sydney nurse and charity queen at Prospect in 1986.

In a brief hearing today counsel assisting the coroner, Mr Timothy O’Donnell, said Murphy spent a lengthy period of time in protective custody because of threats against him.

“There are no relatives present,’’ said Mr O’Donnell at the beginning of the inquest before giving a brief outline of Murphy’s life.

“He was the eldest of nine children.”

By the time he was 18, he went to live with his grandparents at Maroubra, the same suburb where Anita’s husband John Cobby grew up.

A 14 volume file of Murphy’s medical history was handed to the court containing details of his treatment for asthma, drug use, deafness, Hepatitis C and suicidal thoughts.

“He may have had thoughts of suicide but was too much of a coward to go with it,” John Cobby said when he was told of the evidence at the inquest.

“I want to outlive his brothers and the other two (John Travers and Michael Murphy).

“It would have been preferable for them never to have been born.”

Cobby, a charity queen, was murdered at Prospect in 1986.

A short description of his adult criminal record was given with Murphy first being jailed as an adult in 1970 for break and enter. In 1973 he was sentenced to 12 years jail with a non-parole period of four years.

He broke parole and escaped custody while on work release in 1985. In February of the following year Anita was abducted, raped and murdered by the five as she walked home from Blacktown railway station.

While in custody he failed drug tests in 2011 and 2014 for use of Beta blockers.

Composite image of Anita Cobby killers, centre John Travers, bottom right Michael Murphy, top right Leslie Murphy, bottom left Gary Murphy, top left Michael Murdoch.

In 2017 he was informed he had a form of liver cancer and was transferred to the Long Bay prison hospital in 2018. The following year he asked that he not be resuscitated in the event he suffered cardiac arrest.

Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan found that Michael Murphy died as a result of complications from extreme liver cancer on February 21, 2019.

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