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Gail McFayden - Top defence lawyer engaged
Top NZ criminal defence lawyer, the late Mike Bungay, QC, defended Murphy at his trial and included a detailed account of the investigation and trial in his book Bungay on Crime. He described Murphy as unattractive. “At best he seemed colourless, nondescript in both personality and appearance, short, overweight and slouching, his stomach bulged over his fraying trousers. Dark greasy hair hung lanky over his heavy features.” In Bungay’s view, Murphy was wrongly convicted and, against a background of often sensational press publicity in the four months that preceded his trial, had been ‘effectively judged guilty before he entered the court.’. He wrote, “Few jurors would warm to such a man, who seemed indeed to fit the bill, the grubby murderer of a beautiful, innocent young girl.”
Murphy consistently denied killing Gail but admitted to police he had stolen her bag containing clothing, a radio and insect repellent when he saw it unattended near the beach. A convicted thief who had served a jail sentence, he was described by one lawyer as “a junk-collecting kleptomaniac”.

At the depositions hearing in May 1975, Bungay observed that Murphy would make an appalling witness on his own behalf. He showed little emotion, ‘a detachment bordering on arrogance’. He wrote clinical, detached and analytical notes during the hearings and was unaffected by the gruesome police evidence of unearthing and examining the body. He seemed to enjoy the notoriety the arrest had brought him.

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