- 27 Oct 23
DNA extracted from Ashling Murphy's body is found to be a genetic match to that of Jozef Puska, as new evidence comes to light in the murder trial.
Male DNA extracted from under primary school teacher Ashling Murphy's fingernails was found to be a genetic match for a sample taken from the accused, Jozef Puska, the Central Criminal Court heard today.
Dr Lorna Flanagan told prosecution counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor last Friday, that she had received swabs recovered from Ashling's body, during a post-mortem carried out by State Pathologist Dr. Sally Anne Collis. Comparing the DNA to a blood sample belonging to Puska, and taken from him when he was in custody at Tullamore Garda station on January 18th of last year, the two were found to be a match. In order to isolate the male DNA present in the swabs, scientists focused only on the y-chromosome to effectively eliminate Murphy's DNA from her results.
Dr. Flanagan said that the chance of the male DNA profile found under Murphy's nails coming from someone unrelated to Puska was one in 14,000; explaining that those statistics are calculated from a database of western European ethnic groups that includes people from Ireland and as far east as Latvia, Ukraine and Romania.
She found that the Y-STR profile generated from the nail swabs matched the Y-STR profile from Puska's blood sample and swabs.
She said samples were taken from under fingernails because this would indicate more than passing contact between two people.
Jozef Puska (33), with an address at Lynally Grove, Mucklagh, Co Offaly, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Murphy while she was on a jog at Cappincur, Tullamore, Co Offaly on January 12th, 2022.
She added however, that fathers and sons, or two brothers would have the same Y-STR profile.
Detective Sergeant David Scahill told the court he had taken measures to track the movements of Puska's two brothers on the day of the murder in light of the DNA evidence.
He gave evidence of the movements of the brothers as seen on CCTV and agreed that there was no question of either of the two brothers being at the location near the Grand Canal where Ashling Murphy’s body was found, from 2pm onwards on 12 January 2022.
Sergeant Scahill also told the court that he went to St James’ Hospital on the morning of 18 January with a colleague and a Slovak-speaking member of An Garda Síochána to arrest Puska. He said he was arrested shortly after 11.30am and immediately detained at Tullamore Garda Station.
The primary objectives of the Garda inquiry at St. James's was to talk to the suspect and to "have a look at him" but he couldn't remember if he "specifically asked" gardai to look at Puska or to compare him to a person captured on CCTV images that gardai had gathered in their investigation. The inspector said that the notes he has from the period, show that he wanted to get an account from Puska of his movements on the 12th and to ask if he owns a bicycle. He also had a note observing that Puska had three stab wounds, one of which was close to his liver, and that he would be in hospital for about one week.
Det Insp Brian Farrell told defence the court that he was joint Senior Investigating Officer coordinating the investigation into Murphy's death. He agreed with defence counsel Michael Bowman, that following Murphy's tragic death on January 12th last year, they were "dealing with a horrendous fatality, a murder" and they were "acting as quickly as possible" to find the person responsible.
He agreed that a man was arrested shortly after 4pm that day, but that person was eliminated as an active suspect some time after 9pm by DNA evidence. A further "significant development" occurred when Det Sgt Brian Jennings and Det Gda Fergus Hogan were sent from Tullamore to St James's Hospital in Dublin to speak to Puska. Farrell also added that the investigation was "fast moving, very dynamic" and they were taking in a lot of information.
The two detectives were ordered to remain in the near vicinity of the hospital in the coming days, with Farrell pursuing inquiries as to when Puska would be detained from hospital.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of nine men and three women.
- Lifestyle & Sports
- 04 Dec 23