- 17 Oct 23
23-year-old school teacher Ashling Murphy was killed while out jogging along a canal in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, last January.
33-year-old Slovak man, Jozef Puska, allegedly "admitted to murder" when gardaí investigating the death of Ashling Murphy spoke to him two days after the 23-year-old primary school teacher was found dead beside the Grand Canal in Tullamore, a barrister has told the murder trial.
Anne-Marie Lawlor SC opened the case for the prosecution this morning, before a jury of three women and nine men at the Central Criminal Court. She said the evidence will show that Murphy suffered 11 stab wounds to the right side of her neck, while she was out for a run after work on January 12th last year.
Lawlor said that a scientist from the Forensic Science Laboratories will give evidence that Puska's DNA was found under Murphy's fingernails. She also added that the prosecution will rely heavily on CCTV footage which places Puska in the vicinity of the crime, cycling closely to two other women in Tullamore — just hours before Ashling Murphy died.
Puska's "distinctive" bicycle was also found at the scene where Murphy's body was found, the prosecution detailed.
There will also be evidence, she said, that Puska had cuts and scratches on "every exposed part of his body" which she said are consistent with him leaving the scene of the killing through thick briars that surround the canal.
This was "the only way to leave without being apprehended by people on the canal who had come across Ashling's body," Lawlor said.
In the days following Ashling's murder, Gardaí spoke to Puska at St. James's Hospital, where he was receiving treatment for stab wounds to his abdomen, which he alleged that he had sustained from an attack in Blanchardstown.
Lawlor called Puska's claims "a pack of lies," designed as an attempt to conceal his involvement in the murder. While in hospital, Lawlor said Detective Garda Brian Jennings spoke to Puska with the aid of a Slovakian interpreter, who was on loudspeaker on the garda's phone.
Under requests from Puska to translate "word for word", the interpreter then translated "I did it, I murdered, I am the murderer", Ms Lawlor said. Counsel added that Puska continued, "I didn't do it intentionally, I feel guilty and I am sorry."
Lawlor said this was a clear confession from the accused, in which he accepted "responsibility for having murdered Ashling Murphy."
In a further exchange with Det Garda Fergus Hogan, Lawlor said the accused allegedly told the garda in English that he was "sorry" and that he had never seen "the girl" before. He also said that he had a knife that he used for the chain of his bike and "when she pass, I cut her neck, she panic, I panic. Will I go for 10 years?"
Lawlor added that the cause of Murphy's death had not yet been disseminated at that point in the inquest, therefore Det Gda Hogan did not know that she had been stabbed in the neck.
Questioned at Tullamore Garda Station following his arrest on January 18th last year, Lawlor said Puska told gardaí: "I didn't see her, I don't know her. I never saw her, first on this picture. I have never known her."
Lawlor said the evidence in the case will satisfy the jury that Puska was the person who killed Ashling Murphy. She explained that the 11 stab wounds to the right side of her neck leave "no other inference but that the person who did it intended to kill her or cause her serious injury."
Mr Justice Tony Hunt outlined the obligations a jury has, stressing that the defendant needed to be viewed as protected by the presumption of innocence.
Ashling Murphy was attacked and killed last year, while on a jog along the Grand Canal in Tullamore, at around 4pm. The shocking killing sparked discourse surrounding violence against women in Ireland, with vigils taking place globally.
The jury was sworn in on Monday to hear the trial, one year and nine months after Ashling Murphy is alleged to have been murdered at Cappincur, near the Grand Canal in Tullamore.
The trial is set to continue before the jury and Mr Justice Hunt.
- Lifestyle & Sports
- 04 Dec 23