In the aftermath of the heinous slaying of educator Ashling Murphy, her bereaved kin vehemently denounced her Slovakian assailant, branding him a ‘ferocious malevolent entity’ with an absolute prohibition from inflicting harm upon another woman, as he was definitively pronounced guilty of fatally stabbing her on an Irish canal path last year.
The demise of Ms. Murphy, a 23-year-old soul, unfolded at the hands of 33-year-old Jozef Puska while she partook in a jog along the scenic byways of the County Offaly town of Tullamore on the fateful afternoon of January 12, 2022.
Puska, a wedded progenitor of five who translocated to Ireland in 2015, entered a plea of non-culpability regarding her murder, a plea that swiftly crumbled as a jury comprised of nine men and three women expeditiously arrived at their unanimous verdict subsequent to the initiation of deliberations the day prior.
Outside the hallowed precincts of the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, the Murphy family, visages etched with the indelible marks of grief, stood resolute post-verdict. Cathal, the grief-stricken brother, tremulous with emotion and positioned ahead of his tear-laden progenitors Kathleen and Raymond, lamented the ‘darling’ sister who endured ‘inconceivable brutality at the hands of a marauding predator.’
In his impassioned address, he underscored the ‘imperative’ nature of ensuring that Puska, labeled a ‘vicious malevolent entity,’ would be categorically precluded from afflicting another woman with his ominous predilections.
Following the conviction, Ms. Murphy’s paramour, Ryan Casey, fought back tears, describing the late educator as a ‘vibrant, sagacious, and profoundly driven woman’ whose radiance illuminated their communal tapestry.
With the damning verdict pronounced, the adjudicator, Mr. Justice Tony Hunt, somberly informed the jury of the presence of ‘evil in this room,’ forewarning of an impending ‘day of reckoning’ for Puska.
The malefactor now stands on the precipice of a lifetime behind bars, his fate sealed, with the sentencing scheduled for November 17 looming ominously.
The brother of murdered teacher Ashling Murphy, Cathal (left), her sister Amy (centre) and boyfriend Ryan Casey (right) condemn ‘predator’ Jozef Puska after he was found guilty of murder today
The parents of murdered teacher Ashling Murphy, Kathleen (holding picture) and Raymond (right), listen as their son Cathal (centre) issues a statement to the media after Jozef Puska, 33, was found guilty at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin
Ashling Murphy, 23, was killed by 33-year-old Jozef Puska in the County Offaly town of Tullamore while exercising on a canal path on the afternoon of January 12, 2022
Jozef Puska, of Lynally Grove in Mucklagh, Tullamore, had pleaded not guilty to her murder at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin
The death of 23-year-old Ashling Murphy sent shockwaves around Ireland and beyond
Cathal, flanked by his parents and sister Amy, said while the judicial process ‘can’t bring our darling Ashling back nor heal our wounds’ his family were ‘relieved’ by the guilty verdict.
He said: ‘We would like to thank the members of the jury for reaching this verdict. Sitting through the harrowing evidence of this trial was not an easy task and we’ll be forever grateful for their patience and resilience throughout this incredibly difficult process.
In the odyssey of auditory exploration, ‘The Trial…’ transcends mere reportage, delving into the sanctum of jurisprudence where global legal sagas unfurl.
The inaugural opus, ‘The Trial of Lucy Letby,’ garnered universal acclaim, amassing an impressive 13 million downloads.
The sequel, Season 2, unravels the tragic demise of Ashling Murphy, a pedagogue hailing from the verdant landscapes of Ireland, aged a mere 23 solar revolutions.
Embark on the judicial sojourn through bimonthly dispatches from the Deputy News Editor for Mail on Sunday Ireland, Nicola Byrne, and the mellifluous narrations of broadcast journalist Caroline Cheetham.
‘Ashling, a victim of unfathomable brutality orchestrated by an unknown assailant, becomes a poignant symbol. While eschewing exultation in any judicial outcome, we acknowledge the solemn duty to hold accountable purveyors of such heinous transgressions.
‘The judicial apparatus cannot resurrect our cherished Ashling nor salve our collective wounds, yet solace arises from the restoration of justice.
‘It is a categorical imperative that this malevolent specter shall never again inflict harm upon womankind.’
Within the courtroom crucible, the jury bore witness to a protracted triad of weeks inundated with ‘overwhelming’ evidentiary dioramas, as articulated by the prosecution.
Disclosures unfolded, portraying Puska’s malevolence, wielding a blade to incise the young woman’s neck on the starboard side, an onslaught resulting in grievous harm to jugular veins, vocal apparatus, and carotid artery, as posthumously determined by forensic scrutiny.
The boyfriend of Ms. Murphy eulogized her as ‘beautiful and talented.’
Representing the Murphy clan, Mr. Casey intoned, ‘From the inaugural moment, a cascade of affection and solidarity cascaded from the Irish populace, nationally and beyond. They stood united in lament for the loss of our resplendent Ashling, condemning gender-based barbarity with visceral disdain.
‘Ashling embodied vibrancy, intellect, and unbridled motivation—a luminary in our midst, a paragon whose impact resonated far beyond our familial sphere.
‘Clad in the regalia of her cherished GAA camogie club Kilcormac Killoughey, Ashley was partaking in a sun-kissed January perambulation when, without provocation, Puska assailed her—a stranger to her existence.
‘Her fitness monitoring contrivance, a companion on her two-mile sojourn, stood testament as she succumbed to fatal injuries amidst sylvan obscurity by the canal path.
‘A pendant, bearing the nomenclature Ashling, dangled resolutely around her neck.’
The mother of murdered teacher Ashling Murphy, Kathleen, stands outside court as her son, Cathal, issues a statement to the media
Heartbroken Kathleen Murphy clutches a framed picture of her daughter, who was killed on January 12 last year
Ms Murphy’s heartbroken family stood outside the court following the verdict, overcome with emotion after listening to three weeks of harrowing evidence
During the trial, the jury heard more than three weeks of evidence, which the prosecution described as ‘overwhelming’
Touching photos of Ashling from through her life were displayed by her family to mourners at her funeral
A map showing where Ms Murphy’s body was found along the Grand Canal way, also known as Fiona’s Way. The route is named in memory of missing woman Fiona Pender – who is commemorated to her in a monument in Tullamore
Her Fitbit smartwatch recorded a sudden erratic movement at 3.21pm, the moment Puska struck.
Forensic teams lifted a fingerprint and a DNA sample belonging to Puska from a bicycle found near Ms Murphy’s body.
Male DNA found under her fingernails also matched two samples taken from the 33-year-old killer.
The trial also heard that on January 14, two days after Ms Murphy was found dead, Puska admitted to killing her from his hospital bed in Dublin.
He had been brought to the hospital on January 13 with injuries to his stomach which he claimed were a result of being stabbed in Blanchardstown the day before by a man – a claim that he later admitted was a lie.
He underwent exploratory surgery but his wounds were not found to be serious.
According to Detective Sergeant Brian Jennings, Puska made his admission at 6pm the following day through an interpreter after being told he was a ‘person of interest’ in a murder investigation.
DS Jennings said Puska told him: ‘I did it. I murdered. I am the murderer.’
According to The Irish Times, Detective Garda Fergus Hogan said Puska told him minutes later in English: ‘I’m sorry, I see girl I never see before. Knife I use for chain. When she pass, I cut her, I cut her neck, she panic, I panic.’
The trial also heard that on January 14, two days after Ms Murphy was found dead, Puska admitted to killing her from his hospital bed in Dublin. Pictured: Ms Murphy as a child
Ashling’s sister Amy grips her father’s hand following the verdict today outside the Central Criminal Court in Dublin
Kathleen Murphy, Ashling’s mother, holds a framed photograph of her daughter at the court
Cathal Murphy (left), his sister Amy (centre) and Ashling’s boyfriend Ryan Casey (right) outside the court after Puska was found guilty of murdering the 23-year-old
The prosecution has argued that the man seen in the CCTV footage is Jozef Puska, 33, who was charged with the murder of Ms Murphy. (Pictured: CCTV still)
A court artist’s illustration of Jozef Puska, 33, (left) being questioned by his barrister Michael Bowman SC (right) at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, where he has been found guilty of killing teacher Ashling Murphy, who was murdered while exercising on January 12, 2022
Mr Hogan said the killer was upset and crying and said he was sorry, asking: ‘Will I go for ten years?’ He then pointed to his abdomen and told him: ‘I did this.’
Puska later said he did not recall making the statement and told police he did not ‘know anything’ about the murder while being interviewed.
The Slovakian, who admitted lying to officers on multiple occasions, had told the court that he had tried to help Ms Murphy after they were both attacked by a masked man.
It was prosecuting barrister Anne-Marie Lawlor’s case that there was no other man involved in the killing on Ms Murphy, as Puska claimed.
The jury also heard evidence from a woman who had been jogging along the canal on January 12, 2022, at the same time as Ms Murphy.
She told the court she had seen a man in a hedgerow who seemed to be crouched over a person who was kicking out ‘like she was crying out for help’.
Puska now faces life in jail when he is sentenced on November 17.
In court today, the judge thanked the jury for their service, saying the killing was particularly difficult given ‘the kind of person that she obviously was’.
The death of the 23-year-old sent shockwaves around Ireland and beyond.
The jury also heard evidence from a woman who had been jogging along the canal on January 12, 2022, at the same time as Ms Murphy. Pictured: Family photos of Ashling released on her funeral
The death of the 23-year-old sent shockwaves around Ireland and beyond
The indiscriminate stabbing of a young woman who was simply out for some exercise resonated across the globe
In the judicial pronouncement, it was asserted that the educator in the elementary school harbored a profound affection for juveniles, evident in her GAA top that unmistakably showcased her ardor for sports, especially camogie—a distinct Irish stick-and-ball team sport exclusively played by women.
The indiscriminate assault on a young lady who was merely engaging in physical activity resounded globally.
In Tullamore, Dublin, and various locales throughout the island of Ireland, emotional scenes unfolded at vigils. Simultaneously, analogous gatherings transpired in Britain, New York, and Melbourne, where multitudes convened to pay homage and articulate their repugnance towards the heinous act.
The adjudicator expounded that the primary school teacher cherished progeny, as evidenced by her GAA attire signifying a penchant for sport, specifically camogie. He articulated that the loss of a child defied the natural order, remarking on the unenviable plight of her family. Delving into the details of the tragedy, he articulated, “To ponder upon the circumstances leading to the untimely demise is sufficiently distressing to induce physical malaise.”
Upon the conclusion of the trial, the jury received acclaim as they vacated the courtroom, with Ms. Murphy’s bereaved mother, clad in somber attire, holding aloft a framed portrait of her departed daughter.
Despite the judge’s request for silence, the ensuing applause was deemed ‘understandable.’ He opined that the expeditious verdict underscored the simplicity of the case. Expressing concurrence with the decision, he affirmed his contentment, remarking on the expeditious dismissal of Mr. Puska’s ‘nonsensical’ contentions. Addressing the jury, he acclaimed, “In a very literal sense, you ensured that no one eluded justice for murder.”
Nonetheless, he acknowledged the intrinsic complexity and perturbation inherent in the case. The deceased’s parents, Kathleen and Ray, along with her siblings Amy and Cathal, and her longstanding companion Ryan, were present throughout the three-week trial at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin.
They attentively absorbed the gruesome particulars of Ms. Ashling’s final moments, while Puska, predominantly impassive, occupied the dock.
During Ms. Ashling’s funeral, schoolchildren brandished photographs bearing the inscription: ‘Soar aloft in the firmament, our luminous beacon.’
Forensic teams search the murder scene where 23-year-old Ashling Murphy was killed on the Cappincur Canal towpath while out jogging in Tullamore, Ireland
Search: A Garda team at the crime scene at the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co. Offaly
Mourners walked beside the hearse carrying the coffin of Ashling Murphy as the cortege arrived for her funeral at St Brigid’s Church on January 18, 2022
Pupils from Ashling Murphy’s class hold a photographs and a red roses during her funeral
Candles at a vigil in memory of Ms Murphy in Tullamore town park
Flowers and a note as a tribute for 23-year-old teacher Ms Murphy were laid outside Durrow National School where she taught in Tullamore, Ireland
Hundreds of people attended the vigil on January 14, 2022
Jozef Puska (grey top centre) is led to a police van after appearing at Tullamore District Court on December 20, 2022
Women’s Aid said it welcomed the conviction.
‘When Puska senselessly took Ashling Murphy’s life at 4.30pm in broad daylight while she was out on a run, it sent a shockwave through communities in Ireland,’ the charity said in a statement.
‘That this could happen tapped into a visceral feeling that so many girls and women are socialised to feel that the risk of male violence is everywhere.
‘That nowhere is safe.
‘The murder of Ashling Murphy was a shocking example of dangers posed to women and the case put a spotlight on the inherent risk of male violence in society.
‘Every woman should have the right to be safe, both in their own homes and in their communities.
‘One man goes to jail today but this will not bring Ashling back or compensate for her heart-rending loss. Effective criminal justice sanctions are vital and we truly hope this offers some measure of justice and closure to Ashling’s family and friends.’
Murder of ‘shining light’ Ashling Murphy caused shockwaves
Ashling Murphy was a talented teacher and musician whose life was cut brutally short beside Tullamore’s Grand Canal on a bright mid-winter day.
Wearing the top of her beloved GAA camogie club Kilcormac Killoughey, she had been out exercising that sunny January afternoon and had covered 3.2km when she was randomly attacked by Jozef Puska.
She had no past connection with him.
The 23-year-old’s fitness tracking app was still running when she was found fatally injured in thick undergrowth in a ditch by the canal path. A necklace with the name Ashling hung around her neck.
Her Fitbit smartwatch data recorded a sudden erratic movement at 3.21pm, the moment Puska struck.
The death of the 23-year-old sent shockwaves around Ireland and beyond.
The indiscriminate stabbing of a young woman who was simply out for some exercise resonated across the globe, with vigils held as far away as New York City and Melbourne.
The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, and then Irish premier Micheal Martin were among those who attended the funeral at St Brigid’s Church in the village of Mountbolus in Offaly. Thousands more gathered in the centre of the village to pay respects as the cortege passed.
Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan told mourners that ‘a depraved act of violence’ that had both deprived the young teacher of her life and united the country in grief and support.
‘A walk on a mild and sunny afternoon in January should be a happy event, promising the brighter and warmer days of spring and summer,’ he said.
‘We all know that no individual should die like Ashling and no family should suffer like Ashling’s,’ he said.
Children from Durrow National School formed a guard of honour for their much-loved Ms Murphy. Some held fiddles and tin whistles in remembrance of the skilled traditional Irish musician.
Days earlier, at a candlelit vigil at the Grand Canal, Ashling’s father Ray paid his own poignant tribute to his talented daughter by performing her favourite song on the banjo. He broke down in tears while playing the final chords of When You Were Sweet Sixteen.
Ray, along with Ashling’s mother Kathleen, her sister Amy, brother Cathal and long-time boyfriend Ryan attended the three-week trial at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, and listened to horrific details of her final moments as Puska sat largely impassively in the dock.
The guilty verdict has delivered a measure of justice to Ashling’s family and loved ones, but their loss is never ending.
A message on images of Ms Murphy that were held aloft by schoolchildren at her funeral still rang as true as the harrowing trial reached conclusion on Thursday afternoon. ‘Fly high in the sky, our shining light.’