An ‘evil’ Slovakian man has been found guilty of murdering schoolteacher Ashling Murphy while she was jogging on a canal path in Ireland last year.
Ms Murphy, 23, was killed by 33-year-old Jozef Puska in the Co Offaly town while exercising on the path in Tullamore on the afternoon of January 12, 2022.
Puska of Lynally Grove in Mucklagh, Tullamore, had pleaded not guilty to her murder at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin.
But the jury of nine men and three women quickly reached their unanimous verdict after beginning deliberations on Wednesday.
Judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt told the jury ‘we have evil in this room’ after Puska, 33, was found guilty. ‘There will be a day of reckoning for Puska,’ he added.
He thanked the jury for their service, saying the killing was particularly difficult given ‘the kind of person that she obviously was’.
During the trial, the jury heard over five weeks of evidence.
They were told that Puska stabbed the young woman 11 times with a knife on the right side of her neck. The stab wounds damaged her right and left jugular vein, her voice box and her right carotid artery, a postmortem found.
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 a hospital bed in Dublin. ‘I did it. I murdered. I am the murderer,’ he said. He now faces a life sentence.
Ashling Murphy, 23, was knifed to death in January last year while taking a walk by the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Ireland
Jozef Puska, of Lynally Grove in Mucklagh, Tullamore, had pleaded not guilty to her murder at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin
Jozef Puska, 33, (left) seen 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
Wearing the top of her beloved GAA camogie club Kilcormac Killoughey, she had been out exercising that sunny January afternoon and had covered 2 miles when she was randomly attacked by Puska, a man she had no past connection with.
The 23-year-old’s fitness tracking app was still running when she was found fatally injured amid thick undergrowth down in a ditch adjacent to the canal path.
A necklace with the name Ashling hung around her neck. Her smartwatch Fitbit 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 circumstances of her murder, the indiscriminate stabbing of a young woman who was simply out for some exercise, resonated across the globe.
Emotional scenes at vigils in Tullamore, Dublin and other towns and cities on the island of Ireland were replicated in Britain, and as far away as New York and Melbourne as thousands gathered to pay tribute and express revulsion at the killing.
At the time, 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.
Today, the judge said the primary school teacher loved children and her GAA top showed her love of sport. He told the court that to lose a child was unnatural.
Speaking of her family, he said: ‘Their position is unenviable. How their child was taken away, to consider what happened here is enough to make you physically ill.’
The jury were applauded as they exited the chamber as Ms Murphy’s mother held up a framed photograph of her daughter.
The judge said he had asked for silence but said the applause was ‘understandable’.
He said the prompt verdict reflected that it was a straightforward case.
He added that he agreed with the verdict and was satisfied it was correct.
However, he said there was no doubt the case was ‘difficult and upsetting’.
Ms Murphy’s parents Kathleen and Ray, her sister Amy, brother Cathal and long-time boyfriend Ryan attended the three-week trial at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin.
They 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.’
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, January 15, 2022
The jury of nine men and three women quickly reached their unanimous verdict after beginning deliberations on Wednesday at Dublin Central Criminal Court
Women’s Aid said it welcomed the the conviction of Puska.
‘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.’
This is a breaking news story. More to follow…
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk