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Jozef Puska (31) outside Tullamore Court House in late January. PA

Efforts should be made to expedite the book of evidence in Ashling Murphy murder case, judge says

Jozef Puska faced his sixth hearing at Cloverhill District Court today.

A MAN CHARGED with murdering teacher Ashling Murphy has been remanded in continuing custody pending preparation of the book of evidence for his trial.

Jozef Puska, 31, with an address of Lynally Grove, Mucklagh, Co Offaly, was initially held following a hearing on 19 January.

He is accused of killing the 23-year-old primary school teacher who was attacked after she went for a run along the Grand Canal near Tullamore on 12 January.

The Slovakian national faced his sixth hearing at Cloverhill District Court today.

Mr Puska appeared before Judge Victor Blake via video link.

Two weeks ago, the court heard the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed that he would face trial on indictment in the Central Criminal Court.

However, the prosecution’s book of evidence must be completed and served on him before being returned for trial to the higher court.

Court Garda sergeant Olwyn Murphy told Judge Blake the book wasn’t ready and “still in preparation”. Some reports were outstanding, she explained.

Asked by judge Blake to elaborate about the nature of the reports, the sergeant said she couldn’t yet.

Judge Blake said he would require better information on the next day.

The sergeant asked for a four-week adjournment, but defence counsel Sharon Rossiter said there was only consent to two weeks.

Judge Blake remarked that “every effort should be made to expedite the book of evidence”.

He further remanded Mr Puska in custody to appear again on 6 April.

Dressed in a green T-shirt and grey tracksuit trousers, he listened with the help of an interpreter. However, he spoke to confirm his name and said “Okay” with a nod at the end of the hearing.

Earlier, the defence asked for an order that the book of evidence would be translated into Slovakian, but Judge Blake said it had to be ready first.

Detective Sergeant David Scahill gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution at Mr Puska’s first hearing on 19 January.

Detective Sergeant Scahill had said that when asked if he had anything to say in response to the charge, the accused replied: “No”.

The High Court only can consider a bail application in a murder case.