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Ashling Murphy.
Central Criminal Court

Ashling Murphy showed 'no signs of life' when paramedics attended scene in Tullamore, court told

The trial continues next week in front of a jury of three women and nine men and Mr Justice Tony Hunt.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 20th 2023, 6:25 PM

ASHLING MURPHY WAS dead before paramedics could attempt to resuscitate her after she had been found in the undergrowth by the Grand Canal in Tullamore having suffered 12 sharp force wounds to her neck, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The jury also viewed footage today showing Ms Murphy’s final movements from when she left work at Scoil Naomh Colmcille in Durrow at 2.37pm and drove to the Daingean Rd car park by the Grand Canal to go for a run.

Detective Garda David Harney identified Ms Murphy on CCTV, wearing a bobble hat, black jacket, scarf, dark leggings and dark shoes going over a footbridge leading to the canal towpath at 2.50pm. The prosecution case is that she died at about 3.30pm.

The trial was also shown CCTV footage, in which Garda Harney said he believes he can see the accused Jozef Puska, in between travelling in the same direction as two women, reach into his pockets and appearing to have “something in his hand” that is ultimately returned to his pocket.

Jozef Puska (33), with an address at Lynally Grove, Mucklagh, Co Offaly, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Murphy at Cappincur, Tullamore, Co Offaly on 12 January 2022.

Paramedic Paul McCabe this morning told prosecution counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor SC that when he arrived two gardaí were attempting to resuscitate Ms Murphy while she lay on a steep embankment surrounding by briars and thorns.

McCabe, with the aid of a colleague and gardaí, lifted Ms Murphy to the towpath. The paramedic cut open her top and attached the pads of a defibrillator to her.

Her heart had stopped, he said, there were no signs of life and there was “no point using the defibrillator” because she was in a non-shockable condition.

He added: “Ashling was dead at that stage. Her pupils were fixed and dilated, her skin was pale and cold, there were no signs of life.”

He consulted with his colleagues at the scene and they decided there was “nothing else we could do. So we covered her with a blanket at that stage”.

Detective Garda Ronan Lawlor told Kevin White BL, for the prosecution, that he attended the scene that evening in his role as a crime scene investigator with the Garda Technical Bureau.

He saw the body of Ms Murphy lying on the ground inside a blue scene preservation tent.

She was wearing leggings, a GAA top, white-t-shirt, a scarf, and a gold-coloured necklace that said “Ashling”. He noticed numerous open wounds on the right side of her neck.

Outside the tent, in the undergrowth by the towpath, he saw a grey mountain bike with green forks and no grips on the handlebars. To the right of the bike was a pink woolly hat, sunglasses and two Nike runners. Detective Garda Lawlor placed each item in sealed tamper evident bags and labelled them with his initials.

Each item was shown to the jury.

Detective Garda Lawlor was also present for Ms Murphy’s post mortem and he told Lawlor that he received swabs and DNA samples from the pathologist and gave them to the garda exhibits officer.

CCTV

The jury of three women and nine men viewed CCTV harvested by gardaí from the Tullamore area on the day Ms Murphy died.

Detective Garda David Harney told Lawlor that 25,231 hours of footage was harvested and that he and nine colleagues were tasked with going through it to find footage they believed relevant to the investigation. They distilled it into a montage showing Puska’s movements on the day from 12.25pm to 2.05pm.

The defence has accepted that the footage from the early afternoon shows Puska.

The first piece of footage was taken from a national school close to Puska’s home in Mucklagh at 12.25.

Detective Garda Harney said it shows Puska cycling in the direction of Tullamore wearing a black hoodless jacket with a pair of black tracksuit bottoms that had a white stripe and a Tommy Hilfiger logo down one side. He had a beard and a tight haircut, the garda said.

He said the footage showed Puska traveling around Tullamore town centre and into the Town Park before going onto Church Road in the direction of the Tullamore Retail Park.

At 1.33pm, Garda Harney said Puska can be seen cycling in the same direction as a lady wearing a brown jacket. They both arrived at the Tesco Extra store at the retail park at 1.44pm before Puska travelled back in the direction he had come at 1.47pm.

At 1.53pm, Garda Harney said Puska could be seen from a camera at a house on Hop Hill Grove.

The garda said he watched the clip “over and over again” and believes that he could see Puska reach into his pockets before holding both hands in front of his body for a number of seconds when he “appears to have something in his hand and that item is ultimately returned to the pocket”.

At a later point Garda Harney said another lady can be seen crossing Church Road before Puska crossed the road at roughly the same location where she crossed.

At 2.03pm Puska can be seen going in the direction of the Grand Canal and the Daingean Road Car Park. The last sighting from the first portion of footage was at 2.05pm when Detective Garda Harney said Puska can be seen in the car park which accesses the canal towpath via a set of steps.

32 minutes later Ms Murphy left Scoil Naomh Colmcille and got into her red Seat car. She travelled along the N52, arriving at the Daingean Road car park by the canal at 2.50pm before continuing to the towpath on foot.

Detective Garda Harney showed the jury further footage from 8.55pm that night, which he said he believes shows Puska walking from the Cloncollig area of Tullamore to a house in the Church View estate in the town, arriving at 9.14pm.

Garda Harney said he believes two people can be seen at the front door of the house getting into a car that then drove away.

Detective Garda Harney then showed CCTV footage of a Volkswagen Golf car that he said travelled from Church View to the Charleville Road but was not seen again.

The last piece of footage viewed by the jury was taken from outside Puska’s parents’ home on the Armagh Road in Crumlin, south Dublin at close to 1am on the morning of the 13th. Garda Harney said Puska’s parents can be seen getting out of a Toyota Prius and walking to the front door of the apartment building, followed by Puska.

The garda noted that Puska had facial hair and his gait “appears to be fine, he appears to be moving normally, freely”. He had also changed his clothes from when he was seen previously on CCTV in Tullamore, the garda said.

It is accepted by the defence that the same camera then captured Puska leaving his parents’ apartment building at 11.56am the same day. Detective Garda Harney described Puska being carried from the building to an ambulance by paramedics.

He arrived at St James’s Hospital at 12.13pm. From footage of his arrival at the hospital, Garda Harney said Puska did not appear to have facial hair “at this point”.

The trial continues next week in front of a jury of three women and nine men and Mr Justice Tony Hunt.

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