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Central Criminal Court

Man accused of murder of Ashling Murphy sent forward for trial

He faced his seventh hearing in court today.

A MAN accused of murdering teacher Ashling Murphy has been served with a book of evidence and sent forward for trial to the Central Criminal Court.

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

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 January 12.

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

Four weeks ago, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) confirmed he would face trial on indictment in the Central Criminal Court.

At that stage, the State’s book of evidence was still in preparation, and Judge Blake had said prosecutors must make every effort to expedite its completion.

Today, he noted that it was complete and had been brought to the court.

Puska, dressed in a grey tracksuit, entered and stood behind a glass barrier at the side of the courtroom.

Judge Blake’s requested that he introduce himself.

The accused turned toward the judge and replied in English, “Hello, my name is Jozef Puska”.

Detective Sergeant David Scahill served the book of evidence on him which Jozef Puska then passed on to his solicitor Eoin Lysaght.

Puska standing with his hands clasped in front listened to proceedings with the help of an interpreter.

State solicitor Sarah Jane McGuinness told Judge Blake the DPP consented to the matter being returned for trial to the next sittings of the Central Criminal Court on the one charge in the book of evidence.

Following a pause for translation, Puska nodded.

Judge Blake warned him that he must notify the prosecution within 14 days if he intended to rely on an alibi in his defence. The judge then asked if he understood.

Replying through the interpreter, the accused nodded and said, “Yes, I understand”.

Accordingly, Judge Blake said he was making an order sending him forward for trial to the Central Criminal Court.

A specific date was unavailable for his appearance there, but it will occur in the following legal term, which commences after Easter.

Judge Blake added: “I do not have to deal with the question of bail in the district court, so the accused will be sent forward for trial in custody.”

Following a request by his solicitor, Judge Blake granted legal aid to include representation of junior and senior counsel at this trial.

He also directed gardaí to hand over copies of interview videos to the defence.

Judge Blake ordered the translation of the book of evidence into Slovakian and an interpreter to be provided for his legal consultations and trial.

Puska nodded again at the end of the proceedings before leaving the courtroom.

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

He 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.