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Judge debunked rumour that spread for months that Ashling Murphy knew her murderer

A report to Tusla was baselessly given online as motive for the young teacher’s murder.

FALSE ONLINE CLAIMS that Jozef Puska was known to Ashling Murphy were dismissed in the closing days of his murder trial. 

The 23-year-old schoolteacher was killed while exercising on a canal path in Tullamore on the afternoon of January 12 2022.

The jury of nine men and three women reached their unanimous verdict in the case yesterday after beginning deliberations on Wednesday.

Noting that there had been false rumours about the case, the judge, Tony Hunt,  emphasised on Wednesday there was “no connection” between Ms Murphy and Jozef Puska. 

Delivering his charge to the jury he said there had been reference in the case to a rumour regarding a connection and lawyers in the case wished to “alleviate any distress that may have been caused by any such suggestion”. 

Speculation about a connection had spread online before the trial.

Posts on online forums and message boards still visible today falsely claimed that Ashling Murphy had reported Jozef Puska, a father of five, to the Child and Family Agency Tusla.

Her family have also said that Ashling Murphy did not know her killer.

And while Puska has put forward contradictory versions of events in the wake of his arrest, he has also said that he had no connection.

“I see girl I never see before,” Puska told gardaí in an early interview.

CCTV from the area showed Puska had stalked other women he did not know around Tullamore before attacking Ashling Murphy.

While some social media users have commented that the media was not ‘revealing all the facts’ around the case, it should be noted that media outlets face restrictions when reporting on ongoing court cases.

Reporting on anything that is not strictly what is said and heard in court can be seen by the trial judge to have eroded the potential for a fair trial, and potentially lead to the collapse of that trial.

- With court reporting from Eoin Reynolds.