Ashling Murphy murder: Suspect being treated for injuries he could not satisfactorily explain

Government pledges strategy aimed at tackling gender violence

Flowers, messages and candles left at a memorial outside Leinster House for Ashling Murphy, who was murdered in Tullamore on Wednesday. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Flowers, messages and candles left at a memorial outside Leinster House for Ashling Murphy, who was murdered in Tullamore on Wednesday. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

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The Garda investigation into the murder of Ashling Murphy last night remained focused heavily on a man being treated for a variety of wounds in a Dublin hospital.

His DNA was being cross-checked against a DNA profile taken from the crime scene and forensic evidence on a mountain bike found there and believed to have been used by the killer.

Garda divers were also searching the Grand Canal at Cappincur, Tullamore, Co Offaly, yesterday looking for evidence, specifically a weapon, following Ms Murphy’s murder last Wednesday at about 4pm. A facility in Co Offaly used by the public was also searched for a weapon at the weekend.

The suspect for Ms Murphy’s murder, who has a partner and children, has been in hospital since last Thursday night. He had sustained a mix of wounds, some of which are believed to be self-inflicted and serious. The suspect must also be mentally assessed before being interviewed and it was unclear last night when those checks would be completed.

Gardaí went to the Dublin hospital after being alerted by medical staff that a man was being treated for serious injuries he could not satisfactorily explain. When initial checks were made, links to Co Offaly quickly emerged. While the suspect has spoken to gardaí briefly, he has not been arrested.

Yesterday the Murphy family visited the Grand Canal and walked the towpath towards the crime scene with gardaí. Ms Murphy’s parents Raymond and Kathleen, brother Cathal, sister Amy and boyfriend Ryan Casey described themselves as “heartbroken” in the notice setting out her funeral details.

Ms Murphy’s remains are reposing at her family home at Blueball just outside Tullamore. Her remains were due to be removed tomorrow to arrive at St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, for requiem Mass at 11am, with burial afterwards in Lowertown Cemetery.

New strategy

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee pledged the Government’s new strategy on domestic and gender-based violence would have a clear goal of “zero tolerance” for any violence against women. The strategy to be published in March will place heavy emphasis on education about violence against women in Irish society.

“What is being set out is four key pillars: protection, prevention, prosecution and policy co-ordination,” she said. Her department said Ms McEntee had been working on the strategy for a year, insisting it was not a reaction to recent events.

The murder of Ms Murphy is expected to dominate proceedings in the Oireachtas when it returns on Wednesday. Statements from party leaders have been scheduled, as has a debate on a Sinn Féin private members’ motion on gender-based violence.

A large volume of evidence gathering by gardaí was under way at several locations in both Dublin and Offaly at the weekend. Two properties – in south Dublin and in a village in Co Offaly – and at least one vehicle were being searched and forensically examined, and excavations were under way at the houses.

A vehicle seized is owned by a man close to the suspect. Gardaí were trying to determine if the suspect was in that vehicle, and the two houses, at any point after the murder. Detectives are also trying to determine if the suspect was in the Tullamore area last Wednesday and, if so, how he got to Dublin.