Gardaí investigating Ashling Murphy murder plan to make arrest

Detectives trying to track movements of man in black tracksuit near crime scene

Ashling Murphy (23) was murdered at Cappincur on the Grand Canal just outside Tullamore last Wednesday afternoon. Photograph: Rip.ie

Ashling Murphy (23) was murdered at Cappincur on the Grand Canal just outside Tullamore last Wednesday afternoon. Photograph: Rip.ie

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Gardaí waiting to interview a man about the murder of Ashling Murphy plan to arrest him and question him under caution when he is deemed mentally and physically well enough.

He remains in a Dublin hospital with severe wounds after presenting for treatment last Thursday.

Last night, the Garda issued a fresh appeal for information about a man in a black tracksuit as part of the investigation into the murder of national school teacher Ms Murphy (23) at Cappincur on the Grand Canal just outside Tullamore last Wednesday afternoon.

The appeal was made as Ms Murphy’s family prepared for her funeral today at St Brigid’s Church in Mountbolus, close to her home in Cully, Blueball, Co Offaly.

The motive for the attack, which was believed to be random, remains unclear.

The Garda also urged people to desist from sharing information about the case on social media or messaging apps, saying content being shared was “misinformed, inaccurate and dangerous” and also “unhelpful to the criminal investigation”.

Murder scene

Detectives want to hear from anyone who saw a man “dressed in black tracksuit top [with] no hood, black tracksuit bottoms with a large white stripe or white writing on the side and black runners”. They have urged anyone who saw him walking in the Tullamore area last Wednesday or who may have given him a lift or seen him loitering, to come forward.

Detectives believe the killer ran from the murder scene, leaving his Falcon Storm mountain bike behind. From that point he was on foot and may have been driven away from the area or to Dublin.

Separately, gardaí are also contacting international law enforcement agencies for information on the man in hospital, who has a partner and young children living in the midlands. He lived in other countries for periods of his life and gardaí are trying to gather any information about his mental health and any possible involvement in crime.

The Irish Times understands he will be arrested, rather than informally spoken to, but that detectives are in no rush to carry out that arrest. Garda sources said they needed to be sure he is well enough that he would not be taken ill again and return to hospital. That would complicate the interview process and may lead to legal problems about the status of his responses if he was ever charged.

Garda sources stressed the man is a suspect in the case and no findings have been made against him. They said his status as a suspect and the plan to arrest him were not proof he had committed any offence.

Houses in Dublin and Offaly linked to the man have been sealed off and searched. Two vehicles he may have been in recently have been seized for examination.