New suspect in Ashling Murphy murder inquiry presented to hospital with injuries

Higgins urges nation to ‘reflect’ so gender-based violence may be halted

A new suspect identified by gardaí investigating the murder of Ashling Murphy in Co Offaly is due to be interviewed by detectives when he is deemed well enough by the medical staff who were treating him for a number of injuries on Friday night.

The man went to a Dublin hospital for treatment late on Thursday. When gardaí learned of his presence there, as well as the nature of his injuries and the fact they were unexplained, they carried out checks into his background. He was being monitored by gardaí on Friday night.

It was not not clear when he would be physically and mentally assessed for interview but gardaí were hopeful that would happen imminently.

The Irish Times understands the new suspect has lived in south Dublin and in the midlands, where he has family members.

Gardaí believe Ms Murphy (23), a national school teacher and talented musician from the townland of Blueball just outside Tullamore, tried to fight off her attacker, resulting in the murderer leaving forensic evidence at the scene.

Garda Headquarters in Phoenix Park, Dublin, on Friday night said it was "not confirming any specific details" about the progress of the investigation.

A statement added that the Murphy family was requesting “privacy, space and time to process” what had happened.

Meanwhile, President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina, on Friday morning spoke to Ms Murphy's mother and father, Kathleen and Ray, and her siblings Amy and Cathal. President Higgins said he had conveyed his "profound sympathy and sorrow and sense of loss that her tragic death has meant to so many".

"People throughout Ireland, in every generation, have been expressing their shock, grief, anger and upset at the horrific murder of Ashling Murphy," he said. President Higgins also urged people in Ireland to reflect on our "actions and attitudes" and "what needs to be done to eliminate violence against women in all its aspects from our society".

Murder scene

As vigils for Ms Murphy were being held across the country on Friday afternoon, the murder scene at Boland’s Lock, Cappincur, on Grand Canal Way about 3km east of Tullamore remained sealed off. Ms Murphy died from her injuries there after the attack at 4pm on Wednesday.

Garda sources said the quality of the forensic evidence, including DNA, gathered during the first 24-48 hours of the investigation represented a significant “breakthrough” in the case. The forensics were used to exonerate a man arrested on Wednesday in Tullamore and he was released without charge late on Thursday night.

Gardaí have examined the crime scene, a Falcon Storm mountain bike they suspect was used by the killer, Ms Murphy’s remains and the clothes she was wearing when murdered while out jogging. They believe when the forensic results yielded from those examinations are cross-checked with any suspects it will prove instrumental in catching the killer.

The Falcon Storm bike they believe was used by the killer on his way to the scene was recovered after the murder and is now a crucial piece of evidence in the case. The killer was also seen by a number of people at the scene and statements have been taken from those eyewitnesses.

Gardaí are investigating a complaint from another woman who has told them she was followed on the canal tow path where Ms Murphy was killed about two hours before the murder.

Gardaí are also examining CCTV footage recorded around Tullamore on Wednesday looking for images of anyone riding the Falcon mountain bike. Sources expressed satisfaction with how that part of the investigation was progressing. Gardaí have appealed to anyone who travelled between Tullamore town centre and the wider approach roads to Grand Canal Way around Cappincur on Wednesday to come forward. They are especially keen to speak to anyone with footage of road users, including CCTV, dashcam, GoPro or mobile phone images.