Second man held in Ashling Murphy murder inquiry released without charge

Man was detained on suspicion of withholding information from gardaí

Ashling Murphy was a teacher at Durrow National School, Co Offaly. File photograph: The Irish Times

Ashling Murphy was a teacher at Durrow National School, Co Offaly. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

A second man arrested yesterday as part of the investigation into the murder of Ashling Murphy was released without charge last night. Gardaí said a file would be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions, whose office determines if suspects should face criminal charges.

The arrested man was detained under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act on suspicion he was withholding information from gardaí investigating the murder of 23-year-old Ms Murphy. The man, who is known to the chief suspect in the case, is not suspected of having any involvement in the murder and was detained on suspicion he was withholding information.

Ms Murphy, Cully, Blueball, Co Offaly, was fatally attacked at about 4pm last Wednesday as she was exercising on the tow path of the Grand Canal near Digby Bridge, Cappincur, just outside Tullamore. While the alarm was raised immediately and gardaí and paramedics rushed to the scene, efforts to save Ms Murphy were not successful and she was pronounced dead.

Free legal aid

A teacher at Durrow National School, Co Offaly, she was well known in the area as a talented musician. She had gone to the canal to exercise after work when she was fatally attacked.

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A man arrested six days after the killing, who was being questioned “on suspicion of murder”, was last night charged by gardaí and appeared before Tullamore District Court.

Jozef Puska (31), Lynally Grove, Mucklagh, Co Offaly, appeared before Judge Catherine Staines at the special sitting of the court which began at 8.15pm. The accused man was granted free legal aid after the court was told he was in receipt of €200 per week disability allowance.

Mr Puska, who was allocated the services of a Slovakian interpreter for the hearing, was remanded in custody to appear before Cloverhill District Court, Dublin, next Wednesday, January 26th. A crowd of about 300 people gathered outside Tullamore court house ahead of last night’s hearing.

Mr Puska was arrested late on Tuesday morning after being discharged from a Dublin hospital. He was then taken from Dublin to Tullamore Garda station where he was detained under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act. He availed of a break from questioning overnight on Tuesday into Wednesday morning, when Garda interviews resumed.

As the 24-hour period gardaí were permitted to question him was about to expire last night, he was rearrested for the purposes of being charged with murder. He was then brought before a special sitting of Tullamore District Court.

Det Sgt David Scahill gave evidence to the court of arrest, charge and caution. He said Mr Puska was arrested over the murder at Tullamore Garda station at 7.22pm and when the charge of murder was put to him at 7.45pm he replied “No”. Mr Puska appeared before Judge Staines. Eoin Lysaght was assigned as his solicitor.