The clothes which murder accused Jozef Puska was wearing as he cycled around Tullamore in the hours before Ashling Murphy’s alleged murder have never been found, his trial has heard.
The jury has been shown CCTV footage showing a man, agreed by the defence to be Mr Puska, cycling while wearing a black top, dark shoes and black trousers with ‘Tommy Hilfiger’ written down the side, along a white stripe.
It has also been shown video evidence of a man said by the prosecution to be Mr Puska, walking back into Tullamore in the evening after Ashling Murphy’s death, wearing dark clothing with a white stripe along his trousers.
Detective Superintendent Patrick O’Callaghan, who led the investigation into the alleged murder, confirmed to the court that several searches had been carried out.
These included a search of Mr Puska’s home in Mucklagh, just outside Tullamore; of his parents’ home in Crumlin, Dublin, and of his personal belongings in St James’ Hospital, where he was treated for suspected stab wounds the day after Ms Murphy died.
The clothes which murder accused Jozef Puska was wearing as he cycled around Tullamore in the hours before Ashling Murphy’s (pictured) alleged murder have never been found, his trial has heard
Detective Superintendent Patrick O’Callaghan (pictured), who led the investigation into the alleged murder, confirmed to the court that several searches had been carried out
Prosecuting barrister Anne Marie Lawlor asked: ‘We have seen on CCTV the movements of Mr Puska and his clothing… was any of the clothing or footwear found by members of An Garda Síochána in the course of any searches?’
‘None of that was found,’ he replied.
Det. Supt O’Callaghan also stated that Detective Garda Fergus Hogan, who noted that Mr Puska had told him in hospital that he had cut Ms Murphy’s neck, had not been aware of how the 23-year-old had met her death.
‘The decision at the time by the investigation team was not to release that information,’ he said.
Ms Lawlor asked: ‘Was it conveyed to any media organisations, or conveyed to the public?’
‘No,’ he replied, it was not in the public domain.
Under cross-examination by defence counsel Michael Bowman, he was asked if the fact that Ms Murphy had been stabbed in the neck had made it onto social media or any other platform.
‘I’m not aware of what was carried on social media,’ he said.
Mr Bowman said the detectives who questioned the first man arrested, who was subsequently released, must have known the details of how Ms Murphy died.
‘So it was beginning to get out there,’ he suggested.
Det. Supt O’Callaghan replied: ‘He was interviewed inside a Garda station by a specific team of detectives. They would have had a certain line of inquiry to follow.’
Detective Sergeant David Scahill (pictured) said he had carried out the arrest of Mr Puska at the hospital at 11.30am on January 18, and that he was brought to Tullamore Garda Station.
The jury has been shown CCTV footage showing a man, agreed by the defence to be Jozef Puska (pictured), cycling while wearing a black top, dark shoes and black trousers with ‘Tommy Hilfiger’ written down the side, along a white stripe.
He said the man who was arrested first, on the afternoon of Ms Murphy’s death, was released at around 10.30pm the following day, when it became clear he was not connected to the case.
His DNA did not match samples taken from Ms Murphy or from the bike left at the scene, he said.
Det. Supt O’Callaghan also told the court that he had been made aware of the admissions made by Mr Puska in hospital.
He agreed with Mr Bowman that there was a permanent Garda presence at the hospital from that time on.
‘At the first available opportunity we were going to arrest him,’ he said.
Detective Sergeant David Scahill said he had carried out the arrest of Mr Puska at the hospital at 11.30am on January 18, and that he was brought to Tullamore Garda Station.
The court heard that Mr Puska had access to a solicitor from the time of his admissions in hospital on January 14, and that he continued to have advice available from a solicitor while he was questioned at Tullamore.
Det. Sgt Scahill said the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that Mr Puska should be charged with the murder of Ashling Murphy, and that he had formally charged him at 7.32pm the following evening.
He said when he cautioned him, Mr Puska replied: ‘No.’
A Garda search team walks along the canal banks at the scene of the investigation in Janaury 2022, following the fatal assault of Ashling Murphy
Detective Inspector Brian Farrell earlier told the court that he had liaised between the incident room in Tullamore and the gardaí who visited Mr Puska in hospital in the days after Ms Murphy’s death.
He confirmed to defence barrister Michael Bowman that his notes stated that Mr Puska was a suspect, rather than a person of interest, but said that suspect was his usual term.
He also agreed that, after he was told about Mr Puska’s alleged confession, he instructed the detective at the hospital to read his notes back over to Mr Puska and ask him to sign them.
He said he told the detective not to question him further after reading back the notes.
Det. Insp. Farrell said he had remained in touch with the hospital’s nurses following Mr Puska’s ‘confession’.
He said the nurses had contacted him to advise him of Mr Puska’s discharge on January 18, when he had an arrest plan in place.
‘Did you ever make any inquiries of his treating physicians?’ Mr Bowman asked.
‘No, I wasn’t talking to them,’ he replied.
The trial continues on Tuesday before Judge Tony Hunt and a jury of three women and nine men.
The jurors have been told by the judge that the prosecution evidence will then conclude in a day or two.