Judge's chilling words as Ashling Murphy's murderer is convicted

‘There is evil in this courtroom’: Judge’s chilling words as Ashling Murphy’s vile murderer is convicted and her heartbroken family say he must NEVER be free to harm another woman

  • READ MORE:  Ashling Murphy achieved so much in her 23 short years

Ashling Murphy’s mother held a framed picture of her daughter aloft and called her killer a ‘monster’ after a jury found him guilty of her murder yesterday.

Kathleen Murphy was hugged by her husband Ray as Mr Justice Tony Hunt said Jozef Puska would face his ‘day of reckoning’ for stabbing 23-year-old teacher Ms Murphy to death.

Jurors at Dublin’s Central Criminal Court returned a unanimous verdict after just over two hours of deliberation, having begun late on Wednesday afternoon.

Puska, 33, an unemployed Slovakian immigrant and father of five, bowed his head and looked distressed when the verdict was translated to him by an interpreter. He placed his hands in front of his face in a praying position, looking towards his family at the back of the court, before he was taken away by prison officers.

Judge Hunt told the courtroom: ‘There is evil in this room, without a doubt.’ To the jury, he added: ‘Quite literally, you made sure that nobody got away with murder.’

Ashling’s senseless and brutal murder sent shockwaves, not only through the small town of Tullamore, 60 miles west of Dublin, where she was killed, but across Ireland and beyond

Ashling Murphy’s mother Kathleen (holding a photo of Ashling) and sister Amy outside The Criminal Courts of Justice today after Jozef Puska has been found guilty of the murder of school teacher

Jozef Puska, of Lynally Grove in Mucklagh, Tullamore, had pleaded not guilty to her murder at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin

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Ms Murphy’s sister Amy, brother Cathal and her boyfriend Ryan Casey breathed sighs of relief, and the jurors – some of whom were weeping – were given a round of applause as they left the courtroom.

Outside the court, Ms Murphy’s brother and boyfriend said she was ‘stolen’ from them by a ‘vicious monster’ who must never be allowed to harm another woman.

Cathal Murphy said: ‘Ashling was subject to incomprehensible violence by a predator who was not known to her. While we do not glory in any conviction, we recognise the importance of holding accountable those who would commit such terrible atrocities.

‘The judicial process cannot bring our darling Ashling back, nor can it heal our wounds, but we are relieved that this verdict delivers justice. It is simply imperative that this vicious monster can never harm another woman again.’

He said the family would be forever grateful for the jurors’ patience and resilience during a difficult process.

Mr Casey added: ‘From day one, the outpouring of love and support was felt in abundance.

‘The Irish people, both at a national and international level, have stood in solidarity with our family in mourning the loss of our beautiful and talented Ashling, and to condemn the gender-based brutality with visceral revulsion.

‘Ashling was a vibrant, intelligent and highly motivated young woman, who embodied so many great traits and qualities of the Irish people and its communities.

‘Her life had a huge impact on so many of those around her, and she was the epitome of a perfect role model for every little girl to look up to and strive to be.’

Puska’s family appeared upset and angry at the verdict. His father spoke loudly in Slovakian, while an elderly woman held up a small cross and shook it at people, saying: ‘Everyone in this room, Jesus.’

Judge Hunt said he will sentence Puska on November 17.

The death of 23-year-old Ashling Murphy sent shockwaves around Ireland and beyond 

Puska had denied killing Ms Murphy as she walked along the Grand Canal in Tullamore, County Offaly, on January 12 last year. 

He told the court that he was stabbed by a masked stranger, who then turned his knife on Ms Murphy when she walked past on the towpath. Police and a translator told the court that Puska confessed to killing Ms Murphy while he was in hospital. 

‘I did it. I murdered. I am the murderer,’ he said, before saying that he was sorry, and had not intended to.

A court artist’s illustration of Jozef Puska, 33, in the dock at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, where he has been found guilty of killing teacher Ashling Murphy, who was murdered while exercising on January 12, 2022

Ireland’s justice minister Helen McEntee paid tribute to Ms Murphy’s family.

She said: ‘None of us can comprehend the grief and loss they carry every day. Their beautiful daughter, sister and friend, a young woman with so much to offer the world, was taken from them.

‘Ashling’s murder shocked us all. It moved us to action, demanding an end to violence against women.’

Women’s Aid also welcomed Puska’s conviction, saying the killing ‘sent a shockwave’ through communities in Ireland. 

‘That this could happen tapped into a visceral feeling that so many girls and women are socialised to feel – that the risk of male violence is everywhere. That nowhere is safe.

Ashling dreamed of building her own home with her boyfriend of six years, Ryan Casey, 25

‘The murder of Ashling Murphy was a shocking example of dangers posed to women and the case put a spotlight on the inherent risk of male violence in society.

‘Every woman should have the right to be safe, both in their own homes and in their communities.’

Judge Hunt thanked the jury for their service to the community.

He said that despite his many years in the courts, he had not found the case easy to listen to, even though legally he described it as an ‘utterly straightforward’ matter.

‘Thank you for your hard work in this difficult and upsetting case,’ he said.

The judge exempted the jurors from further court duties for 20 years.

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