07 November 2023

No evidence of connection between Ashling Murphy and murder-accused – judge

07 November 2023

There was no connection between primary school teacher Ashling Murphy and Jozef Puska, the man accused of murdering her, a judge has emphasised.

Ms Murphy, 23, was killed while exercising on a canal pathway in Tullamore, Co Offaly, on January 12 last year.

Puska, 33, of Lynally Grove in Mucklagh, Tullamore, denies her murder.

After three weeks of evidence at the Criminal Courts of Justice, the defence and prosecuting barristers on Tuesday concluded their closing statements to the jury.

Addressing the nine male and three female jurors, judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt said they must not be afraid of their verdict and any public opinion of the case “has nothing to do with it”.

He said jurors must leave their sympathies and prejudices “at the door”, including any sympathy they may have for Ms Murphy or Puska.

Reading from a Supreme Court ruling, Mr Hunt said the presumption of innocence means having “an open mind that assumes nothing against the accused”.

But he said “a proof beyond reasonable doubt” does not stretch to “far-fetched” scenarios and “a reasonable doubt is not an invented doubt”.

He said he is in charge of the law of the case and the benefit of jurors is their independence from the judicial system.

The judge said he has dealt with “hundreds if not thousands of juries in my life” and did not seek to influence jurors’ decision in bringing some points to their attention.

Mr Justice Hunt will continue his charge to the jury on Wednesday at 10.30am.

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