Ashling Murphy's older sister Amy has said she was the glue that bound their tightly-knit family together.
She delivered her Victim Impact Statement at the Central Criminal Court before Jozef Puska was handed the mandatory life sentence for murdering the 23-year-old schoolteacher in January 2022.
Last week, 33-year-old Jozef Puska of Lynally Grove, Mucklagh, Co Offaly was convicted of Ashling's murder.
Amy said her sister was everyone's role model and would always 'bounce in the door' to check on everybody.
"The eerie quietness that now remains in the house is deafening," her sister told the court.
Amy also recalled how her sister regarded shopping as "a competitive sport."
"Like many young ladies, Ashling took pride in her appearance and loved her style," she said.
"For Ashling, shopping could only be described as a competitive sport which of course she took first place in - she quite literally could have bought shares in Zara.
"The week of her death saw multiple delivery drivers arrive at our door with tears in their eyes, handing over yet another parcel with Ashling's name on it.
"These online shopping deliveries still sit on her bed today, unopened."
Amy also recalled her sister's love of her job and how she was like "a second mammy" to her students.
"There were many evenings Ashling got delayed leaving school as she pondered over the most creative elf on the shelf ideas that she knew would bring so much joy to the children," she said.
"She awaited their reaction each morning knowing the excitement it brought to their classroom.
"As a surprise, she baked gingerbread men for each and every one of them at Christmas.
"Her baking supplies now sit untouched in the press at home".
Amy said the family "still set our table for five people, even though this world has changed for us in ways we could never before imagine".
She said her family is cautious and nervous since her sister's murder.
"Now, we look over our shoulders everywhere we go and are suspicious of strangers," she said
"It is so very difficult to trust people now. To open our door, to welcome people in."
Amy also said Ashling's killer, Jozef Puska, is "total evil".
"Crossing a national border does not automatically instil a moral code in a person," she said.
"You were given an Irish welcome and supported by the State to allow you to reside here.
"You repaid this by brutally murdering a beautiful talented girl who contributed so much to society," she added.
You can read Amy's statement in full here:
Our job as children was to set the dinner table for five people every day.
I spent years listening, watching and adoring over the young girl, my sister, who grew to become the soil that kept our family and friends nourished with positivity, humour and hope.
It was the hustle and bustle of it all. Matches here, fleadhs there. Every evening, our kitchen was filled with music and the normalities of everyday life. But we always set the table for five.
As our young Ashling grew up, she became the glue that bound our tightly-knit family together.
Taking after mam, there was a warm smile, after Dad, a cheeky wit and wink. Ashling brought the best out of us.
Our parents instilled a strong work ethic in Ashling and she knew the value of a pound. They taught her that nothing is handed to you in this life and if she wanted something she would have to earn it and that she did.
Although she was the youngest, there was no doubt that she was everyone's role model.
Everyday, Ashling would bounce in the door asking “How’re we?” wearing her big friendly smile and beaming with positivity.
She had such an endearing personality and was so generous with her time, her love and her talents, giving so much of herself to others.
Musicians of all ages were welcomed into our home every week to learn and absorb Ashlings talent and passion for music and listen to her stories, hanging onto her every word.
The eerie quietness that now remains in the house is deafening.
Like many young ladies, Ashling took pride in her appearance and loved her style.
For Ashling, shopping could only be described as a competitive sport which of course she took first place in – she quite literally could have bought shares in Zara!
The week of her death saw multiple delivery drivers arrive at our door with tears in their eyes, handing over yet another parcel with Ashling's name on it.
These online shopping deliveries still sit on her bed today, unopened.
Ashling was a vibrant, outgoing 23-year-old just merely starting out on her career as a primary school teacher.
She had just graduated less than three months previous and the world was her oyster. All her hard work up to this point had paid off and she was reaping the rewards of life.
Ashling was born to be a teacher and loved every second of it, be that in a school classroom or in her music lessons. She personified all the qualities any mother or father would want in their child's teacher.
Ms Murphy had 28 first class students and was like a second mammy to them, always going above and beyond to make sure they met their full potential and enjoyed school life.
There were many evenings Ashling got delayed leaving school as she pondered over the most creative elf on the shelf ideas that she knew would bring so much joy to the children.
She awaited their reaction each morning knowing the excitement it brought to their classroom.
As a surprise, she baked gingerbread men for each and every one of them at Christmas. Her baking supplies now sit untouched in the press at home.
She immersed herself in all things the school life had to offer, helping out with the school choir and music groups whenever she could, always encouraging the children with genuine affection and enthusiasm.
It breaks our hearts that she was stolen from the many wonderful students she made an impact on, who are now left broken-hearted at her sudden departure. A void which cannot be filled.
When Ashling wasn’t in school, she was clocking miles in her grandad’s red car. A car with which she drove with such pride as she inherited it after her beloved grandad passed away.
She had a very special bond with him and on his last Christmas, he gifted her a pink wooly hat with a bauble on top. Both her red car and pink wooly hat were repeatedly referenced throughout the evidence given in this case. After a period of time following Ashlings murder, we eventually got her car back.
My heart sank when I opened the front passenger door to find a half-eaten slice of toast and half drank mug of tea along with her handbag, teaching supplies and a hurl sitting in the front seat.
All signs of a young woman preoccupied with the comings and goings of her busy, everyday life.
What might seem like chaos to many, a normal weekend for Ashling regularly included teaching music lessons, gigging, camogie matches, working in a local restaurant or driving to Dublin for orchestra rehearsals.
She juggled a hundred and one tasks effortlessly with a smile on her face.
She had to try pencil in meeting her boyfriend Ryan in what little free time she had. He never stood in her way however and always encouraged her to achieve all her goals.
Ashling did not want for extraordinary things. However, she had many plans for her future.
Ryan was the love of her life and they intended to build a future together. They were in the early stages of securing a site and plans to build their future home were well underway.
I see so many similarities between Ashling and our mother. They are both kind, gentle and great listeners. I have no doubt Ashling would have been an exceptional mother too. Children were at the forefront of her everyday life and she had so much love to give them.
Our lives were enormously enriched because of Ashling. She was charismatic, compassionate and her infectious laugh could light up any room.
As siblings do, she could roast myself or Cathal with some of her best oneliners, however she never sought to be centre of attention. She had the ability to strike up conversation with anyone irrespective of their age and made them feel like they genuinely had a friend in her.
Her zest for life was palpable to anybody that was in her company. She did so much for absolutely everyone, yet no one was there when she needed them most, including her family.
We would have done anything to be there by her side to protect her, hold her hand and catch her tears.
Ashling excelled in every aspect of her life yet remained incredibly humble. She embodied many of the great traits and qualities of the Irish people through music, teaching, GAA agus an teanga gaeilge.
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 aspire to be.
She was not only an integral part of our family, but was also a huge shining light in our community, a community in which she year in year out, gave back to in every way she could.
This country has lost someone who made a difference.
Muinteoir, sister, daughter, partner and friend. All accomplished before the tender age of 23.
She had learned more in those short few years than most learn in their lifetime and not in the academic sense.
She valued those most important to her and chose a career that brought so much meaning to her life. Ashling’s legacy of love, giving and caring will live on but that bears little comfort to us.
We want her here safe in our arms today.
We as a family have tried our best to remain dignified and composed throughout this investigation and murder trial.
This is the first time we can truly express the deep hurt and loss experienced by us.
It has been widely documented that Ashling Murphy’s murder was a watershed moment demanding an end to violence against women in Ireland. Ashling was described as the catalyst for change in society as we know it.
Titles she did not ask for. Titles we wish on no daughter, sister or partner. For us, she is Ashling, but for many her story will haunt the internet through click-baite article titles, trending twitter threads and invasive podcast episodes, using the contents of her story for popularity.
With this, we as a family have been thrust into an arena as victims that we never asked for but were compelled to participate in, in order to ensure justice for Ashling.
We still set our table for five people even though this world has changed for us in ways we could never before imagine. I have never felt hatred like this.
We were not raised to be like this, our parents instilled core values in us, taught us right from wrong and to be respectful of others, but these actions against Ashling have permanently and indefinitely tainted our outlook on society forever more.
Up until 12th January 2022, we saw the best in humanity, now we are cautious and nervous. Now, we look over our shoulders everywhere we go and are suspicious of strangers.
It is so very difficult to trust people now. To open our door, to welcome people in.
The table wasn’t just set for dinner. It’s where we gathered around together, her and I.
With our instruments in hand and the instrument cases thrown under the table, we would spend hours together, learning, listening and practising together.
Music is not and will never be the same without Ashling.
Our love for Irish music was intertwined with our special bond, we could read each other's mind when we played together.
Each wink and smile she sent my way as her fingers created something beautiful beyond sound, was her connection. Our connection together.
Something that we had such a passion for and spent so much of our time doing is completely and irreparably destroyed. I miss her vibrant fiddle playing so much and the sheer joy it brought her. Ashling's pink fiddle case now lies at home covered in dust.
For me, this serves as the harshest and cruellest reminder we will never play together again and of how fragile this life truly is.
At night we cannot sleep, we hear her cries and screams that were silenced by injustice, watch her tears shed and envision the suffering that she endured while bravely fighting her vicious and vile murderer, Jozef Puska.
This inhumane act of depravity highlights to us how naïve we were to the dangers lingering in our society.
One need not travel to the depths of inner-cities to be subject to the extremes of criminality.
We were blissfully unaware that we were living amongst total evil and he was right under our noses in our community – practically on our doorstep in fact.
Crossing a national border does not automatically instil a moral code in a person. You were given an Irish welcome and supported by the state to allow you to reside here.
You repaid this by brutally murdering a beautiful talented girl who contributed so much to society.
We are relieved that after today, we do not have to spend any more time in the vicinity of this vile human being.
Your lies and deceit knows no bounds. At no point did you make efforts to take responsibility for your actions.
Quite the contrary really, you sat in this very seat and gave evidence before the court demanding your innocence.
To add insult to injury, you proceeded to spin a ludicrous web of lies suggesting you were in fact helping Ashling in her dieing moments and not inflicting these deadly injuries.
I am in total disbelief that such evil could attempt to masquerade as a good Samaritan. Shame on him for disrespecting the memory of Ashling like that!
The trauma and suffering you have inflicted upon our family far outweighs any punishment you ever receive.
The public are often quick to criticize the failings of An Garda Síochána but forget to thank them when great work has been done. We commend the Gardaí for exhaustively and comprehensively piecing together a robust and thorough investigation.
Extensive CCTV formed a significant part of the evidence in this case.
In the aftermath of Ashling’s murder, we were promised by those in positions of power that additional CCTV would be installed in our local public spaces in Tullamore including the grand canal greenway.
This was to ensure women could safely go about their daily lives. These were empty promises that never came to fruition.
Before the trial commenced, I had hoped that Ashling lost consciousness quickly, in an attempt to alleviate any further suffering she experienced. Unfortunately, we now know from the data on her smartwatch that she fought long and hard for her life.
I agonize over whether you had already inflicted your first blow before she was hurled off the canal pavement.
Had you time to place your bike down into the ditch as you knew she had already sustained a fatal injury and the rest was yet to come. Ashling's last 10 minutes on this earth must have felt like the longest 10 minutes of her existence as she fought for her life.
You stole her life, you took her voice, you robbed us of our family of five.
By pleading not guilty, this man has ensured our family had to sit through every detail of this trial.
We are traumatized by the heinous act of violence and brutality you subjected Ashling to.
Our worst nightmare, replayed over and over through each piece of footage, each witness, every statement. Hours of surveillance, the descriptions of her wounds, her mouth, her legs, her face, her hair, her scarf, her Fitbit and her last beating heart beats.
How could any human inflict such hate on innocence?
We were totally disturbed by Josef Puska’s demeanour as Dr Sallyanne Collis read out details of the autopsy report.
Smiling and smirking, you appeared to get some enjoyment out of hearing the harrowing evidence of Ashling's injuries. Your total lack of empathy and remorse will forever haunt me and only reaffirms that evil is real, and it might be behind us at any point.
After her death, we were informed that an accused suspect may request a review of the post-mortem. As a result, we could not touch Ashling while she was in the mortuary. We could not hug her or hold her.
As the days went on, we were forced to spend less and less time with her as she had not been embalmed yet. We were left not knowing with any real certainty when we could bring Ashling home.
Even after her death, you seemed to play a hand in controlling what happened to her.
Sitting through this trial hearing the harrowing details of this case has been traumatizing. Seeing Ashling's blood-soaked white t-shirt and GAA half-zip produced in court is a moment that will haunt me for the rest of my days.
We were acutely aware of maintaining composure in court at all times in an effort not to jeopardise the case. It felt as if our mother was being reprimanded for her emotional outcry when footage of Ashling's last moments was played in court as she started her walk onto the canal line.
CCTV footage no parent should ever have to watch. Although Justice Hunt warned us at the beginning of the trial, nothing could have prepared us for the cold, clinical, dispassionate manner in which the trial was undertaken, highlighting how legal proceedings are not and never will be victim-focused.
On the 12th of January, 2023 at 3.31pm these precious attributes of Ashling were stolen from us and replicated into what became evidence in a crime against innocence. It is difficult to comprehend that there is such evil in this world.
The day Ashling died, an important piece of all of us died with her. Losing Ashling was the hardest, most devastating thing our family has ever been through, and we will never be the same.
We have lost our motivation for life. Aspirations and goals no longer seem relevant or helpful. Why have any hopes or dreams for the future when it can be so easily destroyed in an instant? A future not worth living if Ashling is not in it.
Our hearts are immeasurably sad. No amount of medication or counselling could cease the excruciating pain we feel every hour of every day. It is a struggle to undertake the simplest of tasks.
It kills Cathal and I to watch our parents suffer. They are torn apart with despair and a light in them has been quenched forever.
Our parents are brave, persevering examples of individuals trying their best to put one foot in front of the other each and every day, while quietly mourning the loss of their little girl. Their daughter, our baby sister.
At night we cannot sleep, we are consumed by what can only be described as nightmares, replaying the horrific events of the 12th of January with an irrepressible feeling of guilt that we weren’t there to save her.
Some mornings you wake up and for a split second you believe Ashling is there in the house with you. Then the excruciating pain of your harsh reality comes rushing back. She did so much for absolutely everyone, yet no one was there when she needed them most, including her family.
This is so much worse than a nightmare you see, as when we wake up we must endure the agonizing reality that she is no longer with us.
This monster trespassed into our lives and stole the person most important to us in the most unforgivable way.
We are repulsed at this grotesque act and the manner in which Ashling was taken from us. It is nothing short of pure torture thinking of the terror Ashling must have felt being thrown down into that deep dark undergrowth and that he was the last person she saw on this earth, the utmost evil she has ever encountered in her entire life.
Hell, in my wildest imagination, doesn’t come close to the suffering that Ashling endured. Ashling died alone, petrified, frightened and injured by the malicious and inhumane brutalities of Jozef Puska.
It doesn’t matter now what happens as nothing in this world can ever bring our darling Ashling back and that is the cross we must carry for the rest of our days.
However, this sentencing will ensure no other family will suffer the loss of their loved ones at the hands of this man.
There are no words that could accurately encapsulate Ashling and the effect her loss has had on our family. As a big sister, I could not protect her while she was alive, all I can attempt to do now is protect her memory.
Ashling was subject to incomprehensible violence by this predator who was not known to her. She never taught his children and did not report them to Tusla for neglect. These false narratives are both hurtful and damaging.
This was a random unprovoked attack.
Ashling filled her life with positivity. It’s hard to imagine the glow of her bright personality being diminished, strike by strike, with each stab wound.
We have been denied a future with Ashling and all the wonderful things that come with that. A father who will never walk his youngest daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. A mother who will never get to spoil and dote upon her future grandchildren. Momentous occasions erased forever.
We have 23 years of memories with Ashling, 23 years of lessons, of love and of laughter. Now, we must endure years of life without her... but we as a family will continue to set the table for five.
The gap is more than just her empty chair... there is a constant palpable void in our family without Ashling.
The tapestry of memories we all share of Ashling cannot be unwoven, but to our greatest devastation, we can’t weave in any more threads. We cherish each and every moment we had with her but that bears little solace to us.
Our family must now endure our own life sentence for which there is no parole.
No visiting rights, no weekend calls, no emails, no texts, no letters, no care packages.
There are no roadmaps to life but I can assure you of this.
After today, I will never, ever give Josef Puska the privilege that I am thinking about him. He shall not live rent free in the back of my mind.
However, I am and will forever be consumed by Ashling, her warmth, her beauty, the meaning she brought to life.
That is both the hardest pill to swallow and the greatest honour I will wear in this life.
Ashling's mother, Kathleen, also delivered a Victim Impact Statement to the court.
She said her daughter was "loving, caring and always had a gentle big smile for everyone".
"She had an infectious laugh but never wanted to be centre of attention," she said.
"Ashling knew her place in life and was a great listener.
"Our house was alive with music every night as she played her fiddle. I miss her sweet music in our home it breaks my heart."
Kathleen said her daughter was "the thoughtful one in our family".
She recalled: "She brought herself, Amy and myself on a day out at the spa.
"She brought us to see Westlife twice and booked a family day out to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin as a Christmas present to us all a week before she was taken from us.
"Ashling always looked forward to family coming over to the visit."
Kathleen described Ashling as "every mum and dads dream daughter."
"My heart broke the moment I heard the bad news that Ashling was murdered," she said.
"It was like having a stroke, my heart was ripped from my body.
"My memory was affected. My motivation, drive and love for life is gone forever.
"There is such a void in our house and in our life it is horrendous. I can’t bear it. I am no longer able for big crowds of people or small talk".
Kathleen said she used to go for a walk or jog after dinner on a Sunday with Ashling and her sister Amy.
"I will not go for a walk anymore as I am too afraid of that monster," she said.
"His actions will always be in the back of my mind. People say you are doing great but underneath I am just barely existing from day-to-day.
"People also say she is in a better place now. This I know, she didn’t want to go. It was not her time."
Kathleen said Jozef Puska should "never see the light of day again".
"Ashling would be alive today if that evil, evil monster did not come upon her," she said.
"This was a random unprovoked attack. I believe this coward came from behind and he didn’t face her.
"Ashling didn’t stand a chance against this evil monster that was armed with a knife.
"Why someone could go out and brutally murder a young woman who they have never met before is totally incomprehensible.
"His actions must have consequences. He should never see the light of day again."
Kathleen also recalled the last time she saw her daughter on the day of her murder.
"She was going for a jog on the canal line after work. I begged her not to go there as it has always made me feel ill at ease and asked her to go jogging out near home," she said.
"She responded, ‘Ah mum, I am 23-years-old’. She gave me a big hug as she said, ‘I love you, you’re the best mum in the world’ and walked out the door.
"As a parent you want your child to go out into this world and live a full and meaningful life yet being acutely aware of how fragile their safety is, wanting to protect them.
"I couldn’t protect my darling Ashling and now she’s gone forever," she added.
You can read Kathleen's statement in full here:
Ashling was one in a million. She was loving, caring and always had a gentle big smile for everyone. She always thought about everyone else before herself.
She took pride in herself she had accomplished so much at such a young age yet always stayed grounded and humble.
She loved fashion and music. She had an infectious laugh but never wanted to be centre of attention. Ashling knew her place in life and was a great listener.
Our house was alive with music every night as she played her fiddle. I miss her sweet music in our home it breaks my heart.
Ashling loved passing on her music to her younger students and playing music at home with her sister and father. Ashling loved playing camogie. I miss going to her camogie matches and music concerts.
We visited so many wonderful places and met people who became lifelong friends because of Ashling's talents.
Ashling was the thoughtful one in our family and the chief organiser in our home.
She brought herself, Amy and myself on a day out at the spa. She brought us to see Westlife twice and booked a family day out to the Guinness storehouse in Dublin as a Christmas present to us all a week before she was taken from us.
Ashling always looked forward to family coming over to the visit. She loved catching up with cousins, aunts & uncles and filling them in on her busy life. Everyone wanted to be in her company.
I miss her smiling face coming home after her days work in school. Ashling and I never had a row. She was too nice you could never have a row with her. Ashling used to love cooking and always prepared the dinner on a Friday while I was in town grocery shopping. In return I would always bring her home a bar of chocolate. Ashling was every mum and dads dream daughter.
My heart broke the moment I heard the bad news that Ashling was murdered.
It was like having a stroke, my heart was ripped from my body. My memory was affected. My motivation, drive and love for life is gone forever.
There is such a void in our house and in our life it is horrendous. I can’t bear it. I am no longer able for big crowds of people or small talk.
I used to go for a walk to go for a walk or jog after dinner on a Sunday with Ashling and Amy. I will not go for a walk anymore as I am too afraid of that monster.
His actions will always be in the back of my mind. People say you are doing great but underneath I am just barely existing from day to day.
People also say she is in a better place now. This I know, she didn’t want to go. It was not her time.
She would want to be here on this earth with Ryan, our family and her first-class students, living life to the fullest.
Being the youngest granddaughter, Ashling had a very special relationship with her grandfather Paddy who lived next door. Ashling drove Paddy's red car with pride after he passed away.
I am glad none of Ashling's grandparents were alive to witness the total devastation our family endured following Ashling’s murder. I hope they wrapped her up in their arms and comforted her in heaven.
On the night that heartbreaking news came to our doorstep, Ashlings untouched dinner was found in the bottom of the oven by her uncle Des as he went to fill the fire.
All the simplicities of life were destroyed in an instant and the sudden realization dawned on us that she would never walk through the door of our home again.
I would give our house, car and every penny I have to have our beautiful Ashling with us.
Ashling did everything right in life. She did not take risks.
Ashling would be alive today if that evil, evil monster did not come upon her. This was a random unprovoked attack.
I believe this coward came from behind and he didn’t face her. Ashling didn’t stand a chance against this evil monster that was armed with a knife. Why someone could go out and brutally murder a young woman who they have never met before is totally incomprehensible.
His actions must have consequences. He should never see the light of day again. How can his family look at him after he inflicted this unforgiveable act?
Before she left that morning, Ashling told me she was going to be home from school a little bit later that afternoon. She was going for a jog on the canal line after work.
I begged her not to go there as it has always made me feel ill at ease and asked her to go jogging out near home. She responded, ‘Ah mum, I am 23 years old’. She gave me a big hug as she said, ‘I love you, you’re the best mum in the world’ and walked out the door.
As a parent you want your child to go out into this world and live a full and meaningful life yet being acutely aware of how fragile their safety is, wanting to protect them.
I couldn’t protect my darling Ashling and now she’s gone forever.
Earlier, Ashling's partner Ryan Casey spoke of the 'indescribable' pain and suffering he has gone through since losing his "soulmate" 22 months ago.