Ashling Murphy Murder Trial: Here's what happened on day nine

Today the court heard a DNA profile found under Ashling Murphy's fingernails matched samples of Jozef Puska
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.18 27 Oct 2023

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Ashling Murphy Murder Trial: H...

Ashling Murphy Murder Trial: Here's what happened on day nine

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.18 27 Oct 2023

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Today, the Ashling Murphy murder trial entered its ninth day at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin.

Jozef Puska, of Lynally Grove, Mucklagh, Co Offaly is on trial, accused of murdering Ms Murphy in January 2022.

He denies the charge.

To follow all things related to the trial, you can listen to Newstalk Courts Correspondent Frank Greaney's daily podcast All Rise: The Ashling Murphy Murder Trial. 

Today the court heard a DNA profile found under Ashling Murphy's fingernails matched samples of Jozef Puska.

This evidence was presented to the jurors today by Dr Lorna Flanagan, she's a forensic scientist with Forensic Science Ireland," Frank told The Hard Shoulder.

"Her first job in relation to this piece of evidence was to develop a DNA profile from scrapings taken from underneath Ashling Murphy’s fingernails.

"She then isolated the male DNA. she compared to profiles that she had developed from two samples taken from Jozef Puska.

"A blood sample taken at St James's Hospital, and also A DNA reference sample that was taken in Tullamore Garda station following his arrest.

"She said that when she compared those profiles to that profile that she took from underneath the fingernails, having isolated the male DNA, she said that they matched.

"She said that the changes of the male DNA profile found under the fingernails coming from somebody other than Jozef Puska was 1-in-14,0000."

The court heard Dr Flanagan looked at a database of male DNA profiles in the western European population, which included Slovakia where Mr Puska is originally from.

"The database that the forensic scientist used she said has about 28,000 profiles", Frank said.

"She also said to the jury today that her calculations in relation to that likelihood ratio were conservative."

Lead investigators

Mr Puska's barristers also spent time questioning the two lead investigators.

"The investigation was headed up by Detective Superintendent Pat O'Callaghan and Detective Inspector Brian Farrell - both of them were called to give evidence today," Frank said.

"Michael Bowman, who is Mr Puska's defence barrister, asked Detective Inspector Farrell if he was the one who told Detective Sergeant Brian Jennings to go to Dublin, after the incident room became aware that Jozef Puska was in hospital.

"The jury has already heard the evidence of Detective Sergeant Jennings... this related to an admission that Jozef Puska made to him from his hospital bed.

"When he asked that question by Mr Bowman, Detective Inspector Farrell said that he was, he was the one who tasked him with that job - but that it was a decision made by both lead investigators together.

"Mr Bowman also refenced his notes, notes that he would have taken during those early stages of the investigation.

"Mr Bowman said his notes at the time referred to Mr Puska as an 'SO' - the letters 'SO' appeared beside his name in his notes - and that referred to Suspected Offender.

"The witness accepted that that was correct, that he wouldn't use the term 'Person of Interest'.

"He asked Detective Inspector Farrell if he told the Gardaí who travelled to Dublin that a man arrested on the day of Ashling's murder had been released - he said he didn't because that wasn't relevant to their task, it was released on a need-to-know basis.

"He was asked if they were given any directions in relation to taking a look at the suspect when they arrived at the hospital in Dublin.

"He said that they were going up there to talk to him, and expected that they would also take a look art him while they were there, but he couldn't say whether he gave them a specific direction to have a look at the suspect.

"In his evidence, Detective Superintendent O'Callaghan was asked if he knew how Ashling had died, her cause of death, when Mr Puska told Detective Fergus Hogan that he cut her - the jury has already heard evidence in relation to that.

"Detective Superintendent O'Callaghan said that he did know her cause of death, but a decision was made not to release that information, so he said it wasn't in the public domain at the time," he added.

Every day of the Ashling Murphy murder trial will be documented by Newstalk Courts Correspondent Frank Greaney via the All Rise: The Ashling Murphy Murder Trial podcast. 

Listen back here:

Main image: Candles lit by members of a large crowd outside Dail Eireann in Dublin, 14-01-2021. Image: Sam Boal / RollingNews

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