Ashling Murphy’s killer portrayed himself as a victim – when he was a murderer

Jozef Puska was found guilty of Ashling Murphy’s murder on Thursday
Andrew Lowth
Andrew Lowth

16.30 10 Nov 2023

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Ashling Murphy’s killer portra...

Ashling Murphy’s killer portrayed himself as a victim – when he was a murderer

Andrew Lowth
Andrew Lowth

16.30 10 Nov 2023

Share this article

There was a very poignant moment in Court 13 of the Criminal Courts of Justice on Thursday afternoon, after Jozef Puska was found guilty of Ashling Murphy’s murder. 

Ashling’s mother Kathleen held aloft a beautiful framed photograph of Ashling in the direction of the jury after the unanimous verdict of ‘guilty’ was confirmed. 

This photograph of Ashling was one which was completely different to what we had become used to but, like all the others, her beautiful smile stood out from a mile away. 


That moment becomes more significant as Kathleen Murphy was sat in the middle of the family bench in the courtroom. 

When looking around the room itself, it felt like the attention was being drawn back to Ashling – the victim of this horrific murder, now situated at the centre of the courtroom. 

When the verdict was read out, there was clear sighs of relief, some tears and all while they were trying to heed the instruction of Mr Justice Tony Hunt for quiet in the courtroom before the verdict was delivered. 

Ashling Murphy’s family sat in Court 13 with dignity and strength throughout the nearly four weeks of the trial and the one moment where nobody would have blamed them otherwise, they were still able to find the strength to respect the instructions of the court. 

The family and public gallery then erupted into an applause as the jury of nine men and three women left the courtroom for the final time – something even Mr Justice Hunt was resigned to thinking it was ‘understandable’. 


The weight of the evidence against Jozef Puska in his trial was ‘overwhelming’, as described to the jury by prosecuting counsel Ms Anne-Marie Lawlor SC. 

As the jury heard throughout, there was DNA evidence putting Puska at the scene and in contact with Ashling Murphy. 

There were confessions while he was a patient in St James's Hospital. 

His refusal to account for his bike being at the scene, his DNA being in Ashling Murphy’s fingernails and scratches on his face and hands. 

The fact his instructions to his legal team led to him being placed at the scene and in Ashling Murphy’s presence. 

There was also his lies. 

Jozef Puska, 33, in the dock at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin Jozef Puska, 33, in the dock at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, 02-11-2023. Image: PA Images / Alamy

Jozef Puska lied throughout the investigation, from hours after he stabbed Ashling Murphy 11 times – up to the very point that he exited the witness box. 

What is significant in his lies, is that there was a running narrative that he was the victim. 

‘Good Samaritan’

The first suggestion in court that Jozef Puska had nothing to do with the murder of Ashling Murphy was the cross examination of the first civilian witness of the trial – Jenna Stack. 

Ms Stack had been exercising with her friend Aoife Marron along the Grand Canal in Tullamore when she recalled seeing a bicycle in the hedgerow. 

She told the jury that she thought it was strange that a bike would be there, and a short moment later she saw a man crouched over a woman in the ditch. 

She said she could only see the woman’s legs, which were kicking in a ‘scissors-like form’. It was her belief that this woman was in severe distress. 

After trying to confront the man, he turned around angrily, through gritted teeth and said ‘get away’.  

Both Ms Stack and Ms Marron ran away, got help, and it was moments later that Enda Molloy, a man known to Ms Marron, had discovered Ashling’s body. 

The cross-examination told the jury one thing – that the man Ms Stack was talking about was Jozef Puska. 

His defence counsel Mr Michael Bowman SC put it to Ms Stack that Puska was assisting Ashling, that was later described by Ms Lawlor SC as Puska portraying himself as being ‘a good samaritan’. 

 “He could have asked us for help,” said Ms Stack. 

This was also the first time this narrative was being put out there, 22 months after Ashling Murphy was killed. 

Ms Stack admitted she couldn’t see his hands, but she was left in little doubt that what she saw was a woman in trouble.  


The jury heard the evidence of Gardai Kevin O’Shaughnessy and Keith Brennan, who called to an apartment on the Armagh Road in Crumlin, Dublin 12 on January 13th 2022 – the day after Ashling Murphy was killed. 

Jozef Puska was seen on CCTV footage just before 1am that morning at the apartment complex, getting out of a car with his parents. 

When the emergency services got to the apartment in question, they were brought to a bedroom where a man, identified later as Jozef Puska, was slouched over a bedside locker with looked to be apparent stab wounds in his abdomen area. 

“I could tell he was in pain,” said Garda O’Shaughnessy. 

He told the jury he spoke to a relative of Puska who was able to speak English – and he had been informed by her that Puska had been stabbed. 

Garda Brennan told the jury that Puska had told this relative that he had been in a fight in Blanchardstown, and that he had been stabbed. 

However, no further information was given by Puska to this relative, who was effectively acting as the translator between Puska and Gardai at the request of Garda Brennan. 

He also remarked that Puska looked in ‘significant’ pain and that he believed him to be so. 

There were also ‘clear markings, scrape markings’ to Jozef Puska’s face, Garda Brennan added. 

This was when there were first rumblings of the possibility that Jozef Puska was the victim of a stabbing in Blanchardstown – not even 24 hours after the victim in this case, Ashling Murphy, was killed. 

Puzka was transferred to St James’ Hospital in Dublin, and the case was passed from the officers in Crumlin to Gardai in Blanchardstown. 

As it happened, Gardai were investigating a stabbing incident in Blanchardstown which happened on January 12th 2022. 

Garda Paul McDonnell, now a Sergeant, told the jury that they were in the early stages or ‘information gathering’ stage of the investigation. 

Sgt McDonnell added that in their case there were two victims, and that the incident occurred in the environs of Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. 

Sgt McDonnell said he arrived at St James’ Hospital at around 2:35pm on January 13th, in order to ask Jozef Puska some questions. 

He noticed that there was dressing applied on Jozef Puska’s stomach, along with scratches on his hands and face. 

He and Garda Conor Newman had already arranged for a translator as they had been informed Puska was a Slovakian native. 

It became clear to them that Puska’s level of English ‘wasn’t fluent’ so they contacted the investigator. 

Garda Conor Newman told the jury that Jozef Puska had explained to them about his movements which saw him end up in Blanchardstown the previous evening. 

He said he got a lift from Tullamore to Dublin, and then got a taxi from near Heuston Station out towards Blanchardstown. 

He was going to meet a Hungarian woman, he claimed, and that he had the address to show the taxi driver. 

Puska told them that he got out of the taxi, about 1km from the Main Street, at an area with a field on one side of the road and apartments on the other side. 

Not long after he had got out of the taxi, he was attacked by two men. One had darker skin and was around the same height as Puska. Garda Newman said he couldn’t identify the second man at all. 

The phone which had the address on it, was lost. 

Garda Newman said he and Garda McDonnell weren’t satisfied with the answers Puska gave to them. 

He said they were ‘very vague’, seemed really stressed when asked who brought him to Dublin from Offaly. 

His heart monitor went off, and they decided to return when he was in better health. 

“We weren’t really satisfied with what he had told us,” he said.  

“We knew there was more to the story. There were holes in the story.” 

There were holes in the story because, as Jozef Puska himself admitted, he lied about it. 

It’s important to note the circumstances which formed his lie, that he was the victim of a random attack by men. 

‘I am the murderer’

Detective Sgt Shane McCartan was the supervisor of Garda Newman and McDonnell in the investigation to the stabbing.  

He said in his evidence that he spoke to the two Gardai in question, and he eventually decided to make contact with Detective Sgt David Scahill, arrived on the scene of Ashling Murphy’s body shortly after his colleagues Garda Tom Dunne and Garda Shane Hunter. 

The link between this apparent stabbing in Blanchardstown and the murder of Ashling Murphy, which had been reported in the media at the time, became clear. 

Since the investigating team in Tullamore became aware of a person of interest who was being treated for stab wounds in St James’ Hospital, Jozef Puska had undergone keyhole surgery, and had been in recovery when Gardai returned to the hospital later that night. 

On the morning of January 14th 2022, Det Sgt Brian Jennings and Det Garda Fergus Hogan from the team investigating the murder of Ashling Murphy arrived at James’ Hospital and asked to speak to Puska. 

“He was awake, alert, sitting up, could see visible scratches on his hands, face and forehead” said Det Sgt Jennings.

Puska told Det Sgt Jennings and Det Garda Hogan that he was living in Lynally Grove, Mucklagh, Co Offaly, and that he had been stabbed in the abdomen. 

He relayed the story that he later admitted to being lies – that he was the victim of a knife attack at the hands of men. 

Later that evening, after 6pm, both Sgt Brian Jennings and Garda Fergus Hogan returned to St James’ Hospital. 

This time they were with a colleague Sgt Pamela Nugent, who had obtained a search warrant for Puska’s possessions. 

Puska had been brought to a room on his own, Sgt Jennings said he had organised for a translator, Miroslav Sedlacek, to be involved over the phone. 

Sgt Jennings informed Puska of the warrant and it was in relation to the murder of Ashling Murphy. 

When asked if Puska knew anything about it, he paused and told the translator to say word-for-word that he did it. 

“I am the murderer,” was what Jozef Puska said through the translator, according to Sgt Jennings. 

He was cautioned and told he didn’t not need to say anything else, but he kept talking. 

He said he didn’t mean to do it intentionally, and that he was worried for his family. 

He asked if his family would be subjected to a revenge attack from the Murphys, and that was the only concern throughout the evidence that he showed in relation to Ashling Murphy and her family. 

“Will I go for 10 years?” He asked.  

Puska was concerned that his family might be victims to revenge by the Murphy family, while he was worried if he would be gone for 10 years. 

This was the same family who sat through the entire proceedings as they listened to the details of Ashling’s post-mortem, looked at her blood-stained clothes, and had to hear the evidence of when her Fitbit smartwatch last detected a heartbeat. 

After all of this, Puska still had time to tell Det Garda Fergus Hogan a level of detail which only Puska would have known. 

“I cut her.” 

It was not in the public domain that Ashling Murphy had been stabbed, never mind the fact that she had been stabbed multiple times. 

Detective Garda Hogan confirmed under his own re-examination that he didn’t know Ashling’s cause of death. The jury heard from senior investigating officers that they informed those ‘on a need to know basis’.  

Yet, in his confession, Puska was able to tell Detective Garda Hogan what happened before Garda Hogan himself knew. 

Later, when he was in the witness box, he said he couldn’t remember any of this. He had no recollection of making very specific admissions about a specific case and did so in a manner which only he would have known about. 

He portrayed himself as a victim of having bad memory, despite having never been to a doctor about it. 

The ‘COVID-compliant’ attacker

Despite what was widely rumoured before, Ashling Murphy and Puska did not know each other in any way, shape or form.  

It’s an important point to make, because it was from Puska’s own mouth where he said he had never seen Ashling before. 

In his Garda interviews on the 18th and 19th of January 2022 – around the time Ashling’s funeral was taking place – he was shown pictures of Ashling, and asked had he seen her before. 

He said he hadn’t, multiple times. 

We already know at this point from Jenna Stack’s evidence that this was a lie – as he had instructed his defence team to put him at the scene as the man alongside Ashling Murphy in the ditch. 

From Ms Stack’s cross examination, Puska instructed that he was assisting her. 

It will be in his own evidence which will claim that he, like at the beginning - was a victim. 

This time, he as well as Ashling Murphy would be, in what would be one final last-ditch effort to get away with murder. 

Jozef Puska entered the witness box on Thursday November 2nd to give his version of events. 

In a nutshell, he said he was attacked along the pavement side of the Grand Canal by a man wearing a surgical facemask – a ‘COVID-compliant attacker’ as described by prosecuting counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor SC. 

He claimed he was stabbed by this man, wearing dark clothing, after he had been threatened by him. He later said this man threatened Puska that he would go after his wife, and that he was scared. 

Puska then said Ashling Murphy came along, she and the man exchanged words, before they disappeared into the ditch. 

Puska in his evidence said he couldn’t decide if he was coming or going, and he said he was a witness to murder after a mysterious man attacked him first. 

After trying to help Ashling, as he claims, he said he ran into a field onto the other side of a ditch because he was scared, and eventually passed out in another ditch for a number of hours – until it was dark according to him.  

There are striking similarities with this story and with the story he provided to Gardai about Blanchardstown. 

They both involve him being stabbed in the stomach. 

They both involve him being a victim of an attack at the hands of men. 

He had a few hours in a ditch to come up with the first story in Blanchardstown, before he was spotted again on the N52 by witness Niamh Arthur. 

As for the second one, he had 22 months. 

He was asked in his Garda interviews to account for his bike being at the scene, for his DNA being under Ashling Murphy’s fingernails and for the scratches on his face and hands. 

He was warned by Gardai that a failure or refusal to provide an explanation would mean that it could be used as an adverse inference against him, which could be used to support other evidence against him.  

He had an opportunity to tell his supposed version of events, and he simply would not to do so. 

As Jenna Stack pointed out, he could have asked her and Aoife Marron for help and he refused to do so. 

31-year-old Jozef Puska who is charged with the murder of Ashling Murphy. 33-year-old Jozef Puska

In the closing address for the prosecution, Ms Anne-Marie Lawlor SC pulled no punches as to what she believed was the case. 

“He confessed to her murder because that is what he did,” she said.  

She described the story he made up about Blanchardstown as a ‘cock and bull story’.  

On his version of events, Ms Lawlor said “He is hiding in a ditch until 8:55pm, he flees to Dublin and before he left he had his clothes burned.” 

“It becomes farcical and ludicrous that you’re being told this and in the next breath he’s saying he had nothing to do with murder of Ashling Murphy,” she added. 

She described it as a ‘fantasy’. 

It’s Ms Lawlor’s belief that Jozef Puska killed Ashling, left the scene, fled Tullamore, stabbed himself while in his parent’s house in Crumlin. 

“He told lies, after lies, after lies,” she said.  

Not to be undone, she added that it was an ‘unequivocal structure of lies and mistruths’, of which some were ‘foul and contemptable in their nature’ and Puska done this with ‘the foolish belief that he will succeed’. 

He didn’t. 

It should be pointed out that throughout the proceedings, the jury gave absolutely nothing away. There wasn’t as much as a loud exhale of breath if there was something that some might believe didn’t add up. 

They remained focused on the task at hand throughout – and that was to listen to the evidence in a cold and dispassionate way. 

They were asked by the judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt very early on in the trial that they must approach the case with an open mind, and there was nothing in their facial expressions or body language which suggested they did otherwise. 

‘The evidence is the evidence’ – remarked Mr Justice Hunt on a number of occasions.  

‘Puska’s nonsense’

When the jury returned the unanimous verdict of guilty, it was clear that a massive weight had been lifted off the shoulders of the Murphy family. 

In addressing the jury, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said he agreed with the verdict. 

It took the jury around two hours to find Puska guilty, and Mr Justice Hunt said he was happy they ‘didn’t waste more of your valuable time on Puska’s nonsense’. 

“There is evil in this room, no doubt about that,” he said. 

Ashling Murphy

In 22 months since the 12th of January 2022, Jozef Puska concocted a number of stories, a large portion of which portrayed him as the victim in this case. 

What is reality is that the woman in that framed photograph held aloft, in what felt like was the centre of the room, was the victim of this brutal murder by Jozef Puska. 

The victim’s name is Ashling Murphy. 

Main image: Ashling Murphy is seen in this undated photo. Image:

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