CCTV footage of Puska cycling in Tullamore and arriving in Dublin shown to jury

Clips of Puska cycling around Tullamore between 12.25pm and 2.05pm on the day of Ashling Murphy’s death shown in court.

By Grinne N. Aodha
Friday 20 October 2023 17:47 BST
Gardai at the Grand Canal at Cappincur, Co Offaly (PA)
Gardai at the Grand Canal at Cappincur, Co Offaly (PA)

CCTV footage of the man accused of Ashling Murphy’s murder cycling around a Co Offaly town before her death has been shown to the jury in a Dublin court.

Footage was also shown of Jozef Puska arriving at an apartment in Dublin and being brought to St James’ Hospital the day after Ms Murphy’s death.

Clips of Ms Murphy walking in a woolly hat as she began her walk along a canal moments before her death were also shown in court.

Ms Murphy, 23, was killed while out exercising along a canal path in Tullamore, Co Offaly, at around 3.30pm on January 12 2022.

Puska, 33, of Lynally Grove in Mucklagh, Tullamore, has pleaded not guilty to the teacher’s murder.

On the fourth day of the trial at the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin, Detective Garda David Harney talked through CCTV footage taken from Garda cameras, businesses and schools in Tullamore.

Earlier this week, the prosecuting barrister told the court that 25,000 hours of CCTV footage had been collected and analysed by Gardai.

The montage of clips shown to the jury begins at 12.25pm on January 12 and shows Puska cycling along various streets and past buildings on a grey bicycle with bright green handlebars and forks.

The court has heard that a grey-black bicycle with some green parts was found in the area where Ms Murphy’s body was found along the canal walkway.

Mr Harney described Puska as wearing a black hoodless jacket and black tracksuit bottoms with a white stripe down the side and the words “Tommy Hilfiger” on the stripe.

Mr Harney also showed to the jury several CCTV clips taken at around 1.40pm on January 12 of Puska cycling in the same direction as a woman in a maroon jacket on the day of Ms Murphy’s death.

Footage at 1.44pm shows the woman turning a corner, walking towards the entrance of a Tesco and walking inside.

Mr Harney said Puska is seen on the bike turning the same corner, and cycling across the car park.

Several other clips of CCTV were shown of what the prosecution say is Puska travelling through the town again, from the direction of the Tesco towards Tullamore town.

Mr Harney said that he had watched footage from a residential property on Church Road from 1.53pm “numerous times”.

He said that in the footage, which is taken from a distance away, Puska is visible at the top of the screen and appears to reach into a pocket.

He told the court that he then “appears to reach into the other pocket, puts both of his hands to the front of his body for a number of seconds, appears to have something in his hands, and then returns his hands to his pocket.”

Seoirse S O Dunlaing, barrister for the defence, argued that the footage was not of a high enough quality to reach that conclusion.

At 1.57pm, Garda cameras at a roundabout capture a woman called Anne Marie Kelly and her dog crossing Church Road.

Mr Harney told the court that Puska crosses the road on his bicycle at the same location that Ms Kelly crosses.

Another clip at 1.58pm at Bueno Warehouse show Ms Kelly walking with her dog, and Puska travelling in the same direction.

The final footage from that afternoon of Puska that is not contested by the defence is at 2.05pm.

The jury was also shown footage of Ms Murphy leaving work and travelling in her red Seat car and parking near the canal.

At 2.55pm, Ms Murphy can be seen walking in a bobble hat, a scarf, a jacket and dark shoes with a whiteish sole as she begins her walk along the canal.

In footage taken hours later, Mr Harney told the court that he believes a figure seen in CCTV captured by Maunsell’s Garage at 8.55pm is Puska, which is contested by the defence.

Mr Harney said that given what he was wearing earlier and the locus of the area leads him to believe the person in the clip is Puska.

“Generally you wouldn’t see people walking on a bypass at night-time,” he told the court.

In another clip, a figure is seen walking in a car park, and Mr Harney said that when a car’s headlights flash, he suggested there is a white stripe visible along the bottoms.

CCTV footage from a garage on Church Road was then shown to the court, taken at 9pm, depicting a figure in dark clothing which Mr Harney said he believes is Puska.

“I believe that’s a tight haircut… I believe that there’s facial hair… Black jacket, black trousers and a white stripe, slightly less than average height and a slim build.

“This is I believe the same male,” he said, citing the direction of travel, the time lapse and the lack of anyone else walking in that area at that time.

From a still, he said the letters “IG” are visible and suggested to the court that was a portion of “Hilfiger”.

A CCTV clip taken later on appears to depict two figures getting in a vehicle outside a house in Tullamore. The headlights of the car are turned on, momentarily turn off and then are turned back on again.

“I believe there are two figures in the vehicle,” Mr Harney said.

Mr Harney said that he believes the car is a grey Volkswagen with a sunroof.

He said that at 12.58am on January 13, footage shows a car pull up at a building on the Armagh Road in Crumlin and Puska’s father and mother exit the car, followed by Jozef Puska.

Mr Harney said that he does not appear on the camera again until 11.56am on January 13, when he appears in a carry chair being wheeled by a paramedic towards an ambulance, which takes him to St James’ Hospital in Dublin.

Mr Harney said that Puska no longer has facial hair in clips shown to the court of him at the hospital.

As the clinical lead, it was my decision to cease resuscitation

Paul McCabe

Earlier in court on Friday, advanced paramedic Paul McCabe described how he and his colleague arrived at the scene where Ms Murphy was killed eight minutes after receiving an emergency call.

He told the court that Ms Murphy’s hair was matted over her face from either blood loss, body fluid or condensation from the undergrowth.

He said there was a substantial wound or a number of wounds in one area of her neck, and that her eyes were “wide open”.

He said that there were “no signs of life”, and that he made the decision not to attempt resuscitation.

Det Garda Ronan Lawlor, of the Garda Technical Bureau, described attending the scene and how he collected items that were found at the scene.

These included sunglasses, a light pink woolly hat, and a pair of blue Nike runners, which were shown in court.

Mr Lawlor also identified a number of other items in court, including a green and navy GAA top with yellow stripes, a scarf and a white T-shirt, which were all bloodstained.

Items removed from Ms Murphy’s body – a fitness watch, a gold-coloured ring and a necklace with the words “Ashling” on it – were also identified by Mr Lawlor.

The trial resumes at 2pm on Monday.

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