Gardaí tell of CPR efforts to save Ashling Murphy after Tullamore attack

Gardai who arrived on the scene of the attack on schoolteacher Ashling Murphy have told a court of their intensive efforts to save her life. Ms Murphy, 23, was killed while out running along a canal path in Tullamore, Co Offaly in January 2022.

Jozef Puska, 33, of Lynally Grove in Mucklagh, Tullamore, is on trial for her murder and has pleaded not guilty.

Jozef Puska, defendant on trial in Ashling Murphy murder case Credit: UTV

On the third day of the trial at the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin, two gardai who were the first emergency services personnel on the scene on the afternoon of January 12 gave evidence. Garda Tom Dunne and Garda Shane Hunter performed CPR on Ms Murphy while they awaited an ambulance crew. Ms Murphy, who was a talented musician, was found lying face up in thick undergrowth in a ditch around six feet from the canal path. A bike with distinctive green markings was found close by.

Two cyclists found Ms Murphy lying in a ditch a short distance from the canal path. They waited nearby until gardaí arrived.

Garda Dunne had received the call reporting a serious assault at Tullamore Garda station around 10 minutes earlier. He had alerted colleagues and then he and Garda Hunter drove immediately to the scene. Both guards described observing Ms Murphy lying on her back in the ditch. She had a lot of blood around her face and neck and her hair was badly matted, they told the court. Garda Dunne went down into the ditch and felt for a pulse. He said he did not believe there was a pulse but, if there was, it was a very faint one.

Garda Dunne said he then commenced CPR on Ms Murphy, with Garda Hunter taking over, before he resumed again. “We just alternated between the two of us, I would say for 10 minutes or more,” Mr Dunne told the court. Garda Hunter said they alternated to “ensure neither of us got fatigued”. Both gardai told the court of the injuries they observed around Ms Murphy’s neck. The trial has heard the 23-year-old was stabbed 11 times in the neck and suffered a further slicing laceration in the neck area. Slovakian national Puska, wearing a grey jacket, listened on from the dock during Thursday’s proceedings with the assistance of an interpreter. Members of Ms Murphy’s family watched from the public gallery of the court. The jury heard the teacher was wearing a navy running jacket and bottoms and a top of her local GAA camogie club Kilcormac Killoughey when she was found. She also had a necklace with her name “Ashling” on it. Garda Hunter told the court that Ms Murphy’s phone had a fitness app still running when he found it in her clothing. He said when he looked at the screen at 4.15pm, the app showed an exercise session that was at one hour, 22 minutes and 20 seconds long, with 3.2 kilometres having been covered. The court also heard from Detective Sergeant David Scahill who arrived at the scene minutes after Garda Dunne and Garda Hunter. He described the actions of his colleagues as they performed CPR. “They were doing it alternately, they were doing the best they could do,” he said. He later added: “We’re not doctors, we do our best at the scene. “We were doing everything we could to help Ashling.” The court heard that when ambulance personnel arrived at the scene, Ms Murphy was lifted from the ditch onto the canal path to allow the life-saving efforts to continue. The attempts proved in vain, and Ms Murphy was declared dead at the scene. State pathologist SallyAnne Collis also gave detailed pathology evidence to the court on Thursday. She described the extensive injuries Ms Murphy sustained to her neck area. These included significant damage to her voice box. Ms Collis said the injuries would likely have prevented Ms Murphy from making any “normal noise” in the period prior to her death. The trial also heard from a woman who while walking her dog saw a man cycling on a bike on the canal path prior to the attack. Emma Doyle said when she first observed the man, she wondered whether he was in the company of a woman walking on the path, because he was cycling so close behind her. Ms Doyle said the man then cycled passed the woman and then proceeded past her. She said the bike had neon green colouring on the front of it and had straight handlebars. Ms Doyle said the man was wearing a black tracksuit top with what she believed was some sort of red logo on it, and dark tracksuit bottoms. He had a tight crew cut, dark hair and stubble and sallow skin, she said. Ms Doyle remembered he had “striking” and “unusual” eyes. She said the man had said “hello” to her as he passed. Ms Doyle said she did not think he was Irish. Ms Doyle’s parents live beside the canal and after her walk along the path she returned to their house. It was then she saw joggers Jenna Stack and Aoife Marron out of the front window appearing upset. On the second day of the trial, Ms Stack, who had been out running with Ms Marron, told the trial she had seen a man in a hedgerow who seemed to be crouched over a female who was kicking out “like she was crying out for help”. She said the man shouted at her to go away. On Thursday, Ms Doyle described going out of her parents’ house to join Ms Stack and Ms Marron as they spoke about the incident. The three women then directed the Garda cars to the scene as they arrived. The trial heard that Detective Sergeant Scahill knew both Ms Stack and her husband Niall. He told the court that she was “panicked” and “agitated” when he pulled up in a Garda car and she pointed him to where she had seen the incident. Detective Sergeant Scahill continued on to the scene, but said he later tried to call Ms Stack to obtain a description of the man she saw in the undergrowth. He could not reach her but did manage to get through to her husband. He said Mr Stack told her he had spoken to his wife, and he passed on a description of the suspect. Mr Scahill relayed this description to Garda colleague Andrew Dolan who was standing beside him. Garda detective Dolan later gave evidence to the court that he believed the description may have been a match for a man known to him. He passed on that suspicion to investigating colleagues. That man, who was not Puska, was arrested on the day, but later released. The trial continues.

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