The Central Criminal Court trial of a 32-year-old man accused of murdering school teacher Ashling Murphy in Offaly last year, which was due to begin in June, has been postponed until the autumn.
Jozef Puska, with an address listed as Lynally Grove, Mucklagh, Co Offaly, is charged with murdering the 23-year-old primary school teacher at Cappincur, Tullamore, Co Offaly, on January 12th 2022.
Ms Murphy was fatally assaulted while jogging along a stretch of the Grand Canal just outside Tullamore known as Fiona’s Way, in memory of missing woman Fiona Pender.
Mr Puska, who was present in court this morning, was due to go on trial at the Central Criminal Court on June 7th of this year in a case expected to last three weeks.
However, Ms Anne Marie Lawlor SC, prosecuting, informed Mr Justice Paul McDermott today that, as the State had received an expert report from the defence, the prosecution would require time to respond and obtain a further report.
Ms Lawlor asked for the trial date of June 7th to be vacated and for the matter to be listed for trial on the first day of the Michaelmas term on October 2nd next.
Mr Michael Bowman SC, representing Mr Puska, said the defence could not stand in the way of the prosecution’s application.
Ms Lawlor said the offence concerned the alleged murder of a very young woman, that her family had expected the case to proceed in June and that they were very keen for the matter to proceed “in early course”.
Mr Bowman said he believed the evidence in the trial would take three weeks. Ms Lawlor said pre-trial issues would take a week.
Asked by Mr Justice McDermott if there was any prospect of attaining “an earlier report,” Ms Lawlor said there was not. The lawyer said the State needed to identify an appropriate expert to conduct the report, which should be completed by the middle or end of July.
The case is to be mentioned again at the Central Criminal Court on July 21 to assign a pre-trial management date. The judge also fixed a new trial date of October 2nd 2023.
Mr Justice McDermott agreed to a request from the defence to renew an application for a Slovakian interpreter for the new trial date of October 2nd next.
Ms Murphy, a talented Traditional Irish musician and recent graduate from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, was working as a teacher at Durrow National School at the time of her death.