The trial of the man accused of murdering Irish woman Ashling Murphy in County Offaly began yesterday, Tuesday, October 17.

Jozef Puska, 33, with an address in Lynally Grove, Mucklagh, County Offaly, is charged with the murder of Ashling Murphy, 23, in Tullamore on January 12, 2022. 

Puska pleads not guilty to the charge. A jury of nine men and three women have been sworn in to try the case in the Central Criminal Court in Dublin.

In her opening speech, prosecuting counsel Anne Marie Lawlor outlined the evidence the prosecution hopes to call.

According to RTÉ, Lawlor says that Murphy was stabbed 11 times to the right side of her neck. She says there was no prior connection of any kind between Murphy and Puska.

The stretch of canal where Murphy was killed was "covered in briars", which she says is "significant because he had cuts on every exposed part of his body"... "consistent with leaving the scene".

A bicycle was also left at the scene which is accepted to belong to Puska as "He can be seen on CCTV cycling around the area ... his DNA was on the handlebars."

"You can watch [the CCTV] and decide but what I suggest is there was an aimless meandering around Tullamore for an hour and a half and then...on two occasions he is cycling behind close proximity to two women unaware ... the second woman noticed him moving slowly behind her and altered her movements ... she saw him again at the canal at 2: 17 pm."

On the day of the murder, Puska left Tullamore for Dublin. He was taken from his parent's house in Dublin by ambulance to a hospital where he said he had been injured and stabbed in Blanchardstown. 

Gardaí arrived at the hospital to take a statement and Lawlor says, "In the course of engagement with gardai, prosecution say they have what amounts to an admission through an interpreter, when he said: "I did it, I murdered, I am the murderer".

He also said he didn't do it intentionally and "I feel guilty" ... "I'm sorry"... gardaí noted what was said.

Lawlor says that on 18 January 2022, Puska was arrested and brought to Tullamore Garda Station "and notwithstanding what he had said before, he told them when shown a photo he had never seen Ashling Murphy before".

The trial heard evidence from its first witnesses, mapper Liam Farrell and photographer, Detective Garda Caroline Hughes.

Farrell gave evidence of preparing various maps of different locations in Tullamore and Dublin. He also mapped the location of various items on an aerial photograph of the scene. 

Other items found included sunglasses, a hat, and runners.

Detective Garda Hughes gave evidence that she had photographed a pink, wooly hat with a bobble on it as well as a pair of blue runners. She had also photographed a blood stained stick and brambles within the same area in heavy undergrowth.

The trial will resume today. 

Puska's trial was due to begin in the Central Criminal Court on Monday, October 2, but was delayed

The jurors have been told the trial could last up to five weeks.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt has warned the jurors that they should not serve if they had previously commented publicly on the case on social media or if they did not feel they could approach it with an open mind.

The jurors were also told they should not serve if they had any familiarity with Puska’s stay in St James’s Hospital in January last year.

Puska faces a mandatory life sentence if found guilty of the murder. 

Murphy was going for a run along the Grand Canal in Tullamore when she was fatally assaulted in broad daylight on January 12, 2022. 

The murder of the 23-year-old schoolteacher caused widespread shock in Ireland and among the global Irish community, with dozens of vigils taking place around the country. 

Murphy was a gifted traditional Irish musician and a talented camogie player and had recently graduated from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. She was working as a primary school teacher at Durrow National School and had just taken up jogging as a New Year's resolution. 

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins attended Murphy's funeral in January 2022, paying tribute to her "short but brilliant and generous life". Her funeral was also attended by then-Taoiseach Micheál Martin and several other Irish politicians. 

In May 2022, a memorial was erected on the banks of the Grand Canal near Tullamore paying tribute to Murphy. 

The memorial, which features a cross and flowers, stands along a paved section of the canal near where Murphy was killed last year.