Ashling Murphy murder accused’s legal aid extended so defence can obtain expert reports from UK

Slovakian national Jozef Puska's defence team are seeking expert reports from UK

Ashling Murphy

Alison O'

A 31-year-old man accused of murdering school teacher Ashling Murphy in Tullamore has had his legal aid extended so his defence team can obtain expert reports from the UK.

Jozef Puska, of Lynally Grove, Mucklagh, Co Offaly, is charged with murdering the 23-year-old primary school teacher at Cappincur, Tullamore, on the afternoon of January 12, 2022.

He is scheduled to go on trial at the Central Criminal Court on June 6 this year and the case is expected to last between three and four weeks.

At a brief hearing yesterday, senior counsel Michael Bowman, defending Mr Puska, said the case was listed for mention to extend his client's legal aid to cover expert reports from the UK. "We listed it so that there was no delay in the preparation of material," he added.

Pictured: Jozef Puska

Mr Justice Paul McDermott said he would grant the legal aid cert to cover the request but added that he did not know if the defence would have to go through the public procurement process.

Mr Bowman said the defence would have to get three quotes and that the legal aid board was generally satisfied.

In reply, Anne-Marie Lawlor SC for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said the case was listed for trial on June 6 and that the prosecution was "keen to retain that date". Ms Lawlor said the State had already written to the defence asking if there were any pre-trial issues.

Mr Bowman said there was likely to be one pre-trial issue which may "require a day or so" but suggested maybe two days should be put aside "out of an abundance of caution".

Mr Puska, a Slovakian national, was not present in court for today’s hearing.

Last May, a new solicitor was appointed to represent Mr Puska. Defence solicitors Padraig Langsch & Co came on record in the case after Ms Lawlor informed the judge that the DPP did not object to the request.

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.

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