Investigation | 

Decision to charge or release chief suspect in Ashling Murphy case to be made today

31-year-old suspect was still being questioned about her murder last night

Ashling Murphy

Ken Foy

A decision to either charge or release the chief suspect in the murder of Ashling Murphy is expected to be made by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) today.

The 31-year-old suspect was still being questioned about her murder by specialist detectives last night after his arrest about 11am at St James’s Hospital in Dublin yesterday.

The suspect was then brought by gardaí to Tullamore garda station where he was interviewed throughout the day and into the night.

He is being held under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984, which means he can be detained for up to 24 hours excluding periods required for rest between midnight and 8am, or any medical treatment that could take place outside the station.

It is expected he will be seen by a GP in the station during the course of his detention because of injuries that he sustained last week.

The suspect, who is a father to a number of young children, had been living in Co Offaly for a number of years but has also lived abroad.

He was arrested when he was discharged from hospital yesterday morning after being treated for a number of “suspicious” injuries since he presented last Thursday evening.

Gardaí were alerted to his presence after his arrival at the facility, following an appeal by officers for all hospitals to contact them in the aftermath of the murder if they had suspicions about a patient’s injuries.

He had been under “discreet surveillance” by officers in the hospital and after five days of treatment he was finally discharged yesterday morning.

Senior sources said there had been a “strong expectation” that the suspect would be arrested on Monday but it was not until yesterday that he was deemed medically fit to be discharged.

His arrest happened at the hospital while the funeral of the 23-year-old primary teacher was taking place in her home village of Mountbolus, Co Offaly.

Senior sources said last night that gardaí were satisfied with how the investigation was progressing.

“A huge amount of evidence has been gathered in this case and it is progressing to a satisfactory level,” the source said.

Since Ms Murphy’s death last Wednesday, officers have ­gathered large amounts of forensic evidence, CCTV and witness statements, which they believe link the suspect to the murder.

It is understood that among the key evidence are forensic samples that were gathered from a Falcon Storm mountain bike abandoned at the scene.

Officers continued yesterday to attempt to canvass potential witnesses in the Tullamore area in the hope of getting more statements.

Tributes to Ashling Murphy at a shrine on the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly. Photo: Gerry Mooney

A property linked to the suspect near Tullamore was sealed off at the weekend and searched by gardaí.

Another house in Crumlin in south Dublin, which he is understood to have visited after the murder, was sealed off and searched by gardaí on Friday.

Officers have spoken to a number of family members and close associates of the suspect.

Gardaí believe he was in the Grand Canal area for a number of hours before Ashling was murdered. The killing is still being classified as a “random attack”.

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