A man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Irish schoolteacher Ashling Murphy, who was stabbed to death while jogging along a canal in Co Offaly.
Jozef Puska, 33, of Lynally Grove in Mucklagh, Tullamore, was found guilty of murdering Ms Murphy, 23, whose random killing sparked widespread shock across Ireland and the UK, with vigils taking place calling for an end to violence against women.
There is a mandatory life sentence for murder.
Puska stabbed Ms Murphy, described by her partner as a woman with “dreams, compassion and respect”, 11 times in the neck as she ran along the banks of the Grand Canal near Tullamore on 12 January last year.
After the life term was handed down at Dublin’s Central Criminal Court on Friday, judge Tony Hunt said there was only one sentence available, and it was “ richly deserved”.
He said Puska’s evidence had been “indescribable” and the “one thing we don’t know about this case is the why”.
The court heard that Puska – who pleaded not guilty – and Ms Murphy were not known to each other and had never met before he murdered her.
Puska, a Slovak national, appeared for his sentencing dressed in a grey suit and white shirt with no tie. He showed no emotion and made no comment as his life sentence was read out to him through a translator.
Ryan Casey, Ms Murphy’s partner, described in a victim impact statement how the pair “simply couldn’t get enough of each other” when they first met as teenagers.
He said their relationship was “full with love, trust respect” and “was quite simply heaven on earth”, describing how they they had plans to travel together, to build a house, start a family, and get married.
He said that he ad Ms Murphy, a talented folk musician, had talked about how many kids they would have, and imagined they would be “little hurlers and camogie players and even better – musicians”.
Mr Casey added that it didn’t make sense to him that someone who is “a burden to society can completely and permanently destroy someone… who is the complete opposite”, describing Ms Murphy as “a light with dreams, compassion, respect, a person who contributes to society in the best way possible”.
Ms Murphy’s mother described how her “heart was ripped” from her body the moment she learned her daughter had been killed.
In a victim impact statement read out in court by a detective Garda (Irish police), she said her “heart broke the moment I heard the bad news Ashling was murdered”.
“There is such a void in our home,” she said.
She said that the actions of Puska “must have consequences” and said “he should never see the light of day again”.
She said that before her daughter left the house, she had begged her not to go along the canal, to which Ms Murphy replied “Ah mum, I’m 23 years old” before giving her mother a hug.
She gave her “a big hug and said ‘I love you, you’re the best mum in the world’ and walked out the door”, the court heard.
During Puska’s trial, the court heard how he admitted to killing Ms Murphy while speaking to Gardai while receiving treatment at James’s Hospital in Dublin two days after he carried out the murder on 14 January.