A MAN who murdered young teacher Ashling Murphy in a random attack has been handed a life sentence.
Jozef Puska was given the mandatory life sentence at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin on Friday having been found guilty of the 23-year-old's murder last week.
The 33-year-old stabbed Ms Murphy 11 times in broad daylight as she jogged alongside the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co. Offaly on the afternoon of January 12, 2022.
Before the sentence was delivered, the court heard victim impact statements from Ms Murphy's partner, sister and mother, the latter read by a member of An Garda Síochána.
Puska, who claimed during the trail that he was trying to come to Ms Murphy's aid when she was attacked by another assailant, has never explained why he killed the young teacher.
After the jury returned their unanimous guilty verdict on Thursday, November 9, Mr Justice Tony Hunt described Puska's version of events as 'nonsense'.
While he was unable to set a minimum term, the judge said at Friday's sentencing that had he been able to do so, a whole-term term would have been considered.
In his victim impact statement, Ms Murphy's partner Ryan Casey revealed how plans to move in together, marry and have a family were snatched away by Puska.
"It'ss a pain that I cannot describe," he said.
"I never knew that there was a pain as severe and long-lasting as the physical and emotional pain that comes with losing the most important person in your life, especially in such a horrific, senseless and just beyond evil act by such an insignificant, lowest-of-the-low waste of life."
Addressing Puska, he added: "I don't care where you end up, or what happens to you after today, but you smirked, you smiled and you showed zero remorse throughout this trial, which sums up who you really are — the epitome of pure evil."
In her statement read by a garda, Kathleen Murphy said she had begged her daughter not to run by the canal on the day she died as she felt it was dangerous.
However, Ms Murphy reassured her mother she would be fine before hugging her and calling her 'the best mum in the world'.
"My heart broke the moment I heard the bad news that Ashling was murdered," added the statement.
"It was like having a stroke — my heart was ripped from my body. My memory was affected. My motivation, drive and love for life is gone forever."
Meanwhile, Amy Murphy described her youngest sister as 'the glue that bound our tightly-knit family together'.
"She did so much for absolutely everyone, yet no one was there when she needed them most, including her family," she said.
"We would have done anything to be there by her side to protect her, hold her hand and catch her tears."
She added: "There are no words that could accurately encapsulate Ashling and the effect her loss has had on our family.
"As a big sister, I could not protect her while she was alive, all I can attempt to do now is protect her memory."
'Dignity and resilience'
Speaking outside court, Chief Superintendent Anthony Lonergan said gardaí were determined to see justice done for a 'monstrous crime [that] shocked the nation'.
He added: "I would like to pay tribute to Ashling's family — her mother Kathleen, her father Ray, her sister Amy, brother Cathal and indeed her boyfriend Ryan.
"The courage, the dignity the resilience and the strength that they have shown during this ordeal has been exemplary.
"I want to assure them on behalf of An Garda Síochána that we will continue to support them going forward and give them all the support we can where necessary."