THE FAMILY of a primary school teacher who was stabbed to death have paid tribute to her after her killer was found guilty of murder.
Ashling Murphy, 23, was attacked in broad daylight as she jogged alongside the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co. Offaly in January last year.
On Thursday, a jury at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin returned a unanimous guilty verdict against 33-year-old Jozef Puska.
The father-of-five faces a mandatory life term when he returns to court for sentencing on November 17.
'Perfect role model'
The death of talented musician Ms Murphy sparked widespread anger and calls for more to be done to tackle violence against woman, while vigils were held across Ireland in her memory.
Speaking outside court after Thursday's verdict, Ms Murphy's partner Ryan Casey acknowledged the widespread support 'since our Ashling was stolen from us'.
"From day one, the outpouring of love and support was felt in abundance from the Irish people both on the national and international level as they stood in solidarity with our family to both mourn the loss of our beautiful, talented Ashling and to condemn gender-based brutality with visceral repulsion," he said.
"Ashling was a vibrant, intelligent and highly-motivated young woman who embodied so many great traits and qualities of the Irish people and its communities.
"Her life had a huge impact on so many of those around her and she was the epitome of the perfect role model for every little girl to look up to and strive to be.
"She was not only an integral part of our family but she was also a huge shining light in our community — a community in which year in, year out she gave back to as best she could."
As Ms Murphy's mother watched on, clutching a photograph of her daughter, Mr Casey also praised An Garda Síochána, the prosecution team and judge Mr Justice Hunt.
Meanwhile, Ms Murphy's brother Cathal thanked the jury at the culmination of the three-week hearing.
"Sitting through the harrowing evidence of this trial was not an easy task and we'll be forever grateful for their patience and resilience throughout this incredibly difficult process," he said.
"Ashling was subject to incomprehensible violence by a predator who was not known to her.
"While we do not glory in any conviction, we recognise the importance of holding accountable those who would commit such terrible atrocities.
"The judicial process cannot bring our darling Ashling back, nor can it heal our wounds but we are relieved that this verdict delivers justice.
"It is simply imperative that this vicious monster can never harm another woman again."
Ms Murphy, who did not know Puska, was stabbed in the neck 11 times during the attack at around 3.20pm on January 12, 2022.
Slovakian national Puska, who was caught on CCTV following two other women in the area on the day of the attack, initially claimed he was in Blanchardstown in Dublin at the time.
He attended St James' Hospital in Dublin the following day, claiming he had been stabbed in an attack in Blanchardstown but the wound had been self-inflicted.
Two days later he confessed to the killing but later attributed this to his surgery and medication.
He pleaded not guilty at trial, claiming he had been at the scene of the crime but had tried to save Ms Murphy from an attacker, getting stabbed himself in the process.
The prosecution dismissed this version of events from Puska, whose DNA was found underneath Ms Murphy's fingernails.