Jozef Puska told garda: “I plead guilty,” Ashling Murphy hears in the murder trial

“I feel guilty. I say it and regret it.”

Detective Sergeant Brian Jennings said Mr Puska was upset and cried as he made the confession about the murder of teacher Ashling Murphy, which was made through a translator.

Sergeant Jennings said Mr Puska told him: “The reason I’m pleading guilty is because I don’t want anything to happen to my family. Nothing bad for her. I feel guilty. I say it and I regret it.”

Sergeant Jennings said he immediately warned Mr Puska and asked him if he wanted to speak to a lawyer and he said he did.

Sergeant Jennings said Mr Puska also told him he did not do it intentionally.

The sergeant was giving evidence at the trial of Mr Puska, 33, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ashling Murphy on January 12, 2022 in Cappincur, Tullamore.

Sergeant Jennings told the Central Criminal Court he traveled to Dublin on the evening of January 13 but was unable to speak to Mr Puska.

He was instructed by his superior to return to Dublin on January 14 and he spoke to Mr Puska twice, first at around 12 noon and then at 6.30 p.m.

Gardaí at the crime scene on the canal bank in Tullamore where Ashling Murphy’s body was discovered. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty

During the second conversation, Sgt Jennings said he told Mr Puska that gardai had obtained a search warrant for his belongings and this had been explained to him.

Sgt Jennings said he believed he then asked Mr Puska if he had heard of the murder of Ashling Murphy in Tullamore.

Sergeant Jennings said Mr Puska told him he found out about it through the media.

Sergeant Jennings said Mr Puska asked him if he was a suspect and Sergeant Jennings said he told him he was “a person of interest”.

Sergeant Jennings said Mr Puska then took a break. It was a “remarkable break,” he said.

Mr Puska then said he was making an official statement. “I did it. I murdered. I am the murderer,” said Sgt Jennings.

The jury heard that Sgt Jennings then offered Mr Puska a lawyer and reminded him that everything he said would be written down.

Sergeant Jennings said Mr Puska then asked him a series of questions in which he said he was concerned that gardaí would harm his family.

Sergeant Jennings said he told Mr Puska that gardaí would not harm his family.

Sgt Jennings also said Mr Puska had expressed concern that the girl’s family would harm his family, but Sgt Jennings said he told Mr Puska that the Murphy family was a good family.

Mr. Puska also asked if his name or address would be released, Sergeant Jennings said.

Under cross-examination, defense counsel Mchael Bowman SC asked Sergeant Jennings whether he had asked the nurse whether Mr Puska was suitable for examination or questioning.

Sgt Jennings said he asked the nurse if he could see Mr Puska.

Mr Bowman told Sgt Jennings that he was interviewing Mr Puska. Sergeant Jennings said he was “seeking an account of his movements”.

Mr Bowman said another person was under the impression that Sergeant Jennings was “interrogating” the defendant.

Sergeant Jennings said he thought this was “very unfair”.

Earlier, the jury heard from Detective Inspector Shane McCartan, who said he contacted his colleagues in Tullamore because Mr Puska’s story about an assault in Blanchardstown “just didn’t add up”.

Detective Inspector Shane McCartan said there were “many pieces of the puzzle that could not be put together”.

Insp McCartan said detectives in Blanchardstown were investigating a double knife attack that took place in Millennium Park at around 5pm on January 12.

Insp McCartan said gardai became aware of a potential third victim and instructed Sergeant Paul McDonnell and Garda Conor Newman to go to St James’ Hospital to speak to him.

Insp McCartan said the gardai spoke to Mr Puska and they informed him of the conversation and Mr Puska said he had been attacked in Blanchardstown.

Insp McCartan said there was “a lack of truly compelling information” about the attack.

The inspector said he knew Mr Puska lived in Tullamore.

Details were missing about how he got to Dublin or who took him to Dublin, how he got from Heuston station to Blanchardstown or which unnamed woman he met.

Insp McCartan said Mr Puska’s story “just didn’t add up”.

He spoke to his superior and Insp McCartan said they believed they may have information that could be relevant or of significant assistance to the Ashling Murphy murder investigation.

Insp McCartan said he then contacted Detective Sergeant David Scahill in Tullamore and told him his findings.

The trial continues before Judge Tony Hunt and a jury of nine men and three women.

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