A man has been found guilty of murdering schoolteacher Ashling Murphy while she was jogging along a canal path in the Republic of Ireland.
The 23-year-old was repeatedly stabbed in the neck on the banks of the Grand Canal near Tullamore in County Offaly on 12 January 2022.
Ms Murphy was a talented folk musician and her killing caused widespread shock, prompting vigils across Ireland and the UK.
Jozef Puska, 33, from Lynally Grove in Mucklagh, County Offaly, was found guilty by a unanimous jury on Thursday.
Speaking outside the court in Dublin, Ms Murphy’s boyfriend Ryan Casey described her as “vibrant, intelligent and highly motivated”.
He said she had “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 a perfect role model for every little girl to look up to and strive to be,” he said.
“She was not only an integral part of our family but she was also a huge shining light in our community.”
Her brother Cathal said it was “simply imperative that this vicious monster can never harm another woman again”.
Earlier the 12 jurors, made up of nine men and three women, took only a few hours to deliberate on their verdict after hearing three weeks of evidence.
Puska wore a grey blazer and a white, open-neck shirt, and sat silently alongside his translator as the verdict was read out at the Central Criminal Court.
The Slovak national had pleaded not guilty, claiming in court he was trying to help Ms Murphy after she had been attacked by another man, who went on to stab him too.
Eyewitness Jenna Stack said she saw Ms Murphy’s legs kicking out from underneath Puska as he held her down when she passed by on the canal.
The court also heard Puska admitted killing Ms Murphy while in hospital in Dublin in the presence of gardaí (Irish police).
That was something the defence later put down to the medication he was on for his stab wounds, as well as a language barrier and unfamiliar surroundings.
A prosecuting barrister said Ms Murphy had tried to save herself, proven by her defensive wounds and DNA taken from her body, including under her fingernails, which matched that of Puska.
She told the jury that Ms Murphy’s attacker told “contemptible lies that he was trying to save the life of Ashling Murphy”.
“He killed her brutally,” she said.
“He killed her by inflicting substantial wounds on her.”
Puska told “lies and mistruths, some of which I say are foul and contemptible in their nature”, she continued.
The judge, Mr Justice Tony Hunt, told the jurors there was evil in the courtroom.
He said he was glad they had not wasted any more of their valuable time with Puska’s nonsense “because that’s what it was”.
He said that was no reflection on the people who had to run Puska’s defence.
The judge said Puska’s legal team had a really difficult job and everyone was entitled to put forward a defence even one as threadbare as this.
He told the jury he agreed with their verdict and thanked them for “quite literally making sure nobody got away with murder”.
The judge thanked the jury, as Ms Murphy’s family wept in the court.
Her mother Kathleen held a framed picture of Ms Murphy aloft.
Puska’s family wept as the judge stated that “evil is in this room with us”, adding that Ms Murphy’s murderer would face his own reckoning.
He said the reason why there was such a focus on Ms Murphy, was due to “the kind of person she was”.
Puska is due to be sentenced on 17 November.