A second man arrested yesterday in connection with the Ashling Murphy murder investigation was released without charge last night. Gardaí said a brief would be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions, whose office determines whether suspects should face criminal charges.

The arrested man has been held under Section 30 of the Offenses Against the State Act on suspicion of withholding information from the gardaí investigating the murder of Ms Murphy, 23. The man, who is known to the main suspect in the case, is not suspected of involvement in the murder and was arrested on suspicion of withholding information.

Ms Murphy, Cully, Blueball, Co Offaly, was fatally attacked around 4pm last Wednesday while exercising on the Grand Canal towpath near Digby Bridge, Cappincur, just outside Tullamore . While the alarm was immediately raised and gardaí and paramedics rushed to the scene, efforts to save Ms Murphy were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead.

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A teacher at Durrow National School, Co Offaly, she was well known in the region as a talented musician. She had gone to the canal to exercise after work when she was fatally attacked.

A man arrested six days after the murder, who was being questioned “on suspicion of murder”, was charged by the gardaí last night and appeared in Tullamore District Court.

Jozef Puska (31), Lynally Grove, Mucklagh, Co Offaly, appeared before Judge Catherine Staines at the special court session which started at 8.15pm. The defendant received free legal aid after the court was told he was receiving a disability allowance of €200 per week.

Mr Puska, who was assigned the services of a Slovak interpreter for the hearing, has been remanded in custody to appear at Cloverhill District Court in Dublin on Wednesday 26 January next. A crowd of around 300 gathered outside Tullamore Courthouse ahead of last night’s hearing.

Mr Puska was arrested late Tuesday morning after being discharged from a Dublin hospital. He was then taken from Dublin to Tullamore Garda station where he was detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act. He took advantage of a break from interrogation on Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, when talks with Garda resumed.

As the 24-hour period the gardaí were allowed to question was about to expire last night, he was re-arrested to be charged with murder. He was then brought before a special sitting of the Tullamore District Court.

Detective Sergeant David Scahill gave evidence in court of arrest, charge and caution. He said Mr Puska was arrested for the murder at Tullamore Garda station at 7.22pm and when the murder charge was brought to him at 7.45pm he answered ‘no’. Mr. Puska appeared before Judge Staines. Eoin Lysaght has been appointed as his lawyer.

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