Gardaí closing in on Ashling suspect with Offaly house combed for vital evidence

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Gardaí are continuing to hunt for the weapon they believe was used to kill Ashling Murphy, with forensic experts combing the chief suspect’s home on Sunday.

A massive Garda operation at the house removed hundreds of bags of material with two large skips placed out in the garden.

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Officers continue to monitor the suspect at a Dublin hospital while they hunt for the clothes he wore that day. They are also racing to trace his taxi rides to and from Tullamore on the day of the murder.

Gardaí closing in on Ashling suspect with Offaly house combed for vital evidence
© Provided by Extra.ie Gardaí are closing in on the chief suspect in the murder of Ashling Murphy as a house in Offaly was combed for vital evidence on Sunday.

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Material taken from the home was placed in unmarked Garda cars for examination in what has become one of the largest murder investigations ever seen in the State.

None of the man’s family were seen at the house while the Garda search was being carried out.

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A security source said gardaí spent two days reviewing CCTV footage from Tullamore train station in the hope of identifying the suspect, who travelled to relatives in Crumlin, Dublin, in the hours after the murder.

Gardaí closing in on Ashling suspect with Offaly house combed for vital evidence
© Provided by Extra.ie A Garda search team at the scene of the investigation into the fatal assault on Ashling Murphy. Pic: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

He was later admitted to a hospital in the city with several wounds.

However, no positive identification of the suspect could be made from the train station CCTV, according to a source.

Gardaí are continuing to review the footage and they are examining the possibility that someone gave him a lift to Dublin.

Gardaí closing in on Ashling suspect with Offaly house combed for vital evidence
© Provided by Extra.ie Ashling suffered severe injuries to her neck and chest while trying to defend herself, a source said.

Officers are also examining whether scratch marks on his body could have been inflicted by keys that Ashling had in her possession when she was attacked.

Ashling Murphy suffered severe injuries to her neck and chest while trying to defend herself, a source said.

A garda asked that the suspect’s house, which is in Co Offaly, is not identified.

The suspect, who is originally from central Europe, moved to the house several years ago after first living with his family in Tullamore.

Gardaí closing in on Ashling suspect with Offaly house combed for vital evidence
© Provided by Extra.ie Flowers at Fiona’s Way sculpture near the scene of the fatal assault on Ashling Murphy along the canal bank at Cappincur, Tullamore, Offaly. Pic: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Gardaí still have not found a witness to formally link the suspect to the Falcon Storm bike which was abandoned close to the murder scene on Wednesday.

Sources said that gardaí had visited a business premises four times on Saturday, urgently seeking someone who could link the suspect to the bike.

‘They were saying: “Have you or anyone ever seen him on this bike? Have you ever seen him around the town or on the canal?”,’ the businessman said.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee on Sunday said that a new Government strategy to tackle domestic, sexual and gender-based violence will be published by the beginning of March and will take a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach.

Gardaí closing in on Ashling suspect with Offaly house combed for vital evidence
© Provided by Extra.ie Officers are examining whether scratch marks on the man’s body could have been inflicted by keys that Ashling had in her possession when she was attacked.

The murder of the young teacher will dominate the Dáil’s agenda when it returns on Wednesday – and Sinn Féin will bring forward its own motion calling for action on gender-based violence.

Back in Tullamore, a local taxi driver said that the suspect was ‘well known’ to him.

‘He would load the entire family into the taxi, which we are not allowed to accept. I would say: “Four people only” but he wouldn’t accept that, so eventually I told him that his family had to travel in two taxis or not at all,’ he said.

Gardaí continue to monitor the suspect at a Dublin hospital, where he was admitted on Wednesday night.

Gardaí closing in on Ashling suspect with Offaly house combed for vital evidence
© Provided by Extra.ie The Garda forensics tent at the scene of the investigation into the fatal assault on Ashling Murphy. Pic: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A former neighbour of the suspect said that the man had a large family and did not involve himself much in the community. ‘He and the family came and went. You wouldn’t get a hello or goodbye but that could be a language problem, I don’t know,’ he said.

Meanwhile, the funeral Mass for Ms Murphy will take place on Tuesday morning. According to the funeral notice: ‘Ashling will repose in her family home on Sunday from 3pm until 8pm, strictly. Also on Monday from 3pm until 8pm, strictly. Rosary on both nights will take place at 8pm.

‘Removal on Tuesday to arrive at St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus, for Requiem Mass at 11am. Burial afterwards in Lowertown Cemetery, Mountbolus. Family flowers only, please. House strictly private on Tuesday, please.’

Gardaí closing in on Ashling suspect with Offaly house combed for vital evidence
© Provided by Extra.ie A funeral Mass for the young teacher will take place on Tuesday morning.

Hundreds of people continued to leave flowers and cards on Sunday at several memorial sites in Tullamore.

A large photo of Ashling on the way into Lloyd Town Park was surrounded by flowers and cards and a board to the side of her photo was festooned with dozens of messages to Ashling from members of the public.

A large purple homemade sign left below her photo read, ‘Ní saoirse go saoirse na mban’ – there is no freedom without the freedom of women.

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