IRISH cops have identified a new suspect in the Ashling Murphy murder case after a man presented himself at a hospital with facial injuries.
The man visited Dublin A&E but is believed to have been living in the town of Tullamore where Ashling was killed.
Talented musician Ashling, 23, was attacked and killed while out jogging along the Grand Canal in Tullamore at around 4pm on Wednesday.
A source said: “The investigation is in its infancy but is constantly evolving.
“Gardai are awaiting to see if they can interview him to establish if he can provide any assistance to their investigation.
“They are also trying to establish if this individual has a history of violence against women. Gardai are examining all lines of inquiry.”
A man on a bike who was spotted on CCTV is said to bear a similarity in appearance to the man who was arrested an hour after Ashling was found.
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It’s believed this may be one of the reasons why the innocent man was lifted by gardai.
The man was released without charge on Thursday night and cops declared he was no longer a suspect in the case after they uncovered evidence which proved he wasn’t Ashling’s killer.
This involved material being sent to Forensic Science Ireland for examination.
As part of their investigation, officers are continuing to follow multiple lines of inquiry and examine CCTV footage from Tullamore and surrounding areas.
A police statement last night said: “Significant progress has been made in the investigation to date. An Garda Siochana is not confirming any specific details for operational reasons.
“An Garda Siochana continue to support Ashling’s family at this time. The Murphy family are appreciative and overwhelmed by the national outpouring of support shown to them. The Murphy family have requested that they now need privacy, space and time to process Ashling’s death.”
As locals struggle to come to terms with the murder that has rocked the whole nation, Ashling’s hometown was last night gripped by a “tsunami of fear”.
Shaken residents in Tullamore told the Irish Sun they were “locking themselves into their rooms” and axing their plans to go for walks or runs in the wake of the horror killing.
Teacher Fiona Corcoran, 37, said: “I’m distraught, sad and worried. I feel so sad for Ashling and her family. I didn’t know Ashling well personally but I remember Ashling’s parents bringing her to mass when she was a little girl.
“That someone would do this to her is awful. The canal is right beside my house. I would go walk the canal, I walked it over Christmas but now I won’t. The fear is taking over.”
Local woman Liz Doyle, 24, admitted she was “looking over my shoulder” after the attack.
She yesterday declared: “I’m scared, shocked, everything really to be honest. I was always nervous about being out alone, now that fear has increased so much.
“The canal is very busy, so you would think it is a safe place but it is not. It has left the area scared. I just hope they get whoever did this. They need to get the killer who did this. People are on edge, looking over their shoulder.
“I’m looking over my shoulder now walking down the street.” Liz’s friend Zoe Tracey, 29, said: “It is just so worrying. Ashling went running in the afternoon and she was killed in broad daylight.
“You just worry, is this going to happen again? It seems to be a random attack, which is even more worrying. There doesn’t seem to be any motive at all.
“So it could have happened to any of us, it could happen to any of us.”
The stretch of the canal walkway where Ashling was running is called ‘Fiona’s Way’.
It’s named after missing Fiona Pender, a Tullamore woman who disappeared while seven months pregnant in August 1996. Local Geraldine Duffy described Ashling’s murder as “another devastating tragedy” to hit the area.
And the mum revealed her frightened daughter had decided to stay over with her last night.
Geraldine said: “It’s terrible, my daughter’s a nurse and she wouldn’t go to her own house last night. She locked her door in my house last night. That is how real the fear is.
TOWN IN FEAR
“The whole town is in fear. Everyone is distraught for Ashling’s family. And everyone is concerned about who could be next. This is just a small town.”
Amid the panic, pensioner Owen Hynes believes it is important that men stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with women.
Owen, 78, told the Irish Sun: “It is absolutely horrendous.
“That this could happen to anyone is awful. To a young woman just out for a run, it is shocking. There is something seriously wrong. We have to stand with women, we have to stand shoulder-to-shoulder.
“The walkway where it happened is named after Fiona Pender who went missing all those years ago.
“That Ashling was murdered on that walkway named after Fiona, it is hard to come to terms with.”
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