A new suspect for the murder of Ashling Murphy has been linked to a bicycle that gardaí made repeated appeals for information about over the past 48 hours.
The Irish Independent reports detectives have obtained CCTV of a man believed to be the suspect on the bicycle in the Tullamore, Co Offaly, area.
Images of the bike were made public on Thursday evening, just hours before detectives released a 40-year-old who had been the chief suspect for the random attack.
He has since been eliminated from the garda inquiry and has gone into hiding for his own safety.
The man’s identity and photo were widely shared on social media and in messaging apps while he was in custody.
The new suspect is understood to be undergoing hospital treatment and has not yet been formally interviewed.
Sources indicated it could be a number of days before officers can take a statement from him.
While gardaí are not confirming any specific details for operational reasons, they say “significant progress has been made in the investigation to date”.
It is understood gardaí searched a number of properties, including in Offaly and one in Dublin.
An urgent appeal for information on a bike was issued again yesterday amid considerable local anxiety over the news that the killer was still on the loose.
The distinctive Falcon Storm mountain bike is described as having “straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/green front forks”.
In particular, gardaí are asking people in Tullamore to recall if they saw the bike before 4pm on Wednesday, when Ms Murphy was killed, or “in previous days/weeks”.
The man gardaí are waiting to question is understood to have been linked to the bike.
Officers still believe Ms Murphy was the victim of a random attack at the hands of someone unknown to her.
She was targeted while exercising along the Grand Canal in Tullamore.
A number of witnesses who were in the area around that time have contacted gardaí, but officers still hope more members of the public will come forward with information.
In a statement, they said: “An Garda Síochána wishes to acknowledge the support of the public to date and in order to assist the public in providing information to the investigation team a dedicated phone line 057 9357060 has been established at Tullamore garda station.
“An Garda Síochána continue to appeal to any person who has not made contact with the investigation team and who has any information on this fatal assault to come forward.”
Detectives have also asked any person who was around Tullamore town centre or the wider approach roads to Grand Canal Way in the vicinity of Cappincur on Wednesday to check any dashcam, CCTV, mobile phone or GoPro footage they might have.
Meanwhile, the solicitor for the man released after more than 24 hours in custody has said his life has been “ruined” by the situation.
The man, who is no longer a suspect in the murder, remains at a safe location for his own protection.
It is understood he had repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder during garda interviews.
Solicitor Donal Farrelly told the Irish Independent his client’s life had been made “unbearable” after he was identified online.
Mr Farrelly, of Donal Farrelly & Co Solicitors, also said that people cannot lose sight of what happened to Ms Murphy, but that his client was wrongly “vilified” by people.
“Doesn’t this show the vital importance of the presumption of innocence?” he said. “This is the most important thing to come out of this, and we have to keep that in our focus.
“It is a terrible tragedy what happened to this lady, what happened to her and her family, but this man has been vilified on social media.
“Absolutely vilified, and everybody clearly identified who he was on social media.
“It has made life unbearable for him I would say.
“It is dreadful – the amount of hurt and anger and ire about him on social media is frightening.”
The man was set free after detectives concluded he had been mistakenly identified as the person who attacked Ms Murphy.
In a statement issued just before 11pm on Thursday, gardaí confirmed the man had been “eliminated” from their inquiries and “is no longer a suspect”.
It is understood there was no forensic evidence linking him to the crime scene.