Graham Dwyer Trial: Wife of accused believes spade found near Elaine O'Hara's remains is from her back garden
Graham Dwyer’s wife has told the Central Criminal Court that she believes a spade found near Elaine O’Hara’s remains was from her garden.
Gemma Dwyer said that she noticed the spade was missing from the back garden of the family home in Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, in the summer of 2013.
Giving evidence on day 25 of her husband’s trial, Mrs Dwyer maintained splatters of paint had got on the spade when the fence and shed were painted more than five years earlier.
In court, prosecution barrister Sean Guerin SC asked her if she recognised a spade, which gardai claim was found in a forested area near where Ms O’Hara’s remains were found in Killkaee woods, Rathfarnham.
“I do. The spade is from our garden,” she told the court.
Mrs Dwyer’s husband Graham, a 42-year-old architect, denies murdering Elaine O’Hara at Kilakee, in the Dublin mountains, on August 22, 2012.
Her remains were discovered more than a year later, on September 13, 2013, by a dog walker.
Mrs Dwyer claimed that the spade being missing “was something that came to mind after the arrest,” she said.
“In relation to this spade, I recalled that the spade had been missing from our garden for the whole summer of 2013,” she continued.
“I spent a lot of time in the garden with the children with the swing set, the trampoline and the sand pit.”
Mrs Dwyer told the court how the dog from next door would foul, and she used to clean the dirt from the lawn and do the gardening.
“I mentioned it to Graham a number of times and in the end I used a spade from the sandpit,” she added.
Mrs Dwyer said she recognised the spade as the stickers on handle were familiar and there was a splatter “of orangey red paint on it”.
“The fencing and the garden shed had been painted in a Fence Life paint that had gotten everywhere,” she said.
Mrs Dwyer was shown a second spade which she found in her garden when she returned to her home after gardai had searched it.
“Things had been put back in place for the most,” she said, however compost was all turned out in back lawn.
“There was a spade among it. I said the Garda Siochana must have left that spade behind.”
Mrs Dwyer took a drink of water as she was shown a photograph of a swing set in her back garden, which she believed was taken on March 5, 2011.
“Before my daughter was born we bought this swing set for my son and my dad and Graham built it. I believe the picture was taken when built,” she said.
Mrs Dwyer was asked to look closely to the left of the slide in the image.
“That’s our spade,” she replied, agreeing it was the one that had gone missing.
In cross-examination, Remy Farrell SC, defending, put it to Ms Dwyer that she had been shown a spade by the gardai and said it was “the same type of spade as ours.”
He told her she had told gardai she noticed paint on the spade and this reminded her of Mr Dwyer painting the fence and shed in their garden towards the end of 2007 or 2008.
She said spatters of the paint had gone everywhere.
Mr Farrell put it to her that the basis of her identification of the spade was the paint that was on it.
“And other characteristics,” she said, adding that it was the same type of spade and had the same stickers.
“The paint was the thing that made me remember that it was our spade,” she said.
Detective Sergeant Peter Woods then gave evidence that he went to the accused’s home on December 5, 2013 and took possession of a second spade found at the family home. It had been left in a compost heap after the search of the premises in October 2013, he said.
He also took Fence Life paint samples from the garden shed.
In cross examination, Mr Farrell said the gardai would presumably have been interested in looking for spades when they went to search the house.
“I don’t think it would have been on the list,” Det Sgt Woods said.
Mr Farrell said somebody had directed the photographer to take a picture of the spade in the accused’s garden.
“I think he took pictures all around the house and garden,” Det Sgt Woods said.
The spade was not taken up during the search because the gardai did not think it was of interest at the time.
Elsewhere Niall Nugent, sales director with tool manufacturer Ames True Temper, said the spade found at Killakee Woods was a True Temper Homeowner range spade manufactured anytime between 1998 and 2009.
He said it had a very distinctive label and agreed that the spade pictured in the Dwyer’s garden next to the swing set was the same brand and model.
In cross examination he told Mr Farrell that while the spade recovered dated back to 1998, he could not be more specific over the date of manufacture.
Garda William Kavanagh said on February 17 this year, he looked for photographs on one of the media storage devices found in the search at Kerrymount Close.
There were 293,000 image files on the device and he was looking for a photograph of a spade.
He found an image in a picture taken on a HTC Touch phone.
He said he also received two spades - one from Killakee Woods and the other from the accused’s address.
The trial continues.