Monday 22 July 2019

Graham Dwyer trial: Accused's designer life in spotlight


A SHORT man - about 5' 5" tall - with tight black hair, a downturned mouth and slightly protruding lower jaw stands at a set of brushed-steel elevator doors on the ground floor of a bright apartment block.

Alongside him, a heavyset woman - around 16-17 stone - with shoulder-length auburn hair and glasses, is waiting for them to open too.

They step inside in what might otherwise have been a fleeting, innocuous moment in time, if it hadn't been playing for a jury in Dublin's Central Criminal Court last week.

The State alleges that the CCTV snapshot (recorded just after 5pm on July 9, 2012) is of the architect Graham Dwyer with the childcare worker he denies murdering, Elaine O'Hara, in the Stepaside apartment block where she lived.

Thirty-six-year-old Elaine's psychiatric problems, money problems, health problems, and sexual preferences had all been laid bare in previous weeks' evidence.

But last week it was 42-year-old Dwyer's life that was under the spotlight as the items seized during searches of his home, and workplace, in October 2013 were revealed.

Elaine's sister, Ann Charles, described Elaine as someone who "never really grew up"; the accused man's life was one of order, organisation and designer labels.

In the driveway of his Foxrock home in Kerrymount Close, an Audi A4 and Landrover Freelander were seized for technical examination, Inspector Brian O'Keefe told the court; Mr Dywer's North Face jacket was removed from the Audi boot.

Elaine could not afford the cost of the prescription she needed after being released from St Edmondsbury (Mental Health) Hospital in Lucan on the day she died; in a filing cabinet at the accused's home, paperwork relating to Mr Dwyer's €70,000 salary and pension plan was seized, Detective Garda Colm Gregan told the court.

Where Elaine longed for a baby (according to text messages the State claims she sent Mr Dwyer from her phone), the accused man was at a different stage in life - a father of three, with two young children. He has a son aged six and daughter aged two. A tube of Arnica cream was one of the items seized from one of the children's bedside locker, the jury also heard.

An older son from a previous relationship, Sennan McShea, aged in his twenties, signed his name on the reverse of CCTV stills he felt "most confident" identified his father when they were shown to him by Detective Garda Paul Corcoran, the Family Liaison Officer on the case.

Unlike the victim, who worked a second job in Ken's newsagents in Blackrock to supplement her day job in St John's School, Ballybrack, the accused man could afford to indulge in a model aeroplane flying hobby in his free time.

A business card for 'Model Heli Services'; a certificate of membership for Roundwood Golden Eagles Model Aeroclub; and a card bearing his name for the International Miniature Aerobatic Club were retrieved by Garda Michael Lynch from Mr Dwyer's work station at A&D Wejchert during the search of the Baggot Street firm.

As the company's timesheets, attendance records, clock-ins and minutes of meetings were entered as exhibits at the trial, it became clear that Mr Dwyer was an organised man.

It was he who informed gardai where the Buck Special hunting knife delivered to him the day before Elaine disappeared on August 22, 2012, could be found, the jury also learned last week.

Detective Sergeant Peter Woods took a call from Mr Dwyer's solicitor, Jonathan Dunphy, and received a detailed fax on February 17, 2014.

The book of evidence containing the State's case against Mr Dwyer had been served a month earlier, Det Sgt Woods, attached to Blackrock Station, agreed in evidence.

The detailed fax showed a plan of the Baggot Street basement in the building where Mr Dwyer worked, and a hand-drawn sketch of the filing shelves; the relevant one was indicated with an asterix, the box number the knife was stashed in cited as 980 or 960.

When the Det Sgt went to A&D Wejchert he found the Buck Special and another knife stored in box '980', exactly as Mr Dwyer had indicated, he told the court.

Det Sgt Woods held aloft the Buck Special 119 model in a black leather scabbard for the jury to see in court.

It had "small scratches" on the sheath and was "clean, very clean," he explained.

A second flick knife was also recovered from the basement box of office files, he added. The fact that the delivery had occurred on August 21, 2012, was considered "hugely significant" Det Sgt Woods said.

The Buck Special hunting knife was sold online to Mr Dwyer by Active Hunting Ireland on August 17, 2012. The company's owner, Michael Fenlon, gave evidence last week. Mr Fenlon testified that it had been delivered by courier to the Baggot Street architects firm, where Dwyer had been a partner since 2006, on August 21, 2012.

The number '119' referred to the model, it had cost €95 and a had a 'cocobolo' handle, Mr Fenlon added, explaining that in the comment box of the online purchase, the purchaser had requested that the delivery be marked, 'Private & Confidential'.

Normally, Mr Dywer leafs through his legal files, making notes and listening intently, wearing a navy suit, a white shirt, and a red, yellow, or blue tie.

His appearance could easily be mistaken for that of a solicitor attached to either side.

After a break in court proceedings, Mr Dwyer gave a nod and muttered a stiff 'hello' to his former colleague Siobhan McKevitt, as the A&D Wejchert office manager headed past him to take the stand.

As the State set about the business of proving incidents referred to in text messages Mr Dwyer allegedly sent Elaine, company emails, phone records and Lever Arch files were entered as exhibits.

In an email to Ms McKevitt in 2011, Mr Dwyer complained about two wage cuts which caused his salary to drop from €87,000 to €70,000 in the space of six months.

In another email sent on May 23, also to Ms McKevitt, he referred to the Bike-to-Work scheme. An invoice for the company's purchase of the bike was also handed over to gardai.

The documents also revealed a trip to Warsaw, and the kind of projects he was involved in working on: Leopardstown Racecourse, Trinity House (Youth Justice Service), Carlow IT.

Meanwhile, in one of the last images of Elaine shown to the jury, she can be seen lugging a large box, which her father, Frank, said he believes was an extractor fan she needed for a leak in her apartment.

The court also heard from Coillte worker James O'Dowd. The forester told the court he knew the location where the court had previously heard plastic sheeting, hacksaw blades, a harness, a metal rod, a diver's hat, cable ties and other items had been found.

The items were discovered at the site beyond Frank Doyle's land, where Elaine's partial remains were recovered in Killakee in September 2013, when the search was widened

Mr O'Dowd testified the area was felled in 2013, but that prior to that the 30-35- year-old forest, which had only been thinned once, was "basically impossible" to get through. He said a storm two to three years previously had blown down trees and the criss-cross way they had fallen created an "enormous obstacle course".

As the evidence unfolded in the Central Criminal Court, Christof Hylinski, a partner at Hydarulic Tattoos, on South King Street, Dublin, also took the stand.

He said his company replied to a query emailed about a tattoo on April 28, 2011, advising it could be done in "a private area", by which Mr Hylinski said he meant "a separate area for tattoos like this one".

Asked by Sean Guerin SC why it would need to be private, he replied: "When it is a job on a private area of the body."

The trial continues tomorrow.

What the CCTV footage appears to show

LAST week the jury watched CCTV footage that the State maintains was retrieved from the ground floor of the apartment complex where Elaine O'Hara lived. On nine occasions, Graham Dwyer visited the Belarmine Plaza block where Elaine lived in apartment 97, between January 21, 2012 and August 26, 2012, the State contends. Elaine disappeared on August 22, 2012 after spending six weeks in St Edmundsbury Hospital where she was being treated for depression.

January 21, 2012

09.19: Elaine O'Hara leaves her apartment with a grey and red rucksack on her back

14.17: Graham Dwyer enters the apartment in a black jacket and jeans

14.27: Graham Dwyer exits the lift

16.58: Elaine O'Hara walks into the building and enters the lift

April 6, 2012

09.30: Elaine O'Hara exits the apartment block

17.46: Graham Dwyer enters the building

17.47: Graham Dwyer comes down the stairs

17.55: Elaine enters the apartment and checks her postbox, removing something. She gets in the lift

June 23, 2012

18.54: Elaine O'Hara enters the apartment block

19.04: Graham Dwyer arrives 10 minutes after Elaine

20.18: Graham Dwyer leaves

June 26, 2012

08.19: Elaine O'Hara exits in a red jacket with a brown bag over her shoulder

17.18: Elaine returns

17.36: Graham Dwyer arrives 18 minutes later

18.29: He leaves just under an hour later

July 9, 2012

08.36: Elaine O'Hara leaves the building, again wearing a red jacket, jeans and carrying a brown bag

15.33: She returns

15.46: Elaine is seen checking the postbox before she leaves the complex

17.02: Graham Dwyer appears to enter the complex. This is the first and only time they are seen on CCTV together

17.40: Graham appears to leave

July 11, 2012

15.20: Elaine O'Hara leaves the building

15.27: She returns home and checks for mail

17.34: Graham Dwyer takes the stairs

18.18: He leaves the building

July 12, 2012

10.07: Elaine O'Hara leaves the building with her brown bag over her shoulder

13.30: She returns home and, after checking for post, gets in the lift

15.36: Elaine leaves the building

17.27: Graham Dwyer enters. He is wearing black clothing and is seen with two different phones

17.30: He stops at the postboxes on his way out

18.12: Elaine enters the building and walks to her postbox, taking something out

August 13, 2012

8.43: Elaine O'Hara enters the complex and heads for the postbox before getting in the lift

10.15: She lets a tradesman in and they get into the lift

11.11: He leaves

12.38: She leaves carrying bags

20.02: Graham Dwyer enters the building while Elaine is out

20.12: Ten minutes later Graham leaves carrying a bag

August 15, 2012

19.00: Graham Dwyer enters with a red and black backpack

19.36: Elaine O'Hara arrives, goes to the postbox before getting in the lift

20.02: Graham leaves with the backpack

20.10 Elaine leaves the complex

August 22, 2012: Elaine's last day

12.04 Elaine O'Hara enters the complex laden with bags and gets in the lift as a cleaner mops up

12.46: Elaine is filmed putting a large item in the bin area of the basement by a different camera

12.50: Elaine enters with her jacket hanging from her head by the hood. She is carrying a box and after going to the postbox gets in the lift

13.00: Elaine leaves the building in different clothing

Sunday Independent

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