Thursday 19 April 2018

Graham Dwyer Trial: Architect visited Elaine's apartment block a week before she disappeared, court hears

Sarah Stack and Andrew Phelan

ARCHITECT Graham Dwyer visited Elaine O'Hara's apartment block a week before she disappeared, the Central Criminal Court was told today.

CCTV footage from the apartment complex in Belarmine Plaza in Stepaside, showed Mr Dwyer was there nine times between January 2012 and August 2012.

Footage showed him in the communal hallway of the property, taking the lift or stairway upstairs each time, and remaining there between a minute and almost one hour and 15 minutes depending on whether or not Ms O'Hara was home.

The clips were shown to the jury by Det Sgt Kevin Duggan, whose team examined eight months of CCTV footage from the apartment block.

He was giving evidence this afternoon, on the ninth day of the trial of Mr Dwyer.

The accused (42), an architect of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, is pleading not guilty to the murder of Elaine O’Hara (36) at Killakee, Rathfarnham on August 22, 2012.

Remy Farrell SC
Remy Farrell SC

Ms O’Hara, a childcare assistant from Killiney, was last seen alive near Shanganagh Cemetery in Shankill.

Her remains were found by a dog walker in undergrowth in the Dublin mountains on September 13, 2013, more than a year after she disappeared.

Read more: Graham Dwyer Trial: Architect was arrested at home a month after Elaine's remains discovered

For almost 30 minutes the jury was shown clips of CCTV footage on screens, with Mr Dwyer putting on a pair of glasses and moving closer to the screen in front of him on the opposite side of the court room.

Elaine O'Hara
Elaine O'Hara

In one of the images – taken from July 9 2012 – Mr Dwyer is seen on CCTV with Ms O’Hara. Both enter the apartment block at 5.02pm and he leaves at 5.40pm.

The first clip dated back to January 21, 2012. She left the apartment that morning and Mr Dwyer visits at 2.17pm, staying just ten minutes. She returned at 4.57pm.

Shanganagh Cemetery, where Elaine O’Hara’s mother is buried
Shanganagh Cemetery, where Elaine O’Hara’s mother is buried

On April 6th 2012 Ms O’Hara left that morning and Mr Dwyer arrives at 5.46pm, staying just one minute. She arrived home at 5.55pm.

On June 3rd, footage shows Ms O’Hara arriving home just before 7pm, Mr Dwyer arrives arrived ten minutes later and stayed until 8.18pm.

On June 26th Ms O’Hara leaves the complex in the morning and returned home at 5.18pm. At 5.36pm Mr Dwyer enters the complex and leaves at 6.29pm.

On July 9th, again she spends most of the day out of the apartment until they arrive back together.

The next clip was taken from July 11, 2012, and shows Ms O’Hara leaving her home at 3.20pm, before returning at 3.27pm. Mr Dwyer arrives at 5.34pm and takes the stairs, departing again at 6.18pm.

The next day, July 12th, Ms O’Hara is out when Mr Dwyer arrives at the complex at 5.27pm.

Det Sgt Duggan told prosecution counsel Sean Guerin that Mr Dwyer appeared to have a phone in his hand before putting it away and taking a second phone out of his pocket.

The garda alleged that Mr Dwyer entered the lift but came back out of the lift three minutes later and went to a post box visible on the camera.

About 42 minutes later footage shows Ms O’Hara arriving home and going to the post box before entering the lift holding a mobile phone, the Garda alleged.

The next set of clips, from August 13th 2012, shows Ms O’Hara letting a tradesman in to the complex at 10.15am and he left less than an hour later.

Ms O’Hara leaves at 12.38pm and Mr Dwyer arrived at 8.02pm and stayed just ten minutes, leaving with a rucksack on his back.

The final clip of Mr Dwyer at Belarmine Plaza was taken on August 15th, when he enters at 7pm carrying the same rucksack. Ms O’Hara returned home at 7.36pm and he leaves at 8.02pm carrying the bag.

The jury was shown a close up image of the backpack being carried by Mr Dwyer in the CCTV.

They were also shown a photograph of a black and red backpack which had been retrieved from Vartry reservoir in Co Wicklow. That bag was found the same time gardai took cuffs, sex toys and Ms O’Hara’s keys and glasses from the waterway.

The courtroom also saw footage of Ms O’Hara coming and going from the apartment block on August 22, the last day she was seen alive.

Earlier, the jury heard that Mr Dwyer was arrested as he answered the door at his Foxrock home when gardai arrived with a search warrant a month after Ms O’Hara’s remains were found in the Dublin Mountains.

The search of Mr Dwyer’s family home took place over the course of more than a day, Sgt Brian O’Keeffe told the jury.

Prosecutor Sean Guerin SC said searches were carried out at the defendant’s home at Kerrymount Close and his workplace at A&D Wejchert architects on Baggot Street.

Read more: Timeline of events

Remy Farrell SC, for the defence said he was accepting the legality of the searches.

Sgt O’Keeffe said he went to Dun Laoghaire District Court on October 16, 2013 and made an application for a warrant to search both premises. This was granted by Judge Bridget Reilly.

Sgt O’Keeffe took charge of the search of Kerrymount Close, while Sergeant Kevin Duggan took charge of the other search.

On October 17, he went to Blackrock Garda Station and a number of investigative steps were planned.

He then went with a number of colleagues to Kerrymount Close, some going to the front door and others to the rear.

Shortly after 7am “the accused man Graham Dwyer answered the front door and at that point Detective Sergeant Peter Woods arrested Mr Dwyer,” Mr Guerin said.

Sgt O’Keeffe agreed. The court heard he then entered the house with the search warrant.

Sgt O’Keeffe met the other occupants of the house, members of Mr Dwyer’s family, and arrangements were made to enable the search to proceed without interfering much with them.

Read more: Rare laughter punctuates a week of heavy silence

Crime scene officers were among those who attended and a number of items seized, including an Audi and Land Rover parked there.

The search went on until the early hours of the following morning, was suspended and the scene preserved. It was renewed at 8am and finished at 11am on October 18.

Under cross examination, Sgt O’Keeffe agreed with defence counsel Remy Farrell that hard drives and USBs were laid out on the bed and photographed, including a bulk clip – described as a big paper clip.

Mr Farrell asked if the gardai considered the paper clip to be relevant given that some were discovered on Killakee mountain.

“Yes,” said Sgt O’Keeffe.

Mr Farrell said photographs were also taken of items in Mr Dwyer’s shed, including screws and cable ties.

“Everything was photographed,” Sgt O’Keeffe replied.

Det Sgt Kevin Duggan told the court he was part of a second team that searched Mr Dwyer’s workplace - A & D Wejchert at 23 Lower Baggot Street in Dublin 2 – on October 17, 2013.

He met Paddy Fletcher, a partner in the firm, and explained why they were there, what the purpose was and what they intended to do.

Sgt Duggan agreed with Mr Guerin that Mr Fletcher showed him around and pointed out various locations in the office, including Mr Dwyer’s work station.

Several items of interest were seized, labelled and placed in exhibits bags and handed back in to Blackrock Garda Station that evening, the court heard.

“We focused on all aspects, but we concentrated this search on Graham Dwyer’s work station and places he had access to,” he told Mr Farrell under cross examination.

Exhibits officer Garda Michael McArdle recorded all the items seized from the architects firm, he said.

They included two laptops, a memory stick, computer towers, mobile phone records from 2011, a certificate of membership for Roundwood Golden Eagles, a disc in a disc holder with Roundwood Eagles written on it, a business card for the International Aerobatic Club, a letter from Tower Hobbies.

The court heard Garda McArdle also recorded the seizure of a 3G mobile phone record for an 087 number from 2011, an annual corporate membership of the Irish-Polish Business Association for the accused, miscellaneous e-mails between the accused and Siobhan McKevitt regarding pay.

There was also a feasibility study form for travel to Poland, a timesheet from 2012 for the accused, a mileage spreadsheet for 2012 and 2013 and payslips from the same year.

Also seized was Mr Dwyer’s daily attendance record for May 30, 2010 to October 7, 2013, a holiday attendance sheet, records of minutes of a meeting on June 7, 2013 at 9am, minutes of another meeting on June 15, 2011 at 10am at the student services building at Carlow IT, the accused’s time sheet for July 1, to July 22, 2012.

There was an email from Mr Dwyer to Ms McKevitt dated May 23, 2011.

Detective Sergeant David Conway, recalled to give evidence, confirmed photographs that had been taken at a second site at Killakee, owned by Coillte on September 21, 2013

These were photos of items including black masking tape, string, a black cloth strap, plastic sheeting, what looked like a fishing line tied among the branches and cable ties, one with eight to nine brass screws through it.

There were items of clothing, a piece of wood covered in masking tape with brass screws through it, hacksaw blades with one end covered in masking tape, orange string, a black strap like a luggage strap with a buckle on it.

The trial continues.

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