Tuesday 20 February 2018

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

Sarah Stack and Andrew Phelan

ARCHITECT Graham 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 at the Central Criminal Court today.

He was giving evidence 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.

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.

Elaine O'Hara
Elaine O'Hara

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

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, Dublin.

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, 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.

Read more Bondage cuffs found, then three days later a human jawbone

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.

Scenes of crime photographer, Garda Stephen Heffernan, told the court he was called to Killakee Mountains on September 20, 2013, and photographed several items found in a second site close to where Ms O’Hara’s remains were discovered.

He went through a booklet of almost 40 photographs in the court, showing general views of the deforested area and wide and close up images of plastic bottles, cable ties, a diver’s hat, clip, plastic bags and clothing.

Photographs of a condom wrapper and possibly a used condom, taken slightly further away, were also in the booklet.

Under cross examination, Gda Heffernan told defense barrister Ronan Kennedy he could not recall if there was one or two condoms in the location or where exactly they were found.

“I can’t say, just in the general area,” he said.

Gda Heffernan said he was not aware who took possession of the condoms, as members of  the search team where seizing and logging items.

He could also not remember exactly what items of clothing were at the scene.

“I don’t recall. I didn’t handle them or go near them, I just photographed them in situ,” he replied.

Gda Heffernan said he could not say if there was a second condom.

Detective Garda Mark Collender was then recalled for cross-examination by Mr Kennedy. He agreed that he had located a number of items a short distance up the road from the initial clearing.

This included wires, twine and insulation tape that was recovered from the felled area of that wood.

Read more: Bondage cuffs found, then three days later a human jawbone

He referred to a photograph showing a pair of waterproof trousers tied to a tree. He agreed with Mr Kennedy that another photograph showed a red and black strap tied around a tree.

Similar red and black twine was photographed in another area, and a number of tied bottles were photographed.

Another photograph showed a bull clip and the court heard a number of these were found in the area.

There was a picture showing the locus of a diving mask, and another of a number of items that had been found in a black binliner. There was a pair of grey trousers and denim shorts. Other items photographed included two orange hacksaw blades with black tape on them, cycling shorts, a white t-shirt, a jumper and various cable ties.

Referring to fishing lines tied between two trees, or at least between branches, Det Gda Collender said he could not recall seeing this but he did recall a fishing line in a separate area.

Garda Fionnuala Whelan, who gave evidence previously, was also cross-examined by Mr Kennedy.

She said a condom and wrapper had been located at 12pm on September 16, 2013. It was marked with a brown paper evidence bag placed over it but it was not seized until September 21.

She told Mr Kennedy it had appeared “very fresh” and she believed it had only been there for a few days and not longer than a week or two. The gardai believed it was not relevant and only seized it on the later date as a precaution.

She believed there was only one condom there.

Read more: Timeline of events

Mr Kennedy put it to her that in a statement, she had said that two condoms and a wrapper were pointed out to her on September 16 and she seized them and placed them in an evidence bag.

“That was an error on my part,” she said, adding there was only one condom.

“It’s a pretty substantial error,” Mr Kennedy said.

Earlier, harvesting forester with Coillte, James O’Dowd told the jury there had been a storm which blew down trees at Killakee about three years prior to 2013. Coillte owned the land.

He agreed with Mr Guerin that 80 to 90pc of a section of forest had been “flattened” and was impossible to access. Chainsaws had to be used to cut out the fallen trees.

Sara Bunn, customer service manager with Buy For Now, an e-commerce solutions provider for (former) Superquinn, identified a loyalty card which gardai had found with a set of keys found in Vartry reservoir. This belonged to Elaine O’Hara, she confirmed.

It had last been registered in April 2010 and last used on August 8, 2012. Most of the transactions were for Superquinn in Blackrock, with the “odd one” in Ballinteer.

Mark McGuirk, CCTV technicican, told the court there were two cameras at a recycling centre at Shanganagh Park. This was to record people dumping there. One camera was focused across a yard where the bins were and the other pointed up the laneway toward the entrance to the cemetery to get the registration numbers of cars.

On August 27, 2012, he called to the site and the first camera was working but the second was not. It had been broken for some time but Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Co Council did not have the funds to replace it.

The court heard it had been broken for two months at the time. There were no other cameras in the vicinity.

Cross-examined by Mr Farrell, he agreed it would not necessarily have been public knowledge that the camera was not working.

There were signs in the area about CCTV being in operation.

The trial continues.

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