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Graham Dwyer Trial: Barrel of a gun, bondage cuffs, gas mask, gag, knives and sex toys found by gardai investigating disappearance of Elaine O'Hara

The barrel of a gun, bondage cuffs, a gas mask, gag, knives and sex toys were among the items seized during the Elaine O’Hara probe, a court heard.

Garda James Codd told the Central Criminal Court he was appointed the exhibits officer when the 36-year-old first went missing in August 2012.

He said when he examined Ms O’Hara’s flat in Stepaside found several items, including chains and padlocks, bedding, a black plastic bag with a PVC dress and a tube of lubricant, prescription medication, a rope and a gas mask.

A printout of “The Gorean Lifestyle. A woman’s right is slave” was also found and shown on a large screen in the courtroom.

Gda Codd was giving evidence of the fourth day of the trial of Graham Dwyer, who denies murdering Ms O’Hara on August 2012.

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Graham Dwyer

Graham Dwyer

Graham Dwyer

The officer said the apartment was clean when it was searched, with some of the items he listed were found in her bedroom, and others in the living and a storage area.

“When we stripped the bed we noticed blood stains on the mattress,” he said.

Gda Codd said about a year later, in September 2013, he took exhibits from gardai at Vartry Reservoir where several items had been recovered.

Bondage cuffs, cuffs and chains, clothing, a knife, an inhaler, a leather mask, a set of keys, a rope, gag and chains were handed to the officer, the court heard.

Gda Codd said he took possession of several more items the following day, including a Nokia 1616 mobile phone, cuffs, knives, sex toys, a Real Madrid towel and shorts and a bag containing a barrel of a gun and a large camera lens.

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The items were later handed into the forensic science laboratory, he added.

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Elaine O'Hara

Elaine O'Hara

Elaine O'Hara

Bones found at Kilakee in the Dublin Mountains, where Ms O’Hara’s remains were recovered by a dog walker on September 13, 2013, and all of her medical notes from St Patrick’s Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital were also handed over, he added.

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

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

Family Liaison Oiffcer, Gda John Paul Durkan earlier told the court he stayed in regular contact with the O’Hara family over the year, until September 2013 when he told them officers would need to carry out a forensic examination of her apartment at Belarmine Plaza, Plaza.

Gda Durkan said he reported any developments to the family, tracing and following up text messaging on her iphone, and that they raised no concerns over the garda probe.

He said the family wanted to find out the truth about what happened to Ms O’Hara.

“They were also very worried and concerned about information that came to hand initially,” he said.

“However, there was a time before her Elain’s body was found that the family accepted that she probably took her own life.”

Retired Detective Garda Ultan Sherlock, said carried out a “cursory search” of her apartment with family members on the night she was reported missing.

Two heavy metal chains were discovered in her bedside locker, he said.

“We observed in the living room there was a black PVC body suit,” the retired officer continued.

“There was a rope in the living room as well."

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Garda Sherlock told the court Elaine's brother John O'Hara showed him a link to a a fetish website and images under a profile he believed might have belonged to his missing sister.

He added that he this was a S&M website.

In cross-examination, Garda Sherlock told barrister Ronan Kennedy, for the defence, that he arrived with members of Ms O’Hara’s family at her apartment for a “cursory” first search on August 24, 2012.

He was asked about chains that were found in a bedside locker.

“They were large, heavy chains, and it did strike me as unusual that they were in a beside locker,” he said.

Of the body suit, he said he was not sure who found this but it was brought to his attention.

“It may have been on a sideboard, but I’m not 100pc sure about that,” he said.

He saw a rope in the living room and Mr Kennedy asked if this struck him as peculiar.

“It did somewhat,” he replied. “It may have been similar to a washing line and in the apartment complex there may not have been a facility to hang out washing,” he said.

He was not sure of the colour of the rope.

Two lengths of silver-coloured chains were then shown to him as exhibits in the case and he said: “all I can say is they are similar to the ones I saw, I can’t say they are exactly the same.”

Garda Sherlock said he did not ask the family any questions in relation to S&M but he did ask about possible boyfriends and he was told the family was “not aware of any boyfriends.”

Mr Kennedy asked him why the items found were not taken from the apartment at the time.

He replied that it was not a criminal investigation at that stage but a missing persons case and he was looking for anything that might assist in establishing Ms O’Hara’s whereabouts.

He was not involved in the subsequent, more thorough search, he said.

He was tasked with taking DNA samples from some persons of interest and making enquiries about CCTV.

Several gardai involved in the investigation when Ms O’Hara was first reported missing gave evidence during the morning.

Garda Charles Dempsey said he took control of several exhibits handed in to the incident room, including her passport and notebooks. Two iPhones were also kept securely, he said.

Scenes of crime officer, Garda William Quinlan, was called to the car park of Shanganagh cemetery to examine Ms O’Hara’s 05 D Fiat Punto.

He said the car had more than 77,000km on the clock and had just under half a tank full of petrol.

“The car wasn’t capable of starting,” he said, adding that he thought the battery had no power as the car had been lying idle a number of days.

He was later told a mechanic from AA Ireland had disabled the engine.

Inside the car he found two packets of cigarettes, one full and one with four in it, €5 note on the floor and change.

More than a year later, in December 2013, Gda Dempsey photographed the exterior and interior of Ms O’Hara’s former flat, a converted garage on Rockville Crescent, Blackrock.

Garda Ronan Quinn told the jury he was involved in searching Shanganagh Park in a jeep on August 24, 2012.

He searched the perimeter of the grounds, everywhere he was able to access in his vehicle, searching a tree-covered area on foot. He spent two hours between 2pm and 5pm but did not find anything of interest.

He then gave evidence of items he took possession of two days later, inlcuding a blue notebook computer, iPhone and iPod.

Earlier the court was told that gardai investigating the death and disappearance of Ms O'Hara were given 219 days of CCTV evidence from the South Dublin apartment complex where she lived.

The CCTV system installer, Padraig Finnerty told the jury in the trial of Graham Dwyer that he believed that the machine was operating correctly during that time.

Mr Finnerty told Ronan Kennedy BL, for the defence, that 219 days of footage, between January 18, 2012 and August 25 that year, from the CCTV system at Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside, were given to the gardai.

He said he made a point of never watching footage given to the gardai.

Asked about “issues” with playing back the footage on a different system, he said a windows machine would not display the date and time,

Family liaison officer, Garda John Paul Durkan told the court he had been appointed when Ms O’Hara was reported missing.

He was given items by her brother John O’Hara at her home on August 28, 2012. These were a driving licence, assorted receipts, a postal receipt and an inhaler.

Items he was given by her father Frank O’Hara on August 30 were a purse and assorted cards, a photo of Ms O’Hara, a bunch of keys, a lighter, a green address and phone book.

After lunch, professional dog walker Magali Vergnet told the court she discovered skeletal remains in a wooded area of the Dublin Mountains off Military Road on September 13, 2013.

Ms Vergnet had permission to walk dogs on a private track, which was inside a locked gate and owned by farmer Frank Doyle.

The court heard how her dog Millie, a Cocker Spaniel/King Charles cross, brought her the bone of a leg of deer one day before she went on holiday that August, which she placed on cement blocks out of the small dog’s reach.

Ms Vergnet also said she left a little plastic suitcase there with a long lead, like a horses lead in it, there before her holiday. When she returned, the bag was still there but the lead was missing, she told the court.

Over the next few weeks her dog brought her another three bones, the court heard, which the French woman believed were animal remains and also left them on the blocks.

On September 13th, after she put the dogs she was walking in to her car, she went looking for Millie in the wooded area behind the block.

She agreed with prosecution counsel Sean Querin that she followed a path some distance and saw bones and a blue tracksuit bottoms with a bulge.

“I rubbed it with my foot and it felt like a shoe,” she said.

Ms Vergnet called friends for advice and farmer Frank Doyle. Ms Vergnet and Mr Doyle returned that afternoon and saw a jaw bone.

Mr Doyle called gardai at Tallaght who came to the scene and a second runner was found in grass nearby. Ms Vergnet also showed officers the blade of a knife which was stuck in the ground.

Landowner Frank Doyle told the jury he had 50 acres at Killakee - 30 in forestry and 20 in open grouse moor.

He said he got a call from Ms Vergnet on September 13, 2013. She told him she had found bones and was concerned. She told him about a runner and tracksuit bottoms and they returned with a friend. They went into a wooded area and noticed what looked like a lower jaw bone. Realising they might be human remains, Mr Doyle called the gardai.

Mr Doyle said there was another area around 200 yards away which he thought couples used.

Asked by Mr Guerin why he thought couples courted there, he said: “you do see condoms and lots of McDonald’s bags where they have eaten as well.”

He said in the hunting season around 2011 into 2012, he went into that area while shooting to see if an animal had been struck.

He saw a “big sheet of plastic with some string, a bottle of vaseline, a stick with nails sticking out of it and bits of plastic.”

In 2013, after the discovery of the bones, he brought a garda sergeant to that area and pointed it out.

Mr Farrell asked in cross examination if he thought those items were “out of place” and asked if he thought there was something “untoward or of a sexual nature going on.”

“It did strike me as a bit funny,” he replied.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of seven men and five women.


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