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Graham Dwyer Trial: Elaine O'Hara told hospital staff member about 'soliciting someone to harm her or possibly kill her' years ago, court hears

ELAINE O'Hara told a staff member at a mental health hospital about "soliciting someone to harm her or possibly kill her" years ago, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The jury was told she may have mentioned this to the Nurse Manager at St Edmundsbury Hospital.

Damien Lanagan was giving evidence in the trial of Graham Dwyer this afternoon.

Mr Dwyer (42), 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, a childcare assistant from Killiney, was last seen alive near Shanganagh Cemetery in Shankill that day.

Her remains were found by a dog walker in undergrowth in the Dublin mountains on September 13, 2013.

The prosecution maintains Mr Dwyer killed her for his own sexual gratification.​

Mr Lanagan told Anne Marie Lawlor, prosecuting, that Ms O’Hara would have approached him if she was suicidal or going to harm herself. She did not approach him while he was on duty during her final admission there.

He agreed with Ms Lawlor that Ms O’Hara could come and go as she pleased.

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Graham Dwyer

Graham Dwyer

Elaine O'Hara

Elaine O'Hara

Graham Dwyer

Graham Dwyer

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Graham Dwyer

She would sign herself in and out when leaving. During her time there, her father visited her.

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Mr Lanagan agreed that he had some awareness of Ms O’Hara’s involvement in S&M.

"Previously, yes,” he said.

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Elaine O'Hara

Elaine O'Hara

Elaine O'Hara

He was aware that she arranged and met up with other people to engage in sexual practices. He was not aware of her self harming while she was at the hospital in 2012.

"Years ago, she may have mentioned soliciting someone to harm her and possibly kill her," Ms Lawlor said.

"Yes," Mr Lanagan replied.

In cross-examination, Kate McCormack BL, for the defence, put it to him he had said of the S&M issue in his statement: "I was aware of this through team meetings and I was aware that over the internet, she arranged and took part in strange sexual practices with strangers."

Mr Lanagan agreed.

Earlier, as he finished his evidence, psychiatrist Dr Matt Murphy agreed with Mr Guerin, in re-examination, that the time of discharge would have been seen as a period of higher risk for Ms O’Hara.

Mr Guerin asked Dr Murphy what he had seen as the level of risk for Ms O’Hara given the arrangements she had discussed with him after her discharge, including work and her involvement in the Tall Ships festival.

“From a clinical point of view, I would have been very hopeful about at least the immediate future,” he said, adding that this was despite knowing that her mood could shift.

“I would have been surprised if she had slipped back in mood terms very suddenly and I would have been surprised and saddened is she hadn’t turned back to us for help if that had happened.”

Mr Kennedy then cross-examined Dr Murphy again on a point that had been raised about Ms O’Hara burning herself with an iron.

He referred to the incident report form which described it as a semi-permanent, moderate injury. The form noted: “felt impulse to hurt herself, burned arm with tip of iron.”

“That would suggest it wasn’t accidental, it was an impulse by Ms O’Hara to harm herself,” Mr Kennedy said.

Mr Guerin then asked Dr Murphy how significant he considered this to be.

“In the overall context I would see it as a relatively minor matter,” he replied.

Psychotherapist Christopher McConnell said he was contacted at the end of February 2012 by Ms O’Hara. She said she had been trying group therapy but it was not working and she wanted to try one-on-one therapy.

They met twice in February and twice in March that year, then again in April and May.

He agreed with Mr Guerin that he understood at the time that Ms O’Hara was anxious and nervous and not suicidal, but frightened by suicidal thoughts.

“Yes, she told me there were episodes in the past and she was frightened of feeling suicidal,” he replied.

Their last session was cut short after 20 minutes when she walked out, later apologising to him by email.

She told him in their meetings that her family and her work with children were very important to her. They had discussed her thoughts about suicide and she told him she was working with a psychiatrist in St Edmundsbury’s Hospital.

Asked what he thought when he heard she was missing, he said: “I was surprised, but it had been three months.”

The trial is expected to continue next week before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of seven men and five women.


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