Thursday 18 January 2018

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

Nurse manager said Elaine said this to him years ago

Andrew Phelan and Sarah Stack

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.

Read more here: Graham Dwyer Trial: Phone number for man named 'Graham' found on diary entry on Elaine O'Hara's laptop  

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.

Graham Dwyer
Graham Dwyer
Elaine O'Hara
Graham Dwyer

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

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

"Previously, yes,” he said.

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.

Read more here: Graham Dwyer Trial: Elaine O'Hara had been suffering from 'obsessional' fantasy about being restrained since age of 12 - psychiatrist  

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.”

Read more here: Elaine 'playing dangerous game' with architect, warned friend 

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.

Read more here: Elaine told friend she met man who 'liked to cut her', court hears 

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.

Read more here: Graham Dwyer Trial: 'I told her she was playing a dangerous game... Elaine just wanted to be loved' - friend 

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.

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News