Wednesday 25 April 2018

Graham Dwyer Trial: Gardai cross-examined over spade found near Elaine O'Hara's body

Trial of Foxrock architect Graham Dwyer continues

Graham Dwyer
Graham Dwyer

Andrew Phelan and Sarah Stack

A SPADE seized by gardai searching woods near where Elaine O’Hara’s skeletal remains were discovered was “virtually identical” to one that was later found at Graham Dwyer’s home, the Central Criminal Court was heard.

Defence Barrister Remy Farrell made the remark as a photograph of the spade from the accused's back garden was shown to the jury in Mr Dwyer's trial, as well as the spade that was taken from the forest by gardai.

The jury was told the spade photographed at the accused’s house a month later was not seized.

Mr Farrell was cross-examining one of the gardai who searched the location in the Dublin Mountains where Ms O’Hara’s body was found.

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.

Read more here: Series of letters shown to jury 

Graham Dwyer
Graham Dwyer

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.

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

Garda Christopher Moylan told the jury today he was involved in the search of the area off Military Road when he found what may have been some of the human remains.

In addition to that, on September 20 he found a shovel in a wooded area to the right of the roadway that turned up through the lands owned by Frank Doyle.

The shovel was bagged and labelled as possible evidence.

The garda was also shown a photograph of a spade that was found in Mr Dwyer’s back garden at Kerrymount close in that search the following October. This was never seized by gardai.

Elaine O'Hara
Elaine O'Hara
Elaine O'Hara

In cross-examination, Remy Farrell SC, defending, asked exactly where the spade in the woods was found.

Garda Moylan replied that it was in a ditch area inside the trees off the track and was not visible from the roadway.

Examining the spade in the photograph from Kerrymount close, he agreed they were both rectangular-headed spades rather than arrow-shaped shovels.

Read more here: Dwyer suffered two pay cuts to €87,000 salary, court told 

Mr Farrell said the two were “virtually identical in terms of make and so on.”

Garda Christopher O’Leary, from Tallaght Garda Station, said he was among the first three officers sent to Killakee woods the evening Ms O’Hara’s remains were found.

Under cross examination he told defence counsel Remy Farrell if he was not the garda shown a “rusty blade” in the area by dog walker Magali Vergnet.

The jury also heard from Joe Mason of Petra Management Ltd, the management company that look after the maintenance, lighting and CCTV in the communal areas of Belarmine Plaza, where Ms O’Hara lived.

Read more here: Jury shown CCTV footage of Stepaside apartment block 

He said that there were no problems recorded with the CCTV system after it was fitted in January 2010 and that the only time he was asked for any of the footage by gardai was after Ms O’Hara’s disappearance in August 2012.

Mr Mason also gave details of the dates the security codes for all of the doors were changed in the apartment block.

Elsewhere Dr Barkat Marsoon, a registrar St Edmundsbury Hospital – a mental health facility in Lucan which Ms Hara attended – confirmed he wrote her prescription the day Ms O’Hara was discharged.

He told the court Ms O’Hara was not his patient and he had no recollection of her, but he prescribed four weeks worth of medication to be given by a pharmacist two weeks at a time.

He added that prescriptions were usually handed over by nursing staff, who also handed over an inventory of belongings to patients as they were discharged.

Read more here: Dwyer arrested answering door 

Ms O’Hara was discharged on August 22, 2012, at noon after almost six weeks of treatment.

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

Previously, the court heard Mr Dwyer had had his salary cut twice in the space of six months in 2011.

His pay was cut from more than €87,000 to €70,000, letters from his employers in a filing cabinet at his home showed.

His pay was cut by 10pc in January 2011 and again by 11.5pc from June 2011, representing a total drop of €17,350.

The financial papers shown to the jury were among 219 exhibits collected by gardai at the house when he was arrested on October 17, 2013.

Read more here: Jury shown CCTV footage of Stepaside apartment block 

The jury also heard gardai showed Mr Dwyer’s son Sennan McShea stills of CCTV footage taken at Elaine O’Hara’s apartment complex “to see if he could identify anyone.”

Mr McShea was shown the images and signed the backs of ones he was “most confident about,” Detective Garda Paul Corcoran told the jury.

In cross-examination about CCTV footage from Ms Dwyer’s apartment complex, Belarmine Plaza, Sgt Kevin Duggan said gardai were first able to spot Graham Dwyer on the footage 10 days after Elaine’s body was found. The majority of the rest of the people seen on the footage remained unidentified.

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