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Graham Dwyer trial: Heavy metal chains, PVC suit and rope found in Elaine O'Hara's apartment night she disappeared


Graham Dwyer

Graham Dwyer


Two heavy metal chains were found in the bedside locker in Elaine O’Hara’s apartment the night she disappeared.

A retired detective told the court a PVC suit and rope were also found in her sitting room.


Graham Dwyer

Graham Dwyer

Graham Dwyer

Retired Detective Garda Ultan Sherlock was giving evidence at the fourth day of the trial of Graham Dwyer, who denies the murder of Ms O'Hara, a childcare assistant.

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.


Elaine O'Hara

Elaine O'Hara

Elaine O'Hara

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.

Family Liaison Oiffcer, Gda John Paul Durkan 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.

“I got the relevant details from Frank (O’Hara, Elaine's father) regarding who had the keys. I learnt it was the EBS. I contacted them and I phoned and emailed and I secured the keys and permission to enter the Belarmine Plaza for the purpose to be forensically searched,” he said.

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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 that the family accepted that she probably took her own life.”

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Retired Detective Garda Ultan Sherlock, said he was handed Ms O’Hara’s laptop by her sister on the day she was reported missing.

He said he also carried out a “cursory search” of her apartment with family members that night, which he described as a quick search that might give any more information.

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."

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.

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

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

Yesterday, the court was told a latex body suit, images of two hunting knives and the name of a fetish lifestyle website were found in Ms O’Hara’s apartment after her disappearance.

Her brother John O'Hara said he created a user profile on the website www.fetlife.com to see if he could find any information about his eldest sister after she went missing.

​He said he found what he believed to be his sister’s user profile on the site, www.fetlife.com.

The pictures of knives had been printed from a hunting website.

Ms O'Hara’s father’s partner, Sheila Hawkins said that during the search of the apartment, she found a black latex outfit “consistent with S&M.”

Both Ms Hawkins and Ms O’Hara’s sister Ann Charles gave evidence that Ms O’Hara had told them in 2011 that she had suffered a miscarriage that year.

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