Monday 19 February 2018

Lonely and sad, Elaine felt she was 'born bad'

She told psychiatrists that since puberty she wanted someone to tie her up and take control of her life

Elaine O'Hara
Elaine O'Hara
Edna Lillis
Detective Emer Nevin

Niamh O'Connor

On the last night of her 14th admission to St Edmundsbury psychiatric hospital in Dublin, 36-year-old Elaine O'Hara could not settle.

Rosetta Callan, a staff nurse of over 40 years, was on night duty and she sat on the side of Elaine's bed at around 11 pm, she told the court.

"What's up?"

"I'm just pissed off," Elaine said before launching into an explanation why. She'd been seeing a man - they were both into bondage, but he was constantly coming to her apartment in Belarmine Plaza in Stepaside - he had a key.

Ms Callan told the court she told Elaine to call the gardai and tell them she was being harassed.

"She said he had young kids and she wouldn't like to harm him by going to the gardai," Ms Callan told the Central Criminal Court this week at the trial of Graham Dwyer.

The 42-year-old architect and married dad denies murdering Elaine on August 22, 2012, the day after the bedside conversation with Ms Callan took place.

Elaine was "tearful but kind of laughing too," Ms Callan recalled in court.

Prolific notes kept by medical experts from the time Elaine was 12 were revealed to the jury.

"I'd rather be a boy, I don't like being a girl," session notes recorded Elaine as having said.

The psychiatrist Dr Anthony Clare, since deceased, mentioned in his case notes that Elaine's sexuality was confused, observing that she did not dress in a feminine way.

"A play" had been going around in Elaine's mind from puberty involved wanting someone to tie her up and take control of her life, the court heard.

Around 2000, Elaine had given her own explanation of the "play", writing: "It was a bad night last night, I couldn't fight it, I don't know why, maybe I'm just tired of fighting, I don't really know, all I remember is wanting to hurt myself really bad by tying myself up or by cutting - you have to get worse to get better. I just wish I could get better sooner rather than later, my head is in bits probably because of the play last night.

"I usually can control it but last night I couldn't, I lost it. I'm glad I told someone . . . [It] is getting worse and has been for a long time - cutting, kicking, whipping, screaming, shouting. It was really bad, it wouldn't leave me alone, all I wanted was to be left alone, but no, I always get worse, worse, more of the same."

Elaine's psychiatrist in St Edmundsbury Dr Matt Murphy told the court that she had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Her cognitive behavioural therapist Stuart Colquhoun, who saw her the day before she disappeared, testified when people were nice to her, she didn't believe it was genuine, and when it was genuine Elaine couldn't understand why.

Elaine thought she'd been "born bad", "never felt free", and was a lonely woman with no friends, the medical notes also reported.

Patients who got to know Elaine in St Edmundsbury gave further insight into her life.

Maria Hynes said she and Elaine were both heavy smokers and they met several times a day in the smoking room of St Edmundsbury in August 2012.

Mostly Elaine, who was "very, very chatty", wanted to talk about "the Tall Ships Festival about a dozen times a day", but they did have a "quiet conversation" the day before Elaine's discharge, Ms Hynes said.

"She said her mam had passed ten years previously and she really missed her," Ms Hynes testified, but Elaine had broken the "unwritten rule" among patients when she asked Maria how she would commit suicide.

"I told her to mind her own business but she did continue to tell me how she would do it. She said she would do it with a rope that she had at home."

Another patient, Edna Lillis, had first met Elaine in the hospital in 2007 and they kept in touch afterwards, sometimes meeting for coffee in Liffey Valley when they both had appointments.

They'd stayed in contact until late 2011 or early 2012, when Ms Lillis lost all the contacts in her phone.

On their last meeting, she recalled Elaine telling her that she'd "met someone on the internet and he liked to cut her".

Elaine showed her the "recent cuts three to four inches long, fresh, and right across her stomach," Ms Lillis testified, adding she remembered being told the man was an architect, but not his name, which she thought was something like 'Peter'.

Ms Lillis said she'd warned Elaine to keep notes of their meetings, along with his name and address - in case anything happened, she told the court.

"I told her she was playing a dangerous game and to pay attention. Elaine just wanted to be loved, she wanted some attention," Ms Lillis said.

As details of exactly where Elaine got attention were revealed, her family quietly filed out of Dublin's packed Central Criminal Court.

Robert Cullen Jones, a short, slight, and pale man in his thirties initially turned his back to the court when he took the witness stand, his south Dublin accent so softly spoken he was almost impossible to hear.

He'd had sexual intercourse with Elaine in her Stepaside apartment in April 2011 after they'd connected online on the BDSM site, meeting for a coffee first in Dundrum Shopping Centre, he explained.

On the website, Elaine's user name was 'HelpMeLearn-36/F' and his was 'Dublin Master' he told the court as Elaine's profile picture of a naked woman bent over and in chains was shown.

In her profile, Elaine said she was looking for someone "honest, loyal frank and trustworthy and possibly caring, as well as strict," but added she had "no expectations" in this regard.

Her sexual preferences included: bondage, kidnapping, knife play, sensory deprivation and verbal humiliation, according to the profile which invited those interested to call her 'f**k meat'.

Among her associates (similar to 'friends' on Facebook) were users calling themselves 'Mersey dominant', 'Cavan Man 10', and 'Big John', the court heard.

Mr Cullen Jones told the court that Elaine was "into restraints" and "being tied up".

He couldn't remember if there were 'butt plugs' in Elaine's apartment, but he did remember seeing something the same shape as the items recovered from the reservoir in Roundwood, Co Wicklow.

He'd given DNA swabs to gardai after they found his number under a contact named 'William' in Elaine's phone, the court heard.

Another man, who'd met Elaine online and had had sex with her, was more into "mild kink" he told the court, whereas Elaine was into "blood letting, degradation, and humiliation".

Mark Guerin's user name on was 'Time2KillinDublin', the court heard.

When he'd first met Elaine at a bus stop in Blackrock, she was living in Ardmeen Lodge with other people, but she was "a nervous person" and had a "low self-esteem and opinion of herself".

He'd entered her bedroom, and Elaine had laid out items of restraint on her bed, but he'd left on that occasion, he said.

He recognised the image of two sets of cuffs shown to him in court. He thought Elaine had three butt plugs in her apartment and had mentioned that her previous partner had cut her abdomen without her consent, he also told the court.

Mr Guerin described for the court the differences in BDSM websites. was for groups who like to meet for meals, have discussions and considered it a lifestyle choice; - a BDSM dating website - was for meeting up; while was at the more blunt and extreme end of the scale.

Mr Guerin and Elaine had met again when she first moved to Stepaside and she was "in lighter form" and it was then that they had sex, he testified.

Other men, who had encountered Elaine online but said they did not meet in person, were also called to give evidence including a Swedish archaeologist called Kurt Ronnkuist who was living in the Tallaght area in 2012.

Mr Ronnkuist also gave a DNA sample and Elaine addressed him as 'Sir' in instant messages sent on September 3, 2010.

Although they discussed meeting the following day in the messages, he told the court he didn't believe they had met.

The court also heard from estate agent Rowena Quinn, who was responsible for selling a house in Willow Park, Druid Valley in Cabinteely in 2011.

She said the house was on sale between July and September 2011 and anyone interested in it would have been given her contact details.

She said she had no recollection of speaking to Mr Dwyer in relation to the property.

Garda computer crime expert Eimear Nevin told the court that she had been able to take screen-shots of calendar entries on Elaine's Apple Mac laptop.

On June 30, 2011, a note read: "Graham's phone number" and listed an 083 number, Ms Nevin testified.

Elaine disappeared on August 22, 2012, and her partial remains were found 13 months later in a forest in Killakee, Rathfarnham.

She was a woman with an emotional age of 15, according to the previous testimony of her father Frank's partner, Sheila Hawkins, a psychologist.

The trial is due to continue before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of seven men and five women tomorrow.



Elaine O’Hara was first admitted to St Edmundsbury Psychiatric Hospital, outside Dublin, in 1993; the second occasion was seven years later in 2000, and there were 12 more admissions before she disappeared on the day of her last discharge from the institution on August 22, 2012.

Dr Matthew Corcoran

The family GP, who knew Elaine from when she was a child and last saw her on July 10, 2012, testified that “overall” Elaine was “doing better than in previous years”, although he personally did not treat her for depression or self-harm.

Dr Anthony Clare

The late psychiatrist took a substantial interest in Elaine’s case after she started attending him as a patient on August 5, 1992, and in his papers describes Elaine’s sexuality as being “masculinised”, noting she’d told him: “I’d rather be a boy.” However he ruled out her “elevated testosterone levels” as the reason for her “disturbing behaviour”.

Stuart Colquhoun

The St Edmundsbury cognitive behaviour therapist had been treating Elaine for four years and eight months and last saw her the day before she disappeared. She was: “cheerful . . . smiling spontaneously . . . excited . . . kind of happy [about volunteering in the Tall Ships Festival]” he said. He said he was aware that Elaine had written emails to a man from asking him not to visit her again.

Rosetta Callan

The St Edmundsbury nurse was on night duty on August 21, 2012 — Elaine’s last in the hospital and testified that Elaine was feeling harassed by a man who was interested in bondage and kept coming to her apartment and had a key.

Dr Matt Murphy

The St Edmundsbury psychiatrist, who took over Elaine’s treatment after the death of Dr Anthony Clare, said she’d stated: “I don’t like being a girl.” He saw “a distinct improvement” in the last year of her life and she was

better able to “manage her moods . . . she was maturing.” Elaine had denied CSA [child sexual abuse] “but refused to discuss any details from the time,” he said. “The right decision was to let her go because she was making progress,” he testified.

Damian Lanagan

The St Edmundsbury clinical nurse manager told the court that years ago Elaine told him “about soliciting someone to possibly kill her”.



“I hate these things as I don’t think you ever really know a person until you meet them. I have been a sub on and off all my life. I have learned a lot, but I still have a lot to learn. My fetish is bondage, I love being in chains. I’d (love) to learn and serve my master no matter what. I would love 24/7 relationship but I have no expectations.

My ideal person: I would appreciate it if a person was: honest and frank — who says what they mean, trustworthy, caring, as well as someone strict. I am also looking for someone who hopefully wants a 24/7 slave.

Scene activities Elaine ticked as being interested in: Bondage, torture, degradation, kidnapping, knife play, physical humiliation, sensory deprivation, slapping in the face.

Sexual orientation: Looking for man

Sunday Independent

Promoted Links

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

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News