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Tragic Elaine told colleagues that 'she might be pregnant'

Childcare worker Elaine O’Hara told colleagues she thought she “might be pregnant” the year she disappeared, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The 36-year-old also told co-workers in a Dublin newsagent that she “met men online,” mentioned bondage sites and sex games and confided to them that she was having an affair with a married man.

But Emma Robertson, who worked with Ms O’Hara at Ken’s newsagents in Blackrock, told the trial of architect Graham Dwyer that everything Ms O’Hara said had to be taken “with a pinch of salt”.

“You wouldn’t know what was true or what wasn’t true,” she said.

 Mr Dwyer (42), a married father-of-two from Kerrymount Close in Foxrock, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms O’Hara on August 22, 2012.

Earlier, Ms O’Hara’s father told the trial that his daughter told him in 2008 that she was seeing a married man, an architect from Foxrock, who would tie her up and masturbate over her. The court heard Frank O’Hara told gardai his eldest daughter said she had asked the man to kill her but he would not. 

Mr O’Hara told the court he was “shocked” when his daughter told him about the nature of the affair.

Mr O'Hara was giving evidence at the Central Criminal Court on the second day of Mr Dwyer's trial, which could last for up to eight weeks.

The Cork-born architect is charged with murdering Elaine O'Hara, hours after she was discharged from St Edmundsbury Hospital in Lucan, where she had been a psychiatric patient.

A dog walker found her skeletal remains in a wooded area of the Dublin mountains on September 13, 2013, the same week as her keys were found in an almost-dry reservoir in Vartry, Wicklow.

Mr O'Hara told the jury his daughter was in excellent form when he last saw her on August 22, 2012. They had visited her mother's grave and she had taken his granddaughter for a walk. She was looking forward to volunteering at the Tall Ships Festival the following day.

She had a history of psychiatric illness going back 20 years.

Ms O'Hara was being treated for several conditions, including depression, vertigo, cholesterol, bowel spasms and asthma at the time of her disappearance, pharmacist Soha Yazbeck told the court.

Her father testified they had an argument in early 2008 and that she told him she was seeing a married architect from Foxrock. Mr O'Hara said the argument could have had something to do with money, because his daughter was "poor at handling money".

"She said: 'I am seeing somebody' and I asked 'who?'" Mr O'Hara told the jury. "She said: 'A professional'. I tried to enquire, but she was very reticent to give me information.

"I said: 'Is he married?' She said: 'Yes'. She said: 'He ties me up and masturbates over me, but we haven't had sex'. Then she told me he was an architect from Foxrock."

"I was shocked," he said, adding they hadn't discussed it again, apart from her telling him that it was over at one stage.

Under cross-examination by Remy Farrell SC, for Mr Dwyer, Mr O'Hara agreed that he had told gardai his daughter would often say something to try to shock him.

Mr O'Hara agreed that she was "possibly" agitated when she told him about the relationship with the Foxrock architect.

Mr Farrell also asked him about something else he had told gardaí about that relationship. "I think I remember her saying also that she had asked him to kill her but he wouldn't," he had said in a statement. "I was shattered after hearing the news."

The court heard Ms O'Hara's apartment was searched on the Friday evening after her disappearance and among the items found were a black latex bodysuit and a rope.

Mr Farrell asked Mr O'Hara if he ever found any paraphernalia one might associate with unusual sexual activity in his daughter's apartment.

Introvert

"I don't recall coming across anything," he replied, adding he didn't think he would know what it looked like. The court heard that a member of the gardaí will say that he saw the body suit in Ms O'Hara's living room as well as a large rope.

Jane Cahill, a former shop manager at Ken's newsagents, told the court that the late Elaine O'Hara was "quite an introvert person".

"Some parts of her life she kept very private," said Ms Cahill, who said Ms O'Hara worried about money.

Ms Robertson said that she believed that in 2012 Ms O'Hara told her and other colleagues late one evening at work that she "might be pregnant", with another colleague reportedly advising her [Elaine O'Hara] to "be careful" in case she got herself into trouble.

The women advised Ms O'Hara to get a pregnancy test from the pharmacy next door, the court heard, but that she didn't want staff there to know her business. "That was the end of it," said Ms Robertson.

Ms Robertson testified that on another occasion she saw images of handcuffs and "maybe something weird like that" on Ms O'Hara's mobile phone which prompted a "what's that" reaction from Ms Robertson.

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

Day 2: Key quotes

* €8,417 - the cost of Elaine O'Hara's medication at Bellarmine Pharmacy from June 2010 to August 2012.

* I think I might be pregnant" - what Elaine O'Hara reportedly told her work colleagues Emma Robertson and Caroline Nugent.

* You'd take it with a pinch of salt. You wouldn't know what was true or not true" - Emma Robertson, who worked at Ken's Newsagents with Elaine O'Hara, on how she reacted when Elaine said she might be pregnant.

* Elaine was quite an introverted person. She'd let you know what she wanted you to know. Some parts of her life she kept very private" - Jane Cahill, manager of Ken's newsagents where Elaine O'Hara worked part-time.

* Are you still alive?" - what Frank O'Hara 'ironically' texted his daughter the day before she was reported missing.

*  I was confused... obviously it had crossed my mind. I had an open mind at that stage" - Mr O'Hara to defence barrister Remy Farrell SC on his concerns his daughter may have taken her life on the day she was reported missing.

* I think I remember her saying also that she had asked him to kill her but he wouldn't. I was shattered after hearing the news" - Mr O'Hara to gardaí.

*  The principal piece that was not discovered was the skull" - deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis on less than 65pc of her remains being recovered.

* He ties me up and masturbates over me, but we haven't had sex'. Then she told me he was an architect from Foxrock" - Mr O'Hara on what he alleges his daughter told him.

Irish Independent