Thursday 22 March 2018

Winces in public gallery as garda shows knife

Murder accused hand-drew map for gardaí to find knives in basement of office

Family members of Elaine O'Hara (l-r): Shelia Hawkins, Anne Charles and father Frank O’Hara Pic: Courtpix
Family members of Elaine O'Hara (l-r): Shelia Hawkins, Anne Charles and father Frank O’Hara Pic: Courtpix
Graham Dwyer
Elaine O'Hara
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

The hand-drawn map was, as one might expect from a qualified architect, of near impeccable quality.

After he was charged on October 18, 2013, Graham Dwyer - who denies murdering childcare worker Elaine O'Hara by stabbing her to death to fulfil his sexual gratification on August 22, 2012 - was served with a book of evidence.

Yesterday the Central Criminal Court heard that after he was charged, Mr Dwyer instructed his solicitor Jonathan Dunphy to provide a map he drew of the basement of the offices of A&D Wejchert, the architects where he worked as a partner, to gardaí.

On February 17, 2014, Mr Dunphy rang Detective Sergeant Peter Woods to alert him to documents of interest he might find in A&D Wejchert's basement, later faxing a hand-drawn map to the investigator.

The map was Mr Dwyer's own initiative and had been provided voluntarily, the court heard.

And the detailed sketch led gardai to find two knives - a hunting knife and a flick knife - high on a shelf where Mr Dwyer had directed them to, signalling where they should look with an asterisk.

Sgt Woods explained to the jury of seven men and five women that he found, in box 980, two knives, one longer than the other.

The knives were produced to Sgt Woods, who held aloft the Buck Special 119 hunting knife in a leather holder - the smaller flick knife was displayed in a tubular evidence container.

Sgt Woods explained how the Buck Special was found in a leather scabbard. This was similar but slightly different to the Buck Special 119 replica knife gardaí ordered before they found the one Mr Dwyer had ordered online and had delivered - marked "private and confidential" - to A&D Wejchert on August 21, 2012.

The court has heard Ms O'Hara went missing on August 22, 2012, hours after she was discharged from a mental health hospital.

Mr Dwyer's knife was in a leather scabbard, but the gardaí's replica arrived in a green box, not unlike the Koran, said the soft spoken Sergeant.

"The knife was in very good condition, clean, very clean," Sgt Woods said, as he gingerly handed the knife back to the exhibits officer.

The smaller, flick knife had a safety catch and Sgt Woods initially struggled to flick it open, drawing concerned winces from the heaving masses packed into courtroom number 13.

The pace of the trial, which is expected to last for up to eight weeks, has slowed after a frenetic start that saw almost a quarter of the 200-plus witness list dispensed with in a mere matter of days.

Though the pace has eased, public interest in the proceedings has not, with pensioners, day-trippers, transition year students and Tribunal veterans queueing each morning to catch a glimpse of the trial as it unfolds.

Earlier this week, defence barrister Ronan Kennedy, who attempted to gain entry to the courtroom just before 2pm, politely held the exterior door open for a member of the public. The Strabane native stood patiently holding the heavy door with a wry smile as almost 20 people sought to benefit from the gallant gesture. "He [Mr Kennedy] is guaranteed a seat, we're not," said one determined day-tripper, to solemn nods of approval by her companions.

Although the burden of the evidence in the case is being borne by Senior Counsels Sean Guerin (for the prosecution) and Remy Farrell (for the defence), it fell to the ladies on the junior counsel bench - barristers Anne Marie Lawlor, Sinead McGrath and Kate McCormack - to do much of the heavy lifting this week as a steady stream of garda witnesses, involved in the forensic search of Mr Dwyer's home and office after the skeletal remains of Ms O'Hara were found in the Dublin mountains, testified.

The trial has heard that Mr Dwyer's family home was searched for more than a day when he was arrested during a dawn raid on October 17, 2013 - a month after Ms O'Hara's remains were discovered.

More than 200 exhibits, including documents relating to two pay cuts he received within six months in 2011, were seized by gardaí, who took more than 1,000 pictures of his Kerrymount Close, Foxrock home.

Jurors were also shown montages of CCTV footage which the prosecution says shows Mr Dwyer visiting the Belarmine Plaza apartment complex in Stepaside, Dublin, where Ms O'Hara lived prior to her disappearance.

The trial also heard that CCTV stills of Belarmine Plaza were shown by gardai to Sennan McShea, an adult son of Mr Dwyer, a married man who also has a son aged six and a daughter aged three.

"He [McShea] would have selected the ones he was most comfortable with," Det Gda Paul Corcoran told the court.

The trial continues on Monday.


Wednesday, August 15 2012

CCTV footage picks up Graham Dwyer visiting Belarmine Plaza apartment block in Stepaside, where Elaine O'Hara lives.

Friday, August 17 2012

Graham Dwyer orders a Buck Special 119 knife online from Active Hunting Ireland. Priced at €95, it is delivered to his workplace marked 'Private & Confidential' on Tuesday, August 21.

Wednesday, August 22

Elaine O'Hara (36) is released from St Edmundsbury, a mental health facility in Lucan, after spending up to six weeks at the hospital.

She is last seen at 5.45pm in the park next to Shanganagh Cemetery, where her mother is buried.

Thursday, August 23

Ms O'Hara fails to show up as a volunteer at the Tall Ships Festival and does not contact family all day. Her father, Frank, said that 'ironically' he texted her: "Are you alive?"

Friday, August 24

Elaine O'Hara is reported missing. Her car is found at Shanganagh Cemetery and her apartment and the graveyard are searched.

Friday, August 31

Several items are taken from Ms O'Hara's apartment at Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside, including a black bin bag with PVC dress, an empty tube of lubricant; rope; and a gas mask.

Bloodstains were spotted on a mattress by gardaí.

Tuesday September 10 2013

Angler William Fegan and others fish several items out of Vartry reservoir at Roundwood, Co Wicklow, including handcuffs with chains, bondage cuffs with restraints, a ball gag, blindfold, and clothing. The items are handed in to gardai the next day.

Friday September 13

A jaw bone, rusty knife, tracksuit bottoms and a runner are discovered in the Dublin Mountains by a dog walker.

The scene is sealed off by garda and tests later identify the remains as Elaine O'Hara.

Monday September 16

A set of keys with loyalty cards, bondage mask, kitchen knife, rusty chain with a bull ring and an inhaler arae retrieved from Vartry reservoir. A condom and wrapper are among the items located during a search at Kilakee. Gardai said this was not bagged as evidence for another five days.

Tuesday September 17

Further searches are carried out at Kilakee, where a harness and hacksaw blades, insulation tape, cable ties and bull clips are retrieved. Dunnes Stores confirms one of the loyalty card retrieved belongs to Elaine O'Hara. Gardai find out she is listed as missing, and officers probing her disappearance and the discovery of the body are notified.

Vartry reservoir is sealed off and a mobile phone, handcuffs, handcuffs with chains, knives, sex toys, clothing and a rucksack are among the items retrieved.

Wednesday September 18 2013

Forensic officers discover puncture cuts in a blood-stained mattress found on a bed in Ms O'Hara's apartment.

Saturday September 21

Sergeant Kevin Duggan claims to have first seen Mr Dwyer on CCTV at Belarmine Plaza. This was filmed on footage for June 23, 2012. Gardaí said further examination of the footage showed he visited the apartment block nine times between January 2012 and August 2012.

Monday October 7

Garda divers return to Vartry reservoir  and seize more exhibits, including a mobile phone, two Sim cards, and glasses owned by Ms O'Hara.

Thursday October 17

Graham Dwyer is arrested at his home in Foxrock, where 219 exhibits were seized, including computer equipment, storage devices and documents. Correspondence from his employers show his wages were cut by €17,000 in 2012.

A HP desktop PC, a small tube of arnica cream from a bedside locker in a child's bedroom, condoms, a grey tarpaulin, a backpack and a couple of rolls of duct tape are seized.

A second search team visits his workplace, A&D Wejchert architects. Items seized include laptops, mobile phone records, timesheets, feasibility study forms for the accused, a mileage spreadsheet and payslips. A series of emails is also handed over.

Friday October 18

Graham Dwyer is charged with the murder of Elaine O'Hara and later pleads not guilty. Graham Dwyer's son Sennan McShea is also shown stills of CCTV footage from Belarmine Plaza.

January 2014

The book of evidence is served on Mr Dwyer.

February 14 2014

A hand-sketched map is faxed to gardaí. Mr Dwyer voluntarily tells officers where the Buck hunting knife, ordered in August 2012, and a flick knife are located in the basement of his workplace.

January 2015

Graham Dwyer goes on trial for the alleged murder of Elaine O'Hara.

Irish Independent

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