Graham Dwyer trial: Bondage gear found in Elaine O’Hara’s apartment

Architect (42) is charged with murdering Dublin childcare worker in August 2012

The fourth day of the murder trial of south Dublin architect Graham Dwyer (left)  has begun at the Central Criminal Court. Mr Dwyer denies murdering Dublin childcare worker Elaine O’Hara (right)

The fourth day of the murder trial of south Dublin architect Graham Dwyer (left) has begun at the Central Criminal Court. Mr Dwyer denies murdering Dublin childcare worker Elaine O’Hara (right)

 

Gardaí found “heavy metal chains”, bondage cuffs, a gas mask, a PVC body suit and a rope in Elaine O’Hara’s apartment, a court heard today.

The murder trial of architect Graham Dwyer is continuing at the Central Criminal Court.

Mr Dwyer (42), of Kerrymount Close in Foxrock, Dublin 18, is charged with murdering the 36-year-old Dublin childcare worker on August 22nd, 2012. He has pleaded not guilty.

Ms O’Hara, from Killiney, in Dublin was last seen at about 5.45pm on August 22nd, 2012, near Shanganagh cemetery in south Dublin, where her mother is buried.

Her remains were found in undergrowth by a woman walking her dog at Killakee, Rathfarnham in September 2013.

Det Gda Ultan Sherlock, who has since retired from the force but was on duty at Stepaside Garda station on August 24th 2012, the day Ms O’Hara was reported missing by her family, was giving evidence.

He said gardaí conducted a search of the entire Shanganagh area and went to Ms O’Hara’s apartment to carry out a “cursory search”.

He said the search of the apartment was “a quick search of the apartment to see if we could find any information” and “was not a full Garda forensic search”.

During the search, he said gardaí located “two heavy chains, particularly heavy metal chains” in a bedside locker. He said this struck him as “unusual”.

“I observed in the living room a black PVC body suit,” Mr Sherlock told the court. “There was a rope in the living room as well.”

He said he was shown images on the phone of Ms O’Hara’s younger brother John from a website address he had found written on a notebook. The website “seemed to [contain] S&M activity”, he said.

He also said there was a rope found in the living room, which “may have been similar to a washing line”.

Asked by defence barrister Ronan Kennedy why these items were not seized by gardaí, Mr Sherlock said that “at the time it wasn’t a criminal investigation”.

“It was a missing person,” he said. “We were trying to find anything that could help us find Elaine’s whereabouts.”

Mr Sherlock said he posed questions to the family about Ms O’Hara’s relationships, who told him they were “not aware” of any boyfriends.

Gda James Codd, who served for a time as the exhibits officer in relation to the O’Hara case, told the court that on September 17th, 2013, he attended Vartry Reservoir where he took possession of a number of items from Gda James O’Donoghue.

The items included bondage cuffs; chains; a rope; a gag; clothing; a knife; an inhaler; a leather mask and a set of keys.

Separately, Gda Wayne Farrell gave him a Nokia phone; cuffs; a white sex toy; a black sex toy; tape; a leather collar; some wet clothing; a bag with the barrel of a gun in it and a large camera lens.

The court also heard that on August 28th, 2012, items were taken from Ms O’Hara’s apartment including a sat nav; an iPhone box; software for an Apple Mac; a wedding invitation; a diary, a letter dated August 12th regarding exam deferral; a bottle of vodka and some cigarettes.

During a search of the apartment, a hairbrush; chains; padlocks; pillow cases; a duvet cover; a fitted bed sheet; a disposable razor; a toothbrush head; cigarettes; a PVC dress; an empty tube; prescription medication; rope; a gas mask and a printout of a website called “Gorean Lifestyle” were found.

These items were located in the bedroom, bathroom and living room.

Gda Codd described the apartment as “clean”. He said there was no carpet on the bedroom floor and gardaí found “bloodstains” on the mattress after stripping the bed.

A hairbrush, toothbrush and razor were brought to the Garda Forensic Lab on September 21st, 2013 for tests, he said.

Also provided to the exhibits officer at different dates in October 2013 were hospital notes from St Patrick’s Institution and St Vincent’s Hospital. Aer Lingus also furnished gardaí with a copy of Ms O’Hara’s travel history.

The “Gorean Lifestyle” print out found in Ms O’Hara’s apartment was detailed in court this afternoon. The printout was found on a shelf at the back of a desk.

The headline on the page read: “A woman’s right is slave”.

A subhead read: “Why Goreans believe women only exist to please men.”

The text itself began: “What is your name and identity? If you’re a woman practicing a Gorean lifestyle, you don’t have one. You identity is kajira, a slave, and you serve a master, who orders you to do whatever he pleases.

“You have no rights and never address yourself as ‘I’ or ‘me’ - instead, you address yourself as ‘master’s slave’. Refusal to do this results in punishment, usually a whipping.”

The philosophy of the lifestyle was described as women having a “natural desire to be slaves”.

“Every woman has this desire,” it said. “Also, they believe that women have a huge desire to please men. They strive for perfection. They want to be submissive. Women want to be controlled by men. A man’s word is final.”

Defence counsel Remy Farrell suggested the website was based on “science fiction novels”.

Gda Codd said he “wasn’t aware” if it was based on science fiction novels but said they may be based on “some sort of literature”.

Meanwhile, a liaison officer attached to O’Hara family told the jury there was a time before her body was found when they believed she may have taken her own life.

Garda Paul Durkan told the court he was appointed family liaison officer to the O’Haras on August 24th, 2012, the day Ms O’Hara was reported missing by her family.

Asked by Mr Farrell whether the family had ever expressed any reservations about the Garda investigation, Gda Durkan said the family was “very supportive of our plight in finding the truth” about Ms O’Hara.

“Obviously they were very worried and concerned about the information that came to hand initially,” he said. “However, there was a time before Elaine’s body was found when the family accepted she may have taken her own life.”

A CCTV engineer, Padraig Finnerty, told the court that he installed the CCTV system at Ms O’Hara’s apartment complex in January 2012.

Mr Finnerty said he was asked by gardaí to supply them with footage from certain dates.

The court heard gardaí had encountered difficulties with the date and time stamps on some of the footage.

Prosecuting counsel Seán Guerin SC asked Mr Finnerty if he was of the view that the machine was operating correctly. He said he was.

Earlier, Mr Finnerty told Mr Kennedy the problem arises when an attempt is made to view the footage on a computer rather than a special machine.

“Because the files are recorded in a particular manner that only the system recognises, you need the proper machine to watch them,” he said.

Last week, the prosecution outlined its case against Mr O’Dwyer, arguing that he brought Ms O’Hara up to the Dublin Mountains for the purposes of stabbing her to death for sexual gratification.

On Monday, the court heard gardaí who searched Ms O’Hara’s apartment after she disappeared found “printouts” with photographs and information on hunting knives. Testimony was also heard from the jogger who was the last person to see Ms O’Hara alive in August 2012.