Graham Dwyer trial: ‘Cause of death is undeterminable’ says deputy State pathologist

Elaine O’Hara’s skull not recovered due to ‘animal activity’ court hears

Childcare worker Elaine O’Hara (36), from Killiney, in Dublin, was last seen at about 6.15pm on August 22nd, 2012, near Shanganagh cemetery in south Dublin. Photograph: PA

Childcare worker Elaine O’Hara (36), from Killiney, in Dublin, was last seen at about 6.15pm on August 22nd, 2012, near Shanganagh cemetery in south Dublin. Photograph: PA

 

Deputy State pathologist Michael Curtis has begun giving evidence on the second day of the murder trial of Graham Dwyer at the Criminal Courts of Justice.

Childcare worker Elaine O’Hara (36), from Killiney, in Dublin, was last seen at about 6.45pm on August 22nd, 2012, near Shanganagh cemetery in south Dublin, where her mother is buried.

Her remains were found in the Dublin mountains on September 13th, 2013.

Mr Dwyer (42), of Kerrymount Close in Foxrock, Dublin 18, was arrested in October 2013 and is charged with murdering Ms O’Hara. The south Dublin architect has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Curtis said he visited the scene where Ms O’Hara’s remains were discovered. Items there included tracksuit bottoms, a training shoe, and a sock.

He said approximately 60-65 per cent of Ms O’Hara’ skeletal remains had been recovered, but that due to “animal activity” the rest, including the skull, had been lost.

“The skeletal remains were spread out over several metres,” he said. “There was heather and long grass and it was possible to see animal runs in the foliage.

“The items were scattered and some were not recovered. It was quite clear that was animal activity.”

Mr Curtis listed the recovered elements of the skeleton.

“The mandible, virtually all of the spine, all the ribs, both collarbones, the right shoulder blade, upper arm bone, left side of pelvis, sacrum (base of spine) right and left thigh bones, both lower leg bones on both sides, and bones from the right foot,” he said.

Asked whether there was any evidence of trauma to the bones before death, Mr Curtis said there was not. Asked whether there were there any signs or features of the remains that allowed him to form a view as to the cause of death, Mr Curtis said: “No. The cause of death is undeterminable.”

Asked whether is it possible for a stab wound to cause death without injury to a bone, he said it was.

Asked whether it was unusual not to see injuries to the ribs in a stabbing incident, Mr Curtis said it was “anecdotally less common but certainly by no means rare”.

“Sometimes the knife goes between the ribs,” he added.