Graham Dwyer trial: Jogger’s last words with Elaine O’Hara

Prosecution has argued accused brought childcare worker to mountains to stab her

The jogger who was the last person to see Elaine O’Hara before her disappearance has outlined his interaction with her in court.

The third day of the murder trial of south Dublin architect Graham Dwyer for her murder has concluded at the Central Criminal Court.

Graham Dwyer is charged with murdering Dublin childcare worker Elaine O’Hara (36) in Co Dublin on August 22nd, 2012. He has pleaded not guilty.

The jogger, Conor Gilfoyle, told the court he met Ms O’Hara while out running near Shanganagh Cemetery, Shankill, on August 22nd, 2012. Ms O’Hara stopped him to ask directions to a railway bridge, he said.


“There is a bridge but you can’t immediately see it due to an incline,” said Mr Gilfoyle.

“She asked me was there a bridge over there, or something to that effect. I said ‘Yes. There’s a bridge just over there for the railway.’ One of the reasons I remember her was because she didn’t say thank you or have any engagement with me. That was the end of the conversation.

“I met her again on the footbridge. She was ahead of me. I would have come up behind her. She was walking towards the sea front. I was thinking of saying to her ‘Well you found the bridge okay’, but again she didn’t seem to want to engage in conversation.”

Missing person

A number of days later, Mr Gilfoyle was running again in the same area and was asked by a garda if he had seen Ms O’Hara, who was being treated as a missing person at that point.

Mr Gilfoyle told the garda he remembered seeing Ms O’Hara but could not remember when. He then realised he had been using the Map My Run app which charts dates, times, and routes.

“It was very unusual because I’ve only used it twice,” he said. “When the officer asked me about her, I remembered meeting her but I couldn’t say what date. I had been using the Map My Run app, which has a GPS. It gives the date and the time and the place.”

Mr Gilfoyle was asked to describe Ms O’Hara’s appearance at the time.

“I think she was wearing a light blue raincoat and she had a bag with her,” he said. “She possibly had a tracksuit bottom on but I’m not 100 per cent sure.”

The court also heard testimony from Ms O’Hara’s former employer at a newsagents in Blackrock Shopping Centre.

Ken Robertson said Ms O’Hara was “a very private person”.

“I never got into any chitchat with Elaine - she was a very private person,” said Mr Robertson.

‘Very honest’

He said she was “very honest” but that there were “some issues” with her. “We got around that and gave her some leeway,” he said.

He said Ms O’Hara had been seeking time off in order to attend the Tall Ships Festival as a volunteer. He said it was “very unusual” for Ms O’Hara to forgo three days’ pay, which would have been worth about €180.

Asked for his view on previous testimony that suggested what Ms O’Hara said ought to be “taken with a grain of salt”, Mr Robertson said: “I think that’s a fair comment.”

Ms O’Hara’s next door neighbour, David Van Derzwart, told the court he saw Ms O’Hara in the underground car park at about 5.05pm on the day of her disappearance.

“It was dark inside and I could see a person walking up to a car and I thought it was Elaine,” he said. “She got in her car and drove off. We didn’t talk. I actually honked the horn to acknowledge her.”

He added that he was aware she suffered from depression but had no knowledge of suicidal tendencies.

‘Quite naive’

The sister of Elaine O’Hara, Anne Charles, also told the murder trial on Monday afternoon that Ms O’Hara was “quite naive, [and] very trusting of people”.

Earlier, Sheila Hawkins, who is in a relationship with Ms O’Hara’s father Frank O’Hara, told the court of her concerns about Ms O’Hara self-harming.

Mr Dwyer (42), of Kerrymount Close in Foxrock, Dublin 18, was arrested in October 2013.

Mr Dwyer’s defence team is led by Remy Farrell SC, and the prosecution by Sean Guerin SC.

Mr Dwyer sat in the dock on Monday dressed in a black suit and a dark tie, occasionally taking notes.

Childcare worker Ms O’Hara (36), from Killiney, 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.

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.

The trial continues.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter