Graham Dwyer trial: Pharmacist says Elaine O’Hara seemed ‘normal’ on day she disappeared

Former colleague says Ms O’Hara mentioned meeting men online

Pharmacist Soha Yasbeck leaving court yesterday where she gave evidence in the trial of Graham Dwyer who has pleaded not guilty to the murder Elaine O’Hara in August 2012. Photograh: Collins Courts

Pharmacist Soha Yasbeck leaving court yesterday where she gave evidence in the trial of Graham Dwyer who has pleaded not guilty to the murder Elaine O’Hara in August 2012. Photograh: Collins Courts


A pharmacist in Stepaside has told the jury in the Graham Dwyer murder trial that Elaine O’Hara seemed “normal” on the day she disappeared.

Soha Yasbeck said Ms O’Hara had been a a customer since approximately 2010 and attended the pharmacy every month.

Childcare worker Elaine O’Hara (36), 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 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.

Asked by Seán Guerin SC, for the prosecution, whether she recalled seeing Ms O’Hara on the day she disappeared, Ms Yasbeck said she had seen her after lunch that day and that she had seemed “normal”.

The court heard that Ms O’Hara was on a range of different medication for ailments including diabetes, asthma, depression, stomach upset, vertigo and nerves.

Ms Yasbeck said Ms O’Hara had no money on the day in question as she had just been discharged from hospital, but gave a commitment to pay in the coming days when she would be paid.

She added that this was a regular arrangement she had with Ms O’Hara who “always paid”.

Under cross-examination by Mr Farrell, Ms Yasbeck told the court Ms O’Hara had acquired €8,740 worth of medication over a two-year period.

Mr Farrell also asked whether any of the drugs Ms O’Hara was on would cause difficulty getting pregnant. She said they would not.

Evidence was also heard from Jane Cahill, a colleague at Ken’s Newsagents in the Blackrock Shopping Centre where Ms O’Hara worked. Ms Cahill had also worked with Ms O’Hara at a shop in Dún Laoghaire and had known her for about 10 years.

On the day of her disappearance, Ms Cahill said Ms O’Hara telephoned her at the shop in Blackrock. “She asked me to remember to put her down for hours the following week and that she was available,” she said.

Ms O’Hara was “very open” about having mental health issues, said Ms Cahill, although she wouldn’t refer to them “by name”.

Asked by the defence whether she had come to know anything about Ms O’Hara’s personal life, she said “yes and no”.

“Elaine was quite an introverted person,” she said. “She’d let you know what she wanted to know. We were friends but there were some parts of her life she kept very private.”

Asked whether it would be fair to say a lack of money would “get her down”, Ms Cahill said Ms O’Hara “got worried about bills, like everyone”.

Mr Farrell also asked Ms Cahill whether there had been any discussion with Ms O’Hara about getting pregnant. “She told me at one stage she couldn’t have children because of the medication she was on,” she said.

Ms Cahill said Ms O’Hara also spoke “openly” about self-harm and that she had seen scars on her arms.

Asked whether Ms O’Hara ever spoke about bondage, Ms Cahill said she had brought it up on one occasion, but that “we thought she was joking – we didn’t take it seriously”.

“There was an impression that she liked to shock. We didn’t actually think it was true,” she added.

Another witness, Emma Robertson, the daughter of the owner of Ken’s Newsagents in Blackrock, worked with Ms O’Hara and said she had mentioned “a married man she was involved with” on one occasion.

On another occasion, Ms O’Hara had confided that she suspected she may be pregnant. Ms Robertson advised her to go next door to the pharmacy and get a test, but Ms O’Hara declined as staff there was familiar with her.

“That was the end of it,” she said. “You take it with a pinch of salt because you would never know what was true and what wasn’t true.”

Barrister Ronan Kennedy for the defence asked Ms Robertson if Ms O’Hara had ever mentioned meeting men online.

Ms Robertson said she had. Mr Kennedy then asked whether she had ever mentioned a “married man from the country”.

Ms Robertson said she remembered mention of a married man but not a reference to his being from the country.