Graham Dwyer trial: Remains of Elaine O’Hara were not buried, jury told

Blood stains and ‘puncture cuts’ found on mattress in deceased’s apartment

Anthropologist Laureen Buckley leaving the Central Criminal Court after she gave evidence in the trial of Graham Dwyer. Photograph: Collins

Anthropologist Laureen Buckley leaving the Central Criminal Court after she gave evidence in the trial of Graham Dwyer. Photograph: Collins


The remains of Elaine O’Hara were not buried, an anthropologist has told a jury in the trial of Graham Dwyer.

Laureen Buckley, consultant anthropologist, said most of the body was “skeletalised” and the bones were ivory-coloured, except where there was some moss growth - which indicated the remains had been exposed to sunlight and water.

Mr Dwyer, an architect, from Kerrymount Close in Foxrock, Dublin, is charged at the Central Criminal Court with murdering Ms O’Hara (36), a childcare worker, on August 22nd, 2012. He has pleaded not guilty.

Ms O’Hara, Killiney, Dublin, was last seen at about 5.45pm on August 22nd, 2012, near Shanganagh Cemetery in south Dublin. Her remains were discovered on September 13th, 2013, in a wooded area on Killakee Mountain, Rathfarnham.

Ms Buckley said she attended the scene the following day with Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis. She described the area as “densely planted with young conifer trees” and there was “lots of heather and grass underfoot”.

She said the main area of human remains seemed to be where the body had decomposed.

Fully skeletal

She said there was no evidence of trauma to the remains, although there was some postmortem damage attributed to animals. Ms Buckley dismissed suggestions made by gardaí that there may have been scorching of the remains. She said decomposing organic material appeared as black.

“I didn’t see any evidence of scorching,” she said.

Remy Farrell SC said the defence accepted that the remains discovered at Killakee were those of Ms O’Hara and that they were properly preserved and conveyed to the Dublin City Morgue.

Seán Guerin SC read into the record statements accepted by the defence, including that of Dr Mary Clarke, a specialist oral surgeon at the Dublin Dental University Hospital.

In her statement, Dr Clarke outlined her examination of a jaw bone found at Killakee and said Ms O’Hara had visited the dental hospital 47 times between 2006 and 2012.

She identified Ms O’Hara from her dental records.

The trial also heard that a garda involved in the search of Ms O’Hara’s apartment at Belarmine in Stepaside, found bloodstains and cuts in the mattress.

Garda Brian Barry, of the ballistics section in the Garda Technical Bureau, said he went to Ms O’Hara’s apartment on September 19th, 2013.

There was no carpet on the bedroom floor and there was just a sheet on the bed. He said it was “pretty bare” and “appeared to be unlived in”.

He told the jury he removed the sheet from the double bed and found bloodstains on the mattress and “puncture cuts”. A photograph of the mattress was shown to the jury.

DNA swabs

Other evidence shown to the jury included tracksuit bottoms found at Killakee, as well as runners and socks and a spade.

Evidence was given of the discovery of a rusty knife where Ms O’Hara’s body was found.

Garda Sgt Ronan Lawlor, of Tallaght Garda station, who was in charge of the search team at Killakee, said he had observed the rusty blade lying on the ground.

Ronan Kennedy, defending, queried the location of the blade and highlighted evidence given by Magali Vergnet, who found Ms O’Hara’s remains.

He said she saw the knife sticking in the ground in a different location.

First responder

The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt.