The jury in the Elaine O’Hara murder trial was shown a photograph of a punctured and bloodstained mattress, which gardaí found following the discovery of her remains in September 2013.
Graham Dwyer, a 42-year-old architect, is charged with Ms O’Hara’s murder in the Dublin Mountains on August 22, 2012, hours after the childcare worker was discharged from hospital, where she had been a psychiatric patient.
The Cork-born father of two of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 36-year-old Dubliner on that date at Killakee, Rathfarnham.
The court has already heard from the dog walker who discovered human remains on Killakee Mountain on Friday, September 13, 2013.
The jury heard from Det Garda Brian Barry, who examined Ms O’Hara’s home at Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside on September 19, 2013.
He said it was apparent the apartment wasn’t lived in. There was no bed linen on the only bed, apart from a sheet, which he removed.
“I observed blood staining and a number of puncture cuts in the mattress,” he said, adding he had taken the mattress away.
He identified photographs of the bloodstained mattress, which were shown on large screens throughout the courtroom and on smaller screens in the jury box.
The next main photograph shown on the screens was of a bunch of keys, which the jury already heard were handed over to gardaí that week at Vartry Reservoir in Wicklow.
Inspector Brian O’Keeffe identified the set of nine keys, which also contained three loyalty cards.
He said the car key started the car that had belonged to Ms O’Hara, three of the keys opened doors at her home in Belarmine Plaza, two opened doors at her father’s home and one opened the door to her classroom in the school where she worked.
Detective Garda Fionnuala Whelan was the exhibits officer for the search team examining the scene at Killakee in the week following the discovery of Ms O’Hara’s remains.
She testified that among the items seized were a rusty knife blade and a shovel, both of which she identified in court. The remains of a sock were also recovered.
Garda James Codd entered the witness box briefly to identify the rope, which he had previously testified to finding in Ms O’Hara’s apartment following her disappearance.
Det Garda Mark Collender of the Garda Technical Bureau’s ballistics section was next to give evidence.
He identified the tracksuit bottoms, sock and runners that he found with the human remains. He said the tracksuit bottoms were inside out when found them.
He said he went to a second location near the scene the week after the remains were found.
There he seized two hacksaw blades, tape, wires, insulation tape, cable ties, waterproof trousers, cycling clothes, orange twine, black and red strap from a tree, a fishing line, cable ties with screws inserted into the plastic, bull clips and harness-type equipment.
Under cross-examination by Remy Farrell SC, defending, he said the harness-type equipment comprised some twine or rope attached to a length of metal.
Sergeant Ronan Lawlor was overseeing the search in the forest that week. He said that on September 20, he was shown to a cleared area nearby by Frank Doyle, the farmer on whose land the remains were discovered.
He said Mr Doyle showed him a sheet of black plastic or polythene lying on the ground with a grey, plastic container similar to a Sudocrem container. Also there were a piece of green wire, a piece of wood with nails in it, some blue rope, tape and an empty tray of Nurofen Plus tablets. All items were seized, he said.
In his statement, also read out, Det Garda Padraig Mullarkey said he had attended the mountain scene on September 13 and 14, 2013. On his second day there, he found a brass casing
The final witnesses to give evidence yesterday were two members of Roundwood Angling Club in Co Wicklow. Brian O’Shaughnessy and Paddy Egan testified they noticed a bag in the lake there on September 5, 2013.
Mr O’Shaughnessy said they thought a fellow member might have lost it and they wondered if they would be able to retrieve it. However, they decided they couldn’t.
A small rucksack was produced and he identified it as the bag from the lake.
Decomposed remains ‘not buried’
Elaine O’Hara was dead for about a year when her remains were found in September 2013, and her body had decomposed where it was discovered in a forest in the Dublin Mountains.
The jury in the Central Criminal Court trial also saw a photograph of Ms O’Hara’s punctured and bloodstained mattress.
Graham Dwyer, a 42-year-old architect, is charged with Ms O’Hara’s murder in the mountains on August 22, 2012, hours after the childcare worker was discharged from hospital, where she had been a psychiatric patient. The Cork-born father-of-two of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 36-year-old Dubliner at Killakee, Rathfarnham.
On the fifth day of the trial, anthropologist Laureen Buckley testified that she was requested to attend the scene with the deputy state pathologist. She described the human bones she saw, agreeing with Dr Michael Curtis’s evidence that about 65% of the skeleton was recovered.
“The main area of human remains seems to be where the body had decomposed,” she said. “There was adipocere tissue and liquefied remains under the skeletal remains.”
She added: “Some hair was found and a large area of scalp with hair still attached.” She was asked to comment on the time that had passed since death. “There was a small amount of ligament… but most of the body was fully skeletonised,” she said. “No soft tissue or organs remained.”
She said it was apparent there’d been adipocere tissue on the body, which helps preserves remains, especially if buried. “These remains weren’t buried,” she said, however. “Adipose tissue was removed… and animals were at the body.
“I considered they were around about a year… but no more than two years since time of death.”
She said there was no evidence of trauma to the bones around the time of death and attributed any post-mortem damage to animal activity.
Before she gave evidence, the defence said it accepted that the remains found were those of Ms O’Hara.
Seán Guerin SC, prosecuting, read a statement from a specialist oral surgeon at Dublin Dental University Hospital. Dr Mary Clarke explained that she examined a jaw bone at Dublin City Mortuary on September 16, 2013, and again at the university hospital the following day.
Dr Clarke said she compared the jaw bone with the dental records of Ms O’Hara.
“I believe the human remains, specifically the mandible, examined… are those of Ms Elaine O’Hara.”
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