Graham Dwyer trial: Bondage gear, gag, keys, glasses found in lake

James Fegan, Mark Quinn, and William Fegan leaving court yesterday after giving evidence in the trial of Graham Dwyer, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Elaine O'Hara in the Dublin Mountains in August 2012. Picture: Courtpix

Bondage cuffs, chains, knives, a leather mask, rope, a ball gag, a blindfold, and the keys to Elaine O’Hara’s home were found in a lake.

The jury also heard glasses found in the lake in October 2013 matched her prescription and frames.

The items, which were shown to the jury, were found by three local men and then gardaí around the same time that the childcare worker’s skeletal remains were found in a forest in the Dublin Mountains.

Mr 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 was 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 Central Criminal Court trial has already heard from the dog walker who discovered Ms O’Hara’s remains on Killakee Mountain on Friday, September 13, 2013.

On the sixth day of the trial, three Wicklow friends and their local garda gave evidence of finding a number of items in the lake in Roundwood that week, when the water level was unusually low in what is also known as Vartry Reservoir.

William Fegan and his brother James, both anglers, and their friend Mark Quinn testified they bumped into each other on a bridge over the lake on the evening of September 10, 2013.

William Fegan said they were commenting on how low the lake was. “It was unusual for it to be so low.”

He said there would usually be about 20ft of water under the bridge, but there were only 12in to 18in on this day.

The jury later heard from the reservoir’s plant engineer, Eamon Fleming, who said by the middle of September 2013, the water level had gone down more than 3m from August 2012, when it was overflowing.

“At first, what drew our attention was a shiny metal object and some yellow rope buoyant on top of the water,” recalled Mr Fegan.

“We thought it was the ring of a bull’s nose.”

Mr Quinn, who works with granite, had a tension strap in his van with a hook at the end and they used it to fish a number of things out of the water.

William Fegan recalled they pulled out the rope, then handcuffs, what appeared to be leg restraints, and other items.

The exhibits officer held up the items for the witness to identify; they were also shown on screens throughout the courtroom.

They included a rusty chain with two cuffs on either end, bondage cuffs, comprising long straps with padded restraints and buckles, a ball gag, which comprised a ball, strap and buckle, a black blindfold with a Velcro strap, a hoodie, and a vest.

“We set them on top of the dam wall,” he said, adding he then went to work, his brother went to a fishing meeting, and Mr Quinn also left. However, he later had a good think about what they had found, and returned the following morning.

“I drive at night. I’ve plenty of time to think,” he said.

“There was something niggling at me. I thought there was something not right.”

He put the objects into a bag, brought them to Roundwood Garda Station and handed them over to Garda James O’Donoghue.

Garda O’Donoghue identified all of the items and testified it was clear they had been exposed to water and, from the soiling, had been submerged for quite a while.

He hung the clothing out to dry and put the other objects in evidence bags.

“Not that I knew they were of evidential value, but to store them,” he explained.

He said he then went to the bridge and looked down into the water. “It was muddy and there was no visibility into the water,” he recalled.

He said he returned to the bridge again two days later, on September 14, explaining later that “the nature of what was found” was what caused him to go back and “search and search”.

“I still couldn’t see anything so I climbed over the wall beside the bridge and walked down to the reservoir bed as close to the water edge as I could get down, to the dry bed,” he said. “I saw nothing.”

He went back again on the 16th and this time there was no wind and it was sunny.

“I could see a shining object in the water,” he recalled. “What I saw on that occasion was the stock end and part of a loop of a handcuff. They were partially buried.”

He went down the embankment and this time stepped into the water. However, this raised silt and “visibility became zero”. He put his arms into the water and began searching by touch.

“While moving my hands through the muck, I felt something buried in the silt,” he said. “I pulled them up and could identify them as a set of several keys.”

He also found another bondage mask, which comprised a mask with zips over the eyes and mouth, and air holes over the nostrils. He found a knife, an inhaler, a long chain with an O ring, and a length of rope. He identified these items in court for the jury.

There was a Dunnes Stores card on the key ring and he contacted the store. A manager later testified that the card belonged to Ms O’Hara, and the jury had already heard the set of keys contained keys to her car and home.

Garda O’Donoghue then ran a name check on Elaine O’Hara of Belarmine Plaza and learned she was registered as a missing person.

He contacted his superiors and sealed off the bridge. The Garda Water Unit was called and the search continued.

He also called Garda Wayne Farrell, of Bray Garda Station, to the scene on September 17.

Garda Farrell said it was clear there were objects in the water and got a shovel and dug out a Nokia mobile phone and then a set of handcuffs attached by a chain. He also recovered a knife.

“At this stage, I was up to my knees in muck,” he said, recalling the water unit arrived and helped him to recover a second knife. He identified all of these items.

He said the water unit also helped recover a white vibrator and a black sex toy, referred to as an anal plug.

He later recovered a red cap of a battery-operated object along with a roll of black insulation tape and bondage restraints, which included three cuffs and a strap. These were also shown in court, as were a pair of shorts and a Real Madrid dressing gown he found.

Garda Farrell also identified a bag recovered by the water unit. The jury had previously heard from two other fishermen, who had seen the bag in the water on September 5 but couldn’t retrieve it.

Also found in that search were what appeared to be the sawn-off barrels of a double-barrelled shotgun and a large camera lens.

Garda Lorcan Byrne, of the water unit, testified he searched the water wearing scuba apparatus on October 7, 2013. He found the back cover of a mobile phone; two Nokia mobile batteries; two anal plugs; a red kidney-shaped object, possibly a remote control; a knotted rope and a ski mask.

His water unit colleague, Garda Enda Broderick, said he used a metal detector and located a Nokia mobile phone with sim card, a pair of glasses, sunglasses, a gold bracelet, a Tesco Mobile sim card and a metal band.

The jury also heard from the retail manager of Specsavers, Dun Laoghaire, where Ms O’Hara had been a client for a number of years.

Peter Curtis identified the shop’s records and prescription relating to Ms O’Hara. He was also shown the pair of glasses Garda Broderick had found in the lake.

“There’s an eight-digit code on the side,” testified Mr Curtis. “Each frame we sell has an eight-digit code.”

He read the code from the frames and then identified the same number on the record he had for Ms O’Hara.

The jury also heard from a scenes of crime examiner, who was asked to photograph a room in a house in Blackrock in February 2012. Garda Derek Cody showed the jury the photographs he had taken at Ardmeen Lodge on Newtown Park Avenue.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of five women and seven men.

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