Trial has had devastating and profound consequences for many people

The murder of Elaine O’Hara has had “profound and devastating consequences” for a number of people and will affect families for many years, the commander of the Garda investigation said yesterday.

Chief Superintendent Diarmuid O’Sullivan said the “successful conclusion” of the prosecution of Graham Dwyer for murder was the result of a “varied and complex” Garda investigation, incorporating all of the disciplines under the force.

Trial has had devastating and profound consequences for many people

Chief Superintendent Diarmuid O' Sullivan 

“This ranged from the dedicated work of Garda [James] O’Donoghue in Roundwood Garda Station to a meticulous and comprehensive approach by the Garda investigation team in Blackrock,” he said.

In addition, the investigation was ground in “expert evaluation of data” using sophisticated technological systems.

All of the above resulted in “piecing together the complex picture of events”, the chief superintendent said.

Chief Supt O’Sullivan said the ordeal had been “the most difficult time” for Frank O’Hara and his family, and said he hoped that “no family will ever have to endure” what they have suffered. “I can only hope the family gain some comfort in knowing that no effort was spared by the investigation team in Blackrock,” he said.

Chief Supt O’Sullivan praised the “excellent work” of the investigation team and the assistance provided both within the organisation and without. He also thanked the legal team, led by senior counsel Seán Guerin.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Dolan, the head detective, thanked his investigation team “for their diligence and very hard work in what was a very intense and complex investigation”.

Trial has had devastating and profound consequences for many people

Detective Superintendent Kevin Dolan thanked his investigation team ‘for their diligence and very hard work’.

He said the team comprised members of An Garda Síochána from both the uniform and plain clothes sections.

“The template used in this investigation is no different than that used in other serious criminal investigations,” he said.

“The approach on this case was a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach, utilising the latest technologies and the expertise of officers attached to our Computer Crime Investigation Unit, our telecommunications section, and our Garda Analysis Service.”

He said the investigation accumulated a vast amount of information and evidence and that the team “had to cross a number of borders”, including to the US and UK.

Det Supt Dolan also thanked the assistance of the public, in particular each witness who came forward and gave so generously of their time.

Superintendent John Hand said the investigation was “meticulous, extensive, and co-ordinated”, which called upon a wide range of skill and expertise.

Trial has had devastating and profound consequences for many people

Superintendent John Hand: ‘A core of 20 gardaí were committed’ to the investigation, from its inception and throughout.

He said it involved “many thousands of hours of investigative work” that saw:

- 619 separate lines of inquiry, both here and abroad;

- 511 separate reports created;

- 199 people interviewed;

- 788 statements taken;

- In excess of 5,300 hours of CCTV scrutinised and examined;

- 2,600 text messages which were retrieved and analysed;

- 1,275 exhibits generated.

Supt Hand said that “a core of 20 gardaí were committed” to the investigation, from its inception and throughout.

Garda James O’Donoghue, of Roundwood Garda Station, went back three times to Vartry Reservoir after a local, William Fegan, brought him items recovered from there.

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Garda James O’Donoghue went back three times to Vartry Reservoir, eventually recovering a Dunnes Stores loyalty card that belonged to Elaine O’Hara.

Garda O’Donoghue said these included items of clothing, handcuffs, shackles, and other adult paraphernalia.

He said he couldn’t find anything on the first two occasions, including the second time when he entered the water.

However, on a third occasion, when the weather was more favourable, he spotted an item in the water, part of a set of handcuffs.

He climbed down to the water and entered it again, pulling out more items, including a Dunnes Stores loyalty card. This turned out to be a crucial discovery.

“I contacted Dunnes Store in relation to a loyalty card that was on the set of keys. The following day, a representative of Dunnes Stores had contacted me to inform me that this had belonged to Elaine O’Hara.

“I then ran a check on the Garda Pulse system which returned Elaine O’Hara as a missing person for approximately a year. At that moment, I contacted my supervisors and informed them on my find.”

He said that any garda would have acted in the same way. “In relation to that find, I believe the nature of these items that any member of An Garda Síochána who would have come into possession of any of these items would have acted in the exact same manner as I did and absolutely the same outcome if another guard had been involved as well.”

Read more of today’s news here

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