The defence opened and closed its case yesterday morning on the 39th day of Graham Dwyer’s murder trial at the Central Criminal Court.
Lawyers for Mr Dwyer called three defence witnesses, including one who saw a woman crying in Shanganagh Cemetery on the evening Ms O’Hara was last seen there, the same evening Mr Dwyer is alleged to have murdered her.
It is the State’s case that the architect stabbed the Dubliner for his own sexual gratification.
Mr Dwyer, aged 42, is charged with murdering Ms O’Hara at Killakee, Rathfarnham, Dublin, on August 22, 2012, hours after she was discharged from a mental health hospital.
The Cork-born father of three, of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 36-year-old childcare worker.
Mary Crosbie testified that she recalled “quite clearly” August 22, 2012. She said it was her mother’s anniversary and she was visiting her grave in Shanganagh Cemetery, South Dublin.
She said it was around 5pm when she arrived in the area; she first took her dog for a walk in the park there, before going into the graveyard.
She said she would have stayed there quite a while because she had known a few people buried there and would have visited their graves too.
Remy Farrell SC, defending, asked her if she had seen anything unusual.
“I thought I heard somebody crying. I stopped,” she said, recalling that there were not many people around as it was quite late.
“I saw a woman facing down on the grass,” she said, explaining that she was not on a grave, but on the edge of graves.
“She was very upset and crying very loud,” she recalled.
She said she did not see the woman’s face as it was in her arms.
She was asked to describe the woman.
“She was a biggish girl,” she said, adding that she had mousey, brown hair.
She said she was wearing “very casual clothes”: dark pants, possibly jeans or tracksuit bottoms; and a casual jacket, like the top of tracksuit bottoms. She thought the jacket was grey.
“It was the runners that caught my eye,” she said, recalling they had white soles.
“It wasn’t a new grave,” she said. “That’s what struck me, that she hadn’t [been] recently bereaved.”
She said she made her statement to gardaí in September 2013 after reading an article in a Sunday paper. This was after Ms O’Hara’s remains were found, she said.
“The description of her clothes and everything… I just thought I should,” she said. “It was something that had never left my mind.”
Under cross-examination by the prosecution, she said it would not have been much later than 5.30 when she saw the woman crying. She explained she went home and cooked dinner afterwards and that “we normally eat around 6”.
She was asked about making her statement after reading about the case in the papers. “I just thought it was all very strange,” she said.
Sheep farmer Richard O’Connor testified that he had land surrounding Shankill Flying Club. The jury already heard Mr Dwyer was a member of the South Dublin club.
He said he was approached by two gardaí from Shankill Garda Station in October 2013. “They enquired about a dead sheep,” he said. “I had no idea why they were making these enquiries… They went away without informing me.”
He said the timeframe in which they were interested was also vague.
He said there was a possibility that there was a dead sheep in the rushes at some stage. “It is possible a sheep could die and you wouldn’t see it for a few days,” he said, adding that it happened from time to time.
He gave a number of reasons why a sheep might die, all natural. He said there would be very little left of a sheep if it died more than two days before being found, because it would attract foxes and other predators.
“You just find the skeleton and the wool,” he said, adding that the wool would be spread out.
Under cross-examination by the State, he said he could not verify that one of his sheep had died in late April 2011.
The trial heard last week about a text the State claims the accused sent Ms O’Hara on April 25, 2011. The sender told her he had found a dead sheep the previous day.
“Might go back after dark and see how it feels to sink a knife into it,” he wrote.
The same person texted her the following month to say he had left his phone off in case the stabbing had been investigated, but that animals had picked the carcass clean.
“I was up flying… and had a peek,” he wrote. “Rib cage where knife went in… rest of sheep moved.”
“I want to do a woman next. It was a fantastic feeling, the knife going in and watching blood spurt out. So happy x,” he added.
A second sheep farmer, John Donohue, testified that his farm was adjacent to Roundwood Flying Club in Co Wicklow. The court had heard Mr Dwyer was also a member of this club.
He said gardaí had approached him last May and enquired about a sheep being killed on his land in April 2011.
“I couldn’t remember,” he said. “I had none killed anyway.”
Mr Justice Tony Hunt then told the jurors that what had been required of them had been very intense. He said that listening to closing arguments and their deliberations over the coming days would also require a lot of attention.
“There’s a lot of work to be done in the coming days,” he said.
He told them to listen very carefully to what both the prosecution and defence barristers would say in their closing speeches because they were the people best placed to argue their cases.
“I’m simply obliged to put both cases to you fairly,” he said. “They will give you a presentation from each point of view.”
He said he would remind them briefly next week of the gist of what both sides would say.
“I have the option of commenting extensively on the case,” he said. “I don’t normally take up that option. After 28 years… I’ve lost all ability to be impartial in these matters.
“The end of a case is particularly important because your passive role becomes a very active role.”
He told them they would hear from Seán Guerin SC, prosecuting, today and from Mr Farrell tomorrow.
“You’ll hear from me Monday,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say that, at some point on Tuesday, you’ll commence your deliberations.”
The trial has heard Ms O’Hara was last seen in Shanganagh on the evening of August 22, 2012.
A cause of death could not be determined when her skeletal remains were discovered at Killakee on September 13 the following year.
Mr Justice Hunt has asked the five women and seven men of the jury to put the case aside until they hear all speeches.
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