The partner of Elaine O’Hara’s father has testified that she “recoiled” when she came across oily latex in Ms O’Hara’s apartment two days after she disappeared.
Sheila Hawkins was giving evidence in the trial of the architect charged with murdering the childcare worker in the Dublin Mountains on August 22, 2012.
It was the third day of the Central Criminal Court trial of 42-year-old Graham Dwyer. The Cork-born father of two is charged with murdering the 36-year-old Dubliner hours after she was discharged from hospital, where she had been a psychiatric patient.
Mr Dwyer, of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the childcare worker on that date at Killakee, Rathfarnham.
A dog walker found Ms O’Hara’s skeletal remains in a wooded area there on September 13, 2013, the same week as her keys were found in an almost-dry reservoir in Wicklow.
Under cross-examination by Remy Farrell SC, defending, Ms Hawkins confirmed she went to Ms O’Hara’s home at Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside on August 24, 2012. She said that she and Ms O’Hara’s father were searching for a passport or something to help them find his daughter.
Mr Farrell asked her if she had found a black latex bodysuit in Ms O’Hara’s home that day. Ms Hawkins said she had put her hand into a straw basket on a shelving unit.
“I recoiled because my hand felt this oily rubber substance,” she said. “I saw what looked like black latex.”
She said she didn’t tell Ms O’Hara’s father at the time because “the man was very distressed”.
She was asked about telling gardaí she was aware that Ms O’Hara had an interest in “S&M” and that Ms O’Hara had confided in her that she liked to be tied up. “I amended that statement,” explained Ms Hawkins. “My knowledge of her interest in BDSM was from a conversation with her father.”
She explained that Frank O’Hara had rung her “in an incredibly distressed state” after Ms O’Hara had left his home one day.
Mr O’Hara had told the jury on Friday his daughter had told him she was seeing a Foxrock architect, who tied her up.
Ms Hawkins was also asked about occasions that Ms O’Hara had confided in her, including telling her in 2011 that she had had sex for the first time.
Ms Hawkins, who is a psychologist, said she found this credible. “I placed her emotional development around the age of 15,” she said.
The jury also heard from the man understood to be the last person to see Ms O’Hara alive.
Looking at a photograph of Ms O’Hara, Conor Gilfoyle testified he gave her directions to a railway bridge near Shanganagh Cemetery on the evening she disappeared. He said he was jogging and later met her on the bridge. “She was walking towards the seafront,” he said.