Detective garda tells Graham Dwyer trial: "I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”
The prosecution has closed its case in the trial of architect Graham Dwyer, who is charged with murdering Dubliner Elaine O’Hara in 2012.
Among the last State witnesses from whom the jury heard were a detective sergeant, who said he had never come across a case involving such leaks to the media.
Detective Garda Peter Woods was being cross examined today on the 37th day of the murder trial and the last day of prosecution evidence at the Central Criminal Court.
Detective Garda Peter Woods
Mr Dwyer (42) is charged with murdering Ms O’Hara at Killakee, Rathfarnham, Dublin on 22nd August 2012, hours after she was discharged from a mental health hospital.
It is the State’s case that Mr Dwyer stabbed her for his own sexual gratification.
The Cork-born father of three of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock in Dublin has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 36-year-old childcare worker on that date.
D Sgt Woods agreed with Remy Farrell SC, defending, that he had not given Mr Dwyer’s solicitor any extra information about the case at the time of his client’s arrest in October 2013.
“I wanted an uncontaminated version from the accused,” he said, explaining that he had given the solicitor more information after each interview when he had put such things to the Mr Dwyer.
Mr Farrell suggested that ‘a regrettable and unfortunate’ aspect of this case had been the leaks to the media at that time.
“There was information in the media alright,” said the witness, agreeing that some of it had come from the Gardaí. “I wouldn’t agree with it.”
He agreed that this included the relevance of contacts on Ms O’Hara’s computer and the fact that the arrested person was a ‘professional man in Foxrock’. He said he hadn’t known about the leak until Mr Dwyer’s solicitor had brought it to his attention that day.
“The media were present in Foxrock at the search. How they came to be there, I don’t know,” he said.
“They were talking to the neighbours. I know they were there mid-morning.”
Mr Farrell then referenced an update from the Irish Times website at 12.10 that day, referring to Ms O’Hara having used a website for ‘niche sexual preferences’. This was before Mr Dwyer’s first interview had concluded.
“I think it’s disgraceful that the information was out there to be honest. It’s not helpful to the investigation,” said the officer.
Mr Farrell cited an update from the Independent at 3pm, which said that Gardaí thought Ms O’Hara had arranged to meet a man nearby and possibly left this location in another car.
He said there was similar information on the News at One, where ‘Mr Reynolds’ also knew that the man arrested had no previous convictions.
D Sgt Woods agreed that this information could have come only from the Pulse system.
Mr Farrell put it to him that, even then, there was ‘a full-blown media frenzy’ surrounding the case.
The D Sgt agreed that the solicitor had put it to him that the Gardaí were leaking information ‘like a proverbial sieve’. The officer said he agreed.
Mr Farrell put it to him that either one garda was leaking the information or a number of Gardaí ‘were acting as scouts’.
“Have you ever come across a similar situation?” asked the barrister.
“I’ve never come across a case like this during my whole service,” he replied.
“It’s the most unusual thing I’ve ever come across… I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”
Mr Farrell again asked him if he had ever come across a case where Gardaí had leaked so much information and he said he had not. He agreed he was ‘absolutely fuming’ at the time.
He said he hadn’t taken any action to find out who the leak was and didn’t know if anyone had bothered to check Pulse to find the source.
He did not accept that there was a concerted effort by the Gardaí to ensure a media frenzy.
He was asked about the results of the DNA sample, given by Mr Dwyer that morning, which linked him to Ms O’Hara’s mattress. He was asked if it was possible to get DNA results in less than a day and he said it was.
He was asked about ‘funny business’ going on with his Chief Superintendent. He said he wouldn’t call it that.
However, he agreed that he later became aware that Chief Superintendent Diarmuid O’Sullivan had ‘decided to go rummaging’ through Mr Dwyer’s bins with another detective sergeant a few weeks earlier.
They had done this in the early hours of September 27th or 28th and had taken a sample from turtle wax and had it compared with the mattress DNA.
“Have you ever come across a case where a chief superintendent and detective sergeant decide to go out in the early hours to go dumpster diving?” asked the barrister.
“No,” he replied.
It was usually hard to get chief superintendents out of their offices, suggested Mr Farrell to much laughter in court.
“Not in this case,” replied the officer. “He’s very hands on.”
Mr Farrell moved on to the videos found on Mr Dwyer’s devices, including a video where the accused appeared to stab himself.
The detective sergeant agreed that this appeared to have been done with a retractable blade before Mr Dwyer put tomato ketchup on the area.
Detective Sergeant John Colgan gave evidence of putting videos found on Mr Dwyer’s phone to the accused in his last garda interview. These included clips of women being stabbed and strangled.
“I think it was a real murder in Russia,” said Mr Dwyer of one of the videos.
They also put to him images they’d found of a ‘17-year-old girl immobilised on her bed’. Captioned LovelyDisgrace.com, they showed her gagged and stabbed.
Mr Dwyer said he had looked at them on his laptop and explained that they were called gore.
“Why do you need to go on these websites?” he was asked.
“I can’t explain,” he replied. “I know it’s sick.”
The last witness to give evidence for the State was one of the Gardaí, who drove and timed routes between Mr Dwyer’s workplace, the location where Ms O’Hara was last seen alive and the scene where her remains were found.
Garda Darren Kerins said he travelled four routes on October 29th and 30th 2013.
The first route he drove took him from Mr Dwyer’s office on Baggot Street to Quinn’s Road near Shanganagh Park, where Ms O’Hara was last seen alive. He began at 5.11pm and it took him 38 minutes.
Another trip took him from Carrickmines Retail Park to Killakee, beginning at 7.10pm and arriving in Killakee at 7.29pm.
He also timed a trip from Killakee to Mr Dwyer’s home via the reservoir in Roundwood, where keys to Ms O’Hara’s car were found. He began at 7.30pm and it took him 55 minutes.
The final route he timed was that from Quinn’s Road to Killakee. It took him 28 minutes.
The trial has heard that Ms O’Hara was last seen in Shanganagh, South Dublin on the evening of August 22nd 2012.
A cause of death could not be determined when her skeletal remains were discovered at Killakee on September 13th the following year.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt has asked the five women and seven men of the jury to put the case aside over the weekend and to return to court on Wednesday morning.