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THE GRAHAM DWYER TRIAL: How Gemma Dwyer told the court that spade found near Elaines' body site was from her garden shed

Crime DeskBy Nicola Tallant
dwyer and wife (Read-Only).jpg
dwyer and wife (Read-Only).jpg
Graham Dwyer shortly after he was arrested on the murder charge
Graham Dwyer shortly after he was arrested on the murder charge

The accused shook his head from side to side and grinned fondly at the memory. For just a second he was Graham Dwyer again; the architect, husband, dad and pretty useless DIY bloke being chastised by his wife for the sloppy job he had done painting sheds at their home in Foxrock in County Dublin.

It was some time after they moved in, in 2007, when he had used the ‘Fence Life’ paint which was orange or red in colour and which he had managed to get everywhere, Gemma Dwyer told the jury at the Central Criminal Court, including all over himself and a garden spade.

“He didn’t do a real job. There were splatters everywhere. Even the clothes he was wearing were splattered. It was everywhere,” she said.

Such an ordinary tale wouldn’t have been worth an airing in most social settings but in Court 13 you could have heard a penny drop as the wife of the man standing trial for the BDSM murder of Elaine O’Hara took the stand.

Blonde, petite, well-spoken and neatly turned out in a navy dress and high heel shoes, Mrs Dwyer had begun her evidence slow, stilted and in barely a whisper.

But after 55 minutes in the box trawling through the details of her once ordinary marriage to a man the state claims was driven by a blood lust to kill, Mrs Dwyer became very sure of herself. “That’s our spade. From our garden,” she said assuredly after being shown an exhibit photograph of a garden tool which Gardai say was found in Killakee Woods near the remains of Ms O’Hara. “I had noticed the spade missing. It came to mind after the arrest.”

Mrs Dwyer said she recalled that the spade had been missing through the summer of 2013 and added: “I used it myself a lot at the time. There was a swing and a trampoline in the garden …and a dog – a neighbour’s dog used to litter a bit.” She explained how she often had to clean the garden before she could let her children play in it and always used the spade. She told the court she had mentioned the fact that it was missing to her husband a number of times and ended up having to take a spade from the children’s sandpit instead.

Just an arm’s length from one another, one in the dock and one in the witness stand, the Dwyer’s never made eye contact.

They had been together for 13 years and until the remains of Elaine O’Hara were discovered in September 2013.

Students of architecture together at Bolton Street in Dublin the pair had met in college and began dating in 1997. They began dating and married first buying a cottage together in Rathmines in 2000 which they renovated before moving out in 2007 when they purchased their home in Foxrock.

Theirs was an ordinary if not busy life of two working professionals and when they had their first child, Gemma returned to work placing her son in a crèche.

Graham worked between 8.30am and 4.45pm but soon Gemma took redundancy and then got another job nearer to home in Dun Laoghaire which ‘changed things’.

“Graham would leave home first and I would wait for the childminder to arrive,” she said adding that if he got home from work first the childminder would be gone before she returned.

She told the court that her husband had a long-standing interest in model airplanes and had started his hobby in the Phoenix Park but moved to Shankill and later Roundwood club when they moved house.

“His level of interest was huge. It was every evening. In the week he would work on his planes and at the weekend he would practice and compete. He was always researching planes on the internet. He had a huge, huge interest,” she said.

On Wednesday afternoons, weather permitting, he would regularly meet up in his club not returning home until after 8pm.

After their second child was born Gemma returned home after a day in hospital and agreed with the prosecution that in the days that followed there were plenty of visitors to their home.

“It is a wonderful time, the birth of a child,” she told the court, shaking her head.

Her husband’s other interests surrounded cars. “He really liked cars,” she said adding that a Porsche 911 was his favourite and he kept it for the longest time calling it ‘his baby.’

She said he also had a number of Audis including a Galway registered Audi TT car. To her knowledge, he only had one mobile phone, which was attached to his work.

The court heard that Gemma Dwyer received a letter from her husband as he awaited trial in which he called Elaine O’Hara ‘that awful girl’ and said he had nothing to do with her death.

In the letter to Gemma Dwyer he said he was only trying to help Elaine and told her not to believe the Gardai.  He wrote: “Do not believe the Gardaí. They actually have no evidence except my name and someone else’s phone number in that awful girls’ diary……….I do know her, yes, I was helping her. And I wasn’t totally honest with you.”

The prosecution claims he wrote that ‘another man’ who was interested in Real Madrid and wore ‘pink underwear’ was involved and that Ms O’Hara had committed suicide.

In it, the court heard, Dwyer said should have gone to the police when she went missing, stating he could have known where she might be.

She also told his trial how she and her husband celebrated their joint birthdays with a meal out in Dublin on the night the remains of Elaine O’Hara were being found.

“It was a significant date. It was my birthday and Graham’s birthday. We went out to dinner. We had a Mexican meal in a restaurant at South Great Georges Street and took the Luas home,” she said.

Gemma Dwyer identified a picture of the couple’s back garden in which there was a set of swings, and told the court that her husband and father had erected them for their oldest child when she was pregnant with their second.

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