herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Defence in Dwyer trial closes after 28 minutes of evidence

THE DEFENCE in the Graham Dwyer murder trial opened and closed its case in less than half an hour at the Central Criminal Court. The three witnesses called by the defence gave evidence for a total of 28 minutes.

The first was a visitor to Shanganagh Cemetery on the day Elaine O'Hara disappeared, who said she saw a woman crying, face down on the ground beside a grave.

The other two witnesses were farmers from Roundwood in Co Wicklow and Shankill in Co Dublin who said they could not recall sheep being killed or found dead on their land in April 2011.

The prosecution's case had lasted 38 days, with evidence from 194 witnesses.

Closing speeches by barristers for the prosecution and the defence are expected to be heard today and tomorrow.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt told jurors he expected to deliver his charge to them next Monday, before they then begin deliberations.

Mr Dwyer (42), an architect of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, is pleading not guilty to the murder of Ms O'Hara (36), a childcare assistant, at Killakee, Rathfarnham on August 22, 2012.

She was last seen in Shanganagh Park at 5.45pm that day.

Her remains were found by a dog walker in undergrowth in the Dublin mountains on September 13, 2013.

The first witnesss, Mary Crosbie, told Remy Farrell SC, defending, she was at Shanganagh Cemetery no later than 5.30pm on August 22.

As she walked back towards the car park she thought she heard somebody crying.

She thought it was unusual and started to walk towards the person.

"I saw a woman face down on the grass, it wasn't exactly on the grave, it was at the edge of the graves and she appeared to be very, very upset. She was crying very loud," Ms Crosbie said.

She was not able to describe her because the woman's face was "down in her arms".

The woman was a "biggish girl" with "mousey brown hair".

She was wearing very casual clothes and the white-soled runners caught Ms Crosbie's eye. The top was what she presumed was a tracksuit jacket. The woman was wearing dark pants and a medium to dark grey jacket.

The grave did not appear to be a new one and "that was what had struck me", that the woman was not recently bereaved, Ms Crosbie said.

"I was reading an article in the Sunday papers and the description of her clothes and everything - it never left my mind," she said.

In cross-examination, she told Sean Guerin SC, prosecuting, that she did not know Elaine O'Hara. She told gardai about the woman crying because: "I thought it was very strange."

aircraft

The second witness for the defence, Richard O'Connor, told the court he had land at Calary Lower, near Shankill.

He said Shankill Model Flying Club had permission to land and take off aircraft on about four acres of his site.

Two gardai from Shankill station enquired about a dead sheep in October 2013, he said.

"I had no idea why they were making these enquiries," he said. "There was a possibility there had been a dead sheep in the field. A sheep might die and you wouldn't see it for a couple of days," Mr O'Connor said.

"It might have been damaged while lambing and effects set in later. The trouble is if a sheep dies and it's there more than two days there's usually very little left."

He said there would only be a skeleton and wool after activity by foxes and other predators.

"I can't verify that one died. I can't say yay or nay to that, it would have been my sheep," he told Mr Guerin in cross-examination.

Mr O'Connor said if a member of the flying club saw a sheep in trouble they would ring him, but they would be less likely to contact him if one was already dead.

John Donohue, another sheep farmer whose land is adjacent to Roundwood Flying Club, made a statement in May 2014 to gardai who were inquiring about sheep being killed in April 2011.

"I couldn't remember. I had none killed that I found," he told Mr Farrell.

Under cross-examination he agreed with Mr Guerin that his land was nowhere near Shankill Flying Club.

"That is the evidence for the defence," Mr Farrell said.

hnews@herald.ie

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