Wednesday 13 December 2017

'Talkative' Elaine opened up about life - neighbour

ELAINE O'Hara's next-door neighbour was left shocked when gardai held architect Graham Dwyer responsible for her murder.

Dutch-born software sales rep David van der Zwart (35) assumed she had taken her own life.

He lived in the apartment beside Ms O'Hara's in Stepaside, Co Dublin, for nine months before her disappearance in August 2012 and struck up a friendship with the childcare worker.

He said they often got talking while out on their adjoining balconies and she confided in him that she had suffered from depression.

The last time he saw her, as Dwyer's trial heard, was at 5.05pm on August 22 in the underground car park of the apartment block as she sat into her Fiat Punto. It was later found abandoned at Shanganagh Cemetery.

He learned of her disappearance when gardai came to the apartment complex two days later.

Mr van der Zwart admits he believed at the time she may have taken her own life.

"Her car was found at the graveyard and it is near the sea. She told me about her depression and this history," he said.

"There was also the fact that during the summer I saw her a little bit more because the creche was closed.

"I thought to myself that maybe if you were depressed or down, being surrounded by children gives you strength to carry on and to be there for the kids.


"Then I thought to myself, with all due respect, that with that element gone, maybe it got too much for her.

"I think we all thought that."

Although he knew of her depression, Mr van der Zwart said Elaine did not go into detail about the full extent of her problems and he had not pressed the issue as he did not want to intrude.

"As far as I knew her, I thought Elaine was a very nice person," he said.

"She told me a bit about her past, but I had no idea that on the morning that she disappeared she had only been released from the hospital."

Mr van der Zwart found Elaine "very talkative and social" and enjoyed their discussions on the balcony.

Ms O'Hara had looked for his help with a leak in her apartment which she had become "upset" about.

Mr van der Zwart said he was very saddened by Elaine's disappearance and that he always had "a lot of respect" for her.

"She managed to get herself a nice place and she worked hard for that," he said.


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