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Third time lucky: Garda who found Elaine O'Hara's keys shows persistence pays off

Garda James O’Donoghue says any officer would have acted the same way.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

THE GARDA WHO found Elaine O’Hara’s keys in Vartry reservoir has said that any garda would have done exactly as he did.

Garda James O’Donoghue visited the reservoir the day after angler Willie Fegan found clothing, handcuffs, shackles and a number of other adult items in the water.

Garda O’Donoghue went down to the reservoir three times over the next five days in September 2013.

His first two visits yielded no success. On the third day though, better weather conditions allowed him spot the keys in the water.

He entered the reservoir and retrieved the keys. Attached to them was a Dunnes Stores loyalty card. O’Donoghue brought that to the retailer.

The next day, they returned with the name Elaine O’Hara, a name matching the childcare worker who’d been missing for a year.

“I contacted my supervisors to inform them of my find. I would like to say of the find that the nature of the items meant that any garda who came into the possession of these items would have acted in the same manner.”

Gardaí who investigated O’Hara’s murder described their work as “meticulous, extensive and co-coordinated”.

The 45-day trial of the 41-year-old architect heard often gruesome evidence of communication between the victim and the man who killed her.

Text messages between the two demonstrated a relationship that was sexual in nature and was marked by manipulation of O’Hara by Dwyer.

The investigation in numbers

  • 619 separate lines of inquiry in 3 countries. Ireland, the US and the UK.
  • 511 reports filed.
  • 488 persons interviewed.
  • 788 statements obtained.
  • 5,300 hours of CCTV.
  • 2,620 text messages retrieved and analysed.
  • 1,275 exhibits used.
  • 20 full-time gardaí on the investigating team.

Superintendent John Hand of Blackrock Garda Station:

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Chief Superindent Diarmuid O’Sullivan says today’s conviction “marks a significant step for the family in coming to terms with Elaine’s death”. 

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Detective Superintendent says that An Garda Síochána’s technology and communication teams were vital to the conviction of Graham Dwyer.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Read: Elaine O’Hara’s family: ‘Justice has been served but we still suffer greatly’ >

Read: The five key locations of a deadly affair >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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