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The Garda who played a vital role in Elaine O’Hara murder case

Garda James O’Donoghue  may have won universal praise for his diligence which proved vital in the Elaine O’Hara murder case but for him it was all in a day’s work. When local angler William Fegan walked into Roundwood garda station and handed Garda James O’Donoghue the bondage equipment he found in Vartry Reservoir, the young officer was determined to investigate further. In a recent interview Garda O’Donoghue said he was overcome with a nagging feeling that “something was wrong” with the items.

“Mr Fegan came to the station on the 11th of September (2013) around lunchtime and he had a number of items in his possession – shackles, items of clothing and other adult paraphernalia,” Garda O’Donoghue recalled. “It was odd, a very odd find. I felt it warranted further attention,” he added. The following day Garda O’Donoghue phoned William Fegan for directions to the spot on Sally’s Bridge where he had fished out the strange items. Garda O’Donoghue returned to the bridge on September 14.

At the same time nearly 20 miles away on the other side of the Wicklow and Dublin Mountains at Killakee gardai were removing skeletal remains which had been found the previous day by a woman out walking her dogs. Several days later, these remains would be formally identified as belonging to Elaine O’Hara. On the same day the body was found, Garda O’Donoghue ventured out to the reservoir again. “This time I peered over the bridge again and I just remember the water was a bit rough because the wind was blowing and I couldn’t see. So I returned again on Monday the 16th.”

“On arrival at the reservoir bridge I looked into the water and it was very low, not normal. in my time up there I had not seen it that low,” he explained. The reservoir levels were at an historically level due to a hot summer. “I continued searching and within a few minutes I found a knife and an inhaler as well as another item that I would describe as an adult item. “I noted on the set of keys there was a Dunne Stores loyalty card and on the back there was a barcode. I contacted the customer service department of and requested information.”

“The following morning I received a call from a Dunnes Store manager I received a name of the tag owner as Elaine O’Hara.” Garda O’Donoghue followed procedures and sealed off the scene as a crime scene. The Garda Sub Aqua Unit attended and subsequently found mobile phones which played a pivotal role in the conviction of Graham Dwyer.”


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