herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Graham Dwyer trial: 'Feelings have no part to play in deciding on verdict', jury told

summing up: Judge tells jurors they must put any dislike or lack of sympathy for Dwyer to one side and make decision

Elaine O'Hara and Graham Dwyer
Elaine O'Hara and Graham Dwyer

THE jury in the Graham Dywer murder trial has been told that "feelings have no part to play" in deciding on a verdict.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt told the jurors that although they had been shown the accused in a "harsh and unforgiving light", this had not been done to make him look bad or foolish.

He said video evidence of Mr Dwyer having sex with and stabbing Elaine O'Hara had been played to them by the prosecution for other reasons - to let them assess the nature of their relationship.

The judge said the jurors had to put any feelings of dislike or lack of sympathy for Mr Dwyer to one side in reaching their decision.

Judge Hunt was this morning delivering his charge to the jury. This consists of instructions and directions on legal issues and a summary of the evidence.

After the judge's charge concludes, the seven men and five women of the jury will retire to begin deliberations.

The prosecution and defence finished their cases last week, with closing speeches for both sides concluding on Friday.

Some 197 witnesses had given evidence for the prosecution during the eight weeks of the trial.

The defence called three witnesses and concluded its case in less than half an hour last Wednesday.

Mr Dwyer (42), a Cork-born 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. Her remains were found by a dog walker in undergrowth in the Dublin mountains on September 13, 2013.

The prosecution maintains Mr Dwyer killed her to satisfy a sexual urge to stab a woman to death.

Judge Hunt said an accused person normally had certain aspects of their character shielded from the jury, enabling them to take an objective and cold view of the case.

This included knowledge of any previous convictions or "bad behaviour".

The judge said prior criminal convictions did not apply in this case as Mr Dwyer did not have any.

However, he told the jury: "You saw a side of him in a very harsh and unforgiving light."

He said the purpose of this evidence was not to make Mr Dwyer look bad, adding "nobody looks good in those circumstances".

He referred to documents found on a computer which had potential relevance.

He pointed out to the jury that they were the ones who would decide what was actually relevant.

"You are the arbiters of what is relevant and what is not," he said. The documents got "zero marks" for content and prose style, he said.

"They were put forward because the prosecution wants you to consider them in the context of a picture they paint," he said.

He said they were not there to make Mr Dwyer look bad or make it easier for them to convict him.

The video clips were shown because the prosecution asserted that what was depicted in them was part and parcel of its case against Mr Dwyer.

They had a "visceral impact" and he said that while he did not think the jury had been watching the judge, they might have seen that he was not viewing the videos as they were played.

This was not because he was particularly squeamish, but because he had already viewed them two to three times before they did and "simply didn't have a desire to see them a fourth time".

He said the jury members were all adults and should not have been shocked by seeing people having sex.

The prosecution did not need to show the videos to prove the accused and Ms O'Hara had had a sexual relationship - there was other evidence for that including Mr Dwyer's admissions, he said.

He said the activities shown were accompanied by the unusual feature of stabbing, but told the jury: "The people in those clips were agreeing to do it. I suggest to you that when the immediate impact of that type of thing has died down you can let the shock drift away.

"The fact of the matter is that what the people were doing was on the basis of agreement."

He said clearly it had been painful and though someone might have a desire to let someone stick a knife in them, that desire did not make the consequences any less painful.

Judge Hunt told the jury the reason they had been shown the videos was because of assertions made by Mr Dwyer in garda interview about the nature of his relationship with Ms O'Hara and to allow them to assess the content of the relationship, the motivations and "who enjoyed what".

"Any feelings it engenders in you, any dislike or lack of sympathy, you have to put to one side," he said.

His charge to the jury was continuing this morning.

hnews@herald.ie

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