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Tuesday 27 September 2016

Estate agents boost security after Graham Dwyer trial revealed he planned to kill 'pretty young auctioneer'

Graham Dwyer
Graham Dwyer

Estate agents are examining smartphone security apps in the wake of the Graham Dwyer murder verdict.

During the trial, evidence was heard which showed the killer had plotted to kill a young auctioneer.

Dwyer sent a text to Elaine O’Hara to say he found an empty house in Cabinteely and named the “young pretty auctioneer” as Rowena Quinn.

In the text message exchange on August 3, 2011, the man who murder victim Elaine addresses continually as “Sir” outlines how he will rape and stab Ms Quinn to death in Willow Park, Cabinteely.

Elaine O’Hara texted back later that she thought it was “too close” to home and to her work.

The auctioneer had earlier told the trial that she was selling a house there at the time.

Now estate agents want to make it safer for lone workers showing homes.

 Two estate agent companies have said they are looking at ways to protect staff who are operating in remote locations or who feel they could be in danger.

Many estate agents introduced safety measures following the case in the UK in 1986 when 25-year-old Suzy Lamplugh went missing after leaving to show a house in Fulham, southwest London. She was never found.

The last clue of her whereabouts was an appointment to show a house to someone she referred to as “Mr Kipper”.

The new security measures could include carrying a panic alarm, researching potential property viewers before making appointments, and keeping updated diary details of all appointments details.

A spokeswoman for Sherry FitzGerald told the Irish Times that the Dwyer case has reminded agents of the vulnerability faced by staff on the job.

It is trialling an app that responds to shaking and tapping sequences that activate a call to a 24-hour monitoring service.

This either triggers a call back where the agent may then use a “safe” or “duress” word, or it can activate a call-out by sending location co-ordinates, as well as audio and video footage directly to the authorities.

A spokeswoman at Savills says it is trialling similar software, but purely as reactive tools for rare bad situations.

She said the emphasis should really be on proactive behaviour. Savilles said agents need to take precautions such as having their phone fully charged, staying close to exits and watching out for suspicious behaviour.

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