herald

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Graham Dwyer found guilty of the murder of Elaine O'Hara - and faces life behind bars

Graham Dwyer faces a mandatory life sentence for the murder of Elaine O'Hara
Elaine O'Hara, whose remains were found in the Dublin Mountains on September 13 2013

ARCHITECT Graham Dwyer faces life behind bars after he was found guilty of murdering Elaine O’Hara to fulfil his own sexual gratification and sick lust for letting blood.

The 42-year-old sex beast was, in the past hour, convicted of stabbing the child care assistant to death in the Dublin mountains, where he had lured her just hours after she was discharged from a mental health hospital.

Dwyer took a sharp intake of breath as the verdict was returned and then leaned forward and shock his head, before turning to his father Sean and sister Mandy and shook his head again, almost in disbelief.

His sister Mandy wiped tears from her eyes and members of the O’Hara family gasped with relief, their arms around each other.

Graham Dwyer has - in the past minutes - issued a statement to independent.ie through his solicitor.

It reads: "I wish to take this opportunity to formally thank my legal team, my solicitor Jonathan Dunphy, senior counsel Remy Farrell, barrister Ronan Kennedy and Kate McCormack for their work and dedication since 2013

"I also wish to thank my family, friends and colleagues for their continued unwavering support throughout this period.

"To the members of the media, I am grateful for the privacy you have afforded both my family and people close to me during the trial, I now respectfully ask that you continue to respect their privacy and I confirm that there will be no further comment by my family or myself concerning this case whatsoever."

Elaine's family have also issued a statement in recent minutes:

"We are greatly relieved that justice has been served but we still suffer her loss and miss her greatly," it reads.

"We hope that this case will highlight the need for people to be careful when communicating using the Internet and social media.

"We would like to thank An Garda Siochana for their sensitive and exemplary investigation. W e would also like to thank the prosecution team, Garda Family Liasion officers, Victim Support at court and extended family and friends for their support.

"This has been a difficult and traumatic two and a half years for the family and while we respect the role of the media in providing accurate I and important information, we ask that you respect our need for privacy as we attempt to move on from this heartbreaking and distressing period.

"We will not be making any further comment at is time."

Earlier, Mr Justice Tony Hunt told the jurors they had sat through difficult material and that after listening to the evidence he agreed with their verdict 110pc.

 

“On the basis of the facts that were presented the question of suicide simply wasn’t there and I agree with you,” he said.

“I don’t mind expressing view at this time. I hope I was careful not to express the view at any other stage.

“I wholeheartedly think you came to the right conclusion.”

On the difficulty of being jurors on the case, the judge said: "There's no doubt you are human like myself, when you're cut you bleed.

"These things are not easy."

Judge Hunt said while it is not normally appropriate to express his view, he felt he could after such a long difficult case.

They were exempt from jury service for 30 years.

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Elaine O'Hara, whose remains were found in the Dublin Mountains on September 13 2013
 

The jury reached their unanimous verdict after just over seven hours and 30 minutes of deliberations

While Dwyer will be automatically jailed for life, the judge adjourned sentencing until April 20th so the O’Hara family can prepare a victim impact statement.

As Dwyer was led away by prison officers he quickly turned  on heels and left the courtroom followed by his solicitor Jonathan Dunphy.

Detectives who led the case, including Det Sgt Peter Woods, shook hands with each other and prosecutors on the opposite side of the room.

Elaine O’Hara’s family members were in tears and embraced when the guilty verdict was read out.

Dwyer, a Cork-born father-of-three, has been in prison since he was charged in October 2013. He was refused bail three times over the last 18 months.

Dwyer had denied murdering Ms O’Hara and claimed she was suicidal when she disappeared on August 22, 2012.

But after one of the most complex and thorough Garda investigations in the history of the State, and a 10-week trial that gripped the nation, the self-confessed sadist will remain behind bars.

What appeared to be a near perfect life was wiped away after he committed almost ‘the perfect murder’.

However, the net began to close in when a catalogue of bizarre coincidences unfolded.

Dwyer and his attractive architect wife Gemma were both out celebrating their birthdays on Friday, September 13, 2013, when a dog walker made a grim discovery in the Dublin mountains - Ms O’Hara’s skeletal remains.

That same week, water levels in Vartry Reservoir in Roundwood, Co Wicklow plunged to record lows and a keen angler spotted something shiny in the shallow muddy waters.

Within days Ms O’Hara’s keys, clothing, two mobile phones, and her rucksack carrying a variety of sex toys - including ropes, cuffs, a gimp mask and restraints - were found.

Despite the water damage, experts retrieved more than 200 harrowing text messages between a 'Master' and his 'Slave' which lay bare Ms O’Hara’s fear and terror the week she vanished, including the hours before her death.

A chill hung in courtroom 13 as the final text sent to Ms O’Hara was read to the jury: “Go down to shore and wait.”

Her car was parked at Shangahagh Cemetery, where her mother is buried, and she was never seen again. Some, including her family, feared she had died by suicide.

When her remains and personal belongings were recovered a small missing person’s case was upgraded to a murder probe and her personal life delved in to.

Thousands of disturbing text messages, backed-up on Ms O’Hara’s laptop, revealed the unwavering control and power her 'Sir' (Dwyer) had over his Slave (O’Hara) and the mental torment she suffered throughout their on/off BDSM sexual relationship, which involved Dwyer knifing her for his sexual pleasure.

Ironically it was Ms O’Hara - a fan of TV crime dramas like CSI - who had warned Dwyer about the dangers of being caught for murder through DNA and phone mast coverage.

“Technology is a killer now Sir,” she had texted him, more than a year before she was murdered.

It will never be known if this digital diary of their secret sex life was knowingly saved by her after a friend warned the childcare assistant she was “playing a dangerous game” by being in a relationship with an architect she met on the internet who liked to cut her.

Experts found evidence of nearly 5,000 texts sent back and forth between the pair between January 2008 and the night she was killed, including 64 the day she vanished.

In them Dwyer repeatedly referred to a sadistic and perverted fantasy he had to stab a woman to death, suggesting various potential victims including Ms O’Hara’s neighbours, attractive estate agents, and random hill walkers or joggers.

But it appeared to be Dwyer’s fear of being caught that brought him full circle and back to Ms O’Hara, who he blamed for his desire after she once asked him to kill her.

In the end it was his own Master phone, recovered from the reservoir, that crime analyst Sarah Skedd linked to Dwyer after she painstakingly trawled through data on mobile phone cell sites and toll booths as it and he travelled on journeys outside Dublin.

Hundreds of hours of CCTV footage from Ms O’Hara’s apartment block in Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside, were examined before he was spotted visiting her place nine times between January and August 2012 – sometimes letting himself in with his own key while she was in hospital.

It was also Dwyer’s sick and disturbing voyeurism – documented in stories, images and videos found in hard drives in his home and work - that filled in the gaps for detectives.

The usually crammed courtroom was cleared by Judge Tony Hunt as the jury was shown graphic “vicious and brutal acts of violence” of Dwyer filming himself stabbing women while having sex.

In one Ms O’Hara was bound, her feet in chains and her arms behind her back, while a gag muffled her screams as she was repeatedly stabbed her in the abdomen from behind.

“Now that wasn’t bad, was it?,” he asked after he ejaculated on her.

Dwyer had also written vile and sickening first person accounts about him kidnapping, raping, torturing and murdering series of women, including American woman Darci Day who testified against him.

“I had always fantasised about killing ever since I was a teenager and I got hard every time I had a knife in my hand, wielding the power knowing that I could decide who lived and died, Just like my hero. God,” he wrote.

“Every time I made love, every time I would c*m, I wondered what opening a throat would feel like.”

As it was read out loud to the jury Dwyer went bright red, burying his face in his hands in embarrassment as details of his depraved sex life were publicised.

Detectives maintained it was this sick dark fantasy that led Dwyer to pick Ms O’Hara as his sub, and eventual victim, to turn it in to a reality.

Everyone had every reason to think that Ms O’Hara had died by suicide after she was released from St Edmundbury’s Hospital in Lucan, until her personal belongings were found along with the two phones and the rucksack Dwyer was seen carrying out of her apartment a week before she vanished.

“It was very sloppy to throw it in there,” Det Sgt Peter Woods, who lead the probe, told him.

Dwyer argued that she had also been meeting other men for sex, and that there was no direct evidence to link him to her murder.

His own barrister, Remy Farrell SC, agreed the evidence in the case had been difficult, distasteful and repellent, and that some might say his client was repellent, but that did not mean he murdered Ms O’Hara.

But harrowing texts between Ms O’Hara and her Master revealed he had found a remote place deep in the forest where she would be bound, gagged and knifed in the guts the night she was released from hospital.

Dwyer’s own work number was picked up on mobile phone cell sites at Edmondstown Golf Course and St Marks GAA in Cookstown - which cover the area of Killakee where her body was found – an hour after Master had texted: “I’m heading out to spot now to double check.”

“That’s a huge leap,” a confident Dwyer said to the detective under questioning.

“Where did you get to the bit where you say I kill somebody?”

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