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Monday 23 October 2017

Graham Dwyer trial: 'Murder by stabbing' the only option for a guilty verdict - judge

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

JURORS in the trial of Graham Dywer have been told if they are to find him guilty of murdering Elaine O'Hara they have to be satisfied that he stabbed her to death.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt told the jury members that they could not convict the accused unless they found that Ms O'Hara's death had been caused in the specific manner suggested by the prosecution.

Judge Hunt was delivering his charge to the jury, which consists of instructions and directions on legal issues and a summary of the evidence. Afterwards, the jury will retire to begin deliberations.

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

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 skeletal remains were found by a dog walker in undergrowth in the Dublin mountains on September 13, 2013. No cause of death was established.

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

Judge Hunt told the jury members that the prosecution's case was highly specific.

It was that not only did the accused murder Ms O'Hara, but he murdered her by stabbing her in pursuit of some "gratification."

"There has to be evidence of causation, you have to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Dwyer caused Ms O'Hara's death in the manner that is suggested … that this was a murder, that it was a murder committed by Mr Dwyer, and that it was committed using the agency of a stabbing," Judge Hunt said.

He also said it was for the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that two disputed phones in the case were attributable to Mr Dwyer.

"It seems to me if the comments on the ("Goroon") phone are not referable to Mr Dwyer they are referable to somebody who bears an astonishingly similarity to aspects of his life."

Judge Hunt told the jury if they were not convinced by the circumstantial evidence on who purchased and used the phones beyond all reasonable doubt "I suggest you go no further in the case".

Judge Hunt said the prosecution's case was in a large part if not totally based on drawing inferences. While a person could be convicted on circumstantial evidence alone, this evidence never provided self-evident proof of guilt and must be treated with care.

Judge Hunt told the jurors their verdict must be rooted in the evidence and they were not entitled to speculate. They must leave emotion and sentiment out of it, he said, and reach an "antiseptic decision" based on facts.

He said the starting point in viewing the evidence was with the continued presumption of innocence enjoyed by the accused.

Judge Hunt said 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 let them assess the nature of the relationship.

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

hnews@herald.ie

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