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Monday 23 October 2017

how Phon e evidence led gardai rig ht to dwyer...

MOBILE phone evidence helped gardai identify Graham Dwyer as a suspect in the murder of Elaine O'Hara, and "told the story" of their relationship, proving he planned and intended to kill her.

The movements and contents of five phones were central to the case against Dwyer - his work phone had first been used to contact Elaine and then three prepaid numbers he bought and mistakenly thought were untraceable yielded thousands of texts between the pair.

These five numbers were Dwyer's work phone, Elaine's iPhone and the so-called "Goroon", "Master" and "Slave" pre-paid phones.

Dwyer denied he was the user of the "Goroon" and "Master" phones that contacted Elaine on her own iPhone and the "Slave" phone in the 17 months before her death.

After she disappeared in 2012, gardai found her iPhone plugged in and charging in her apartment.

It had been backed up to her Apple Mac laptop computer, where gardai later found thousands of disturbing text conversations between her and a man who used the alias "David."

However, the name for the number in her computer contacts and address book was Graham.

This number belonged to a prepaid phone that was bought in the 3 Store on Grafton Street on March 25, 2011 by someone who gave the name "Goroon Caisholm", with an address at Oak Lawn, Clerihan, Co Tipperary. The phone was never found.

As well as giving a detailed insight into Elaine's sexual, BDSM-based relationship with the user of the "Goroon" phone, there were numerous personal details in the texts, such as the birth of his child, and a "terrible" weekend when he found out about a pay cut and "came fifth in flying".

Gardai began building a profile of who might be using it.

Elaine's skeletal remains were found at Killakee Mountain on September 13, 2013 and the Master and Slave Nokia phones were fished from the bottom of Vartry reservoir shortly after - on September 17 and October 7.

They had been bought at the O2 shop in Grafton Street on November 30, 2011.

The case was by now a murder investigation and gardai also set about trying to find out who had been using the Master phone.

A breakthrough was made when Dwyer was linked to it by a combination of mobile cell site analysis and motorway toll booth records. Gardai traced the movement of the "Master" phone on mobile phone cells, particularly in south Dublin and Galway on July 4, 2012, when Mr Dwyer's car was identified as having been driven between the two cities.

Analyst Sarah Skedd trawled video records of vehicles passing through the M4 and M6 toll stations that day. An "11850" number caught her eye.

This would prove to be Dwyer's car: 99 G 11850, and Ms Skedd told the investigation team on September 27, 2013.

disappeared

Once Dwyer was identified as a suspect, the "Goroon" phone's texts reinforced the garda view that he was the user of that number. The birth date of a "beautiful baby girl" and her name tallied with that of his daughter, as did references to a pay cut and the fact that he had come fifth in a model plane flying competition.

The details given were similar to a name and an address Dwyer knew - an old friend who knew nothing about the phone was called Gordon Chisholm, and Dwyer's sister lived at Oak Park, Clerihan, Tipperary.

Gardai viewed thousands of hours of CCTV footage from Ms O'Hara's apartment complex, Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside in the months before she disappeared and identified Dwyer repeatedly coming and going.

The Master and Slave phones had last contacted each other 15 minutes after Elaine was last seen alive on August 22, 2012.

The jury heard of a series of dates and times during which Mr Dwyer's work phone and the "Master" phone were connecting through the networks at similar or nearby locations around Ireland. Sarah Skedd found nothing in her analysis to contradict the suggestion that the same person was using the two phones.

In all, there were 2,639 communications between the "Goroon" phone and Elaine's iPhone, 1,380 contacts between the two Master and Slave phones, 847 messages from Mr Dwyer's work phone to Elaine's iPhone. There was one contact from the Master to Elaine's iPhone and five her number to the Slave phone.

What emerged from the texts between the prepaid phones was a comprehensive and chilling account of an abusive and violent sexual relationship.

The Master repeatedly asked the Slave to let him kill her if she was suicidal, spoke of his urge to rape, stab and kill a woman, and of hatching a plan to do just that.

The texts also detailed the "grooming" by Dwyer of Elaine.

He spoke of planning to kill a woman and told the Slave that it would be her who was killed unless she helped him.

If the "Goroon" phone messages detailed the background relationship, the Master and Slave texts set out the endgame on August 22, continuing up to 15 minutes after Elaine was last seen alive, with the instructions: "Go down to shore and wait."

Tracking Dwyer's phone, gardai found that the day before Elaine disappeared, Dwyer's work phone connected through a mobile cell just inside the M50 in south Dublin at 6.26pm - shortly after the so-called "Master" phone texted the "Slave" number to say: "I am heading out to the spot now to double check."

Then, on August 22, his work phone was turned off for several hours before reconnecting to the network at 9pm.

The prosecution said all the evidence showed Dwyer was the Master and he met her that day to carry out his terrible plan.

hnews@herald.ie

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