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Monday 21 August 2017

'I'm safe now' - what Graham Dwyer said 20 minutes before verdict

Graham Dwyer who has been found guilty of murdering a mentally ill childcare worker in Ireland
Graham Dwyer who has been found guilty of murdering a mentally ill childcare worker in Ireland

“I’m safe now.”

These were the words deluded murderer Graham Dwyer hissed when he was returned to his holding cell in the Criminal Courts of Justice at 3.20pm yesterday.

Minutes earlier he had heard the jury were seeking clarification on the ingredients of murder.

So convinced was the deranged architect that he would beat the murder charge, he told those in the cell that he was “safe now” while the jury went back to their deliberations.

He was anything but. The jury were less than 10 minutes from agreeing on a unanimous guilty verdict and it would be announced to stunned Dwyer at 3.40pm.

Through his trial, an arrogant Dwyer was convinced he would be found innocent. Earlier this week, he boasted to prison officers he would be “eating steak and drinking wine” by the weekend. Instead, a stunned-looking murderer took a sharp intake of breath, slumped forward and shook his head in disbelief when the verdict was read out.

READ MORE: Graham Dwyer found guilty of the murder of Elaine O'Hara

Following the conviction, Elaine’s father Frank said in a dignified statement that they were still suffering her loss and it had been a traumatic time.

Dwyer had the audacity to become the first known murderer, outside of terrorists, to release a media statement after his conviction stating there would no further comment from himself.

His wife, Gemma, said her “thoughts and condolences are with the O’Hara family for the grief and pain they are suffering”.

READ MORE: Killer in last-gasp bid to stop his trial because of 'glaring look' from the judge

On a momentous day, the jury returned its verdict after just over seven-and-a-half hours of deliberations at the end of a 10-week trial and one of the most complex murder investigations in the history of the State.

Dwyer was taken back to Cloverhill prison, where he has been in custody since his arrest in October 2013. He was said to be “extremely upset” on his way back to prison. He faces life in jail, but Mr Justice Tony Hunt adjourned sentencing for three weeks for the preparation of a victim impact statement by Elaine’s family.

Dwyer (42), a Cork-born father-of-three of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Elaine (36), a childcare worker, at Killakee, Rathfarnham, on August 22, 2012.

He lured her to secluded woodlands where he stabbed her to death for his own sexual gratification. Yesterday was day 46 of the trial.

READ MORE: Dwyer ruled out of Raonaid probe by murder detectives

At 3.09pm, the jurors had been deliberating for seven hours and five minutes when they returned and the foreman passed a note to Judge Hunt.

He read it and said they needed guidance on the ingredients of murder.

“If you are satisfied that the stabbing was performed with the requisite intention, you simply have to be satisfied that the stabbing was a contribution to her death,” he said.

The jurors resumed deliberations at 3.11pm. Twenty minutes later, their keeper came out to tell the court registrar that a verdict had been reached.

READ MORE: Prisoner 88335 gets threats from fellow inmates ... as well as mail from his fans

The public gallery filled to capacity within minutes and at 3.34pm Elaine’s sister, Ann Charles, her brother, John O’Hara, father Frank and his partner, Sheila Hawkins, took their seats.

A minute later, Dwyer strode in and sat in the dock with both hands in his lap. He stood to talk to his solicitor Jonathan Dunphy, then sat back down, loosened his tie and cleared his throat.

His father, Sean Dwyer, and sister, Mandy Wroblewski, took their seats in front of the dock. A tense silence fell on courtroom number 13 as those present awaited the verdict.

READ MORE: Elaine's sister, hikers and a young mum on architect's 'hit list'

At 3.39pm Judge Hunt said: “I gather we have a verdict and when the verdict is delivered, I want silence in court and I want the gardai to keep an eye on that.

Looking solemn, the seven men and five women of the jury then filed in and the foreman handed the issue paper to the registrar. She asked if they had recorded a verdict and he replied: “Yes we have.”

“You say the accused Graham Dwyer is guilty – is that the verdict of you all?” the registrar asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

The silence was broken only by a gasp that was heard from the bench where Elaine’s family sat. Dwyer looked over at his father and shook his head. Judge Hunt thanked the jury for their service and what he said had been a “difficult task”.

“There is no doubt you are human like myself, when you are cut you bleed,” Judge Hunt said. “These things are not easy.

endorse

“If it’s any consolation to you, I 110pc agree with your verdict based on the evidence. On the basis of the facts, the question of suicide simply wasn’t there. I wholeheartedly endorse that conclusion speaking as someone who heard and saw everything that you did.”

He exempted them from further jury service for 30 years.

Dwyer, described by the prosecution as a “sadistic and brutal pervert”, killed Elaine to satisfy a deep-seated urge to stab a woman to death. He had met her online and they had an on-and-off BDSM-based sexual relationship before he killed her. Under the pretence of “punishing” her in a violent sex game, he lured her to secluded woodlands on the day she was released from a psychiatric hospital.

Her remains were not found for more than a year after she disappeared and Dwyer claimed Elaine, who had been suicidal in the past, had killed herself. Neither a cause of death nor forensic evidence linking him to the murder scene were found. But the prosecution presented a “mountain” of text message evidence in which Dwyer was shown to have “groomed” Elaine and planned to kill her.

His plot to evade justice began to unravel when a series of coincidental discoveries were made a year after she vanished.

On Friday, September 13, 2013 Elaine’s partial skeletal remains were stumbled upon by a dog walker in woods in the mountains.

Meanwhile, 26km away at Vartry Reservoir in Roundwood, Co Wicklow, in the same week, water levels had plunged to record lows after a hot summer when an angler spotted something shiny in the shallow water and pulled out bondage gear.

Elaine’s keys, clothing, rucksack, sex toys and more restraints were also found there, as well as three knives and two mobile phones. Gardai were able to recover a chilling series of text message exchanges from the phones – between a then-unknown “Master” and a “Slave”, belonging to Elaine O’Hara.

The messages detailed an abusive, sado-masochistic relationship in which the man repeatedly spoke of stabbing Elaine during sex, and offered to kill her if she wanted to.

The text messages, phone cell site records and other evidence led gardai to Dwyer. He admitted he was in a sexual relationship with Elaine but denied killing her, or any knowledge of either phone.

“Where did you get to the bit where you say I killed somebody?” he asked gardai.

Yesterday, that question was

answered unanimously by the jury.

hnews@herald.ie

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