Saturday 10 December 2016

Deluded Graham Dwyer still thinks that he can get away with murder

A year since his conviction for Elaine O'Hara's murder, Dwyer's letters reveal his pathetic bravado, writes Maeve Sheehan

Published 20/03/2016 | 02:30

Graham Dwyer Photo: Collins Courts
Graham Dwyer Photo: Collins Courts
Elaine O'Hara. Photo: PA

Next weekend marks the first anniversary of Graham Dwyer's conviction for the murder of Elaine O'Hara. According to media reports following his progress, the former architect has spent much of his 12 months behind bars writing up a storm, still trying to convince his old pals of his innocence and in some stomach-churning flirtation with a slew of female pen pals who have contacted him in jail.

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A Russian woman who was thrown out of court for making gestures at him during his trial claimed last summer to be his "girlfriend". Victoria Andreenkova told The Star she had "fallen in love" with him after he wrote inviting her to visit him in the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise. He was "tender" and "very kind".

A couple of months later, the Sunday World got hold of taped phone conversations between Andreenkova and her now ex-boyfriend. He would "dream" about her getting searched by a prison officer when coming in to see him and remonstrated with her about talking to the media.

"Victoria, you are all over the media again. It's going to f**k up my appeal. The media is a huge part of my appeal, you can't talk to them. Just hang up, [and say] 'no comment, no comment'."

Others sent him sympathetic letters and handed over his collected responses to the newspapers, further enlightening the public as to his deluded mindset.

Thanks to an au pair based in Dublin who took it upon herself to write to him, we learnt that Dwyer has grown his hair long in prison and wears it in a ponytail. He claimed his nickname is Steven Segal or Jonathan Ross. He looked on the chubby side during his trial but in prison has taken to the gym and is vegetarian. He reads about himself avidly. In one letter, he called himself 50 Shades of Graham - the movie based on the bondage bestseller, Fifty Shades of Grey, was released around the same time as his trial began.

His delusion continues in his confident prediction that he will be released later this year when his conviction is overturned on appeal. In a letter to one au pair pen pal, he claimed to have 12 grounds for appeal worked on by a team of lawyers largely based on his contention that there was "no evidence" to link him to the murder of Elaine O'Hara.

"Just extreme sex stuff that shocked the journalists and jury!," he wrote.

He bragged about buying a drink when he gets out for Dr Marie Cassidy, the State pathologist who examined Elaine O'Hara's remains when they were found. Addressing medical students, she said there was no pathology evidence, she did not think the DPP would go ahead with the case, and when the jury went out, she expected a verdict of not guilty. Her comments would help secure his release, he told his au pair pen pal. In fact, he wrote at one point, he might need to "lie low" at her house when he gets out. The au pair who elicited these chilling insights into Dwyer later gave his letters to the Mail on Sunday.

Questions have to be asked about why women write to a misogynist like Dwyer. Even his own defence counsel admitted that there was no point trying to sell him to the jury as a nice man. And the letters that he writes from his jail cell also show his pathetic bravado and delusion - and an optimism that is totally out of place with a man serving life for murder.

"This is going to be a good year," he writes in one letter, predicting his imminent release.

Dwyer thought he would get away with murder when he stood before a judge and jury in the Central Criminal Court a year ago. The letters show that he still thinks he will get away with it now.

According to the prosecution, Elaine O'Hara (36) was the "almost perfect victim" and Dwyer thought he had committed the perfect murder. A relationship that started on a bondage website developed into the brutal sadomasochistic abuse of a vulnerable woman. He was the "master" and Elaine, psychiatrically unwell, lonely and troubled, one of his several and not always willing "slaves".

His fetish for bloodletting during sex culminated in the murder of Elaine O'Hara for sexual gratification, on the day she was released from a psychiatric hospital, lured by text message to a beach.

When the decomposed partial remains of Elaine O'Hara's body were discovered by a dog walker in undergrowth in Kilakee Woods in the Dublin Mountains in August 2013, Graham Dwyer was having a dinner in a Mexican restaurant with his unsuspecting wife, Gemma, to celebrate their birthdays. A month later, he was "drinking away, not a bother on him" at a boy scout reunion in Bandon.

He thought he had covered his tracks by using ready-to-go mobile phones and online aliases. He relied on his outward respectability to deflect from his violent sadomasochism. He was middle class, professional, with a wife and two children, living in a salubrious suburb of Foxrock in south Dublin. A bit of geek, his hobbies included cars and flying model aircraft. He had no convictions.

He was tracked down on the back of anonymous information passed to gardai that an "O'Dwyer or Dwyer" who worked on Baggot Street might be linked to discovery. They soon found Graham Dwyer, who and worked for an architects' firm on Baggot Street. When his bins were left out for collection, Chief Superintendent Dermot O'Sullivan searched them for something that would yield his DNA and found it in a tin of turtle wax. The DNA sample later confirmed that the semen they found on Elaine O'Hara's mattress belonged to Dwyer.

When Dwyer was arrested, he was so confident that he would get away with it that he insisted on being questioned through the night, declining their offers of a break. After his arrest, he wrote to his wife, who had walked out on him immediately: "They have no evidence except my name and someone else's phone number in that awful girl's diary. I do know her, yes, and was helping her. And I wasn't totally honest with you."

Awaiting the jury's verdict, he told prison staff he would be free and enjoying a meal in a restaurant once it was all over. The evidence was in video footage of him stabbing Elaine while having sex with her and the semen found on Elaine's mattress. He was filmed going in and out of her apartment building in Stepaside. He wrote fiction fantasising about stabbing a woman called Darci to death while having sex with her. (Darci was no fiction: she was Darci Day, an American who was suicidal when she met Dwyer online, who offered to kill her to save the job of committing suicide.) Analysts proved the ready-to-go mobile phones from which text messages were sent to Elaine O'Hara's mobile phones went everywhere that Dwyer went.

No amount of forensics could establish a direct evidential link between Graham Dwyer and Elaine O'Hara's remains that were found on the Dublin Mountains. Dwyer was convinced then that he would be acquitted. The jury found the compelling trail of circumstantial evidence led them to the inescapable conclusion that he was guilty.

Dwyer's appeal is due to be heard later this year. In his now public letters, he claimed to have a team of seven solicitors and barristers working on it. He is separately suing the State over the alleged unlawful retention of his mobile phone records, on foot of a recent EU directive. That case has been before the Chancery Court in February and is due before the courts again in April.

Dwyer would appear to have convinced those closest to him to stand by him. His father, Sean, and mother, Susan, and his two brothers, Brendan and James, regularly visit him in prison. As of the time of his trial, his wife, Gemma, had not.

Dwyer turned violent fantasy into violent reality, Judge Tony Hunt said at his trial. Fantasy is something for which Dwyer clearly has a talent. His life on the E3 landing of the Midlands Prison where he is confined alongside the serial killer Mark Nash and the brutal rapist Michael Murray, now involves watching Vincent Browne's newspaper round-up on TV3 to see if any newspapers have mentioned his conviction, and waging letter campaigns to his former friends protesting his innocence, and to female "fans", blaming his conviction on the jury's prudish reaction to his "sex games".

Sunday Independent

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