Sunday 21 October 2018

Graham Dwyer nearly committed 'the perfect murder', court hears

Prosecution says series of 'remarkable coincidences' led to discovery of key evidence

Architect Graham Dwyer is accused of the murder of Elaine O’Hara (inset), from Killiney, Co Dublin
Architect Graham Dwyer is accused of the murder of Elaine O’Hara (inset), from Killiney, Co Dublin
Elaine O'Hara
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

ARCHITECT Graham Dwyer "very nearly" committed "the perfect murder" when he killed childcare worker Elaine O'Hara for his own sexual gratification, the prosecution has told the Central Criminal Court.

The married father-of-two, originally from Bandon in Cork, denies killing the 36-year-old, described by the prosecution as "almost the perfect victim", on August 22, 2012. The skeletal remains of Ms O'Hara were found more than a year later, on September 13, 2013, by a dog walker in the Dublin mountains. Ms O'Hara was being treated in a psychiatric hospital for up to six weeks before her disappearance.

In his opening statement for the prosecution, Senior Counsel Sean Guerin said that the State would be able to prove that Mr Dwyer and the late Ms O'Hara had a sexual relationship and that an essential part of that relationship were acts of stabbing committed by Mr Dwyer on her.

Mr Guerin told the jury that Mr Dwyer and Ms O'Hara had an unusual relationship which involved BDSM - bondage, domination, sadism and masochism.

The prosecutor said stabbing was a central feature of the sexual relationship and reflected "a deep-seated, passionately held, irrepressible desire on the part of Mr Dwyer to get sexual gratification by stabbing a woman".

Mr Dwyer had "a huge urge to kill and stab" and had taken advantage of her mental illness, said Mr Guerin. "There was every reason for it to look like a suicide," added the lawyer.

The trial could last for eight weeks.


Elaine O'Hara went missing hours after she was discharged from St Edmundsbury Hospital in Lucan, where she had been a psychiatric patient.

She was last seen alive near Shanganagh Cemetery in South Dublin on August 22, 2012, at around 5.45pm by a man out jogging in a nearby park. She had visited the graveyard earlier that day with her father and spoke briefly to the runner, asking for directions to a pedestrian bridge over a railway tracks, the court heard.

Ms O'Hara was reported missing two days later, but her skeletal remains were not found until September 13, 2013, by a professional dog walker on lands at Kilakee, Rathfarnham.

In what Mr Guerin described as "a remarkable coincidence", a set of keys with a Dunnes Stores loyalty fob belonging to Ms O'Hara was found in the Vartry Reservoir near Roundwood, County Wicklow, shortly after her remains were found in the foothills of the Dublin mountains.

The reservoir, where water levels were normally recorded at some 20ft, had dropped to some 2ft because of the unusually warm summer in 2013 and items retrieved after being spotted by three men with an interest in fishing, said Mr Guerin.

Mr Guerin said it was highly unlikely the items discovered in the reservoir would have been found but for the dry summer and the fact the water level had dropped.

Gardai found two mobile phones which the prosecution says were used by Ms O'Hara and Mr Dwyer, a model aeroplane enthusiast, in the days leading up to the day she was last seen. Following the discovery of the remains, gardai re-searched Ms O'Hara's apartment and seized a number of items, including the mattress from the double bed in her one-bedroom home. The court heard that a DNA profile retrieved from the stained and damaged mattress matched that of Mr Dwyer.

Mr Guerin also told the court that gardai managed to extract data from Ms O'Hara's two phones as well as the two phones that had been in the almost dry reservoir for a year.


The prosecution claims data extracted from Ms O'Hara's phone and a phone with an 083 prefix was used by Mr Dwyer. The data showed that there was an unusual sexual relationship between them, said Mr Guerin.

A jury of seven men and five women heard that there is no medical cause of death, no eye witnesses and no forensic evidence to link Mr Dwyer to the scene where Ms O'Hara's remains were discovered.

But Mr Guerin said that it is the prosecution's case that this is "a simple, straightforward case for murder".

The Senior Counsel told the jury that there are more than 400 exhibits in the case, but that eight of these are "key". The key exhibits outlined by Mr Guerin include phones and a laptop found at Ms O'Hara's apartment at Bellarmine Plaza in Stepaside; two Nokia phones found at Vartry Reservoir, a rucksack, CCTV footage from Ms O'Hara's apartment complex and the mattress from her bedroom.


Mr Guerin told the jury that the prosecution would prove that one of the numbers with which the deceased was communicating with belonged to Mr Dwyer, a married father of two from Kerrymount Close, Foxrock.

The Senior Counsel said that the messages between Ms O'Hara's phone and the number he attributed to Mr Dwyer tell the story of their "unusual" relationship and the "unusual" sexual practices they engaged in.

Mr Guerin said that Elaine O'Hara's sexual preference was for a "submissive relationship" which, he said, involved restraint, being tied up, being under the control of another and punished.

The lawyer said Mr Dwyer's preference was different and read out a text sent to Ms O'Hara from a mobile phone attributed to Mr Dwyer by the prosecution.

The text read: "I'm a sadist. I enjoy others' pain. You should help me inflict pain on you and help me with my fantasies." Another text from the 083 number said: "My urge to rape, stab and kill is huge. You have to help me control it or satisfy it."

The court heard that it is the prosecution's case that Ms O'Hara and Mr Dwyer renewed a relationship they had previously been in when Mr Dwyer contacted the deceased by text in March 2011.

However, the court heard that within minutes of contact being renewed, Ms O'Hara replied by text saying "I'm not into blood any more."

Mr Guerin said it is the prosecution's case Mr Dwyer is manipulative and groomed Ms O'Hara to normalise the idea stabbing was normal.

Mr Guerin said texts sent from the 083 number related to events which tallied with events in Mr Dwyer's personal life, including a cut in his pay, his coming fifth place in a competition connected to his model aeroplane hobby, as well as the birth of his daughter in 2011.

"When you look at all the elements and put them together, the prosecution's case will be that this was, in fact, very nearly the perfect murder, but for the fact that 2013 was such a warm summer," said Mr Guerin.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Anthony Hunt.


The alleged victim & the defendant

* Elaine O'Hara was born on Saint Patrick's Day, 1976 - she was 36 at the time of her death, which the State prosecution alleges took place on August 22 in the Dublin Mountains.

She had worked as a childcare worker in Ballybrack, south Dublin, and also worked part-time as a shop assistant in Blackrock, the opening of the murder trial was told. Counsel for the prosecution, Sean Guerin SC, revealed that the deceased had "psychiatric difficulties", which resulted in suicide attempts and self-harming.

Mr Guerin said Ms O'Hara's sexual preference was for an "extremely submissive" relationship.

"Her sexual preference was for restraints, being tied up, controlled by another person, punished by another person," he said.

On the day of her alleged murder, she had been discharged from hospital after receiving six weeks of psychiatric care.


* Graham Dwyer was born on September 13, 1972, and was aged 39 at the time of the alleged murder of Ms O'Hara. Originally from Bandon, County Cork, he had a successful career as an architect working for a firm in Dublin, the court heard.

He was married with two children and lived in Foxrock, south Dublin. His hobby was making and flying model airplanes and he was a member of a number of model flying clubs.

In the prosecution's opening statement to the jury, Sean Guerin SC revealed that the accused became a father for the second time in early 2011 when he was allegedly in contact with Ms O'Hara.

Irish Independent

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