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Graham Dwyer trial hears extraordinary claims of sexual manipulation, abuse, blood and murder


Elaine O'Hara

Elaine O'Hara

Graham Dwyer

Graham Dwyer

Court Collins.


Elaine O'Hara

Crowds thronged into Court 13 on the fourth floor of the Central Criminal Court on Thursday morning.

Journalists showed up early to get seats. Lawyers milled about busily. Gardai gathered to the side. Observers and curious onlookers crammed along the back wall. Necks craned for a glimpse of the man about to go on trial for the alleged murder, Graham Dwyer.

The 42-year-old architect from Foxrock, who is pleading not guilty, sat in the witness box, neatly groomed, rosy cheeked, in a dark suit, white shirt and red tie. Yards away, the family of Elaine O'Hara, the woman he is accused of murdering, sat shoulder to shoulder along a bench. The jury trooped in: five women and seven men. Mr Justice Tony Hunt addressed them on their task, then gave Sean Guerin, senior counsel for the prosecution, the go ahead to outline the State's case against Mr Dwyer.

What followed was an extraordinary account of alleged sadomasochism, manipulation, abuse, blood and murder told through graphic text messages. But Mr Guerin started gently, rising to his feet, facing the jury and beginning his narrative with three men on a bridge overlooking Vartry Reservoir in Wicklow, on September 10, 2013.

They were William Fegan, his brother and a friend, interested in fishing, which is why they noticed the water level, he said. Usually, it was 20 foot but, after the dry summer, it was two.

The men noticed something silver and shiny. One of them fished out a piece of clothing, a length of rope and a set of handcuffs, the court was told. They left the items on the wall of the bridge, but the next day, William Fagan brought them to the local Garda station. Garda James O'Donoghue went to the reservoir to see if he could find anything else, and on September 16, he did. He reached into the water and pulled out a set of keys, with a number of loyalty cards attached, including one for Dunnes Stores. He rang the store and asked who the loyalty card belonged to. He was told Elaine O'Hara. The Pulse system showed her as a "missing person" since August 2012, the court heard.

According to Mr Guerin, a "remarkable coincidence" followed. Three days after William Fagan stood on the bridge, and three days before Garda O'Donoghue's discovery, a professional dog trainer walked her dogs in Kilakee Mountain in Rathfarnham, South Dublin. She got all the dogs into the car, except one. She followed it into a wooded area and discovered a pile of bones, and later called gardai.

Elaine O'Hara was eventually identified through dental records, using her mandible or lower jaw bone, the court heard. Only 65pc of her remains were recovered.

She was born on March 17, 1976, the court heard. She worked in childcare in a school in Ballybrack in South Dublin and also had a job in a newsagents. She had moved into her own apartment in Belarmine, Stepaside. She had psychiatric difficulties since her late teens, and she needed care and medication.

Her father, Frank, told the court a little more about his eldest daughter when he gave evidence on Friday. She was intelligent with a great work ethic. As a teenager, she had been bullied at school, and a close friend of hers had been killed in a road accident. She became withdrawn, he said, and at one stage tried to cut her wrists. She was on a lot of medication in her teens. She became "anxious" after her mother died in 2002 and later, had a history of self-harm.

During an argument in 2008, she told him she was seeing someone. "I said who," he said. "She said a professional." He asked her was he married, she said yes. "She said 'he ties me up and masturbates over me but we haven't had sex'. She told me he was an architect from Foxrock."

"I was shocked," he said. She told him later that it was over. One colleague of Elaine's said she was open about her mental health issues. Others said she had talked of meeting men online, and of bondage, but Elaine "liked to shock". Her father thought she was doing "pretty good" in the last few years of her life. But the court heard that Elaine checked herself into St Edmonsbury Hospital in Lucan in July 2012, for five or six weeks.

In his opening statement, Sean Guerin said she was discharged on August 22, 2012, around noon. She returned to her apartment in Belarmine. She went to her local pharmacy to pick up a prescription - the pharmacist later testified that she seemed normal. Elaine then contacted the newsagents about what hours she would be working, as she had volunteered to help out at the Tall Ships Festival.

She spent two hours with her father that afternoon. They picked up a plant from Woodies to place on her mother's grave at Shanganagh Cemetery. Afterwards, at his house in Killiney, she ate, and left in extremely good form. Her father said: "I can still visualise her standing at the door to the kitchen."

He told the court there was "absolutely no" indication that she would harm herself.

Elaine went back to her apartment at 4pm. A resident saw her leave at 5pm, the court heard. She parked her car in Shanganagh Cemetery. A jogger saw her in Shanganagh Park, Mr Guerin said. She asked him for directions to the railway bridge, which leads to the sea, and he saw her walking across it at around 5.45pm.It was the last sighting of her.

There was no medical evidence on the cause of her death, there was no eyewitness and there was no forensic evidence linking Graham Dwyer to the crime, Mr Guerin told the court. But the prosecution alleged that Mr Dwyer had arranged to meet Ms O'Hara at the place where she was last seen, to take her up the mountains and kill her to satisfy his sexual desire to stab a woman to death.

He was a "highly regarded" and successful architect, the court heard. He was born in Bandon in 1972, was married with two children and lived in Kerrymount Close in the South Dublin suburb of Foxrock. He worked for a firm called Wejchert on Baggot Street Lower, in the city centre. His hobby was building and flying model airplanes and he was a member of several clubs.

But according to the prosecution, he was living a double life. He was in a sadomasochistic sexual relationship with Elaine O'Hara. He was her "master", the court was told, she his "slave". He "manipulated" and "abused" her, and "groomed" her to "normalise" blood loss. It was alleged that stabbing was a central feature of their alleged relationship. And when she resisted, he put in place a plan to kill her to satisfy "a deep-seated, passionately held, irrepressible desire" to get "sexual gratification by stabbing a woman".

Their sexual relationship was confirmed by semen on a mattress in Elaine's apartment, the prosecution alleged. The DNA profile extracted from it matched that of Mr Dywer. There was CCTV footage of him entering her apartment block, the court heard. Text messages told the story of their relationship, the prosecution alleges. Elaine had two mobiles phones, one current and one older, the court heard. Her 086 phone yielded text exchanges with a 083 number, sent from March 2011 to July 2012.

The 083 number was Mr Dwyer's, the prosecution alleged. Text messages on it showed references to coming fifth in a flying competition and getting a pay cut, the court heard. It is alleged that Mr Dwyer had come fifth in a flying competition and had a pay cut at that time. Another referred to the birth of a baby. Mr Dwyer's baby was allegedly born the day before the text, and the name given was allegedly that of his newborn. He was the only person who could have been at the end of the 083 phone, the court was told.

More text messages - exchanged the week before she disappeared - were extracted from two Nokia phones, recovered from the Vartry Reservoir with Elaine's keys. The prosecution alleged that these Nokias were brought in November 2011.

The first text, in March 2011, according to the prosecution, was Graham Dwyer trying to revive the relationship they had had some years before. It was sent from the 083 number which, the prosecution alleges, was Mr Dywer's.

"Hope you are keeping well," it said. It was the first of many text messages over the following months.

Their relationship was called "BDSM" - bondage, domination, sadomasochism, and masochism, Mr Guerin said. Her sexual preference was for restraint, for being tied up, controlled and punished by another person, he said. Mr Dwyer's preference was different, he said.

"I am a sadist. I enjoy other's pain. You should help me inflict pain on you and help me with my fantasy," went one text from the 083 phone.

Another read: "I want to stick my knife in flesh while I am turned on. Blood turns me on and I would love to stab a girl to death sometime."

The prosecution alleged that Mr Dwyer knew about her psychiatric difficulties and exploited them. "If you ever want to die promise me I can do it," he allegedly texted her.

"Yes I promise Sir," she allegedly texted back.

When she allegedly texted that she wasn't suicidal, he allegedly replied that he would wait for her: "I'll have everything ready if it becomes too much, just think, all your worries gone." Threats were allegedly another feature of their exchanges. On one occasion, he allegedly texted her: "My urge to rape, stab or kill is huge. You have to help me control or satisfy."

On another, he allegedly referred to newspaper reports about a woman who had been stabbed: "Would have loved to have been the one knifing her." It continued: "I am going to do it. You have to help me. Or it will be you."

Elaine resisted, the court heard. The text messages suggested she was looking for someone else. "I am not into blood anymore," she allegedly texted soon after the contact renewed in 2011. In July 2011, she allegedly texted: "I don't want you to stab me."

Later messages suggested a parting. Elaine allegedly texted: "I will miss you Sir. If I was ever to find anyone and have kids, I need to be free of stabs....Unless you are willing to give me a child, Sir."

In reply, Mr Dwyer allegedly offered to father her child, the court heard. But also said a baby would "finish off any chance she had of finding a partner", the court heard.

After that, the relationship was more sporadic. CCTV footage allegedly showed him entering her apartment building on several occasions in 2012. She resisted where she could, said Mr Guerin. The pressure to continue the relationship came from Mr Dwyer. It became clear to him that he was unlikely to get what he wanted and that gave him reason to put in place a plan, Mr Guerin alleged.

During her last week in St Edmondsbury Hospital, in August 2012, it was clear that they were using the two phones found in Vartry Reservoir, according to Mr Guerin.

A text message from one of the phones, sent on August 16, said: "If anything happens to you, who knows about me?"

"No one really. They know I am into BSM and I meet people."

"Ok. Let's keep it that way."

The day before her discharge, she allegedly received another: "You have a big punishment coming up, getting knifed in the guts."

On the day of her discharge, Elaine allegedly asked for a favour: "Please don't mention killing me for a while, just until I settle back to life."

"Ok but tonight's punishment will be pretending to do someone for real, ok?"

"Ok thank you Sir."

Elaine left hospital at noon. The prosecution alleges that Graham Dwyer texted her instructions to head for the railway bridge at Shanganagh Park: "Leave your i-Phone at home. Just bring slave phone and keys."

"He killed her exactly as he said he would," Mr Guerin told the court. Afterwards, he alleged, Mr Dwyer dropped the two phones and her keys and a bag into the Vartry Reservoir, close to the flying club where he spent Wednesday afternoons. Elaine O'Hara had a history of psychiatric illness and was last seen walking towards the sea after visiting her mother's grave.

"There would be every reason to think it was the suicide that it looked like," said Mr Guerin. And how unlikely was it that the reservoir should drop to two foot of water?

She was almost the perfect victim, he said, and it was very nearly the perfect murder but for the hot summer of 2013.



Some of the texts that the prosecution alleges Graham Dwyer exchanged with Elaine O’Hara

(Prosecution contends that 083 phone was Dwyer’s and both Elaine and Dwyer also had 086 phones)

“I’m not into blood anymore”

Text to the 083 phone, March 2011

“If you ever want to die promise me I can do it.”

“Yes, I promise, Sir.”

083 phone reply,  21 April 2011

“I am a sadist. I enjoy other’s pain. You should help me inflict pain on you and help me with my fantasies.”

Text from 083 phone, 2011

“I am watching the case with interest. Big mistake leaving a witness. I would have loved to have stabbed her . . . I can imagine the knife going in and out. Would have loved to have been the one knifing her. Lucky guy.”

Text from 083 phone after newspaper reports of a woman stabbed, April 2011

“It’s your fault I want to kill and you won’t let me stab you.”

Text from 083 phone, Apr 2011

“What if I did it once, what would happen.”

“Probably nothing but I would be afraid it would set my recovery back, that’s all.”

“You should regard it as something I want.”

Text from 083 phone, Apr 2011

“My urge to rape stab or kill is huge. You have to help me control or satisfy it”

Text from 083 phone, 2011

“Unfortunately I am not suicidal”

“I realise you are going through a rough patch and can wait for you. Don’t worry . . . I’ll have everything ready if it becomes too much, just think all your worries gone.”

Text to 083 phone, and response, May 2011

“How was your weekend?”

“Terrible. 15pc pay cut and came fifth in flying.”

Text to 083 phone, 13 June, 2011

 “I want to stick my knife in flesh while I am sexually aroused. Blood turns me on and I’d like to stab a girl to death some time.”

Text from 083 phone, June 2011

“Looking forward to seeing your research on finding me a victim.”

Text from 083 phone, June 2011

“I don’t want you to stab me anymore”.

Text to 083 phone, July 2011

“I will miss you Sir. If I was ever to find anyone and have kids, I need to be free of stabs. Unless you are willing to give me a child, Sir.”

Text to 083 phone, Aug 2, 2011

“I told you I don’t want to play with you, told you why.”

“What about baby? Clock is ticking.”

Text to 083 phone, Oct, 2011

“If anything happens to you, who knows about me?”

“ . . . No one really. They know I am into BDSM and I meet people.”

“Ok. Let’s keep it that way.”

Alleged text exchanges between Graham Dywer and Elaine on 086 phones, August 16, 2012

“Did a huge walk up the Dublin mountains yesterday. Plenty of lonely walkers up there, just find a route back with no cameras and I’m sorted. Very excited.”

Allegedly from Dywer’s 086 phone to Elaine, August 17, 2012

“ . . . we go into the woods. I take off your clothes, stab you, bury you and leave your clothes in the car near the sea at night. Looks like you drowned.”

Allegedly from Dywer to Elaine, August 2012

“Please don’t mention killing me for a while, just until I settle back to life.”

“Ok but tonight’s punishment will be pretending to do someone for real. Ok?”

“Ok thank you Sir.”

Text to 086 phone, on 22 August, the day she disappeared

“Leave your i-Phone at home. Just bring slave phone and keys.”

Text, early afternoon, 22 August

Sunday Independent