GRAHAM Dwyer was like a “predator” who saw in Elaine O’Hara’s weakness an opportunity to “separate her from the flock,” the jury in his murder trial has been told.
Prosecutor Sean Guerin SC said in his closing speech that the only thing murder accused Graham Dwyer ever saw in Ms O’Hara was to be a victim.
Ms O'Hara had been in an abusive and manipulative relationship with Mr Dwyer which enabled him to isolate and exploit her, the Central Criminal Court had earlier heard.
Mr Guerin alleged Mr Dwyer held a deep-seated desire to stab a woman to death and that Ms O’Hara was “amenable to being used as part of that plan”.
As Mr Guerin rose to his feet in the packed court room earlier today, he thanked the jury for the time and patience they have given to the case over the “best part of eight weeks”, particularly as the evidence was lengthy, complex and at times difficult.
“The prosecution’s case against the accused man for the murder of Elaine O’Hara as indicated at the outset is that he murdered Elaine O’Hara by stabbing her for his sexual gratification having arranged to lure or bring her up the mountains to Killakee on August 22, 2012,” he said.
Mr Guerin alleged Mr Dwyer had a deep seated desire to stab a woman to death, and Ms O’Hara was “amenable to being used as part of that plan”.
“She had been for sometime in an abusive and manipulative relationship with Graham Dwyer which enabled him to isolate her and exploit her for the sexual purpose he had in mind.”
He alleged Mr Dwyer was in sure knowledge, more or less, it might be seen as suicide.
“That very nearly worked out for him,” Mr Guerin added.
Mr Dwyer (42), an architect of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, is pleading not guilty to the murder of Ms O’Hara (36), a childcare assistant, at Killakee, Rathfarnham on August 22, 2012.
She was last seen near Shanganagh Cemetery in Shankill that day.
Her remains were found by a dog walker in undergrowth in the Dublin mountains on September 13, 2013.
The 40 day trial has heard from 94 witnesses for the prosecution and three witnesses for the defence.
Mr Guerin said there would be four broad strands to the prosecution’s case:
* connecting Graham Dwyer to Ms O’Hara’s disappearance;
* to show at the time she disappeared and before that, Graham Dwyer had not only the desire and sexual fantasy, but also the intention of murdering her by stabbing and that was a firm and definite intention;
* to demonstrate the circumstances of her disappearance including the detailed plan he had elaborated over a period of time;
* address any other theories and disprove any other possibilities, like there was someone else involved or that her death occurred by suicide.
Mr Guerin reminded the jury the prosecution must prove Mr Dwyer killed Ms O’Hara, or intended to cause her serious injury.
“The onus of proof is on the prosecution,” he said.
“I remind you as well the accused man was and still is presumed innocent of offence as charged.”
Mr Guerin told the jury what while they had heard from several witnesses and seen exhibits “without comment” he could now comment on the evidence presented.
“The starting point is he (Graham Dwyer) and she (Elaine O’Hara) as you now know were engaged in a sexual relationship and ultimately by the end of Garda interview process Graham Dwyer said that himself,” said Mr Guerin.
“He accepted that and it’s not in dispute.”
Mr Guerin claimed while admissions were made in his interviews he alleged they “were not an admission of the whole truth”, adding that documents, photographs and videos found on Mr Dwyer’s and Ms O’Hara’s computing equipment had provided documentary evidence.
“You also have the CCTV footage and the significance of that, less there be any doubt, the relationship existed between them continuing right up to the days immediately before he disappeared,” Mr Guerin said.
The prosecutor then went in to details about how he would give evidence about the pre-paid mobile phones, which are known as the ‘Goroon’ (green) phone, which was never found and the ‘Master’ and ‘Slave’ phones, which were recovered in Vartry reservoir.
“The prosecution’s case is the accused man bought those phones and he used the green and master phone,” Mr Guerin added.
He said a number of strands support his claims and reminded the jury about details given to them about where the phones were purchased and texts messages sent and received by them.
Mr Guerin said the ‘Goroon’ phone number was saved in Ms O’Hara’s computer and address book as Graham.
He maintained when the phone was purchased on March 25, 2011, one of the first messages was sent to Ms O’Hara’s iPhone and signed off ‘David’.
Mr Guerin said the use of quotation marks around the name David suggested it was not his real name and a text on a later date tells Ms O’Hara: “If anyone asks about me tell them I’m your brother David.”
She hasn’t got a brother called David, the court heard.
When the phone was purchased, the person buying it gave the name ‘Goroon Caisholm’ – Mr Dwyer’s friend was called Gordon Chisholm – and the address given was similar to Mr Dwyer’s sister and the number given was the same as Mr Dwyer’s except for the prefix, said Mr Guerin.
Mr Guerin said Ms O’Hara and the man on the Goroon phone also spoke about getting untraceable mobile numbers when they intended to do something revolting to a woman.
On November 16 2011 the man agreed that he would get an 086 Sim phone “on pay day”.
“Pay day at A&D Wejchert was the last day of the month and on pay day these phones were purchased,” Mr Guerin added.
The Slave and Master phones were bought on November 30, 2011.
Mr Guerin again gave details of where those phones were topped up, including near Mr Dwyer's work place, his home and Ms O’Hara’s apartment and workplace.
“All that evidence suggests that Mr Dwyer purchased these phones for use by himself and Ms O’Hara,” he added.
The text messages alleged to have been exchanged between Mr Dwyer and Ms O’Hara hold up “a mirror” to his life to an extent that would be “impossible” if anyone else had been using the phone, Mr Guerin said.
Mr Guerin said contact between the “Goroon” phone and Ms O’Hara’s resumed for four to five days in June 22, 2012, but after that it changed over to the other two “untraceable” phones. On June 26, Ms O’Hara texted the “Goroon” phone to say “My phone still has credit” and almost immediately thereafter, communication was between the “Master” and “Slave” phones.
The most striking feature of the contact for the purpose of connecting the phones to Mr Dwyer was the content of the text messages, Mr Guerin said.
“The record of the text messages holds up a mirror to the life of Graham Dwyer,” Mr Guerin said.
Through them, one could see what the accused was doing in his life “to an extent that is extraordinary and an extent that would be utterly impossible if anyone other than Graham Dwyer was using the phone.”
One text referred to “a girl in the USA who asked me to do something you asked me to do.”
Mr Guerin said the jury knew this was Darci Day and that this was around the time that Mr Dwyer was in contact with Ms Day in 2011.
A text from Ms O’Hara asked the other person “whether he became a Daddy again,” Mr Guerin said. A replying text contained the child’s name and the date was the same as that Mr Dwyer’s daughter’s birth certificate. There was also a reference to him being at home and the same name as his other child.
Another text referred to Ms O’Hara disguising marks using “polo necks like mine.” Mr Guerin said the jury knew from evidence that this was the accused’s “usual attire.”
Several texts which Mr Geurin argued corresponded with Mr Dwyer’s movements were read out, including a committee meeting of Shankill model flying club, holidays marked in his work records, and a weekend during which his family were away and he had a get together with friends.
There was also a text about the use of chloroform and sleeping tablets and the jury had seen a video in which Mr Dwyer spoke of “experimenting” with the use of chloroform.
There was a text referring to the phone user being without his car, and evidence of Mr Dwyer’s Audi being repaired.
Mr Guerin told the jury about a text message in which the sender said he had sent off e-mails inquiring about a discreet tattoo parlour. He reminded them of the evidence of a tattoo parlour owner who sent a reply to a query about a tattoo in a private area on the same date.
The mail was sent to an email address that was “clearly” an address used by Mr Dwyer.
There was a text saying “smoking disgusts me” and Mr Guerin said “you know that that is true of Mr Dwyer.”
On June 13, 2011, when asked about a weekend, the user of the “Goroon” phone said: “Terrible, 15pc pay cut and came fifth in flying.”
An article in a flying club magazine placed him fifth in a competition that weekend. Mr Guerin said it was a matter for the jury how remarkable they thought it was and how many people “on the planet” might have come fifth in a flying competition that weekend and “how many of them were in a sexual relationship with Ms O’Hara.”
A letter from Mr Dwyer’s employers at that time referred to a pay cut in his salary from €78,000 to €70,000.
Mr Guerin said this was 11pc rather than 15pc but it was a matter for the jury whether they thought the difference was “of any real significance.”
On June 29, Ms O’Hara texted “Sorry sir, I forgot the Polish Ambassador,” and “sure enough,” Mr Guerin said, there was evidence that Mr Dwyer was at a business mixer event at the Polish embassy that day.
Mr Guerin said Mr Dwyer’s vehicle was in Bandon and Kinsale on a day that the "Goroon" phone texted about going to Cork.
Mr Guerin said this was just the content of the texts - in the records of thousands of texts over a lengthy period, there was “Nothing that is inconsistent with the suggestion that the person who had Mr Dwyer’s work phone was the person who had” the other two phones.
The pattern of movement of the disputed phones matched the movement of Mr Dwyer, Mr Guerin said.
On June 23, 2012, the “Goroon” phone replied “two minutes, will ring 97” to a text from Ms O’Hara that said “home now.”
CCTV showed Mr Dwyer within minutes arriving at the apartments in Belarmine Plaza, Mr Guerin said. His work phone was connecting through the cell at Belarmine at the time.
Mr Guerin continued to show alleged similarities between Mr Dwyer’s workphone and the so-called Master phone detailing how they pinged off cells in Howth, Dublin’s north inner city, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal and Caroon near Limerick junction on various dates in 2012.
“These phones, which Mr Dwyer told the gardai he had nothing to do with, they tell the story of his life in this period. His work, social and family life are contained in text messages,” he said.
“There no inconsistence in the movements of the phones which suggest a different person (was using them).
“Wherever he goes the phones go, they’re stuck to him like a shadow. There’s no other possible conclusion.”
Mr Guerin conceded there was no direct evidence from anybody who can say Mr Dwyer bought the phones or used the phones, but he maintained there was enough circumstantial evidence – and enough weight behind that evidence - to show that was “no other possible conclusion” other than they were his phones.
“I suggest to you that these phones could only be Graham Dwyer’s phones and I’m going to proceed on that basis,” he added, before turning to the question of that it was Mr Dwyer intended to do on August 22, 2012.
Mr Guerin alleged the man the prosecution claims was Mr Dwyer had a firm, very clear and determined intention to do something, not merely a desire.
“The desire there as well,” he said. “The prosecution must satisfy his desire and what he intended.”
Mr Guerin told the courtroom fantasy is the opposite of reality, with “fantastical novels and movies about orcs and elves fighting, unicorns and leprechauns and all sorts of fantasy” that are not true.
But he questioned the fantasy used in relation to documents, stores and text messages the jury has seen.
“Fantasy has another name, it means desire. Sexual fantasy isn’t something not real,” he said.
“I suggest to you it’s fantasy the expression of a desire, it may not be real. It may be something the person who has that fantasy wishes was real.
“What this case is about is this person who has extraordinary and quite frankly disgusting fantasies and goes about making them real.”
Mr Guerin reminded the jury how Mr Dwyer’s ex-partner Emer McShea had told the court how his fantasy to stab a woman in bed went back to the mid 1990s.
When the statement she gave to gardai was read to Mr Dwyer he maintained she wasn’t friendly towards him, would enjoy seeing him in trouble and even suggested someone said some key words to her, Mr Guerin said.
Mr Guerin argues she did not make a false statement, and that a Garda never led Ms MsShea astray, as that aspect of her evidence was never contested in court.
“It passed unchallenged,” he added.
Mr Guerin said in order to make his fantasy a reality Mr Dwyer had to find victims, people who would willingly – if not reluctantly - submit to what he had in mind.
“These are real people,” he said, asking the jury to remember he used real people in the fantasies in his “disgusting mind”.
“At least three were identifiable people in three documents,” he said.
“Darci Day, Elaine O’Hara herself and Ms Quinn, the auctioneer who had the misfortune of working in an office across the street from A&D Wejchert.
“When I say documents I include text messages and two documents, Darci Day and wa oman named Jenny, imaging vivid and graphic details of the most vile and sickening torture and murder of women.
“When you look at documents bear in mind the significance of the real people Mr Dwyer knows in one form or other.”
Mr Guerin asked if that was merely fantasy of something that was not reality “or something he desired and took steps to ultimately bring about?”
The prosecution then moved on to Mr Dwyer’s relationship with Ms O’Hara.
Mr Guerin said there was “lengthy and extensive periods of that relationship” the jury don’t know anything about, and periods where they were texts but no content available for them.
“I’m not going to ask you to speculate what happened in periods of time for which you don’t have evidence,” he said.
“I suggest to you Mr Dwyer had, from the very outset, the limited purpose of starting a relationship with Ms O’Hara to use for sexual fantasy he had.
“You know that he said he’s a sadist who enjoys other people’s pain,” he said, reading a text message about wanting “to stick my knife in flesh when sexually aroused”.
“The warning lights those messages cause to flash don’t seem to be sufficient to warn off Elaine O’Hara.”
He told the jury they had “a good deal of evidence about difficulties in her life” including an admission statement when she attended St Edmundsbury mental health facility on July 2012.
Under the heading 'social support network', which included and network of friends, relatives etc, it said four words: “Supportive dad. No friends.”
“That’s a tragic sad and unfortunate situation that Elaine O’Hara appears to have known and a reality Graham Dwyer was only too happy to take advantage off,” Mr Guerin said.
He said information retrieved form a laptop that Ms O’Hara sold in 2010 showed she was had viewed the profile ‘architect77’ on the website Alt.com in October and November 2007.
“That appears, from evidence you have, the likely beginning of a relationship that ended on the side of Killakee mountain on August 22, 2012,” Mr Guerin alleged.
He referred to her counsellor, Stuart Colquhoun, who noted in records back to 2008 that Ms O’Hara said “I will stop hurting myself and stop asking people to hurt me”.
“She said she had emailed the guy who visits her and asked him to stop coming now,” he continued.
“It’s not clear and I’m not suggesting it is clear that she identified that person, but she’s previously viewed architech77 profile on her computer some months earlier.”
He referred to Ms O’Hara medical notes which described her as being “overwhelmed with sadness and fearful, feelings triggered by thoughts of loneliness” and a belief she’s a bad person and deserved to be punished.
Mr Guerin claimed the documents clearly captured Ms O’Hara’s situation as the relationship unfolded.
“She was a very sad person, she was undoubtedly a very troubled person, troubled by thoughts of low self worth,” he said, adding she didn’t value her worth for her work, family or community.
Referring to an old saying he added: “Fighting is better than loneliness. Being lonely is worse than an awful lot else and people do settle in relationships they are unhappy with rather than be alone, that is what I suggested happened to Elaine O’Hara in her relationship with Graham Dwyer.”
Mr Guerin read a fragment of an email recovered on Ms O’Hara’s old laptop from firstname.lastname@example.org – which he said was an email address linked to the architech72 profile – on Sept 19 2008.
“Hi there, I hope you’re keeping ok. I have assumed you’re trying to get better and try to stay away from what we do together. I completely understand that,” he read.
Mr Guerin claimed that was from Mr Dwyer and he was referring to what they did together and what he was doing to her.
“It’s the truth of what Graham Dwyer was doing to her was deeply damaging to her,” he said.
The email continued that the man would still “gladly and willingly carry out what we talked about, just so you know, you only have to call me”.
Mr Guerin said it showed that at some stage in 2008 their relationship broke down and Ms O’Hara needed to be removed from what they did, but he was expressing a willingness to do what he promised.
“This wickedness hiding behind a mask of pity, offering a troubled and sometimes suicidal woman help in the form of a way out,” he said.
Mr Guerin said Ms O’Hara was seen in video clips, dated 2008, which were shown to the jury.
“What you see is a vicious and brutal act of violence perpetrated on Elaine O’Hara by Graham Dwyer,” he said.
“When it concluded you can hear Graham Dwyer say: ‘now that wasn’t bad, was it?’
“It shows Elaine O’Hara didn’t want to do that or be the victim of this attack and afterwards he told now that wasn’t too bad or as bad as it feels.
“He was able to overcome her unwillingness to do these.”
He continued to remind the jury of other people from St Edmundsbury.
Elaine also told a doctor in February 2009 that the practice of having pain inflicted on her had stopped but she felt like contacting the man again.
“What happened then not clear until 2011,” Mr Guerin said.
Her friend, Edna Lillis, had warned her she “was playing a dangerous game” and told the court show Elaine just wanted someone “to pay attention to her, she just wanted to be loved”.
“That was the fear of loneliness that she found that situation,” he added.
The contact between them before March 2011 is not clear, he said, but messages suggest it may have been years and as far back as her two previous addresses in Blackrock.
“What’s remarkable when you look at messages beyond that point between Elaine O’Hara and Graham Dwyer is that from a very early stage in the relationship, and repeatedly, Elaine O’Hara is making clear she is not in to blood, she is not in to stabbing and she doesn’t wish to be stabbed,” Mr Guerin said.
“An important point is when Mr Dwyer was interviewed, when he eventually said in a sexual relationship with Elaine O’Hara, he told them a very different story.”
Mr Guerin continued to refer to the two people in the text conversation as Mr Dwyer and Ms O’Hara for the purpose of his speech.
He said when Mr Dwyer texted about a stabbing in Dublin, she replied: “You are sick, very sick.”
When he texted about using a knife and leaving a “nice oval stab wound,” she replied: “Not if I have my way.”
He asked “what if I just did one, what would happen?” and she replied that she was afraid it would set her recovery back, Mr Guerin told the jury.
“She is saying, 'I am doing well, I don’t want to go back to stabbing',” Mr Guerin remarked.
He said Mr Dwyer was then “playing amateur psychiatrist, trying to advise her that she will be fine.”
When he told her “OK, we will have to find me a victim to stab, that is an order,” Mr Guerin said this was in the context of Ms O’Hara being submissive and following orders, and that was “part of the relationship that she wanted.”
Mr Guerin said she was being offered two alternatives - allowing herself to be stabbed and going back into the spiral of hopelessness and despair she had been in, or “playing along” and pretending this was what she was interested in and helping find him a victim to stab.
Mr Guerin said the accused then blamed Ms O’Hara, saying: “It’s your fault I want to kill.”
There was then a discussion on April 14 in which Ms O’Hara “clearly makes a concession” in spite of her reluctance to let him stab her.
She said she would think about it and he texted that it was hard not to leave marks and suggested using a sharp scalpel, Mr Guerin told the jury.
She said in reality it was not her choice and Mr Guerin said Mr Dwyer in his reply “takes that at a yes.”
Mr Guerin said he texted that he would make it as “painless as possible” and “I can’t wait to knife you.”
This was the arrangement made, Mr Guerin said.
Ms O’Hara apologised for her “disgraceful behaviour” and Mr Dwyer texted “OK I forgive you, I was so looking forward to it and you ruined it.”
Mr Guerin said “in her troubled state,” Ms O’Hara had seen her behaviour as disgraceful.
When he later said: “I have to be able to mark you,” she replied: “Sir, I can’t let you cut me, I just can’t, it’s not right to ask me, Sir.”
“There couldn’t be a more painfully evident truth than that,” Mr Guerin said.
He told the jury Ms O’Hara said in a text: “I don’t want to see you if you are going to cut me again.”
Mr Dwyer promised with the exception of repeating the offer of a painless end, Mr Guerin said.
He told the jury that in May 2011, Ms O’Hara said she had not been successful trying to cope and was down.
“This is a person who is very unwell, who is in need of help and has been damaged by the talk and the threat and the promise of stabbing,” Mr Guerin said, adding that Mr Dwyer’s response was to again offer “a painless end to it all.”
“This isn’t a joke,” Mr Guerin said. “This is an unwell woman who has been suicidal in the past.”
“A person posing as her friend or someone who cares about her is pushing her towards the edge, that is the nature of the relationship.”
In another text, Ms O’Hara said to Mr Dwyer: “I am not giving you permission,” Mr Guerin said. This was a man, he said, who told gardai that there were safe words in BDSM.
“She is not giving permission - she doesn’t want to be stabbed,” Mr Guerin said.
On June 7, however, it appears she was stabbed when a text said: “I enjoyed sticking you and look forward to doing it again.”
He said Ms O’Hara later texted: “between the punches and the stabs I will never find my true love.”
“What she wants very clearly is restraint, no more than that, restraint and dominance,” Mr Guerin said.
On July 6, 2011, she told him he had lied to her about being with her when his family was away and when suicide was discussed, he identified three ways in which he might kill her, Mr Guerin continued, reading from the texts.
She said “I don’t want to die with stab wounds,” Mr Guerin said, and she texted about dreaming of “going to sleep and never waking up.” It was really important for her that “they find her body,” Mr Guerin said.
He told the jury this should assist them when they judge whether there was any reality to the suggestion that Ms O’Hara committed suicide.
He told the jury she had texted: “Please don’t let me die, please don’t kill me.”
On July 30, 2011, she texted him: “I’m sorry, Sir, I will miss you,” and “it’s over as far as Elaine O’Hara is concerned,” Mr Guerin said.
On August she told him if she was ever going to find someone and have kids she had to be free of stabs.
“That is what she wants - not to be stabbed or beaten, nothing other than companionship, love and ultimately a child,” Mr Guerin said, adding that the response from Mr Dwyer was to offer to give her a baby.
Mr Guerin said he had “upped the ante - improved the offer so to speak, so it wasn’t just the offer of bondage but the offer of a child.”
For all that she was sad and lonely, Ms O’Hara was the one to call a halt to the idea of a child, Mr Guerin continued, referring to the text messages.
“So the offer of a baby having failed to entice her to remain in the relationship having failed, what happens? Graham Dwyer turns on her in the cruellest way,” Mr Guerin said.
He told the jury Mr Dwyer texted that her body would put people off, and she would not get a full time partner because she was old, fat, disobedient and needy.
“He has shown his true colours,” Mr Guerin said. “He is only interested in stabbing.”
He said if Mr Dwyer could not get this by agreement or the false promise of a baby, then he would use her own illness against her and destroy whatever sense of self she had.
“There was never any reality to her being a partner in crime to Graham Dwyer,” Mr Guerin said.
He said Mr Dwyer also texted “with astonishing cruelty” that “the clock is ticking.”
In November, the texts suggested they were back together and Mr Dwyer promised to only use the fake knife. However, in March 2012, she texted that she was “having second thoughts” and did not want to “play.”
In May she texted that she was busy with exams and in June, she told him she did not want to be a “bit on the side.”
Mr Guerin said the texts showed Ms O’Hara knew the use of the knife was going to affect her sanity and ability to cope.
In July 2012, after a long period of coping better, she was admitted to hospital, Mr Guerin continued.
“It was a low point and how does Graham Dwyer react while Elaine O’Hara was at this low point? Well perhaps unsurprisingly, he reacts in the way that he had always reacted which was to see her difficulties, her mental problems, her ill health as nothing more than an opportunity for him to achieve what he really wanted,” Mr Guerin said.
He said Mr Dwyer asked if she had “any dark thoughts?” and wanted to know if she was suicidal.
He said it took an extraordinary act of imagination to comprehend the “cruelty of a man” who would make a noose for a woman with a history of suicide and leave it in her apartment.
He said Mr Dwyer had texted: “do you like your noose?” and she said she did not like it and asked if she could take it down, Mr Guerin said.
The fashioning and hanging of a noose “tells a lot about the wickedness that he had in mind for her,” Mr Guerin said.
He told the jury that her psychiatric records on admission showed she said she had made a noose herself but she had lied to her psychiatrists about other things and it was a matter for the jury whether that was in fact the truth.
“The fact that Graham Dwyer saw suicidal thoughts and tendencies on Elaine O’Hara’s part as nothing more than an opportunity becomes clear,” Mr Guerin said.
He said Ms O’Hara texted that she was “not looking forward to being stabbed” on her release from hospital and Mr Dwyer texted that she must have some sort of punishment because she had tried to kill herself without him.
“The relationship is an entirely predatory one and like any predator, Graham Dwyer had an eye for the weak. Elaine O’Hara was weak, he could see in her loneliness, her friendlessness, her isolation and her weakness the opportunity to separate her from the flock, to get her on her own and undermine her self-worth….The only thing he ever saw in her was to be a victim of stabbing.”
Mr Guerin said a greater opportunity at this time was that Ms O’Hara was in hospital for the first time in years and it would have been more likely that people who loved her would have believed that at precisely that point she could have made the decision to end her life.
In late July 2012, the opportunity of her ill health arose for him to take advantage of her in the way he had always planned to do, Mr Guerin said.
His closing address to the jury is due to continue tomorrow.
On October 17, 2013, two men met for the first time. That was when Detective Sergeant Peter Woods, who led the investigation into the death of Elaine O'Hara, called to the door of architect Graham Dwyer's home in Kerrymount Close, Foxrock at 7.08am to arrest him on suspicion of murder.