Saturday 16 November 2019

Did depraved fantasies become reality? Jury must now decide

Graham Dwyer
Graham Dwyer
Elaine O'Hara
Darci Day
Remy Farrell SC
Witness Emer McShea, who told the trial of Graham Dwyer that he brought a knife into their bedroom. Pic: Courtpix

Niamh O'Connor

AS the closing speeches in the trial of Graham Dwyer got under way, the State barrister Sean Guerin turned to face the jury.

The trial of the married architect, who denies murdering childcare worker Elaine O'Hara, had, as usual, attracted a large crowd to Court 31. That crowd was now hanging on the prosecutor's every word.

With one hand in his pocket, the academic and bookish-looking barrister told the seven men and five women of the jury that this was the part of the trial where he was entitled to comment on the evidence.

The relationship between 42-year-old Dwyer and 36-year-old Elaine was one of "wickedness hiding behind a mask of pity", he said.

The accused man - a "predator" with "an eye for the weak" . . . "a sadist who enjoys other people's pain."

And the case was about "a person who has extraordinary and quite frankly disgusting fantasies" who "goes about making them real," Mr Guerin said.

The relationship appears to have started in October/November 2007, Mr Guerin explained - around the time when Ms O'Hara viewed the 'architect77' profile on the BDSM website Alt.com.

"A relationship that ended on the side of Killakee mountain on August 22, 2012."

Elaine was, according to her medical notes, someone who believed herself "a bad person who deserved to be punished".

"She did not feel she was a human being of value to her family or the people in her community."

The barrister quoted an Irish saying: "Is fearr an troid na an t-uaigneas" which translates: "fighting is better than loneliness".

"People do settle in relationships they are unhappy with rather than be alone and I suggest that is what happened to Elaine O'Hara with regard to Graham Dwyer."

Mr Guerin also reminded the jury that an email sent in 2008, found on Elaine's old laptop and linked to an Alt.com profile used by Dywer, said: "Hi there, I hope you're OK. I have assumed you're trying to get better and try to stay away from what we do together. I completely understand that."

The email continued: he would gladly and willingly carry out what they had talked about, regardless of the consequences.

That was a feature of the case, Mr Guerin said - "offering a troubled and sometimes suicidal woman help in the form of a way out".

In a video clip, also dated 2008, the jury had seen Dwyer perpetrate a brutal act of violence on Elaine, telling her as she sobbed afterwards, it "wasn't that bad," Mr Guerin reminded the court.

When Elaine tried to get him to stop stabbing her, he offered her the alternative of finding him someone else, Mr Guerin told the jury.

In June 2011, Mr Guerin said Dwyer texted: "U should always let me stab u or find me someone else to do it?"

She replied: "All the time sir? Between the punches and the stabs I will never find my true love."

She tried to end the relationship that July, texting: "I'm sorry, sir, I will miss you."

"It's over as far as Elaine O'Hara is concerned," Mr Guerin stated.

So Dwyer "upped the ante" from bondage to a baby, Mr Guerin continued.

And when that fails, he turns on her in the cruellest way. She would never get a partner because she was "old, and fat, a smoker, disobedient and needy".

They did resume relations, but by May 2012, Elaine no longer wanted to be his "bit on the side" and had to concentrate on upcoming exams.

Mr Guerin said the texts showed the childcare worker also knew "cutting" was getting her down.

When she told him she was depressed, he responded by offering a painless end - "just think, all your worries gone".

"This is a person who is very unwell, who needs the help of her psychiatrist to cope, and who has been suicidal in the past,"Mr Guerin said. "This person who is posing as her friend or someone who cares about her is pushing her to the edge, that is the nature of the relationship."

In July 2012, for the first time in years, Elaine was admitted to a psychiatric hospital - until August 22, the day of her release when it is alleged that Dwyer lured her to the side of Killakee mountain.

"All I am asking you to do is believe what he said in those documents, that he is a brutal and sadistic pervert with nothing on his mind other than murder," Mr Guerin ended.

Then it was the turn of Dwyer's senior counsel, Remy Farrell, to address the jury.

"Months had gone by and soon the day would finally arrive," the stout, white-haired barrister began, reading from a document called 'Killing Darci' found on a hard drive in Dwyer's Foxrock home.

"From the first email I knew this one was special," Mr Farrell went on. "I had always fantasised about killing ever since I was a teen and I got hard anytime there was knife in my hand wielding the power, knowing I could decide who lived and died just like my hero God."

Mr Farrell sighed. It wasn't the kind of start to a closing speech he'd ever before had to make, he explained.

It was "disgusting", "repellent", and not normal, but his client had the right to a presumption of innocence and the jury would have to be "cold and dispassionate" in their consideration of the evidence.

Mr Dwyer must be afforded the same empathy, understanding and open mind they would give their next-door neighbour if he were arrested, the barrister said.

The jury would have "a mountain to climb" - they had seen Dwyer in video clips engaging in explicit sexual acts.

They might have formed the view that Dwyer's interests were so disturbing that he should be locked up on that basis alone.

But they must try the case on the evidence. "I'm not here to try to convince you that Mr Dwyer is a nice guy," the barrister told the jury.

Nor was he going to try to sell them the story that his client's interview with gardai was the best example of "truth and candor".

But there was a gaping chasm in the prosecution's case concerning the distinction between reality and fantasy, he claimed, before likening the State's case to "Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick".

"The prosecution have been pushing your buttons," Mr Farrell said.

Why was Dwyer's son, Sennan McShea, called to identify his father in CCTV footage? he asked.

"Who's pushing your buttons and why?"

"Does anyone really remember the evidence of Dr Curtis now?" Mr Farrell went on.

The senior counsel reminded the jury that the State pathologist had found no bone injuries on Ms O'Hara's skeletal remains.

"If Mr Dwyer stabbed Ms O'Hara on multiple occasions, it's inconceivable there wouldn't be bone injuries," he said.

"Where is the forensic evidence? They're trying to use the documents as a huge tub of Polyfil - to fill gaps in the case."

The evidence is "not sterile, it's emotional," Mr Farrell said.

"Anything that suggests Elaine O' Hara had committed suicide had been brushed under the carpet by the State," he continued.

The discovery of remains was a major development, but up to then even Elaine's family seemed prepared to accept it was suicide, Mr Farrell said.

Mr Farrell also touched on the issue of the "famous spade" found near Elaine's body which Graham Dwyer's wife Gemma said was theirs - "dramatic, damning evidence, but it was not a match," he said.

The stabbing of sheep in the texts sent to Elaine by the disputed 083 (Goroon Caisholm) phone he described as "an infantile fantasy".

The "delusions" in the texts that the stabbed sheep might be investigated by gardai is pretty extraordinary.

"Fantasy or reality?" the barrister asked the jury.

He said the State was suggesting that the line between fantasy and reality had been crossed because real people (Darci Day, Elaine O'Hara and Rowena Quinn) had been involved.

"Do I cross a line if I fantasise about Angelina Jolie? . . . the girl next door?" he asked.

If the jury believed Dwyer had been behind the texts to Elaine, which he denies, the defendant's barrister suggested they take into account Elaine's view.

"If you do take the view that the 'Mstr' phone was used by Graham Dwyer then what about Elaine choosing stabbing (from her options)?" Mr Farrell asked.

Mr Farrell was referring to a text sent on August 20, 2012, from the disputed phone telling Elaine she was due a punishment. It read: "Your choices are hard anal with fake stabbing and choking; whipping till bleeding; chained overnight in forest; choked unconscious. You don't pick one, then it's all four.)

He reminded the jury that on her Alt.com profile, Elaine had ticked 'knife play' as one of her interests, and he referred to the statement of Elaine Twomey.

"Elaine needed no grooming," Mr Farrell said . . . "it takes two to tango."

"You're expected to convict without looking at the evidence. That's what the public expectation is because that's the conclusion of the story. That's how it all gets wrapped up with a bow," he said.

He told the jury that the immense public interest would lead to books, and possibly a film on the case because of the combination of "sex, lots of it, kinky sex, and a middle-class professional".

Benedict Cumberbatch would play Mr Guerin, while he hoped George Clooney would fill his own shoes.

A titter of laugher rose up from the belly of the Central Criminal Court.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt will begin charging the jury of five women and seven men tomorrow.

Sunday Independent

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