Saturday 18 November 2017

Dwyer joins long list of killers who will live in infamy

Architect Graham Dwyer, who was found guilty last Friday of the murder of Elaine O’Hara, after a lengthy trial which revealed him to be a calculating and sadistic killer
Architect Graham Dwyer, who was found guilty last Friday of the murder of Elaine O’Hara, after a lengthy trial which revealed him to be a calculating and sadistic killer
Joe O'Reilly
Malcolm MacArthur being taken from the Central Criminal Court
Catherine Nevin
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

For a small nation, Ireland has endured more than its fair share of violent crime, including horrific killings that have dominated the headlines and, in some cases, led to significant changes in the legislation.

The grim death toll can, in part, be attributed to the spill-over into the Republic of the Northern Troubles and the huge rise in deadly weapons that became available as a result of terrorist groups like the Provisional IRA.

But other convicted killers, such as Graham Dwyer, were not known to gardaí prior to their terrible crimes.

Dwyer might never have been revealed as a sadistic killer but for a set of unusual circumstances that led to the discovery of parts of the body of his victim, Elaine O'Hara.

The grief-stricken families of other victims are still in the dark about the identities of the murderers of their loved ones.

Raonaid Murray, who was then 17 years old, was brutally stabbed to death near her home in Glenageary, Co Dublin, in September 1999, but, despite exhaustive garda inquiries, her attacker has never been traced.

The family of schoolboy Philip Cairns has had an even longer wait for justice. Philip (13) left his home in Rathfarnham after a lunch break on a Friday afternoon in October 1986, to walk back to his school, Colaiste Eanna. He never reached the school and has not been seen since.

Several days after he went missing, his schoolbag was found in a laneway that had previously been searched by gardaí. Its contents were intact, apart from two religion books and a geography book, but the mysterious find did not yield fresh clues.

The circumstances surrounding the savage murder of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was beaten to death outside her holiday home in west Cork on the night of December 22, 1996, are still under active investigation today.

But nobody has been charged with her murder.

The trial of Graham Dwyer is the latest in a series of central criminal court hearings that have gripped the attention of the public for weeks, as details of the lives of the main participants unfolded on a daily basis.

Joe O'Reilly was ultimately found guilty of murdering his wife Rachel at the couple's home in Naul, north county Dublin, in October 2004.

The badly beaten body of the mother of two was discovered by her mother Rose in the 30-year-old's bedroom.

Joe O'Reilly was sentenced to life imprisonment in July 2007.

Eamon Lillis was also convicted of manslaughter following the death of his businesswoman wife Celine Cawley, outside their luxury home in Howth, Co Dublin, in December 2008.

Evidence heard at his trial indicated that Ms Cawley had suffered three blows to the head. Catherine Nevin became known in the media as the 'Black Widow' after the murder of her husband Tom in their pub, Jack White's, in Brittas, Co Wicklow, in March 1996. She was unanimously convicted by a jury after a then record five days of deliberating over the evidence.

Passing sentence, an emotional Ms Justice Mella Carroll told Nevin she had her husband assassinated and then tried to assassinate his character. She falsely insinuated that Mr Nevin had been a member of the Provisional IRA.


After presiding over the trial for 61 days, through three juries, the judge said she hoped Mr Nevin's family would take some consolation from the verdict.

Two unrelated murders in the summer of 1996 led to legislative changes and the setting up of the hugely successful Criminal Assets Bureau.

Detective Garda Jerry McCabe was shot dead by the Provisional IRA during the attempted robbery of a post office van in Adare, Co Limerick, on June 7 of that year.

Four members of the gang, which had been responsible for a spate of armed robberies in Munster over the previous two years, were later convicted of his manslaughter.

Nineteen days later, investigative journalist Veronica Guerin was shot dead as she sat behind the wheel of her car at Newlands Cross on her way back to Dublin from Naas.

Her murder led to a massive garda investigation into a drug trafficking gang, led by John Gilligan, and one gang member, Brian Meehan, was convicted of Veronica's murder.

One notorious murderer, who is now a free man, is former IRA activist, Tommy McMahon.

He was set free early, under the Good Friday Agreement, while serving a life sentence for blowing up a fishing boat at Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, in August 1979.

His victims included Lord Louis Mountbatten, an uncle of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

McMahon was arrested by gardaí two hours before the bomb detonated, after being initially stopped at a checkpoint on suspicion of driving a stolen car.

He was charged and convicted after forensic evidence showed flecks of paint from the boat and traces of nitroglycerine on his clothing. Nobody else was convicted of the four murders.

There have been no convictions in connection with the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974, when 33 people were killed, 26 of them in the capital.

Also enjoying freedom - but only after serving 29 years of his life sentence - is Malcolm Macarthur, who was convicted of the murder of nurse Bridie Gargan in Dublin's Phoenix Park in July 1982.

Macarthur had also been charged with the murder of Edenderry, Co Offaly, farmer Donal Dunne with his own gun, but the State decided not to press ahead with the prosecution after Macarthur pleaded guilty to the Gargan charge.

He was arrested by gardaí in the home of the then attorney general, Patrick Connolly, in Dalkey, south Dublin.

Irish Independent

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