Sunday 25 February 2018

Dwyer witness calls for 'greater anonymity' for those testifying

Graham Dwyer
Graham Dwyer News Desk

People who give evidence deserve to have their privacy respected says a witness in the recent Graham Dwyer murder trial.

Kurt Ronnkvist believes fear of unwanted media attention is keeping some potential witnesses from coming forward in criminal trials.

"There are other people who might have something to contribute… but decided they don’t want to appear because they don’t want to be splashed all over the papers.”

“I don’t know if it is good or fair that people who are happy to come forward in order to help justice be done, irrespective of what the case is about, are then splayed out in the press. I can see it eventually damaging the criminal justice system,” he said.

Read More: Dwyer could face further probes after he is sentenced

The Swedish born architect told the Sunday Times he did not "see the news value" in the evidence he gave at the Dwyer trial, saying it was “uninteresting” as he had never met Elaine O’Hara in person - merely exchanged instant messages via an adult website.

The 43-year-old, who has been living in Ireland for eight years, was one of six men who gave evidence about Ms O’Hara, Dwyer’s victim.

While he had had no reluctance to testify in the trial, Mr Ronnkvist said that it was afterwards, when he required a Garda escort to avoid photographers outside the Criminal Court of Justice, that he questioned his involvement.

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Saying he did not mind his family and friends knowing that he frequented adult websites, he said he could easily see why some people could be embarrassed by such revelations.

He also questioned why he was selected as a witness when several women identified as having sex with Dwyer were not called to give evidence during the trial.

Under Swedish criminal justice system witnesses are not identified publicly, and so can, usually, avoid the media spotlight.

Read More: Graham Dwyer's brothers insist 'our book is not a murder novel'

Mr Ronnkvist’s call for greater protection for witnesses in criminal trials echoes comments made by former Central Criminal Court Judge Barry White.

“I don’t see what public interest is being served by photographing a witness,” he told RTE's The Media Show last month.

“I also think all accused people should have anonymity… if [Dwyer] had been acquitted, the man was ruined for life anyway as result of all the publicity there has been.”

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