Friday 22 November 2019

Graham Dwyer jailed for life for the murder of Elaine O'Hara

*Warning: This report contains some graphic content

Sarah Stack

ARCHITECT Graham Dwyer has been jailed for life for the brutal sadistic murder of childcare assistant Elaine O’Hara.

The 42-year-old architect – who was convicted three and a half weeks ago - will initially be remanded in Dublin’s Mountjoy prison for stabbing the 36-year-old to death in the Dublin mountains.

Trial judge Tony Hunt handed down the mandatory sentence - and said it is a sentence "he richly deserves".

“It’s difficult to look beyond the chilling and premeditated murder, execution almost, carried out after a protracted campaign of the most vile manipulation and abuse of a woman who was too weak to resist and who made the fatal mistake of trusting Mr Dwyer that he wasn’t going to go any further than he indicated on August 22," he said.

Elaine O Hara's father Frank pictured with his partner Sheila Hawkins at the Courts of Criminal Justice yesterday. Photo: Frank McGrath
Elaine O Hara's father Frank pictured with his partner Sheila Hawkins at the Courts of Criminal Justice yesterday. Photo: Frank McGrath

Dwyer had looked relaxed and fresh-faced at the sentence hearing in a packed courtroom 13 at the Criminal Courts of Justice this afternoon.

Eleven of the jurors who convicted Dwyer of the murder returned to the Central Criminal Court for the sentencing.

The judge said he was surprised but delighted to see so many of them in court.

The sentence hearing was also attended by Dwyer's father Sean, and also by Elaine's family.

Judge Hunt told the jam packed courtroom that the public could be thankful that a very dangerous man is now out of the way, adding that he had no idea "what’s up" with Dwyer as no reports were ever carried out on him.

“He is in his place of arrogance and delusion and there’ll he stay for the life sentence that I’m commit him to in a moment,” he said.

MURDERED: Elaine O’Hara
MURDERED: Elaine O’Hara
Elaine O'Hara

“It’s now time to face responsibilities. He is committed to a sentence. A sentence he richly deserves.”

“I point out the fact that no remorse of any kind has been expressed in this case, instead we have the bizarre spectacle of a convicted murderer releasing a press statement,” Judge Hunt continued.

“The statement more over makes no reference to principle injured parties. The deceased, her family or his own wife.

“That again perhaps is a penetrating shaft of light in to the mind of Mr Dwyer.”

The killer had no regard for Ms O'Hara as a human being, beyond the satisfaction of his "perverse and debauched desires", he told the court.

The judge said that when you read the booklet of texts (between Dwyer and Ms O'Hara) "you want to cry out to her to stop and turn back. Of course it was must too late for that," he said.

“So that's it,” added Judge Hunt.

“Life it is.”

Dwyer showed no emotion throughout the hearing, which lasted more than an hour, but bowed his head when the judge made reference to his wife Gemma giving evidence.

Graham Dwyer who has been found guilty of murdering a mentally ill childcare worker in Ireland
Graham Dwyer who has been found guilty of murdering a mentally ill childcare worker in Ireland

The judge it had been a distressing afternoon to see the “pitiful position” she was left in by her husband, and the unenviable position of being left with two young children.

It was a mark of her generous spirits that she offered her thoughts and condolences to the O'Hara family in a statement immediately after his conviction, he added.

Dwyer, who has been an inmate at Cloverhill Prison since he was first charged in October 2013, was put on suicide watch after his conviction.

The audacious prisoner – who was so confident he would be cleared by the jury he was planning a celebration with supporters back in Cork – even released a press statement after the verdict appealing for privacy for his family.

He made no mention of Ms O'Hara and showed no remorse for killing her.

He is also suing the State for the manner in which gardai accessed his telephone records, and is making plans to appeal his conviction.

Dwyer, a Cork-born father-of-three, denied murdering Ms O’Hara and claimed she was suicidal and was seeing other men when she disappeared on August 22, 2012.

Dwyer had lured Ms O’Hara to her death just hours after she was discharged from a mental health hospital to fulfil his own sexual gratification and sick lust for letting blood.

The judge described Ms O’Hara as an ordinary person with difficulties and who just wanted someone to care for her so she would not be lonely.

“She was no different than anybody else in that respect,” said Judge Hunt.

“It’s my view that during her life she was simply abused and misused by Mr Dwyer to the extent that he was responsible for ending her life as part of that prolonged campaign of misuse and abuse.

“It is actually worse than that as her suicidality had continued to be cynically used and misused by Mr Dwyer after her death in an attempt to slither out from under his responsibilities.”

The judge had adjourned Dwyer’s automatic life sentence to today so the O’Hara family could prepare a victim impact statement.

In the victim impact statement, Elaine's father Frank and her siblings said words can not adequately describe how they are feeling.

"We would never want any other family to go through what we have endured over the past two and a half years," they said.

They said the assumed suicide of Ms O'Hara in August 2012 was devastating and a surprise, but when her body was recovered a year later they faced the imaginable horror that she was murdered.

They said they will probably never know what happened to her in Killakee forest thenight she was killed, and said several questions trouble them including when did she realise that the intention was to kill her for real?

"Did she try to run away?," they asked.

"Was she restrained?

"Did she suffer much?

"Could she and did she cry out?

"Was she left on the mountain to die alone?"

Judge Hunt said there was only one person who knows the answer to remaining questions and he has told "manifest untruths".

Sympathising with the O’Hara family, Judge Hunt said they had conducted themselves with great dignity and composure throughout what he described was a lengthy harrowing trial.

“I hope they at least have some answers and insight of how their daughter and sibling was taken from them,” he said.

“There’s some very dark corners of this very dark story in to which some light has been shone.

“Of course there’s a list of questions that jump off the page... there’s only one person who knows the truth.

“That person has done nothing but tell manifest mistruths to date and unfortunately the answer to those questions will probably never be known.”

Dwyer had been in detention since hes arrest in October 2013.

It was after one of the most complex and thorough Garda investigations in the history of the State, a series of coincidences, and a 10-week trial that gripped the nation, the self-confessed sadist was kept behind bars.

The jury of seven men and five women had returned an unanimous guilty verdict after seven hours and 33 minutes of deliberations.

Judge Hunt took the unusual step of telling them he agreed with their verdict 110pc.

“I wholeheartedly think you came to the right conclusion,” he said.

Ms O’Hara’s missing person’s investigation was upgraded to a murder probe when her skeletal remains were recovered by a dog walker in Killakee forest in the Dublin mountains on September 13, 2013.

That night Dwyer and his architect wife Gemma, who lived in leafty Foxrock with their two young children, were both out celebrating their birthdays in a city centre restaurant.

He was unaware that that same week water levels in Vartry Reservoir in Roundwood, Co Wicklow plunged to record lows and a keen angler spotted something shiny in the shallow muddy waters.

Within days Ms O’Hara’s keys, clothing, glasses, two mobile phones, and her rucksack carrying a variety of sex toys - including ropes, cuffs, a gimp mask and restraints - were found.

Despite the water damage, experts retrieved more than 200 harrowing text messages between a 'Master' and his 'Slave' which lay bare Ms O’Hara’s fear and terror the week she vanished, including the hours before her death.

Detectives examined hours of CCTV from Ms O’Hara’s apartment block, Belarmine Plaza in Stepaside, and spotted Dwyer carrying the same rucksack out of the complex a week before she disappeared – when she was in St Edmunds bury Hospital in Lucan.

What appeared to be a near perfect life was wiped away after Dwyer committed what was almost ‘the perfect murder’.

Experts later retrieved thousands of disturbing text messages - backed-up on Ms O’Hara’s laptop – which revealed she was having a BDSM relationship with Dwyer since at least 2008.

They gave an insight in to the unwavering control and power her 'Sir' (Dwyer) had over his Slave (O’Hara) and the mental torment she suffered throughout their on/off BDSM sexual relationship, which involved Dwyer knifing her for his sexual pleasure.

In the texts Dwyer repeatedly referred to a sadistic and perverted fantasy he had to stab a woman to death, suggesting various potential victims including Ms O’Hara’s neighbours, attractive estate agents, and random hill walkers or joggers.

Computer experts also examined computers and storage devices belonging to the architect and recovered his lust for sick and disturbing voyeurism, which was documented in stories, images and videos he wrote, downloaded and made.

The usually crammed courtroom was cleared by Judge Tony Hunt as the jury was shown graphic “vicious and brutal acts of violence” of Dwyer filming himself stabbing women while having sex.

In the end it was his own Master phone, recovered from the reservoir, that crime analyst Sarah Skedd linked to Dwyer after she painstakingly trawled through data on mobile phone cell sites and toll booths as it and he travelled on journeys outside Dublin.

Ironically it was Ms O’Hara - a fan of TV crime dramas like CSI - who had warned Dwyer about the dangers of being caught for murder through DNA and phone mast coverage.

“Technology is a killer now Sir,” she had texted him, more than a year before she was murdered.

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