Friday 22 November 2019

Graham Dwyer: The other women in his life

Graham Dwyer and his wife Gemma
Graham Dwyer and his wife Gemma

Sarah Stack

THREE years into Graham Dwyer’s relationship with Emer McShea he revealed an unusual, somewhat dark, sexual fantasy.

The young trainee architect confided that he fantasised about stabbing a woman while having sex with her.

Witness Emer McShea, who told the trial of Graham Dwyer that he brought a knife into their bedroom. Pic: Courtpix
Witness Emer McShea, who told the trial of Graham Dwyer that he brought a knife into their bedroom. Pic: Courtpix

He started to bring a kitchen knife in to their bedroom, placing it on the floor as they made love. By the time their relationship ended a year later he was holding the knife in his left hand during sex.

Dwyer never stabbed Ms McShea, mother of their son Sennan, but the Donegal woman apparently gave a lengthy detailed statement to detectives about their relationship after his arrest for murder on October 17, 2013.

"I’d say she enjoyed reading that and she’s delighted I’m in trouble,” Dwyer told detectives, adding that their relationship – over in 1996 – had been "quite adversarial".

When she testified against her ex in the Central Criminal Court she spoke strongly and confidently, telling the court she identified him in CCTV stills taken from Belarmine Plaza, Elaine O’Hara’s apartment block in Stepaside.

It’s not known exactly when Dwyer’s lust for knife play and blood let resurfaced - if it ever wavered – but it is not believed to have featured during his marriage to fellow architecture student Gemma Healy, whom he wed in September 2002.

Intelligent and attractive, the professional, busy mother of his two young children appeared to be the trophy wife who worked hard, ran the home and enjoyed past times like sailing while her husband flew model aeroplanes and drove expansive cars.

She suspected at one stage that her husband may have been having an affair, but it appears he had managed to keep his desire for knife play and blood lust from her.

The couple were out celebrating their joint birthdays in a Mexican restaurant in Dublin on September 13, 2013, unaware dog walker Magali Vergnet and Millie, her Cocker Spaniel/King Charles cross, had made a grim discovery in Killakee mountains in the Dublin mountains some hours earlier - Elaine O'Hara's partial skeletal remains.

Darci Day, witness in Graham Dwyer trial
Darci Day, witness in Graham Dwyer trial

Gemma’s world – not to mention her marriage - came crashing down five weeks later when detectives arrested her husband on suspicion of murdering Ms O’Hara one autumn morning and teams of officers searched every corner of their family home in leafy Foxrock, including her children’s bedrooms.

Throughout his detention he told detectives he wanted to protect his wife and “preserve” his marriage.

It was only then the other women in her almost unassuming husband’s secret underground life were revealed.

The master had two ‘subs’ who he had recorded in graphic sex homemade tapes - women who he knifed and ejaculated on during sex. An English woman also appeared in some of the disturbing clips which were played in court.

Elaine O'Hara
Elaine O'Hara

Dwyer himself admitted in one fantasy he penned that he acquired “two fine subs over the years and having role play with others” after bondage, rape, slashing and stabbing became his hobby.

Those two subs could not have come from more different walks of life – one was a professional woman living in Dublin, well regarded in her field of work.

His other, Elaine, was a childcare assistant who worked part time in a newsagents and suffered severe mental issues since childhood. For years she self harmed and reported masochistic behaviour, having pain inflicted upon her by others. She had attempted suicide on three occasions and, at least once, asked Dwyer to end her life.

Desperate for love and a child – one Dwyer had promised to give her if she helped him take a life – she remained tormented by her inner demons. She had even asked him to collar her – the BDSM equivalent of marriage.

Ms O’Hara’s desire to be chained, even tied up overnight, brought her deep into middle Ireland’s seedy world of underground sex and various niche websites, including, where she met Dwyer in late 2007.

Then there was Darci Day, the young American woman Dwyer met online around late 2010 and who also testified against him via video like from Maine, USA.

Like Ms O’Hara, he preyed on her inner thoughts which were also haunted by self harm and suicidal ideation, an idea Graham Dwyer only seemed too happy to bring to life.

Darci – who he knew as Cassie – had “ticked all the boxes”.

“Beautiful, young, smart and clear about what she wanted and critically wanting to die the same way I wanted to kill,” he wrote in the graphic account of rape, torture and murder retrieved form a hard drive found in his bedroom.

A mortified Dwyer turned bright red and buried his face deep in his hands as his fantasy, read aloud in court, graphically detailed how he would fly Darci to Ireland and take her to a cabin where he would cut her throat as he raped her, and then have sex with her mutilated corpse.

The harrowing image left in the jury’s mind was in stark contrast to the family pictures and baby scans that were also recovered on a hard drive in Dwyer’s home.

It was that family image, his standing in the community, at work, and his marriage, that the self-confessed sadist wanted to preserve most.

Dwyer wiped tears from his eyes when Garda interviews about his home life were read out in court. It was the one and only time the unflappable and confident murder suspect, showed any emotion during his ten week trial.

“I’m a very lucky man, I want to keep it.... and I want to keep Gemma,” he had said during his 24 hour detention.

“I’d like to preserve my marriage thank you very much.”

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