Sunday 22 April 2018

O'Hara family lay bare their pain as killer learns his fate

Sarah Stack and Andrew Phelan

The family of Elaine O'Hara has said they will suffer for a lifetime not knowing what happened to their beloved daughter and sister as her killer Graham Dwyer was jailed for life.

Her father, Frank O'Hara, and his children paid tribute to the intelligent, hard-working 36-year-old, who loved children, held down two jobs and was awarded a BA in Montessori teaching after her harrowing murder.

In a victim impact statement (VIS), read into the record at Dublin's Central Criminal Court by prosecuting barrister Sean Guerin SC, the family said it had been distressing to see Ms O'Hara's private life laid bare before the nation and heartbreaking to hear the texts she had received from a "depraved and diseased mind".

Last month, 42-year-old Dwyer, an architect from Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, Dublin, was found guilty of murdering childcare worker Ms O'Hara.

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.

Trial judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt had adjourned Dwyer's mandatory life sentence hearing so the O'Hara family could prepare the VIS. Judge Hunt said there was only one person who knows the answer to the family's remaining questions and he has told "manifest untruths".

Elaine O’Hara’s family, including her father Frank O’Hara, leave court after the sentencing
Elaine O’Hara’s family, including her father Frank O’Hara, leave court after the sentencing
MURDERED: Elaine O’Hara
Elaine O’Hara’s sister Ann Charles and father Frank
Graham Dwyer’s father Sean at court for his son’s sentencing
Members of the Graham Dwyer investigation team, from left, Detective Garda Bríd Wallace, Detective Garda James Mulligan, Det Sgt Peter Woods and Detective Inspector Brian Duffy at court for the sentencing

Sympathising with the O'Hara family, Judge Hunt said they had conducted themselves with great dignity and composure throughout 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," he said.

The judge described Ms O'Hara as an ordinary person with difficulties 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."

Dwyer did not react throughout the hearing, which lasted more than an hour, but bowed his head when the judge made references to his wife, Gemma Dwyer, giving evidence.

The judge said she also had been "cynically misused and misled" and "cruelly deceived by his various actions and machinations".

Judge Hunt said 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 beggars belief. It hardly bears thinking about."

He said evidence showed Dwyer had bought the 083 'Goroon' phone which he "used to reinitiate this sexual relationship (with Elaine) at a time when she (Gemma Dwyer) was just a short number of days before giving birth to their second child.

"Perhaps, that says everything you need to know about Mr Dwyer," the judge added.

Judge Hunt told the packed courtroom that the public could be thankful that a very dangerous man was 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 going to commit him to in a moment," he said.

"It's now time to face responsibilities. He is committed to a sentence. A sentence he rightly deserves."

Judge Hunt continued: "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, 2012", the day Elaine disappeared.

Irish Independent

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