Monday 11 November 2019

The horrific, heartbreaking texts that chronicle Elaine's last hours

Routes taken by and texts between Graham Dwyer and Elaine O'Hara
Routes taken by and texts between Graham Dwyer and Elaine O'Hara
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

The final journey undertaken by Elaine O'Hara brought us from her private room at St Edmundsbury Mental Health Hospital in Lucan to the shore at Shanganagh.

The journey was detailed through a series of horrific, heart-breaking text messages and call record data from Telephone Service providers (TSPs) such as Three and Vodafone that showed key mobile phones pinging off cellular masts at critical times on August 22, 2012, the day Elaine disappeared.

Elaine O'Hara
Elaine O'Hara

Gardai, backed by key civilian support from crime and policing analyst Sarah Skedd, were able to paint a vivid picture of that final, terrifying journey through text messages extracted from two Nokia mobile phones - dubbed the Slave and Master phones - that were found on the bed of the Vartry Reservoir at Roundwood, Co Wicklow.

Synced text messages extracted from Elaine's laptop computer had already borne witness to a pre-existing relationship between Elaine and "Sir", when Graham Dwyer used a pre paid 083 phone - that has never been recovered - to communicate with Elaine.

The relationship was rekindled in March 2011 when Elaine told "Sir" she was not into blood anymore. .

The Slave and Master phones, retrieved from the reservoir bed after Elaine's skeletal remains were found at Kilakee in the Dublin Mountains on September 13, 2013, only had each other's numbers saved and communicated with no other numbers. Cell site triangulation, which proved critical in the prosecution and conviction of wife killer Joe O'Reilly, also allowed gardai to chart, in a chilling fashion, how Elaine O'Hara was led from her hospital bed to the shore by Graham Dwyer.

The confluence of text messages and call data records was as devastating, perhaps more devastating, than much of the 'horrific' evidence - such as video clips of Dwyer stabbing Elaine during sex - that led to the exclusion of members of the public from the trial on three separate occasions.

The phone evidence was devastating beyond words precisely because it revealed Elaine O'Hara's terror and Graham Dwyer's murderous intent in their own words.

It showed how Graham Dwyer's work phone had been turned off between 6pm and 9pm on August 22, 2012, the day Elaine was discharged from hospital, the day she disappeared.

It revealed how Elaine had acceded to 'Sir's' instructions to leave her own iPhone at home, the pair dovetailing to Elaine's final destination through the Vartry phones Dwyer thought were untraceable.

The text messages and cell site triangulation bring us on a physical journey, from Elaine O'Hara's apartment and Graham Dwyer's workplace to Shanganagh, where Elaine's mother is buried.

But they also take us on a journey inside Elaine's troubled mind and soul as she expressed her fear of being brought up the mountains to be knifed in the guts as Dwyer said he would.

"Did u know sir that im scared of u. U have thi7 hold over me that terrifies me," said Elaine from her hospital bed on the morning she disappeared. Did Elaine know her fate? Did she think she was going home? Why did she agree to go? What was going through her mind when she received her final order "Go down to shore and wait". This, her final journey, leaves so many questions unanswered.

This, her final journey, leaves so many questions unanswered.

Irish Independent

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