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With one last soliloquy the judge sets the scene as the jury takes centre stage


Elaine O'Hara

Elaine O'Hara

Mr Justice Tony Hunt

Mr Justice Tony Hunt

Graham Dwyer

Graham Dwyer


Elaine O'Hara

The voice of Mr Justice Tony Hunt was the only one to break the hush in Court 13 yesterday. So many voices have been heard during 8 weeks of evidence at the Graham Dwyer trial - 194 witnesses for the prosecution and three for the defence had spoken from the stand - but now the judge was delivering the epilogue of this extraordinary drama.

He had swivelled his chair around on the podium to face the seven men and five women, and leaning towards them, he told the jury they had had "coming up to five years' worth" of information about both these people, their relationships, their tastes and their behaviour and "you are being asked to use all that to come to a conclusion about what happened after six o'clock that evening".

If the evidence they had heard from all these different voices had brought Graham Dwyer and Elaine O'Hara together to the shore on the evening of August 22, 2012, Judge Hunt said the jury had to infer and deduce what happened next - where did they go, how did they get there? "How did the stuff end up in the reservoir? How did it play out between six and 9pm?" he asked.

One thing was certain, he added: "Two people met that day; one person came home, the other didn't. And did the person who did come home stab her beyond all reasonable doubt?"

From 10.30am, Judge Hunt was centre-stage, and once again performing to a packed house. The regulars - mostly grey-haired men and women - squeezed into the wooden pews towards the back of the courtroom and hung intently on every word emanating from the judge.

There was an air of calm in the courtroom as his summation unfolded, in contrast to days when the walls themselves vibrated from the tension sparked by the nature of some of the evidence presented to the jury.

And that was no easy task, as the judge's voice regularly descended to a level which hovered close to sotto voce as he took the jury on a final tour of what he considered to be key elements of the evidence.

But Judge Hunt picked his way along the path very, very carefully indeed. He wanted to throw in his "six pence worth" - but repeatedly reminded the jury that they must make up their own mind.

He selected several exhibits for mention, such as the spade found close to Elaine O'Hara's remains in Killakee forest, which Mr Dwyer's wife Gemma had identified from the stand as the one missing from their house - the judge pointed out that the jury must have gone home that night thinking "game, set and match". But then the following day a forensic scientist stated that the orange paint spatters on the spade were similar but not the same as the paint on the Dwyers' fence. "The spade is important, or it's unimportant, so that's that," Judge Hunt told the jury.

He referenced the purchase of a Buck Special knife delivered to the architect's office, describing it as "an oddity - why a man so strapped for cash would spend 100 quid on a knife when he has no use for it? What's that about? I don't know, you'll have to determine that," he said.

Throughout the judge's long soliloquy, Graham Dwyer sat quietly, sometimes following the speech closely, at other times he hunched over and gazed downwards.

Once or twice towards the end of the judge's summation, his head shook almost imperceptibly in disagreement with a statement. A few feet away, his father Sean and sister Mandy sat side-by-side.

Finally, at 3.29pm, he was finished. It was time for the jury to take centre-stage. But the foreman had a question: "What do we have to find the defendant guilty of?" he asked.

Laughter rippled around the court. The defendant laughed too, but silently.

The judge spelled it out. "You have to find him guilty or not guilty of murder," he explained. The jury filed out to begin their deliberations.

After so much talking, only one question remains unanswered - guilty or not guilty of murder?

Behind the jury's closed door, it's the turn of 12 voices to speak. Now, the talking begins in earnest.

Irish Independent