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Prosecution believes pain was better than loneliness for Elaine


Elaine O'Hara and Graham Dwyer

Elaine O'Hara and Graham Dwyer

Elaine O'Hara and Graham Dwyer

IS fearr an troid ná an t-uaigneas, better the fighting than the loneliness, is an old Irish proverb used still to explain why some people settle in unhappy or unsuitable relationships.

Sean Guerin SC, the lead prosecutor in the Graham Dwyer murder trial, yesterday deployed the proverb to explain to the jury why the State believes it can prove that the architect lured Elaine O'Hara to her death in the Dublin mountains.

It is the prosecution's case that Graham Dwyer, who admitted to gardai that he was in a sexual relationship with Elaine O'Hara, stabbed her to death at a remote forested area at Kilakee on August 22, 2012, to fulfil a long-held and deep-seated desire to knife a woman during sex.

The married father of two, who also has an adult son, denies murdering Ms O'Hara whose skeletal remains were found by a dog walker at a remote spot at Kilakee on September 13, 2013.

At the outset of his closing speech, Mr Guerin thanked the jury of seven men and five women, explaining that the eight-week trial had been lengthy, the evidence complex and "sometimes difficult".

The phrase was an understatement as this trial saw members of the public excluded on three occasions because of the obscene nature of evidence shown to the jury, including videos of Mr Dwyer stabbing Elaine O'Hara during sex.

In contrast to the shocking and distressing nature of those videos and other material, the tenor of Mr Guerin's closing speech - indeed, his entire handling of the case - has been forensic and almost neutral.

Mr Guerin told the jury that the onus of proof lies on the prosecution, that Graham Dwyer was and is still presumed innocent.

The lawyer explained that the core of the prosecution's case lies in "disputed" mobile phones - an 083 phone and a "Master" Nokia phone found at the Vartry reservoir - which it says were used by Mr Dwyer to communicate with Ms O'Hara and lure her to her death. Mr Guerin highlighted a series of exchanges in text messages the prosecution maintains occurred between Mr Dwyer and Ms O'Hara, messages, Mr Guerin said, that "holds up a mirror" the life of Graham Dwyer.

Speaking about the phone evidence, described as "core" to the prosecution's case, Mr Guerin said one could see what the accused was doing in his life "to an extent that is extraordinary and an extent that would be utterly impossible if anyone other than Graham Dwyer was using the phones.

"They the phones" tell the story of his life in this period," said Mr Guerin. "Wherever he goes, the phones go, they are stuck to him like a shadow."

Proceeding on the basis that the prosecution has connected Mr Dwyer to the "disputed phones" - that matter will ultimately fall to the jury to consider - Mr Guerin rehearsed many of the thousands of texts alleged to have been exchanged by Elaine O'Hara and Graham Dwyer.

Mr Guerin painted a picture for the jury of a relationship that the prosecution says likely began through the BDSM website Alt.com in late 2007 and ended on the side of Kilakee mountain on August 22, 2012, hours after Ms O'Hara was discharged from St Edmundsbury, a mental health hospital in Lucan, Dublin.

Mr Guerin relied on the content of the text messages to support the State's case that Elaine O'Hara had the misfortune to be in circumstances where she was amenable to being used in a murder plan because she was in an abusive and manipulative relationship with Graham Dwyer.

Were there warning signs?

Plenty, Mr Guerin suggested. But the lawyer told the jury that the "tragedy" of this case lies in the fact that the warning lights the text messages "very clearly caused to flash" - of a self professed sadist who enjoys other people's pain, of a man the State says is Graham Dwyer declaring that he wanted to stick his knife in when sexually aroused, did not seem to be sufficient to warn off Elaine O'Hara.

Turning to Elaine O'Hara, Mr Guerin said that she was a very sad person, "undoubtedly a very troubled person" one who was troubled by thoughts of her own self worth.

"Is fearr an troid ná an t-uaigneas," said Mr Guerin fluently, explaining the meaning of the old Irish saying to a captivated jury.

"Fighting is better than loneliness," he said. "Being lonely is worse than an awful lot else and people do settle in relationships they are unhappy with rather than be alone, that is what I suggested happened to Elaine O'Hara in her relationship with Graham Dwyer".

Mr Guerin's style is the antithesis of theatrics or high drama not uncommon in trials, civil or criminal, high profile or otherwise. But there was a momentary departure from that calm, measured delivery we have become accustomed to, when he pointedly described Mr Dwyer's alleged plan to make his sexual fantasies real by identifying "real people as victims of his fantasies".

"What this case is about is this person who has extraordinary and quite frankly disgusting fantasies and goes about making them real," said Mr Guerin, his soft spoken voice hardening with emphasis.

The tone remained stark when Mr Guerin described Mr Dwyer as "a predator with an eye for the weak".

"Elaine O'Hara was weak, he could see in her loneliness, her friendlessness, her isolation and her weakness the opportunity to separate her from the flock, to get her on her own and undermine her self-worth until she lent herself willingly to the plan he had in mind: the only thing her ever saw in her - to be a victim".

He said that, in the end, Ms O'Hara did not want his child, his money or anything to do with Graham Dwyer.

And yet, said Mr Guerin, all the pieces "fell into place" in July and August 2012 when an opportunity arose for Graham Dwyer to take advantage of Elaine O'Hara in the way he had always intended.

The trial continues today when Mr Guerin concludes and Remy Farrell SC closes for the defence.

Irish Independent