HER life turned around four years ago when she gave it up to Christ.
But yesterday Darci Day, a young woman from Maine, USA, told the Central Criminal Court that she shared a darker past over the internet with Graham Dwyer, the architect accused of the murder of childcare assistant Elaine O'Hara.
Mr Dwyer denies that he murdered Ms O'Hara for his own sexual gratification on August 22, 2012. And although Darci Day never met the accused, she alleged that Mr Dwyer told the young religious convert that he used to cut Ms O'Hara, a practice Ms Day described as both mutual and sexual.
The three-second delay in the live video link between the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin and a court facility in Maine added an extra layer of tension to Ms Day's dramatic testimony on day 29 of the trial.
Shortly after 2pm, witness 192 appeared on multiple screens, accompanied by Detective Ryan Brockway, her official witness keeper and a US police official who had interviewed her about her contact with Mr Dwyer. Wearing a T-shirt with "God" emblazoned on it and a fingerless, rock chick style wrist warmer on her right hand, Ms Day told prosecutor Sean Guerin SC of a troubled youth marked by her parents' divorce. Her dad, she said, had relationship and alcohol issues as well as "a couple of different wives" while her mum had a boyfriend with a lot of issues too. Ms Day said she struggled a lot with depression and became suicidal following the death of her grandmother from bone cancer when she was 12 or 13.
Mr Guerin gently intervened when Ms Day, who moved her arm constantly back and forward over the Bible on which she took her oath, revealed that she had been sexually abused, the identity of her abuser left hanging in the air as her voice trailed.
Ms Day revealed how these events in her formative years led her into a place where she was struggling with suicide and self-harm. This led Ms Day to go online to talk to others who shared similar fantasies to her. Ms Day, who struggled to retain her composure throughout her testimony, said she lost her dog and job on the same day in 2010 or 2011.
It was at this time she met Graham Dwyer online and began talking to him through Gmail. She couldn't remember the name of the website, possibly www.darkfetishnet.com where they met, and confirmed she was using the name "Cassie".
"Cassie" fantasised about dying, rape and murder, the court heard. And Ms Day said that she talked a lot through Gmail with Mr Dwyer, "loading" a lot of stuff on him.
"He was there and listened to me and offered a solution," she told Mr Guerin, confirming that they also sent each other videos, including YouTube videos, involving throat cutting and strangulation. There were pictures too, said Ms Day, who added that she remembered diagrams being sent of arteries "so that you wouldn't miss".
Darci Day first broke down when Mr Guerin asked her if Mr Dwyer ever mentioned any other person. "Yes," she replied, adding that that person was Elaine O'Hara.
"I knew they had an intimate relationship and he told me she was similar to me and was suicidal," said Ms Day, who also told the court Mr Dwyer said he used to cut Elaine O'Hara.
"His fantasy was basically wanting to stab a woman to death during sex," she said.
Ms Day told the court that Mr Dwyer was looking at places in Maine that were "like disposal sites" and described in detail a method Mr Dwyer purportedly said by which he would kill her.
But under cross examination, Ms Day - who had described what she was interested in 2011 as "a murder fantasy" - told defence counsel Remy Farrell SC that she didn't think Mr Dwyer was actually serious about it.
"If I had any idea that he was actually serious, I would have done something, I would have reported it," said Ms Day who confirmed that she had met other men online and reported one - not Graham Dwyer - whom she thought was serious and had scared her.
The gentle but firm cross-examination by Mr Farrell saw Ms Day smile for the first and only time when asked had life changed in any way since 2011.
"They have changed amazingly," said Ms Day, raising her arms as if in praise. "During that period, I ended up giving my life to Christ and turning my life around." Ms Day said she had never felt peace like it.
That peace was disturbed by the defence's courteous probing of her medical and psychological difficulties including ADD, learning disabilities and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Ms Day agreed with Mr Farrell that she said in a statement to Det Brockway on April 29, 2014, that she had been diagnosed with PTSD by a doctor and was sent to a counsellor. But she insisted that that she did not discuss Graham Dwyer with the counsellor.
Ms Day agreed with Mr Farrell that she did not want to disclose her medical records. She also told the court that she could not provide any of the emails she said passed between her and Mr Dwyer whom, she said, always used his own name in their correspondence.
"I don't have any of that old stuff, I got rid of everything when I turned my life around," said Ms Day. Of the emails, she said: "They are all gone, there is no record. It's all gone".
Pressed by Mr Farrell, Ms Day said she believed she gave her consent to gardai to seek her emails from Gmail after gardai travelled to Maine to take a statement in July 2014.
Ms Day told Mr Farrell that when she and Mr Dwyer ceased contact, the accused was "very respectful" about leaving her alone and did not try to contact her. She also agreed with Mr Farrell that Det Brockway had suggested to her in July 2014 that she might be able to Google some of the details of the case, which she did.
The lawyer then told Ms Day that her current version to the Central Criminal Court of the "murder fantasy" differed from her earlier account given in a statement in 2014.
Mr Farrell said that what Ms Day was now saying bore a closer resemblance to the facts as set out in this case. Asked whether she wanted to explain that difference, Ms Day said: "No".
Asked about the videos, Ms Day agreed they contained scenes of murder and so on. The witness also conceded that she "might have" sent pictures of her knife collection which, she agreed, she has "added to" in recent times.
Ms Day struggled to recall if she had sent Mr Dwyer maps of locations where she lived and worked. But she then admitted that she shared the location of a store where she worked, accepting that part of the fantasy the pair exchanged was that Mr Dwyer "might turn up at any time".
Ms Day's became emotional when asked if she had swapped stories with Mr Dwyer. She might have, she said, but couldn't remember the details.
It was Mr Farrell's question if it was possible Darci Day sent a picture of herself to Mr Dwyer that may have been Photoshopped to show stab wounds or cuts, that brought the cross- examination to a brief end.
"I don't wanna answer this question. I don't want to do this," said Ms Day, breaking down in sobs and holding her head in her arms.
After a brief recess, Mr Farrell, who quietly reassured her he was "nearly finished", asked Ms Day about a video on her Facebook page in which a woman was having sex with a corpse.
The lawyer also questioned her about a video she recently posted on YouTube which Mr Farrell described as an unusual thing to do.
Breaking down in tears again, Ms Day said she had made the video to give people out there hope.
"I want to say a huge prayer for the family of Elaine, I am so heartbroken," she cried. "I am so heartbroken, I feel so terrible, I am so sorry. I'm just praying for all of you guys". Ms Day continued: "I'm praying for Graham and his family. I wanted to reach out, I just wanted to tell people from the bottom of my heart that I'm so sorry."
In a barely contained whisper, Mr Guerin said he did not need to re-examine Ms Day, who then disappeared from the screens. The trial continues.
WHAT DARCI DAY TOLD THE TRIAL
That he basically wanted to go after her [Elaine O’Hara] and if she wanted to, he wanted to kill her, and come after me.
Darci Day tells the Central Criminal Court that Graham Dwyer had told her about a fantasy he had involving Ms O’Hara.
We sent links to videos – YouTube videos – of throat cutting or strangulation.
Darci Day agrees with prosecutor Sean Guerin SC that there may have been attachments to emails, including poetry she had written, with Graham Dwyer.
He said that he used to cut her. On the stomach and stuff … I believe she had asked him to kill her in the past.
Darci Day tells Mr Guerin that Graham Dwyer told her about an intimate relationship he shared with Elaine O’Hara.
His fantasy was basically wanting to stab a woman to death during sex.
Darci Day tells the Central Criminal Court of her understanding of Graham Dwyer’s fantasy.
I ended up giving my life to Christ and turning my life around.
Darci Day tells defence counsel Remy Farrell SC that her life has changed “amazingly” since 2011.
I don’t have any of that old stuff, I got rid of everything when I turned my life around. I didn’t want to be reminded of the pain of this stuff. They are all gone, there is no record. It’s all gone.
Darci Day tells Mr Farrell that she could not provide any emails that passed between her and Graham Dwyer.
He was very respectful about leaving me alone, he never tried to contact me.
Darci Day tells Mr Farrell that Graham Dwyer – who used his own name with her at all times during their conversations– ultimately ceased contact with her and did not contact her again.
I guess, yeah. I haven’t gotten rid of those.
Darci Day tells Mr Farrell that she might have sent Graham Dwyer pictures of her knife collection which she has maintained and recently added to.