Thursday 20 June 2019

Evils of the 'dark net' must be policed, just like our streets

Graham Dwyer, 42, was convicted by unanimous verdict of stabbing 36-year-old Elaine O'Hara to death in the Dublin mountains in August 2012 (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
Graham Dwyer, 42, was convicted by unanimous verdict of stabbing 36-year-old Elaine O'Hara to death in the Dublin mountains in August 2012 (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

We struggle to make sense of it all. But it's there somewhere to be found among the wreckage of broken lives and broken hearts. We must believe there is some hope for humanity in these dark days when depravity stalks the earth.

I just can't stop thinking about Elaine O'Hara. Her last moments must have been hell on earth but the suffering endured by this poor girl, who was desperate for love, gives us an insight to lives lived on the edge of reason.

Loneliness and the need for love drove her to extreme behaviour but she is still more than deserving of our compassion. But more is needed. We, as a country and as a part of the international community, must protect the vulnerable.

Then there's the minding. We must always be on the look-out for those who struggle to survive the rigours of the day to day. A kind word can go a long way. There is much we can do on a personal level.

I feel for her family. There she was, a little baby all new and bright with her parents wishing only the best for her.

Elaine was a lonely lady who literally would do anything for a little bit of love. The photographs of Elaine in her new dress and the smile reminds me of the innocence of First Communion. This may seem strange when we recall the sordid details of her relationships but that's the image I took from her.

Graham Dwyer stole away her innocence.

The fallout is like a radiation cloud. It spreads the contamination everywhere. The murderer, Graham Dwyer, was married with kids, he has parents too. The O'Hara family suffered all through the trial. The evidence had to be gone through, painstakingly. Every item of clothing, every text, every email, every detail of her personal life was left open to public scrutiny.

Murdered people waive their right to privacy when they get killed. Unfortunately, the prosecution had no choice but to go through the chilling details of a life lived on the margins. For such are the rules of evidence. But it still aches.

The case, though, is a triumph for the Garda Síochána. I wonder if those who constantly criticise our police force will now offer words of praise.

We tend to take our gardaí for granted.

Imagine, for example, the toll taken on the investigators who had to go onto the 'dark net', where depravity reigns and the rules of civilised behaviour are subverted by evil and terror.

And the jury, the judge and the lawyers involved had to wade through a cesspool every day in what must have been a terrible ordeal for all concerned.

We owe them all a huge debt.

For if there's any good to come from this, it surely will manifest itself in action to be taken against the wrongdoers who trawl the dark net in search of the lonely and the vulnerable.

There is no doubt but that Dwyer would have killed again if he had escaped justice. He had signed away his membership of humanity a long time ago.

We must not delude ourselves into thinking this is a once-off.

Lately, I've come around to thinking that there is evil in the world. Up to now, I always thought that barbaric behaviour could be explained by mental illness or the way the perpetrators were brought up or a terrible life event, such as abuse.

The only way I can explain Graham Dwyer's behaviour is to place his crime in the column headed "evil". One thing for sure, though, is the day Graham Dwyer entered the dark net, he said goodbye to the mores of civilised behaviour.

The dark net is an evil cave.

We, as a society, must declare war on the dark net.

Benjamin Franklin wrote: "Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society."

We need a national and international code of safety. Education, as always, is the key to understanding. But more is needed.

Surely if there was a country where evil doers were debasing humanity at every turn, well, then, the superpowers would soon invade.

The internet has to be policed and it must be policed on an international scale with massive resources being assigned to the investigators. Surely we owe this much at least to Elaine O'Hara and the millions of Elaine O' Haras who have suffered so much?

I know there are agencies who do excellent work in investigating the source of such evil images but when the great leaders of the world meet at summits, the talk is more of oil than flesh and blood.

Money doesn't solve all problems but financial aid will go a long way in shutting down the dark net.

The danger of writing about someone you only know from snippets and sound bites from news reports is obvious.

Graham Dwyer is a cold-blooded killer who took advantage of a vulnerable girl but I wonder if his exposure to the contents of the dark net made him the way he is today.

Did the viewing of such vile atrocities take away his sense of right and wrong?

Did the evil, no more than a click away, somehow trigger an inherent flaw that would never have surfaced but for Dwyer's exposure to man's inhumanity to man?

We do need to look again at the trial that gripped a nation. This case shouldn't be consigned to the categorisation of a one-off story of debauchery and murder to be resurrected only in retrospective TV documentaries or as a chapter in a book chronicling Irish murders. Maybe we need a commission of investigation.

The powers that be must take steps to police the dark net as strictly as our streets.

Resources right now are scarce and fitful. The gardaí have proven their worth but money has to be spent, not just here at home but all through the world.

The death of Elaine O'Hara must not be in vain.

Irish Independent

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