Tragic Elaine's death 'w as nearly the perfect murder', dwye r jury is told

By Andrew Phelan

ELAINE O'Hara was texting an unknown person in her father's car as he drove her to a cemetery to visit her mother's grave on the day she disappeared, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Her father Frank O'Hara was giving evidence on the second day of the trial of architect Graham Dwyer, who denies the murder of Ms O'Hara, a childcare assistant.

Mr O'Hara told the jury that he did not know who Ms O'Hara was texting but asked her to put the phone away.

Mr O'Hara said that, ironically, he himself had texted her two days earlier at 11pm asking 'are you alive' as he hadn't heard from her all day.

He told how he reported her missing two days after he last saw her.

Mr Dwyer (42), a father-of-two of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, is pleading not guilty to the murder of Ms O'Hara (36) at Killakee, Rathfarnham on August 22, 2012.


Ms O'Hara, from Killiney, was last seen alive near Shanganagh Cemetery in Shankill. Her remains were found by a dog walker in the Dublin mountains on September 13, 2013, more than a year after she disappeared.

Mr O'Hara told the court that he reported his daughter missing on August 24, 2012, at around noon in Stepaside Garda Station.

Led through his evidence by prosecutor Sean Guerin, Mr O'Hara said he had been in contact with Ms O'Hara regularly, "probably every day".

He said he would speak to her sometimes twice a day by telephone and would sometimes see her three to four times per week.

The last time he saw her was on August 22. She came to his house in Killiney after she was discharged from Edmundsbury Hospital that morning.

He explained that she had been there for four to five weeks and while it was initially on a 24-hour basis, she was later being released to work in a newsagents and at weekends, which was mainly when he saw her.

He met her at 1.30 to 2pm that day after she drove to his house. He was minding his granddaughter and they drove to Shanganagh cemetery, where his late wife was buried.

"Elaine was in the car texting, I don't know who she was contacting," Mr O'Hara told the court. "I remember saying, 'could you put the phone away for a while?'."

She also made a call to the newsagent's in Blackrock to get her hours before they visited the grave.

Yesterday, prosecutor Sean Guerin told the jury that Mr Dwyer killed childcare assistant Ms O'Hara for his own sexual gratification in what was "very nearly the perfect murder".

The prosecution allege Dwyer (42) took Ms O'Hara (36) up the Dublin Mountains to stab her to death after telling her he was going to pretend to kill her. A dry summer meant key items of evidence were uncovered in a reservoir, prosecutors alleged.

A jury at the Central Criminal Court was told it would be alleged that the two had an "unusual" sexual relationship that featured acts of stabbing by the accused on Ms O'Hara.

Her remains were found on September 13, 2013, more than a year after she disappeared and the same week her keys, two mobile phones and a rucksack were discovered in Vartry Reservoir, near Roundwood, Co Wicklow.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Sean Guerin SC told the jury that Ms O'Hara was "almost the perfect victim" who had been suffering from a psychiatric illness and there would have been "every reason to think that it was suicide".

Mr Guerin said the prosecution's case would be that "it had to be as if he was pretending to kill someone at all stages - she had to believe he was pretending to kill her".

"It provided the perfect cover for what he was going to do," he added.

Mr Guerin said it would have been highly unlikely that the items discovered in the reservoir would ever have been found but for the fact that it was such a dry summer, and the water level had dropped from 20ft to 2ft.

"When you look at all the elements and put them together, the prosecution's case will be that it was very nearly the perfect murder," he said.

Mr Guerin maintained the prosecution would be able to prove that Dwyer and Ms O'Hara had a sexual relationship and had been in contact for more than a year by text message before her disappearance.

He said these would show that an essential part of that sexual relationship was acts of stabbing committed by Mr Dwyer on Ms O'Hara.


"That was a feature of the sexual relationship that existed between them and that it reflected a deep-seated and a passionately held irrepressible desire on the part of Graham Dwyer to get sexual gratification by stabbing her," Mr Guerin told seven men and five women on the jury.

"And finally to prove, through contact on phones, that Graham Dwyer arranged on days leading up to 22 August 2012 to meet Elaine O'Hara at Shanganagh cemetery for the purpose of taking her to the mountains, where she was found, for the purpose of killing her to fulfil the satisfaction of that desire."

Mr Guerin said that text messages the prosecution maintained were between the accused and Ms O'Hara "told the story of their relationship".

He said in March, 2011, Dwyer made contact with Ms O'Hara for the purpose of renewing a relationship that had existed some years previously.

It became clear that the relationship was then renewed and involved what is called BDSM - Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism, Mr Guerin said.

He said Ms O'Hara was someone whose sexual preference was submissive, involving restraint, being tied up, being controlled by another person and allowing herself to be punished by another person.

The prosecutor read a series of text messages between phone numbers, which he maintained were between the accused and Ms O'Hara.

In a message sent from an 083 number, Dwyer is alleged to have said he was a sadist and "you should help me inflict pain on you and help me with my fantasy".

Another text alleged to have been from Dwyer said: "I want to stick my knife in flesh while I am sexually aroused, seeing blood turns me on and I would like to stab a girl to death some time."

It was clear that this interest was not shared by Elaine O'Hara, Mr Guerin said.

It appeared from the messages that this was something that used to happen between them years earlier.

Mr Guerin said Elaine O'Hara sent a message stating: "I am not into blood anymore."

It was clear from the texts that she did allow herself to be used by the accused in that way, and he did on occasion stab her, Mr Guerin continued.

The relationship was complicated by psychiatric difficulties Ms O'Hara had "of which Graham Dwyer knew full well", MrGuerin said.

There appeared to have been a discussion which pre-dated the text messages that "if she were suicidal, Elaine O'Hara might allow herself to be stabbed to death by Graham Dwyer", Mr Guerin said.


A text allegedly from the accused said: "If you ever wanted to die, promise me I can do it" and the reply was: "yes, I promise, sir."

Mr Guerin told the jury that Graham Dwyer had been manipulating and taking advantage of Ms O'Hara's mental health and groomed her into the idea of blood loss and to get her used to what he wanted as being normal.

The prosecutor alleged the accused later told Ms O'Hara: "My urge to rape, stab and kill is huge. You have to help me control or satisify it."

Mr Guerin said the messages turned to threats, warning that if she didn't help him find a victim she would suffer the consequences of being stabbed to death.

Dwyer had even claimed she put the idea of killing in his head texting: "It's your fault you wanted to kill and you won't let me stab you", the prosecutor continued.

However, Mr Guerin said it appeared the sexual practice between them - where Elaine O'Hara was stabbed by Graham Dwyer - was causing difficulty for her and her mental health.

The court heard Dwyer was trying to normalise what he was about to do and asked if he could stab her just once, while Ms O'Hara was resisting the relationship.

In texts before they met in July 2011, she said "I don't want you to stab me anymore".

This showed there was a problem in the relationship at that point, the court heard. Ms O'Hara also spoke about having a baby, with Dwyer telling her to take folic acid but warning that would finish off any chance she'd have of starting a relationship, the jury was told.

The messages then turned to insulting and belittling her, Mr Guerin said, with him telling Ms O'Hara she was old, fat, a smoker and disobedient.

By October 2011 he told him "she didn't want to play with him", and he asked what about a baby and offers to pay for sexual relations, Mr Guerin said.

The prosecutor said while the relationship was "not quite ended", it was certainly not as intense and maybe more sporadic than it had previously been with fewer texts between them.

CCTV captured from her apartment block at Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside showed Mr Dwyer visited her in January 2012 and that April and July before she went in to hospital for five to six weeks.

Semen on a mattress seized from Ms O'Hara's apartment after her remains were found also tested positive for Dwyer's DNA, the court heard.

Mr Guerin told the court that what happened during the last week or so of her time in hospital is that there was contact between the pair on the mobile phones found in the reservoir.

"The prosecution's case is that he starts putting in place a plan he had formed to use Elaine O'Hara to get his sexual gratification by stabbing a woman to death," Mr Guerin added.


While Ms O'Hara was in hospital in the middle of August 2012 texts messages continued between the two phones, in which it is claimed she told Dwyer no one knew about him.

"Okay let's keep it that way," the court was told he replied.

The next day he allegedly texted "Did a huge walk up the Dublin Mountains yesterday. Very lonely hill walkers up there. Just to find a route back with no cameras. Then I'm sorted"

A few days later another text went between the phones said: "I'll take off your clothes, stab you, bury you, leave your clothes in your car by the sea" adding that it "will look like you drowned".

Two days before she disappeared, while she was in a psychiatric hospital, the accused allegedly texted Ms O'Hara to tell her "she needs to get out of hospital to serve him".

She sent a message saying she "can't wait to get out but is scared she won't be able to cope and about her punishment," Mr Guerin said.

Mr Guerin said the accused sent a message saying: "If it doesn't work out this time, the way out is through me."

She texted saying "forget it for now, it's not going to happen, soon anyway" and the reply was: "are you happy going on like this forever?"

Later that afternoon, he allegedly texted: "You will have a big punishment coming up, getting knifed in the guts."

He added: "You will be well-bound and gagged, tied to a tree deep in the forest," Mr Guerin continued.

She allegedly told him that he would have to drag her out of her apartment and he replied: "you will do what you are f**ing told, I want outdoor play."

He allegedly went on to say there was a place nobody would find them.

The trial, before a jury of seven men and five women and Mr Justice Tony Hunt is expected to last up to eight weeks and to feature more than 400 pieces of evidence including eight "key" exhibits.

These include Ms O'Hara's laptop, mobile phones and mattress, the jury was told. The trial continues.