The Graham Dwyer murder trial has been told that his relationship with Elaine O’Hara was ‘an entirely predatory one’ where he always saw her as a victim and would lead everyone to think her death was by suicide.
‘Like any predator, Graham Dwyer had an eye for the weak’, said the prosecutor in the architect’s murder trial at the Central Criminal Court.
Mr Dwyer (aged 42) is charged with murdering Ms O’Hara at Killakee, Rathfarnham, Dublin on August 22, 2012, hours after she was discharged from a mental health hospital.
The Cork-born father of three of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock in Dublin has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 36-year-old childcare worker.
The jury was hearing the closing speech of Seán Gueirn SC’s today on the 40th day of the architect’s murder trial.
Mr Guerin spent three hours summing up the State’s case. He reminded the jury that it was the State’s case that the architect stabbed the Dublin woman for his own sexual gratification, having arranged to lure her up the mountain in Killakee.
He said that Elaine O’Hara had the misfortune to be in the circumstances where she was amenable to being in an abusive and manipulative relationship with the accused.
He said the architect had exploited her in the sure knowledge he could do so in a way that would lead everyone to think her death was by suicide.
“It very nearly worked out for him,” he said.
Mr Guerin said there were four broad strands to the prosecution case: to connect the accused to Ms O’Hara’s disappearance; to show that he had not only the desire but the intention of murdering her by stabbing; to demonstrate that the circumstances of her disappearance reflected almost point by point the detailed plan he had elaborated over time; and to disprove any other possibility such as someone else being involved or death by suicide.
He said that it was not in dispute that Mr Dwyer was in a sexual relationship with Ms O’Hara; the accused had admitted this by the end of his interviews with gardaí.
However, he said that the admission wasn’t anything like the full truth so other evidence was important, such as computers, phones and documents.
“That documentary evidence allows you to fill in the detail that might otherwise be lacking,” he said, noting that ‘matters of this nature took place in private’ and there weren’t other witnesses.
He said that the significance of CCTV footage was to show that the relationship had continued right up to the time that Ms O’Hara went missing.
He said the core of the prosecution case came in the form of telephone evidence. It was the State’s case that three disputed phones, including two found in a reservoir, were bought by the accused and that Mr Dwyer was using two of them.
He pointed to the fact that Ms O’Hara had saved the number for one of the phones as Graham, both on her computer and in an address book.
He pointed to the name, address and alternative phone number that had been given when this phone was registered.
He said that the name, Goroon Caisholm, was a corruption of the name, Gordon Chisholm, an acquaintance of Mr Dwyer. The address was similar Mr Dwyer’s sister’s, but with the same inaccuracy he had given to his wife and gardaí. The phone number used when registering was practically the same as Mr Dwyer’s work phone, apart from the prefix.
“All that evidence tends to connect that phone to Graham Dwyer,” he said.
He said that there were discussions between this phone and Ms O’Hara’s iPhone about the possibility of getting other phones. New 086 phones were purchased in November 2011, and the first two phones soon ceased to communicate with each other.
“All the contact then shifts to the non-traceable channel, which shows these were the two phones being used to communicate by these two people,” he said.
Mr Guerin reminded the jury of the times and locations where the phones were topped up, and compared them with Mr Dwyer’s known movements on those occasions.
“All this suggests he purchased these for the use of himself and Ms O’Hara,” he said.
However, he said the content of the texts was the most striking feature of the telephone evidence for the purpose of connecting them to Mr Dwyer.
“What you find is that the record of the texts holds up a mirror to the life of Graham Dwyer,” he suggested. “You see exactly what he’s doing and to an extent that would be utterly impossible if it were anyone other than Graham Dwyer using them.”
He pointed to a text to Ms O’Hara in which the author said that there was a girl in the USA, who asked him to do something she had asked him to do.
“You know Darci Day asked Graham Dwyer to kill her, something Elaine O’Hara had asked him to do years previously,” he said.
He pointed to texts about the birth of the author’s child, in which the author gave the child’s name.
“That is the day his child was born. You have her birth cert,” he said.
He drew the jury’s attention to a text about chloroform and reminded the jurors of the video where Mr Dwyer experimented with chloroform.
He also drew comparisons between a text about car repairs costing the author ‘4k’ and a bill Mr Dwyer paid for almost that amount to have his car fixed at that time.
Mr Guerin outlined numerous other text messages and reminded the jury of Mr Dwyer’s known activities at the times they were sent.
He also pointed to the similarity of the cell site locations used by Mr Dwyer’s work phones and the two other phones the State has attributed to him.
He said the text messages told the story of Mr Dwyer’s life in this period.
“All the details of his work, social and family life are contained here,” he said. “Remarkably, when Graham Dwyer moves, these phones move with him. Whether he’s going to Ballyshannon, Galway, Carron, Cork, north of the Liffey... wherever he goes, the phones go. They are stuck to him like a shadow.”
Mr Guerin said that he would address the jury on the basis that the ‘Master’ phone found in the reservoir and the phone registered to Goroon Caisholm belonged to the accused.
Given those connections, he said the next question was what Mr Dwyer actually intended on August 22, 2012.
“The prosecution intends to show that there was a firm, clear and determined intention to do certain things, not merely a desire,” he said.
“But the desire was there as well and it’s important the prosecution satisfies you as to what it was.”
He said the suggestion had been made that fantasy was the opposite of reality and he gave the example of fantastical novels about orcs, elves, unicorns and leprechauns. However he said fantasy had another meaning: desire, especially in a sexual context.
“I suggest fantasy is, in fact, the expression of a desire, something the person who has that fantasy wishes was real,” he said.
“This is about a person who has these extraordinary and quite frankly disgusting fantasies, who goes about making them real,” he added.
“They were longstanding fantasies,” he said.
He reminded the jury of the evidence of Mr Dwyer’s former partner, who said that, in the 1990s, Graham Dwyer’s fantasy was to stab a woman during sex.
“In order to make that fantasy a reality, Graham Dwyer had to find victims, who would willingly submit to what he had in mind,” he said.
Mr Guerin said that if Mr Dwyer could not find a willing victim, then any victim would do.
“Bear in mind these were real people,” he said. “At least three victims were discussed, in the most disgusting terms.”
He said these were Darci Day, Elaine O’Hara and Rowena Quinn, who he said had the misfortune to work in an office across the street from Mr Dwyer’s.
He said that the documents the accused had created entitled Killing Darci and Jenny’s First Rape detailed “the most vile and sickening torture and murder of women”.
“When you look at them, bear in mind that to a significant extent, actual living people he knows in one way or another are imagined as the victims of these obscenities,” he said.
He told the jury to “think very carefully about whether that is fantasy”. He asked whether it was something Graham Dwyer desired and took steps to bring about.
“In relation to Elaine O’Hara, who the prosecution says was his real victim, look back at the relationship,” he said.
He suggested that the accused had, from the outset, a very particular and limited plan, to use the deceased as a victim for his sexual fantasies.
“You know from the texts that he said he was a sadist who enjoyed other people’s pain,” he said.
“The tragedy of the case is that the warning lights those texts caused to flash don’t seem to have been sufficient to warn off Elaine O’Hara.”
He reminded the jury of the difficulties in her life and that a note from her hospital admission records read: ‘Supportive dad, no friends’.
“That’s a tragic, sad and unfortunate situation, but the reality Elaine O’Hara appears to have known and of which Graham Dwyer was only too happy to take advantage,” he said.
He pointed to computer evidence showing that in late 2007, Ms O’Hara had viewed the Architect 77 profile on website alt.com.
“That suggests it was the likely beginning of the relationship that ended on the side of Killakee Mountain in August 2012,” said Mr Guerin.
He pointed to medical records from June 2008 where Ms O’Hara had told her therapist that she was overwhelmed with sadness, loneliness and the belief she was a bad person, who deserved to be punished.
“Those documents, I suggest to you, capture pretty clearly Elaine O’Hara’s situation,” said the barrister. “She was a very sad person, undoubtedly a troubled person, troubled by thoughts of her own self worth.”
He said she didn’t value herself properly as a human being or see herself as of value to her family and community.
“She was lonely,” he said, before quoting an old Irish proverb: ‘Fighting is better than loneliness’.
He said it was a valuable truth that being lonely was worse than almost anything else. He said that people would and did settle for relationships with which they were very unhappy rather than being alone.
“I suggest that’s what happened to Elaine O’Hara,” he said.
He pointed to a 2008 email sent to Ms O’Hara from firstname.lastname@example.org, an address linked to the Architect 72 profile.
He said the sender, who he said was Graham Dwyer, completely understood that Ms O’Hara needed to stay away from what he was doing to her in order to get better. He said it was an expression of an understanding that what he was doing to her was very deeply damaging to her.
However, within that email, Fetish Boy had offered to do something she had previously asked him to do.
“And you know what that was,” said Mr Guerin. “This wickedness, hiding behind the mask of pity, offering a troubled and sometimes suicidal woman help in the form of a way out.”
He noted that a video made before October 2008 showed Graham Dwyer stabbing Ms O’Hara.
“What you see is a vicious and brutal act of violence perpetrated on Elaine O’Hara by Graham Dwyer,” he said. “And when it concludes, you can hear he says to her: ‘Now, that wasn’t bad was it?’.”
Mr Guerin said that this showed that Ms O’Hara didn’t want to do this and that, from a very early stage in the relationship, the accused was willing, anxious and able to overcome her reluctance to be the victim of these attacks.
Mr Guerin reminded the jury of the evidence of a friend of Ms O’Hara’s who warned the deceased that she was playing a dangerous game, but that ‘it was someone to pay attention to her; she just wanted to be loved’.
“That is the fear of loneliness that leads her into the situation she subsequently finds herself in,” said the barrister.
He said that contact resumed between the two in March 2011, after possibly some years. He said that from that point, Ms O’Hara made it clear that she was not into blood, stabbing and didn’t want to be stabbed.
He said that the accused had told the gardaí a very different story.
“I thought long and hard about talking about the sex stuff,” he said in his fourth interview.
“The fruit of that long and hard thinking is that he proceeds to lie through his teeth to the gardaí about the relationship he had with Elaine O’Hara,” he said.
Mr Dwyer said he believed she had some mental health problems, became aware she was heavily scarred and ‘I remember I would say – not for me’.
“The willingness to be stabbed, the tendency towards suicide were what attracted him,” said Mr Guerin.
He told gardaí he wouldn’t cut anybody, wouldn’t knife play and ‘that weird stuff is not for me’.
“Those are calculated falsehoods. You know they’re false because you’ve seen the videos,” said Mr Guerin, noting that the gardaí hadn’t access to them at that stage.
The barrister noted that, following discussion about his need to stab, Ms O’Hara had asked him about the person in the USA.
“He says: ‘That would cost thousands. Can’t wait that long to sink my knife in’,” read Mr Guerin. “She says: ‘You might just have to wait. You’re not getting me, never again’.”
“The tragedy is that the combination of Elaine O’Hara’s weakness and her availability to him meant that, ultimately, although he had to wait, she was the easier target,” he said.
The jury was reminded of a text in which the other phone user had said he would like Ms O’Hara to pretend she would like him to stab her or someone else.
Mr Guerin reminded the jury of text messages in which Ms O’Hara tried to end things with this man.
The man then offered to father a child with her in return for finding him someone to stab. When she expressed reluctance, he offered her money. When she refused, he insulted her appearance and told her she wouldn’t find anyone else.
“The relationship, when you view it, is an entirely predatory one,” said Mr Guerin. “Like any predator, Graham Dwyer had an eye for the weak. Elaine O’Hara was weak,” he continued.
“He could see in her loneliness, friendlessness, isolation and weakness the opportunity to separate her from the flock, to get her on her own to undermine her sense of self worth,” he said. “The only thing he ever saw in her was a victim.”
He said that all the pieces started to fall into place when Ms O’Hara hit a mental weak point with her admission to hospital in the summer of 2012. He said an opportunity presented itself.
The people who loved and cared for her would be all the more likely to believe that, at precisely that point, she had made a decision to end her life in the way in which he had envisaged... to take advantage of her in the way he always wanted.
Mr Guerin said he would move onto the elements of Mr Dwyer’s alleged plan tomorrow morning.
The trial has heard that Ms O’Hara was last seen in Shanganagh on the evening of August 22, 2012.
A cause of death could not be determined when her skeletal remains were discovered at Killakee on September 13 the following year.
The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of five women and seven men.