Dwyer Trial: Jury told to revisit suicidality question

The judge in the Graham Dwyer murder trial told the jury that the question of suicidality was important for both sides and he should revisit it as he recalled them.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt called the jurors back into court yesterday morning to give some legal directions and read over some of the evidence heard during trial.

He told the members the only verdicts open to them were guilty or not guilty of murder.

Mr Dwyer is charged with murdering Elaine O’Hara, aged 36, at Killakee, Rathfarnham, Dublin, on August 22, 2012, just hours after she was discharged from a mental health hospital.

The Cork-born father of three of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the childcare worker.

Judge Hunt read out the evidence of Ms O’Hara’s treating psychiatrist, Dr Matt Murphy, who testified on February 12. “It shows Ms O’Hara’s condition over the years,” said the judge.

He noted that the defence was focused on the issue of suicidality and he said they had to consider it.

“You have to assess both of these personalities and what you know of them,” he said.

He said they had to be satisfied that the parties were communicating by phone, and then decide whether the text messages represented fantasy or plans to do actual things.

He said, when assessing Ms O’Hara as a person, her ongoing issues and thoughts of suicide were highly relevant. However, he said the thoughts of suicide were part of her mental health problems but not the full picture.

He also spoke about the forensic evidence and the defence position on that.

“Simply saying something’s present or not present doesn’t give you the full context. Everything depends on context,” he said.

Mr Justice Hunt referred to a question asked by the jury foreman on Tuesday: “What do we find him guilty of?” The judge said: “You are not obliged to convict Mr Dwyer. You can only convict him of one thing on the issue paper. You’re asked to consider the offence of murder… The causation is stabbing.”

“The only two verdicts are guilty or not guilty,” he said. “Confine yourselves to the verdict that has to be returned, the evidence and what is reasonably inferred from the evidence. You have not been asked by the parties to consider any intermediate or different verdict. It’s guilty of murder or not guilty.”

He told them they were not asked to consider accidental death. “It’s murder by stabbing beyond a reasonable doubt,” he added. “Ask again; is there a reasonable hypothesis on that evidence consistent with innocence? You have to acquit in that case. It’s as stark as that.

“If you think suicide is a reasonably possible hypothesis, you acquit,” he said.

The jury will resume its deliberations this morning.


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