An architect accused of murdering a childcare worker cannot be convicted on the basis of his thoughts or unusual fantasies, a jury has been told.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the ingredients of murder have to be there if Graham Dwyer is to be found guilty of the murder of Elaine O’Hara, whose remains were found in the Dublin Mountains on September 13, 2013.
Charging the jury, he said a person may be convicted of a criminal offence on circumstantial evidence alone. However, he said circumstantial evidence never provided self-evident proof of guilt and must be treated with care.
Mr Dwyer, 42, a Cork-born architect from Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, south Dublin, has pleaded not guilty before the Central Criminal Court.
Mr Justice Hunt said the jurors were all adults and had been warned at the outset to stand down if they were squeamish, and should not be shocked by sex scenes played in court.
They faced an odd situation as they would usually be shielded from certain aspects about the accused to allow them make an objective finding.
However, it was necessary for them to see and hear particular evidence which cast Mr Dwyer in a “harsh and unforgiving” light because it was of potential relevance to the case, he said.
The judge said he wanted to dwell on this before the jury retires to consider its verdict.
Speaking about videos of Mr Dwyer stabbing Ms O’Hara and two other women during separate sex acts, he said they had not been shown these to make the accused look foolish or bad.
“What you saw was horrific and horrendous; there’s no getting away from that,” he said. “The reason we saw that was because of certain assertions made in the interviews [with gardaí] … and to allow you to assess the content of the relationship.”
Some of the video clips shown in court would have had a “visceral impact”, he said. Despite not having watched them in court, he assured the seven men and five women that he had watched them a number of times before.
These were not aired to have a “trousers-down moment” designed to make Mr Dwyer look ridiculous, he said, but to allow the jury to assess the context of relations and motivations in the case.
The judge said any opinions about the activities involved had no part to play in a verdict.
“I want to triple underline that,” he added.
Mr Dwyer was guilty of certain misconduct but that was not a criminal offence, he said. “I emphasise you have to put this to one side,” he said.
Ms O’Hara was last seen on the day of her death, walking over a pedestrian railway bridge towards the sea near Shanganagh cemetery, outside Shankill, south Dublin, where her mother is buried.
She had left St Edmundsbury Hospital at 12pm, where she had been treated for psychiatric illness. Her remains were found a year later in Killakee. Because they were so badly decomposed, a cause of death could not be determined.
The defence argues there is no evidence Ms O’Hara was stabbed to death and the prosecution case was based on “fantasy documents” and other material.
The judge said the jury would have to decide if it was reasonably possible that what Mr Dwyer was involved in was the “product of an unusual mind or was there something more to it than that” and whether he was prepared to take the ultimate step in a fantasy.
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