‘MY URGE to rape, stab, and kill is huge,’ the message read. ‘You have to help me control or satisfy it.’
According to the senior counsel for the prosecution, Sean Guerin, on the opening day of the trial, Graham Dwyer’s messages to Elaine O’Hara reflected “a deep-seated, passionately held, irrepressible desire … to get sexual gratification by stabbing.”
Much of the correspondence found on phones belonging to Elaine, as well as material recovered on Dwyer’s property, establishes a narrative of a man whose twisted fantasies are running untrammeled by the norms of society; and of someone who expresses a clear desire to bring these fantasies to reality.
The revelation that video, some self-recorded, showing Dwyer appearing to stab Elaine O’Hara as well as one of him having used chloroform on himself, were recovered during the investigation offered a graphic manifestation of his desires. The material showed a sordid level of sexual violence, so much so that jurors received warnings beforehand about the content.
Gardaí recovered 38 videos on hard drives seized from Dwyer’s home. Women were present in 35 of these and two of them were movies that appeared to be self-made videos of Dwyer.
One was called Blood2.mp4 and showed a man appearing to stab himself with a retractable blade. The prosecution labelled this: “Clip of Graham Dwyer with Knife”.
The second video featured a man speaking to the camera.
“Hello. I’m just after waking up from having knocked myself out with chloroform,” he said. “I’m very disoriented. I have very little recollection of what happened. I remember exhaling out and getting a warning sign and waking up with a pounding noise in my head, like a headache and a loud noise.” The State labelled this video: “Clip of Graham Dwyer after chloroform”.
Of the other videos, two appeared to show Elaine O’Hara.
In one a naked woman, who is bound and apparently gagged with her arms behind her back and feet tied in chains, seems to be stabbed repeatedly in the abdomen from behind by a naked man — Graham Dwyer.
In another video clip, Dwyer is shown cutting a woman, said to be Elaine, who is whimpering. He appears to stab her and also runs the knife along her skin several times during intercourse. She screams after the apparent stabbing. The man is heard saying, “Now, that wasn’t bad, was it?” at the end.
There were other clips, some with the faces of the women pixellated to protect their identity. In one, music plays in the background as Dwyer has sex with a woman from behind and appears to stab her. In another, Dwyer sits astride a woman, has sex with her and stabs her and she issues a muffled scream.
Another video clip, entitled “Attempted breast stab”, showed Dwyer sitting behind a woman who was on the edge of a bed in handcuffs. Wielding a knife, he attempts to stab her in the breast and she says: “f***ing hell, f*** me, stop please”. In another clip, entitled “Bloodletting”, Dwyer is again seen sitting behind a woman in handcuffs. He cuts her breast. Other clips showed Dwyer stabbing a woman during sex nine times, and also telling a woman “shhh” after he repeatedly stabs her. A clip entitled “After stabbing” shows a shot of a woman’s body with blood coming from her side and blood on the sheets. It is all part of what the prosecution said were the thoughts of a “sadistic and brutal pervert” and which even the defence said can’t even remotely be regarded as normal.
There was a document outlining the story of someone pretending to be a builder working for a landlord, following the routine of a woman living in a house and watching her movements, waiting for her to return. The author in the document prepares by checking he has rope, chloroform, plastic bag, and flick knife.
Some of the correspondence with Elaine O’Hara is blunt, for example: “I’m a sadist. I enjoy others’ pain. You should help me inflict pain on you and help me with my fantasies.” Or this June 2011 text: “I want to stick my knife in flesh while sexually aroused... blood turns me on and I’d like to stab a girl to death.”
There are also occasional references to real-life situations. One text related to a woman being stabbed in Dublin in 2011.
“Big mistake leaving a witness,” wrote the author on the 083 phone, which the prosecution maintained at all times was Dwyer. “Imagine the knife going in and out of her... lucky guy.”
“You have to help me or it will be you,” read another text.
The text communication between the two people often seems to have centred on fantasy situations in which someone would get stabbed, or reconnaissance to work out the details.
“Did a huge walk in the Dublin Mountains yesterday... just to find a route back with no cameras and I’m sorted,” read one example.
In one lengthy exchange Dwyer urges Elaine O’Hara to help him to get a “knife into some flesh soon”, to which she responds: “I’ll do my best Sir. If you want you can kill my sister”, although she quickly asserts that she is joking.
Some of the messages read out from April 2011 concerned Ms O’Hara giving up smoking, with the texter telling her to get her teeth whitened afterwards. When she said she could not afford to, he replied: “I can rob the girls I stab.”
In another text, he suggested: “Maybe do my kill during your holidays? Will take the day off work for it.”
She sent him a picture of marks on her wrists at one stage, blaming “your ties”.
“Nice,” he replied. “May as well have used the knife… Next time nice oval stab wound.”
“Not if I have my way,” she wrote.
“You don’t get your way. I do,” he replied. “What if I did just one? What would happen?”
Ms O’Hara said she was afraid that it would set her recovery back.
“Will have to find me a victim to stab. That’s an order,” he wrote later.
“Sir, how do I do that?” she asked.
“We will go out for remote walks… and strike if conditions are right,” he replied.
“I will prepare hunting bag with things for the murder,” he wrote later.
He said it did not have to be her he would kill.
Ms O’Hara said she knew the texter would not do it.
“Are you saying I couldn’t kill you if I wanted to?” he asked. “I could bring you out in a case, but not if you help me stab someone… It’s your fault I want to kill and you won’t let me stab you.”
She said she never thought her wanting to die would lead to this.
“Seeing you helpless and at my mercy turns me on,” he wrote halfway through the month.
She asked if he could find another way of hurting her besides stabbing and he suggested needles. She said they might try a few.
“Ok, think about where I can leave marks,” he wrote.
He also suggested sticking a scalpel in a particular area that would not be seen.
“Just figure out a way I can hurt you,” he continued. “Thin, black knife in the belly?”
Addressing him as sir, she said it was not her choice and warned she would scream.
“I will make it as painless as possible,” he wrote.
“I can’t wait to knife you,” he wrote later. “I hope I can stop once I start.”
He asked how many times he could stab her. She said once and asked him not to leave a big scar.
“I want to give you a satisfying stabbing and can’t if you don’t want marks,” he wrote.
He sent her a text on the evening of April 14, telling her to get naked and strip all sheets off the bed.
“Cuff your hands behind your back. You have 10 minutes. Go,” he wrote.
There were other similar messages before an implied visit to her, but in later months he texted simply: “Assume the position” ahead of his arrival. Ms O’Hara sent him apologetic text messages a few days later.
“I have to be able to hurt you,” he wrote. “I have to be able to mark you.”
She said she understood if he did not want to see her anymore.
“I thought I could, sir. I really did, but I can’t,” she wrote.
“Sir, I can’t let you cut me. I just can’t. It’s not right.”
“Then you have to help me cut someone,” he replied.
“Use fake knife on you and get to stab some girl to death,” he wrote.
“Yes, sir. As you wish,” she replied.
“We plan a killing,” he wrote.
At another stage he wrote: “I’m a sadist and enjoy others’ pain. You should help me inflict pain on you and help me with my fantasies.
“Help me rape and stab a young girl… You help me stab a girl and you won’t get knifed.”
He texted her on April 25, 2011, to tell her he had found a dead sheep.
“Might go back after dark and see how it feels to sink a knife into it,” he wrote.
The references to stabbing, knives, killing, and blood seem endless.
“Everyone has to die sometime,” he wrote at one stage. “Going to hit her across the head with a hammer so she doesn’t feel the knife… Her heart will be pumping during the stabbing so I’ll get the full effect.”
He texted her on May 24, 2011, to say he had left his phone off in case a stabbing had been investigated.
“Animals have picked the carcass clean, yay,” he wrote.
Elaine asked how he knew this. “I was up flying… and had a peak,” he wrote. “Rib cage where knife went in… rest of sheep moved.”
“I want to do a woman next,” he said. “It was fantastic feeling the knife go in and watch the blood spurt out. So happy.”
“Woman next, stabbed to death. We have to work on it... I wish I had kept the clip of the stabbing, all that blood.”
He told her at the end of May if they did not “do someone soon, I’ll have to do you”.
“I’ll try not to kill you,” he wrote later.
“I don’t want to die,” she replied.
“Let’s concentrate on getting me to stab some bitch to death,” he said. When Elaine O’Hara told him she had had a dream in which he had made her watch him stab a girl to death, he said: “I’d love that”, adding he wanted her help and enthusiasm and he might even enjoy watching her stab someone else.
A reference from Elaine to smoking prompted him to state the habit disgusted him and he would stab her in the lungs to see the black tar oozing out.
Elsewhere he said he had been thinking about visiting a prostitute to see how easy it would be to kill her, while on another occasion, in reference to him not being able to lend Elaine money, he wrote: “We can rob some rich woman. Then we stab her,” he suggested. “I should make the stab look like a robbery? Stab outside the clothes.”
“I really can’t wait to do it,” he wrote later. “I keep watching the video of when I stuck you.”
On another occasion he wrote: “I’m thinking about stabbing and rape,” before asking Elaine O’Hara if she had heard about an attack on a woman in a park in Tallaght and pointing out a mistake the attacker had made.
“Start looking up myhome.ie for properties that are remote and have a young female auctioneer,” he wrote. “Up mountains, near you, as remote as possible.”
He said he had found a cottage with a female agent called Leslie and told her to find similar options.
On another occasion, he wrote: “I want to stick my knife in flesh while sexually aroused and see pain. Blood turns me on.” At another time, a specific evening was chosen at the start of July to find someone to kill, only for the activity to be postponed as “my brother has called over”. Elaine said this was “bad timing”, to which he replied: “Really bad, but maybe he saved a girl’s life.”
Following his arrest and in his final garda interview, Dwyer was asked about videos on his phone, which included clips of women being stabbed and strangled.
“I think it was a real murder in Russia,” he said, before being referred to other images that had been found of a “17-year-old girl immobilised on her bed”. Captioned LovelyDisgrace. com, they showed her gagged and stabbed. He said he had looked at them on his laptop and they were called “gore”.
“Why do you need to go on these websites?” he was asked. “I can’t explain,” he replied. “I know it’s sick.”