His primary victim, Elaine O’Hara, was, the Central Criminal Court heard, used, abused and, to all intents and purposes, “executed”, only to be abused further after death by her killer’s callous lies.
Her heartbroken family were left “haunted” by what they knew of her suffering and, even more so, by what they would never know because the truth was buried with her in her cold mountain grave.
Dwyer’s own family, blameless in all he had perpetrated, had nonetheless been “embroiled in this horrendous business”.
His wife had been “most cruelly deceived” and left with two young children in a “pitiful” condition that “beggared belief”.
Dwyer’s gaze dropped to the floor at mention of his wife, Gemma, but it was the only time he showed anything close to recognition of the savagery of the acts for which he was about to receive a life sentence.
Otherwise he stared at the ceiling, screwed up his nose, pursed his lips, and blew air into his cheeks like a schoolboy in the principal’s office, bored but unbothered by a reprimand over some minor misdemeanour.
He did not react to the victim impact statement of Frank O’Hara who described how, for months after his daughter disappeared, Elaine’s young niece and goddaughter would point out cars that looked like Elaine’s and think her adoring aunt had returned.
He never flinched at hearing how, for a year after she vanished, Elaine’s family spent hours walking the shore where she was last seen, searching for any sign of her, before finally telling themselves to let her go and laying flowers in the water in her memory.
“There are questions that trouble us,” Mr O’Hara wrote. “When did Elaine realise it was not a game any more? When did she realise that the intention was to kill her for real?
“Did she try to run? Was she restrained? Did she suffer much? Could she and did she cry out? Was she left on the mountain to die alone?
“This is our life sentence. For us, there is no parole.”
Judge Tony Hunt did not hold back in his scathing response. “There are some dark corners of this very dark case into which some light has been shone, but the list of questions jumps off the pages,” he said.
“There is only one person who can give answers but that person has done nothing but tell manifest untruths to date so, unfortunately, the answers will probably never be known.”
He described Dwyer as debauched and perverse, vile and manipulative, a man who had shown no regard for Elaine, no remorse for what he did to her, who persisted with a defence that was nothing more than a “threadbare garment” and whose truthfulnesss and credibility “were at the level of the floor if not below”.
He referred to the fact that Dwyer was refused bail while awaiting trial because gardaí believed he posed a threat to other women, and said he had no doubt that the elaborate hunting knife found hidden by Dwyer in his office was intended for future use.
“We may be be thankful that a dangerous man is out of the way,” the judge said. “He is in his place of arrogance and delusion and there he will stay for the life sentence that I am about to commit him to.”
However, the judge conceded without being asked that he did not know how long Dwyer would remain in prison and he speculated without being prompted that Dwyer was likely to appeal his conviction.
Cork-born architect Graham Dwyer, 42, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Elaine O’Hara, 36, who disappeared after arranging to meet with him on August 22, 2012.
Initially believed by gardaí and her family to have taken her own life, the missing persons inquiry became a murder investigation after her remains were found by chance in September 2013 in a wooded area of Killakee in the Dublin Mountains.
He was convicted last month after a two-month trial during which distressing evidence was produced of Dwyer’s depraved extra-marital sex life in which he sought out women online to abuse and stab during sex.
Elaine O’Hara’s family were in court to see her killer sentenced, as was Dwyer’s own father, Sean, who cut a lonely figure in the courtroom.