The 42-year-old architect’s notice of his intention to take his case to the Court of Criminal Appeal was despatched over the weekend, just before the 21-day deadline for action expired yesterday.
His legal team must now lodge papers detailing in depth the grounds for their client’s appeal and their arguments as to why they believe those grounds are sufficient to show his conviction is unsound.
Dwyer, a father of three, was convicted in March of the murder of childcare worker Elaine O’Hara, 33, who disappeared in August 2012. He received a mandatory life sentence at his sentencing hearing last month.
Ms O’Hara had suffered from mental health problems and had just been released from hospital when she disappeared, leading to the belief that her death was a suicide. However, her body was found in woodland in the Dublin Mountains in September 2013. While it was too decomposed to determine a cause of death, the discovery of her personal belongings discarded in a reservoir a short time later instantly pointed to foul play.
Dwyer, from Bandon, Co Cork, but married and living in Foxrock, Dublin, up to his arrest in October 2013, was linked to Ms O’Hara through mobile phone messages and emails after they made contact through an adult website.
He admitted to having violent sex fantasies and to acting them out on Ms O’Hara but always denied murdering her.
There was much legal argument in the absence of the jury throughout his trial, which lasted more than two months, and it is expected his defence team will raise those issues again as grounds for his appeal.
They include questions over the reliability and legality of methods used by technical experts to extract information from the mobile phone and email traffic which was so heavily relied upon by the prosecution.
They also challenged Dwyer’s arrest and questioning, which was carried out in the absence of a solicitor — a practice subsequently declared illegal by the Supreme Court.
Other issues they raised included the leaking to the media of information about the nature of Ms O’Hara’s death and the playing in court of explicit home recordings of Dwyer engaging in violent sex acts with other women which they said made it impossible for the jury to maintain the presumption of innocence.
Dwyer’s appeal is to be mentioned in court in July when cases will be assigned dates for hearing during the autumn and winter term, but it is unlikely to be declared ready for hearing before next spring.
He has been an inmate in the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise since his sentencing but has been in jail since his arrest in October 2013, having failed to secure bail to await his trial despite going to the Supreme Court.
It only emerged after Dwyer was convicted that gardaí had strenuously opposed bail on the grounds that he was a danger to other women.