Belfast Telegraph

Graham Dwyer guilty: Sadist architect stabbed Dublin woman Elaine O'Hara to death during sex

*Warning: report contains graphic content*

By Claire Cromie, Sarah Stack and Brian Hutton

A sadist architect has been found guilty of murdering a mentally ill childcare worker in Dublin.

Graham Dwyer, 42, faces life behind bars for stabbing 36-year-old Elaine O'Hara to death to fulfil his own sexual gratification.

He was convicted by unanimous verdict following a harrowing nine-week trial, a graphic depiction of sick perversion and bloodlust.

The sex beast lured Ms O'Hara,from Stepaside, to the Dublin mountains and killed her in August 2012 - just hours after she was discharged from a mental health hospital.

On the face of it the married family man was living a normal life in a well-to-do part of south Dublin with his wife and children, working in a successful architects' practice and enjoying a hobby of flying model planes.

But he had meanwhile been developing a deviant sexual affair after meeting his victim online - and he kept videos of him knifing other women during sex.

Dwyer, 42, from Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, south Dublin, was remanded in custody at the Central Criminal Court on Friday afternoon.

Verdict

He showed no emotion as the guilty verdict was read out, while Ms O’Hara’s family were in tears.

Judge Tony Hunt told the court that he "110% agreed" with the jury's decision based on the evidence - which on three occasions was too gruesome for the public to be allowed to remain in the court.

"The question of suicide simply wasn't there," the judge told the court.

A huge swathe of evidence involved detail of BDSM sex, the Gorean lifestyle of people living out a slave-master philosophy and a window into the life of a sexual deviant.

Such was the shocking nature of some videos, photos and documents revealed in court that the media self-censored on occasions as well as the judge clearing the public galleries.

The case is one of the most complex and thorough Garda investigations in the history of the state.

What appeared to be a near-perfect life was wiped away when a catalogue of bizarre coincidences unfolded.

Body found

Dwyer and his attractive architect wife Gemma were both out celebrating their birthdays on in September 2013 when a dog walker made a grim discovery in the Dublin mountains - Ms O’Hara’s skeletal remains.

That same week, water levels in Vartry Reservoir in Roundwood, Co Wicklow plunged to record lows and a keen angler spotted something shiny in the shallow muddy waters.

Within days Ms O’Hara’s keys, clothing, two mobile phones, and her rucksack carrying a variety of sex toys - including ropes, cuffs, a gimp mask and restraints - were found.

Despite the water damage, experts retrieved more than 200 harrowing text messages between a 'master' and his 'slave' which lay bare Ms O’Hara’s fear and terror the week she vanished, including the hours before her death.

The prosecution remarked at the opening of the trial that the killing of Ms O'Hara was "nearly the perfect murder, but for the fact that 2013 was such a warm summer".

A chill hung in courtroom 13 as the final text sent to Ms O’Hara was read to the jury: “Go down to shore and wait.”

Her car was parked at Shangahagh Cemetery, where her mother is buried, and she was never seen again. Some, including her family, feared she had died by suicide.

When her remains and personal belongings were recovered a small missing person’s case was upgraded to a murder probe and her personal life delved in to.

Text messages

Thousands of disturbing text messages, backed-up on Ms O’Hara’s laptop, revealed the unwavering control and power her 'Sir' (Dwyer) had over his slave (O’Hara) and the mental torment she suffered throughout their on/off BDSM sexual relationship, which involved Dwyer knifing her for his sexual pleasure.

Ironically it was Ms O’Hara - a fan of TV crime dramas like CSI - who had warned Dwyer about the dangers of being caught for murder through DNA and phone mast coverage.

“Technology is a killer now Sir,” she had texted him, more than a year before she was murdered.

It will never be known if this digital diary of their secret sex life was knowingly saved by her after a friend warned the childcare assistant she was “playing a dangerous game” by being in a relationship with an architect she met on the internet who liked to cut her.

Experts found evidence of nearly 5,000 texts sent back and forth between the pair between January 2008 and the night she was killed, including 64 the day she vanished.

Fantasy

In them Dwyer repeatedly referred to a sadistic and perverted fantasy he had to stab a woman to death, suggesting various potential victims including Ms O’Hara’s neighbours, attractive estate agents, and random hill walkers or joggers.

One text from the killer stood out in the evidence: "I want to stick my knife in flesh while I am sexually aroused. Blood turns me on and I'd like to stab a girl to death some time."

Another purportedly said: "My urge to rape, stab or kill is huge. You have to help me control or satisfy it."

State lawyers claimed he toyed with the idea of three potential victims including Darci Day, a young, previously suicidal woman from Maine in the US who also met Dwyer on the internet.

Others, the prosecution alleged, were Ms O'Hara and an auctioneer who at one time worked near Dwyer's former workplace, A&D Wejchert in Baggot Street, Dublin.

But it appeared to be Dwyer’s fear of being caught that brought him full circle and back to Ms O’Hara, who he blamed for his desire after she once asked him to kill her.

In the end it was his own phone, recovered from the reservoir, that crime analyst Sarah Skedd linked to Dwyer after she painstakingly trawled through data on mobile phone cell sites and toll booths as it and he travelled on journeys outside Dublin.

Filmed

Hundreds of hours of CCTV footage from Ms O’Hara’s apartment block in Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside, were examined before he was spotted visiting her place nine times between January and August 2012 – sometimes letting himself in with his own key while she was in hospital.

The usually crammed courtroom was cleared by Judge Tony Hunt as the jury was shown graphic “vicious and brutal acts of violence” of Dwyer filming himself stabbing women while having sex.

In one Ms O’Hara was bound, her feet in chains and her arms behind her back, while a gag muffled her screams as she was repeatedly stabbed her in the abdomen from behind.

The lawyers billed Dwyer's manipulation of a vulnerable, lonely and previously suicidal woman as "wickedness hiding behind a mask of pity".

Ms O'Hara's troubled life was played out in court including her depression, borderline personality disorder, attempted suicides and her interest in a bondage and a slave-master relationship.

Defence

The defence called three witnesses and contested that documents found on Dwyer's computer and phones were "fantasy documents".

Dwyer's lawyer claimed that during the trial there had been a popular public and media expectation of a conviction after Dwyer was seen on video taking part in "aberrant, disgusting" explicit sexual acts.

Dwyer did not give any evidence to the trial.

In the end the jury agreed with the prosecution's case - that he was "a sadistic and brutal pervert with nothing on his mind other than murder".

Dwyer will be sentenced on April 20 when a victim impact statement will be read to the court.

The killer's father Sean, and his sister Mandy Wroblewski, sat feet away from him as he looked on motionless as the verdict was read out.

His sister sobbed while detectives involved in the difficult investigation also wiped tears from their eyes.

The Courts Service said it would be able to provide jurors with professional help following such a distressing case.

"This is not a usual occurrence but we can facilitate such supports, with guidance from the judiciary," a spokesman said.

Additional reporting by PA and Irish Independent

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