Belfast Telegraph

Killing 'nearly the perfect murder'

A successful architect with an alleged deep-rooted sexual desire to stab women almost carried out the perfect murder but for an unusually hot summer which revealed breakthrough evidence thrown into a reservoir, it has been claimed in court.

Father-of- two Graham Dwyer, 42, of Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, south Dublin, denies murdering childcare worker Elaine O'Hara, 37, in the Dublin mountains on August 22, 2012.

Opening the trial at the city's Central Criminal Court, prosecution barrister Sean Guerin, senior counsel, claimed text messages sent to Ms O'Hara, who was battling psychiatric illness, revealed a manipulative, abusive affair between the pair involving very unusual sexual practices.

It is alleged he texted her the year before her disappearance, saying: "I want to stick my knife in flesh while sexually aroused. Seeing blood turns me on and I'd like to stab a girl to death sometime."

After a discussion about her suicidal tendencies, the court was told Dwyer messaged: "If you ever want to die promise you'll let me do it."

Ms O'Hara was last seen on the day of her alleged murder, near Shanganagh cemetery, outside Shankill, south Dublin, where her mother is buried, walking over a pedestrian railway bridge towards the sea.

At noon that day, she had left St Edmundsbury Hospital where she was being treated for around six weeks for her illness.

Her remains were discovered more than a year later on Killakee Mountain on September 13, 2013 by a dog walker.

"It was in fact very nearly the perfect murder, but for the fact of the warm summer of 2013 and (the walker's) dogs who found evidence that might never have been found," said Mr Guerin.

The barrister said the "breakthrough" in her disappearance came three days earlier when anglers spotted something unusual in the Vartry reservoir, in Co Wicklow, where levels had plunged 20 feet because of unusually hot weather.

After pulling out clothing, rope and handcuffs, they alerted a policeman in nearby Roundwood Garda Station, who returned to the scene and retrieved a set of keys, a number of store loyalty cards and two mobile phones.

One of those cards - for a supermarket - led him to identifying the items as Ms O'Hara's, who was recorded at the time as a missing person.

In a "remarkable coincidence", three days earlier the dog walker came across remains in a wooded area at Killakee, later identified through dental records as those of Ms O'Hara.

A post mortem examination on the mostly skeletal remains could not determine the cause of death.

The two mobile phones were dried out and data forensically retrieved from them revealed disturbing messages back and forth between Ms O'Hara and another person in the lead up to her vanishing, the court heard.

At the same time, detectives retrieved mobile phones and a laptop from her apartment at Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside, Co Dublin, with similar messages, revealing a deeply manipulative BDSM relationship, the prosecution alleges.

Semen found on a mattress taken from the alleged victim's apartment matched Mr Dwyer's DNA, the jury of seven men and five women were told.

Among the texts to Ms O'Hara are one saying: "My urge to rape, stab, kill is huge. You have to help me control or satisfy."

On another occasion, it is alleged Dwyer texted about a stabbing case on the news, saying he would have loved to have been the attacker knifing the victim, and that he was a "lucky guy".

"I'm going to do it, you have to help me or it will be you," the text said.

There is no forensic evidence to place the accused at the scene of where her mostly skeletal remains were discovered, the court was told.

Mr Guerin said the prosecution will seek to prove Mr Dwyer was the person who sent the texts and that the pair had an abusive relationship designed to satisfy the accused's sexual desire to stab women.

The alleged victim was extremely submissive, liked to be restrained and allowed herself to be punished, the court was told.

It is alleged the accused texted her: "I am a sadist. I enjoy others pain, you should help me inflict pain on you and help me with my fantasy."

The pair were allegedly in a relationship years before, and when it was rekindled, Ms O'Hara texted that: "I'm not into blood any more"

It is claimed the relationship broke down in the year up to her disappearance, and Ms O'Hara resisted repeated attempts by the accused to meet up.

"I don't want you to stab me any more", she said in one text.

The court was told Ms O'Hara wrote that she was worried the relationship would set her medical treatment back, that she wanted children and that the stabbing would need to stop as she was already covered in stab marks.

It became increasingly clear the accused was unlikely to get what he wanted, Mr Guerin said.

With a history of psychiatric illness, literally just out of hospital, having visited her mother's grave and last seen walking towards the sea, Ms O'Hara was almost the "perfect victim", he said.

Manipulating her to be "a fully compliant victim right up to her death", she was ordered by text to leave her iPhone behind, bring her "slave" phone and keys and was given directions to the railway bridge, the court heard.

Evidence will also show the defendant had thought about the scene, what evidence there would be of a killing as well as CCTV footage on routes into the Dublin mountains, the prosecution claimed.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

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