Belfast Telegraph

Sadist architect Graham Dwyer guilty for Elaine O'Hara killing: An 'everyman' who turned out to be a wolf in sheep's clothing

By Nicola Anderson

"A professional and senior business figure in a company based in Dublin city centre has been arrested in connection with the death of childcare worker Elaine O'Hara."

That was how the news was broken on October 17, 2013, to an electrified nation, shocked that someone perceived to be from 'the inside circle' could be involved in something so unthinkable.

In those very early news reports, Graham Dwyer emerged as an 'Everyman'.

He was a successful architect in his early 40s, living in the salubrious Dublin suburb of Foxrock.

He was married to another architect and they had two young children together.

Some tentative reportage at that initial stage had uncovered the fact that Dwyer had travelled to his native Bandon, Co Cork, for a Scouts reunion dinner dance a week before his arrest.

And that Gemma Dwyer had given an interview to 'You and Your Money' magazine, telling how the couple had bought an old fireman's cottage in Rathmines and spent three years living in relative hardship while they renovated it.

All the details that emerged about him were almost disturbingly 'normal', even down to his very pedestrian hobby of flying model aeroplanes.

Elaine, on the other hand, was described as "troubled" and therefore by extension, "not normal".

It was only as the trial unfolded that the roles, into which they had been neatly boxed by onlookers, reversed.

Elaine's vulnerability became apparent and the picture became clearer of just how deviously Dwyer had managed to manipulate a woman who wanted nothing more than a 'normal' life.

Dwyer was happy to string her along - but always with an eye to satisfying his ultimate lust to kill.

The architect's manner in court throughout his trial was almost frighteningly cold and unemotional. He appeared to shut down when the brutal videos of sexual stabbings were shown to a shocked courtroom.

He had been fidgeting in an agitated manner as the videos were being set up but once they were playing, Dwyer's face formed a frozen mask of indifference, even as the haunting sounds of animalistic howls filled a traumatised courtroom.

The jury appeared rooted to the spot in horror as they watched Dwyer's knife rhythmically being inserted into vulnerable human flesh on the screens before them.

Some of the female jury members held a shaking hand convulsively to their mouths.

Curiously, just a day later, Dwyer displayed intense embarrassment when the 'story' he had written, entitled 'Killing Darci', was read aloud.

Cradling his head in his hands and scarcely looking up, he was bright red.

It seemed he was more comfortable with the depravity of his real-life actions than he was with the twisted fruits of his own imagination.

When his wife Gemma took the stand to give evidence, Dwyer eyed her with a curiously detached and almost academic interest, as though she was a medical specimen in a jar.

But we had only to glance at his wife to see the devastating impact this incident has had on the Dwyer family. Gemma was a mere shadow of her former self, having lost at least two stone in the interim since her husband's arrest.

She was pale and hunched and, in her navy dress, looked as though in mourning.

With scrupulous care, the mother-of-two had been ushered in a path to the witness box that brought her directly behind the seated figure of her husband.

This was a highly unusual move and meant that she completely avoided the gaze of Graham Dwyer at any point.

Throughout her hour-long testimony, not once did she look in the direction of the man with whom she had once shared a life, a home, two children - as well as a career.

Similarly, when Emer McShea and Sennan, her son with Dwyer from an earlier relationship, took the stand, Dwyer looked at them both in an aggressive and tauntingly friendly manner.

But they, too, declined to look at him.

His demeanour during the garda interviews again showed the swaggering arrogance from his text messages to Elaine.

As gardaí read how Dwyer had said he didn't want his picture printed in the tabloids in association with Elaine's death, the defendant practically laughed aloud, grinning as though to say: "And look at me now."

The only time we saw him with his guard down during the entire trial was, again during the reading of the garda interviews.

Dwyer shed precisely two tears at the mention of his house in Foxrock and of his children, after hearing how he had said his baby daughter was "lovely" and how he had a great relationship with his young son.

He showed some embarrassment at this lapse in his dominant 'master' status and wiped the tears away discreetly.

It was probably the most anyone could have expected from a self-confessed 'sadist' at the centre of the country's most high-profile murder.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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