Unrepentant Graham Dwyer gets life for depraved murder
A successful architect convicted of the "chilling" murder of a childcare worker has been sentenced to life in prison after the judge heard harrowing details of how her family had suffered.
Dubliner Graham Dwyer (42) has shown no remorse for his crime and richly deserved the sentence, trial judge Tony Hunt said.
The killer carried out what was described as the chilling and premeditated murder of mentally ill childcare worker Elaine O'Hara (36) in the Dublin mountains on August 22, 2012, he said.
Dwyer had preyed on her to satisfy his "perverse and debauched desires", Dublin's Central Criminal Court was told during the sentencing.
"We may be thankful a dangerous man is now out of the way," the judge said. "So that's it. Life it is."
In a heart-rending victim impact statement read out to a packed courtroom by a State prosecutor, Ms O'Hara's father Frank said his family has lost a daughter, a sister and a friend in the "most brutal, traumatic and horrifying manner."
"We also have many unanswered questions which we will have to carry with us for the rest of our lives," he said.
His daughter was a very intelligent girl who never realised her potential, was emotionally immature and trusted anyone who showed her kindness, the court heard.
"Since she left us, Elaine has two more nieces, but they will never know their aunt," he said.
Mr O'Hara said his family had last year collected an education degree posthumously awarded to his daughter, who had been studying part-time while working in a newsagents.
"She would have been so happy and proud to accept that degree herself after overcoming many obstacles to finally get the qualification she longed for, but unfortunately this was not to be," he said.
The trial had been incredibly difficult for his family and many questions about Ms O'Hara's murder would continue to haunt them, he added. "Did she suffer much? Could she and did she cry out?
"Was she left on the mountain to die alone?" he asked.
Mr O'Hara said: "This is our life sentence. For us there is no parole."
Judge Hunt said these were natural and obvious questions, but there is little hope of the only person who knows - Dwyer, who had "manifestly lied" during the case - giving them the answers they so craved.
The victim's family had been subjected to a "nightmarish scenario" of Ms O'Hara's most intimate details being pored over in public at the behest of Dwyer, who had denied the murder during the 10-week trial, the judge said.
But they gave their evidence in a dignified manner without trying to gloss over Ms O'Hara's health problems, he said.
Judge Hunt said she had difficulties and illnesses but there was much more to Ms O'Hara than that - she was well loved, well cared for, a hard worker, loved children and coped with her situation in a remarkably strong way.
The killer had no regard for Ms O'Hara as a human being, beyond the satisfaction of his "perverse and debauched desires", the court was told.
Turning to Dwyer's family, he said they were blameless.
His father Sean, who had been at the trial throughout, was in court for the sentencing.
Dwyer's wife Gemma, who gave evidence during the trial, "was most cruelly deceived" and had been left in "a most pitiful condition" by him, the judge added.
Dwyer, dressed in a navy suit, white shirt and blue tie, took a deep breath as he was led away to begin his life sentence.