Frank O'Hara describes Graham Dwyer's mind as ‘diseased and depraved’ in victim impact statement
Elaine O’Hara’s father, Frank O’Hara, did not enter the witness box to deliver his two-page victim impact statement in which he described the murderer’s mind as ‘diseased and depraved’.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt said he fully understood his not wanting to deliver the statement himself, considering that the credibility of his evidence in the witness box had been questioned by the accused in the defence’s closing speech.
Instead, the statement was read by prosecution barrister Seán Guerin SC, who read:
“We know that we are not the only victims of this crime. We recognise that other families are suffering too and we feel for every other person affected.
“Words cannot adequately describe what we are feeling and we would never want any other family to go through what we have endured over the past two and a half years.
“We have 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 continued.
He wrote that his daughter was a very intelligent girl, who never fully realised her potential due to her psychological difficulties. He said she had been prescribed a lot of medication and that this had impacted on her ability to be a regular teenager, particularly socially.
“She was emotionally immature and very trusting of anyone who showed her kindness,” he said.
“In later years her medication was reduced, hospital stays became less common and she functioned more effectively. However, she had missed out on those important, formative teenage years,” he added.
He spoke of her ‘strong worth ethic’ and the fact that she loved working with children, to whom she could relate better than to adults.
“She was always there to help and assist others, giving lifts, covering shifts at work or collecting many of the items for the Christmas Fair at school,” he said.
“Elaine adored her niece who was also her Goddaughter and loved reading, painting and playing with her. For months after she went missing, her Goddaughter would point out cars that were like Elaine’s saying: ‘There’s Elaine’s car’,” he explained.
“We smiled and nodded; how can you explain something to a young child that we couldn’t understand ourselves?”
He explained that, since his daughter died she had two more nieces, who would never know their aunt.
He also mentioned his daughter’s ambition was to be a teacher, the court having already heard that she was studying Montessori.
“In 2014, we collected a BA in Montessori Education, which was awarded to her in St Nicholas Montessori School. She would have been so happy and proud to stand up in her gown and hat 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 noted.
He said the family was devastated when Ms O’Hara went missing in August 2012.
“At that time she appeared to us to be progressing well in life. She had a new apartment, was studying and working in two jobs,” he recalled.
“She had a setback in July 2012, and was voluntarily admitted to hospital. However, on weekend release, she was in very good form and was looking forward to the future.”
He said that her ‘assumed suicide’ in August 2012 was a surprise to all the family.
“But lack of evidence pointing to any other cause for her disappearance meant we reluctantly needed to accept that she had most likely taken her own life around Shanganagh,” he said.
“We spent many hours walking the shore from Blackrock to Bray searching for any sign of her. A year after her disappearance we laid flowers in the sea at Shanganagh in her memory and in an effort to find some closure for us as a family,” continued the statement.
“Our attempt at closure was premature as, when in September 2013 Elaine’s remains were discovered, the Garda investigation changed from that of a missing person to murder.”
He said that this led to further anguish for the family, who now faced the imaginable horror of Ms O’Hara having been murdered. He said that the trial had been an incredibly difficult experience.
“It was distressing to see Elaine’s private life laid bare before the nation, despite the fact that she was the victim,” he said, adding that some of the reporting in the print media had been insulting to her and deeply upsetting for the family.
“At times, Elaine’s life was relegated to a lurid headline in a newspaper,” he said.
“It was heartbreaking for us to listen to the texts Elaine received from a depraved and diseased mind. The manipulation of her vulnerability was apparent, and when she tried to resist, she was reined back in,” he continued.
“We can hear her voice in those texts, just wanting to be loved.”
He added that hearing the contents of the videos would haunt the family forever.
He said that the family members were upset that the credibility of their evidence was questioned, as throughout the two and a half years all they had wanted was truth and justice for Elaine.
“We will probably never know what happened in Killakee on Wednesday the 22nd of August 2012, but there are questions that trouble us,” he said.
“When did Elaine realise it was not a game anymore? When did she realise that the intention was to kill her for real? Did she try to run? Was she retrained? Did she suffer much? Could she and did she cry out? Was she left on the mountain to die alone?” he asked.
“This is OUR life sentence,” he concluded. “For us there is no parole.”