NewsCrime Desk

THE GRAHAM DWYER TRIAL: Family's shock as they found bondage gear in Elaine's apartment

Crime DeskBy Nicola Tallant
Elaine O'Hara
Elaine O'Hara

Her dream was to have her own place she could call home – a private space where she could lock her front door and shut out the world.

Since she moved out of her family home in Killiney, that had been Elaine O’Hara’s dream and when she signed for an apartment in the newly built Belarmine Plaza development in 2010 after successfully applying through the affordable housing scheme her family must have been thrilled for her.

Perched at the foot of the Dublin mountains in Stepaside the apartment was within easy driving distance of her dad Frank’s house, her jobs as a childcare worker and in a newsagent and from the course she was attending at St Nicholas Montessori School where she was eventually hoping to graduate.

There is little doubt that her family finally hoped that the purchase of the apartment and the responsibility of a mortgage would help her move on from her troubles and finally settle into some sort of independence.

Ironically, it was within the seclusion of Elaine’s own private space that some of her deepest and darkest secrets would be discovered and where, a murder jury have heard, she was preyed upon by a man with an insatiable blood lust.

In the hours after her disappearance it was to the apartment that her family went to seek clues to why she had gone missing.

First her family noticed strange items and later the Gardai but from evidence heard at the Central Criminal Court at the trial of Graham Dwyer who has denied her murder, it appears that none of them would make sense until her remains were discovered in the Dublin mountains more than a year later.

Sheila Hawkins told the court this week that she ‘recoiled’ when she came across oily latex in Ms O’Hara’s apartment while she and her partner, Frank O’Hara, were searching for a passport or something to help them find his daughter.

 “I recoiled because my hand felt this oily rubber substance. I saw what looked like black latex,” she told the court but added that she didn’t tell Elaine’s dad as he was so distressed.

Her brother John said he found the name of a website, www.fetlife.com in her apartment two days after she disappeared. He logged onto his phone and found it was a fetish lifestyle website. Over the following days he logged on, created a user name and found a profile he believed was his sisters. It was called Chained Brunette.

He also said he saw photos of knives in the apartment which seemed to be printouts from Active Hunting Ireland’s website. He agreed with Seán Guerin SC, prosecuting, that they included a Buck Special Knife 119 and a Buck Special 119 Cocobola. Their blade lengths were 15.2cm or six inches.

On his searches her father Frank found her handbag and her phone, a diary and an address book. He said he did notice a rope in the living room but didn’t think much of it.

But as the days wore on and there was no sign of the missing girl, the searches of the apartment became more official and more thorough.

And it was then that the true darkness of Elaine O’Hara was discovered in the privacy of her own space.

This week the jury heard about a document which had been printed out and which was in the apartment called The Gorean Lifestyle: A Woman’s Right as a Slave.

Garda James Codd said it was among items, including a black PVC body suit, an empty bottle lubricant and a rope, seized at the apartment on August 31, 2012. There were bloodstains on the mattress which later would be tested and an exact match for Graham Dwyer’s DNA found in semen stains.

But it was on the peculiar sci-fi document that the prosecution case concentrated.  “What is your name and identity?” it began. “If you’re a woman practicing a Gorean lifestyle, you don’t have one. Your identity is kajira, a slave, and you serve a master, who orders you to do whatever he pleases. You have no rights and never address yourself as “I” or “me” – instead, you address yourself as “master’s slave”. Refusal to do this results in punishment, usually a whipping.”

 The document, the court heard, explained that the Gorean philosophy originated in 1967 with the release of John Norman’s book, ‘Tarnsman of Gor’.

 “Gorean philosophy believes that men have a natural drive to dominate women; women have a strong desire to submit to men and give up their rights. Women are either free or enslaved, but free women can be enslaved at any time,” it explained.

 “Slaves aren’t seen as people. They are, according to Gorean followers, human animals. Masters make decisions for them. They lose rights to their name. Their master chooses their name, although slaves are not allowed to refer to themselves by name,” it said.

 It continued that a slave’s only goal in life was to bring pleasure and comfort to its master.

“There are different types of women slaves,” it continued. “Some slaves purely serve as sexual objects, while others are masterful at cooking. Slaves do not question anything. They do as they are told. Refusal to do anything results in discipline. Slaves must strive for perfection.”

“Not only must slaves do their work well, but it must be done in a feminine, graceful way that expresses their sexuality. Gorean women retain the right to refuse slavery,” continued the document.

“If a master wants to enslave a woman and she refuses, however, she may be killed,” it added.

The document then explained the various types of Gorean slaves, dividing them first into women who had lost their virginity and those who had not. After that, they were divided into further categories including, among others: Passion Slaves, who were trained and used for sexual services only, and Feast Slaves, who served food.

The document also detailed how the Gor books were banned in the 1980s and that Norman stopped the series in the 1990s. However, it returned when Gor was recognised in the BDSM community, where the Gorean lifestyle started. It also documented a case study of one slave, under the heading, Gor Ruined One Woman’s Life.

Under the heading, Why Do Women Choose Gor? the author suggested, among other theories, that some Gor masters manipulate women to join them. However, it concluded that most slaves were willing.

 

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