THE GRAHAM DWYER TRIAL: How Former sex partner of O'Hara told how she showed him 'cutting marks that weren’t consensual'
Elaine O’Hara rarely turned heads. Single, body conscious and thirty something she struggled with her social skills and with her mental and physical health.
She worked part time at a newsagents to help pay the mortgage on the one bedroom apartment she called home. She was always broke and despite being 36 had yet to qualify as a Montessori teacher.
In her ordinary, everyday life Elaine wore oversized clothes to hide her figure and lacked the confidence for a relationship.
But when she went on-line, the shy retiring Elaine turned into a sexual Godess straight out of the pages of Forty Shades of Grey.
Her extraordinary murder trial which has shone a light on the dark underworld of alternative sex has heard how tragic and vulnerable Elaine entered into a world of humiliation and pain in order to find love.
Kidnapping, knife play, mummification and verbal humilation were some of the interests she listed on her ALT.com profile – an alternative sexual website – where she went looking for a partner.
Under the username ‘helpmelearn-36/F’ she invited suitors to call her ‘f*** meat’ and use her as a submissive slave. However, the court heard, she also she wanted someone loyal, trustworthy and caring.
Graham Dwyer, a married father from Foxrock in County Dublin, has denied the murder of Ms O’Hara whose skeletal remains were discovered in the Dublin mountains in 2013 – almost a year after she went missing without trace.
The prosecution claims that Dwyer, a 70k a year architect, murdered her by stabbing her to death for his own sexual gratification on August 22nd 2012 after a lengthy BDSM relationship.
Robert Cullen Jones was the first of seven men called by the prosecution this week to detail his online contact with Elaine O’Hara.
In a hushed courtroom he quietly described how he first made contact with Elaine under his own username ‘dublin_master.’
The ordinary looking professional said he had met Elaine in Dundrum Shopping Centre before heading back to her apartment in Stepaside for sex in 2011.
He told the court he had provided DNA swabs and surrendered his laptop to gardai to investigate following the discovery of Elaine’s skeletal remains.
He described how he had exchanged texts for number of weeks before meeting but the relationship “fizzled out”.
He described www.alt.com as being for people who like being submissive or dominant and those who like to “give control to someone else in a sexual way.” He explained terms familiar to the BDSM community like breath play (asphyxiation), knife play (cutting) and wax play which he said involved candles.
But he agreed with the defence that her interests were at the ‘more extreme’ end of the scale.
Mark Guerin told the murder trial that he met Elaine twice in person four or five years ago when she was living in Blackrock. His username on the site was ‘time2killindublin’ but he said that while his interests lay in wax play and ‘light kink’, she was more into restraints, bloodletting, degradation and humiliation.
He agreed that Elaine had a ‘very low opinion of herself’ and said she was not very affectionate.
“She talked about her previous partner and showed… cutting marks that weren’t consensual,” he said.
When she moved to Stepaside he visited her at her apartment and said she was in ‘very good form’ but while they had sexual relations it became clear that had different interests sexually.
Another website user Sean Byrne told the court he had “never met her before” but agreed that there was a ‘fair amount of Irish people who have an interest in these sites.”
Another witness Patrick McGuirk said he was not sure how his phone number came to be on Elaine O’Hara’s contact list and Swedish man Kurt Ronnkuist said he had never met her despite one message referring to him seeing her the next day.
Evidence was also heard about Elaine’s mental health and how she had come into the care of celebrated psychiatrist Professor Anthony Clare as a young teenage. He had treated her until she was 16 when he died suddenly but evidence was heard how he believed his patient had an ‘obsessional’ fantasy about being restrained or imprisoned from the age of 12.
Her condition would later be diagnosed as ‘borderline personality disorder’ along with depression and she was often admitted to hospital for lengthy stays.
Nurse Rosetta Callan from St Edmondsbury hospital told the court of a conversation she had with Elaine on the night before she was discharged which was the day she went missing.
She said Elaine had told her she was ‘pissed off’ about a man who was constantly calling to her apartment and who had a key.
The nurse told the court that Elaine had said the man was interested in bondage and lived nearby but told her she wouldn’t go to the Gardai about him as he had young children.
The court also heard that she confided in a friend at the hospital that she was in a sexual relationship with a man who cut her.
"She just wanted to be loved, she just wanted some attention," said Edna Lillis.