NewsCrime Desk

The psycho killer next door

Graham Dwyer's Family Home in Bandon
Graham Dwyer's Family Home in Bandon

THE childhood homes of two men at the centre of two of the country’s most-high profile murder cases lie opposite each other in a quiet, country council estate.

The freshly-painted, blue-and-cream house with the bright-blue picket fence where Graham Dwyer grew up stands out as the most immaculate on the row of brightly-coloured terraced houses.

The estate at the end of a country lane on the outskirts of the quiet country town of Bandon, Co. Cork, is grappling to come to terms with the shocking details of the Dwyer trial.

Graham Dwyer

However, it’s not the first time the tightly-knit neighbourhood has experienced the raw emotion of a murder trial. 

Back in November 2011, the Dwyer family’s young neighbour Jonathan Duke was brutally killed by swastika-tattooed woman Catherine O’Connor and her boyfriend in a chilling ‘House of Horrors’ double murder.

Catherine O’Connor

Tragically, the childhood homes in the Deerpark Estate of the two Bandon men at the centre of two of the country’s most high-profile murder cases in recent years lie just yards apart in the quiet estate

Neighbours in the street have nothing but praise for the devastated parents of Graham Dwyer, painter Sean Dwyer and his wife Susan.

“Susan and Sean are the nicest people you would ever meet,” said one of their closest neighbours.

“Graham Dwyer has been gone out of this place for 20 years or more,” said another neighbour.

“To tell you the truth, we were all shocked around here. You don’t expect those things to come to your door

“We would have seen him coming and going when he came down now and again from Dublin.

“Sean is a painter and has painted houses on the road. The parents are very nice. I feel very sorry for them. It’s very hard on them.”

On the other side of town, behind the walls of the picturesque old building of the all-boys Hamilton Secondary School, Graham Dwyer was known as a popular, academic student.

Our reporter outside Dwyer's school 

“I remember he always wore turtlenecks and polo necks. He was a stylish fella, always looked the part,” said one school friend.

“He was the same as everybody else. It was a shock. He was so normal.   

“He was involved in the scouts and he studied a lot and ended up doing very well in school. He had a gang of friends. There was just nothing out of the ordinary with him.

“If you were asked to pick someone out of the class you would expect to be arrested for murder, he is the last person you would think of.”

A family friend said the family had moved out of Bandon up to Dublin to support Dwyer during the trial.

“I know the mother and the father and his grandmother. His father is a very quiet man,” said the friend.

“Susan is a lady. She went to college there a while ago and did really well in her exams. Susan hasn’t been seen around the town since it happened.  His parents have been off in Dublin for the trial. You would just have to feel sorry for the family.

“I was very shocked because the parents are so lovely. You just think a man with a good job and a lovely wife, what was he thinking? 

“Everyone in Bandon is stunned. They are just a normal family.”

The country estate where Graham Dwyer grew up has already had tragic experience of one of the most shocking murder cases in decades in recent years.

Jonathan Duke, who was murdered in 2011, grew up in a red-painted house just 10 yards away and directly across the road from the Dwyer house.

The body of Mr Duke was found with more than 100 separate injuries after he was beaten and stabbed before being dumped in a river in the chilling House of Horrors murder in the town.

Catherine O’Connor (37), of Bridge House, Bandon, and her 39-year-old partner Ciprian Grozavu were jailed for life for his murder in July 2013.

During the trial, the court was told how Catherine O’Connor – who sported a swastika tattoo on her face – laughed “like a hyena” after she had dumped his body in the Bandon River.

Ciprian Grozavu

The pair were convicted of murdering happy-go-lucky Englishman John Forrester 24 hours earlier after a row following his declaration of love for his ex-girlfriend Catherine O’Connor.

John Forrester

Their trial heard how Jonathan Duke was subsequently murdered when he stumbled into the bloody scene at Bridge House in Bandon, where the couple and Forrester lived.

The battered body of the 27-year-old father-of-one, who grew up in the Deerpark Estate, was found tied with a flex and dumped in the river.

But after the trial of Graham Dwyer, even that horrific crime isn’t enough to make her the most notorious former resident of this picturesque town nestled in the West Cork countryside.