A murderer who stabbed a vulnerable childcare worker to death has won a legal action against the Irish State and the Garda Commissioner.
The High Court in Dublin found provisions in legislation allowing Graham Dwyer’s mobile phone data to be accessed contravened EU law.
The 45-year-old married father was given a life sentence in April 2015 for the murder of Elaine O’Hara.
The 36-year-old’s remains were found in the Dublin mountains in September 2013.
Mobile phone metadata was an important part of the prosecution case in Dwyer’s trial and the ruling could have implications for many other criminal cases and investigations.
Irish broadcaster RTÉ reports that this information accessed by gardaí (Irish police), from mobile phone service providers, allowed the prosecution to show the jury where Dwyer’s mobile phone was at certain crucial times and to show its communications with other phones.
Gardaí were able to get this information under 2011 legislation brought in following a European Directive.
The legislation obliged service providers to hold on to the data for two years.
However, the directive was declared invalid by the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014 as it interfered with rights, including the right to privacy, and this position was reinforced by a subsequent court ruling.
A date has not yet been set for Dwyer’s appeal against his murder conviction.
The judge said on Thursday that it did not automatically follow that the fact that the telephony data used by the prosecution was retained and accessed contrary to EU law, would lead to the quashing of the murder conviction.
During his trial, Dwyer admitted having an affair with his vulnerable victim, whom he met through a website.
She was last seen on 22 August 2012, the day of her murder and had been missing for more than a year before her remains were discovered.
The jury found that Dwyer stabbed Ms O’Hara to death on Kilakee Mountain in Rathfarnham on 22 August, 2012, the same day she left a psychiatric hospital.
He sent her a series of texts in the days leading up to the killing.
Dwyer told her she would be punished for trying to kill herself without him.
Her skeletal remains were found on Kilakee Mountain in Rathfarnham on 13 September 2013, the day of Dwyer’s birthday.
Three days after that, her keys and other items were found in Vartry Reservoir in Roundwood, which had dried up due to a heatwave.
Dwyer was arrested on 17 October 2013.