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Farmer Patrick Quirke leaving court today LEAH FARRELL
Mr Moonlight

Jury asked to apply 'greatest skill' and 'skepticism' in case of murder accused Quirke

Farmer Patrick Quirke has pleaded not guilty to the murder of part-time DJ Bobby Ryan.

BOBBY RYAN’S DEATH was “callous, calculated, controlled murder” and the only verdict available is to find Patrick Quirke guilty of murder, lawyers for the State have told the Central Criminal Court.

Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan, a part-time DJ known as Mr Moonlight. Ryan went missing on 3 June 2011 after leaving his girlfriend Mary Lowry’s home at about 6.30am.

His body was found in an underground run-off tank on the farm owned by Lowry and leased by the accused at Fawnagown, Tipperary 22 months later in April 2013. The prosecution has claimed Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with Lowry (52).

The defence says the prosecution evidence in the case is thin and warned the jury of the dangers of accepting the evidence of Mary Lowry.

Finishing his closing to the jury of six men and six women, Michael Bowman for the prosecution said for a guilty verdict he must rule out any rational theory that would be consistent with Quirke’s innocence.

Ruling out suicide, he said Ryan met with a “violent and brutal death”.He ruled out accident saying accident does not have the “hallmarks of concealment of a criminal act”.

This body, he said, had been stripped naked for forensic reasons and his death was “callous, calculated, controlled murder”.

‘Planned and designed’

The prosecution can’t identify a specific weapon or time of death but, he said, it is clear that he died after leaving Lowry’s home at 6.30am on 3 June 2011. Ryan’s van was seen at Kilshane Woods at 8.30 that morning but according to his daughter the seat was in the wrong position and it was parked in gear so he was not the last person to drive it. His body was found 22 months later, “not 60 yards from where he got out of bed that morning.”

Taking the jury through the “strands” of evidence, he said each one would amount to nothing more than suspicion or something uncannily coincidental but it is the combined effect that is important.

The evidence, he said, clearly communicates motive. The recovery of the body, he added, is “anything but fortuitous but planned and designed.”

He asked what are the chances that it is coincidence that Patrick Quirke was in love with and financially dependent upon Mary Lowry and was experiencing financial pressure due to investments in Ireland and abroad.

He is demanding money from Lowry with increasing frequency and determination at a time when Lowry is telling him she wants to finish with him and remove herself as his emotional and financial support.

Is it coincidence, he asked, that he is the same man who sent texts to Bobby Ryan pretending to be Mary Lowry and later called Ryan to say he’s been seeing Lowry for three years, almost breaking up their relationship. The same man who then reports Mary Lowry for child neglect, his second attempt to compromise their relationship, counsel said.

He tells Lowry that she’s not welcome at a family function and despite evidence to the contrary tells gardaí that the Lowry family was “disgusted” with Mary’s new relationship with Bobby. The same man, Bowman said, who claims Mary Lowry wanted to forgive him a €20,000 debt while she says that is not true.

On the day Bobby Ryan went missing the artificial inseminator Breda O’Dwyer noted that he was unusually late milking his cows, the only time in 15 years she had seen him milking when she arrived at about 9.30.

On that date he was doing something else unusual, Bowman said, taking his wife for a weekend away for her birthday. When his love rival disappeared life fell back into routine for Quirke, counsel said. He went away with Lowry and wanted to take family holidays with her again.

He tells gardaí he accepts her relationship with Flor Cantillon, which began in March 2012, but according to Lowry he was making inappropriate inquiries as whether they had become intimate and told her it was too early to start a relationship. And then, Bowman said, there is the “coincidence” that an external hard drive in Quirke’s home has recordings of Mary Lowry and Flor Cantillon.

Mr Bowman asked: “Is it bad luck that this speaks contrary to what he suggests in interview to be the case?”

‘More bad luck’

In August 2012, following the tragic death of Quirke’s son, he “berated” Lowry, counsel said, for not supporting him and told her: “After all I’ve done for you.”

He further asked whether it was bad luck that Lowry’s passport went missing and that Quirke was blamed. He asked if it was bad luck that Quirke had at that time a key for her home.

Was it bad luck, he asked, that after being seen on CCTV at Lowry’s house on 3 December 2012 somebody in the Quirke household is on the internet at 3.36pm that afternoon looking for “human body decomposition timeline” and that his computer cache shows that a website relating to human decomposition was visited in July 2012.

He repeated the question in relation to Mr Quirke’s statement to gardaí when they asked about the internet searches and he said his son had died. Gardaí pointed out that the cached website was visited prior to his son’s death.

“Is all this just bad luck?” Bowman asked.

Counsel continued in the same manner, asking if it is coincidence that as the clock was ticking down to his lease terminating at Fawnagowan he decided to empty slurry from the slatted cow shed and decides to draw water from a tank he hasn’t looked into since 2008.

The tank, Bowman said, is like a “colander” and doesn’t hold water yet Quirke said he could see the water being sucked out before discovering the body. Quirke, he said, is one of only four people who know of the existence of that tank and he has had exclusive access to it since 2008.

In interviews Quirke revealed, Bowman said, that he knew the exact depth of the sludge in the bottom of the tank, one foot, and the approximate depth of the tank at five feet. This was something that could only be known, counsel said, by someone who had gotten into that tank.

He added: “Bobby Ryan was murdered by somebody possessed of information and knowledge possessed only by Patrick Quirke”. 

“Patrick Quirke is guilty of the murder of Bobby Ryan on 3 June 2011. There is no other rational hypothesis consistent with innocence. The evidence has been laid painstakingly before you over the last 13 weeks”.

“When you weave those strands together it is of sufficient strength to bear the burden and weight placed upon it. There is no room left to doubt and the only verdict available to you is one of guilty of murder”. 

‘Circumstantial evidence’

Defence counsel Bernard Condon SC told the jury that the prosecution evidence was thin and that Bowman had sought to do their job for them. He warned them of the dangers of accepting beyond reasonable doubt the evidence of Mary Lowry. He said the prosecution is based on theory and circumstantial evidence and there is no hard evidence.

Circumstantial evidence, he said, is not a shortcut that allows you to adopt a theory unless you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt.

He asked them to apply their “greatest skill: skepticism”. This trial is about peoples’ lives, he said, principally Quirke’s.

He said they must approach the trial coldly and dispassionately, like a scientist, and must start from the point that Quirke is innocent. Using the analogy of a train he said the prosecution would have to push the train to “the station of guilt”. It would be an uphill journey with many branch lines and many stations before that final one.

He said the evidence presented by the prosecution was “grasping”. There were hints, he said, of “give a dog a bad name and hope that will hooch you up the hill a bit.”

He said there some things that “grabbed” him, such as former Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid not being present when the body was removed from the tank.

But, he said, the prosecution had adopted the approach of “so what, nothing to be seen here, don’t worry about that.” He pointed out that photographs had been lost by gardaí, that a pathologist had described the pathology evidence as “sub-optimal”.

Gardaí had made fresh statements during the trial and fingerprints found in Bobby Ryan’s van were not tested until week ten of the trial. He said Bowman had told the jury  they could be clear on the time when Ryan died but that Condon said “nothing could be further from the truth”.

He said the trial is “forensically barren” on what happened to the “unfortunate Bobby Ryan. His last movements, interactions, events, we know nothing about.”

The pathologist, he reminded them, said there would have been a lot of blood but there’s no evidence of it and there’s no evidence of a clean-up.

He asked: “When were his clothes taken off, when, where, by whom? Throughout that area of the case, the centre of the case, you have nothing, absolutely nothing.”

He said many of the allegations made by Mary Lowry, “wouldn’t last five minutes in a court where that allegation was being made on its own.”

He said there was nothing to support her claim that Quirke was in her porch when she came home one afternoon or that he took her passport. She also alleged he assaulted her but there is “nothing to support that, nothing”, he said.

He told the jury to look at each of these things and ask, “am I satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt”.

He said the prosecutions attempts to establish motive are of no consequence as a motive is not evidence that a person has killed. It is a “step”, he said, to say the motive is a motive to murder.

‘A broken relationaship’

Turning again to Lowry’s evidence, he reminded the jury that she told them she wants to “solve this case”.

He said: “That’s a very dangerous witness, engaged in a process they should not be engaged in.” He said her evidence is “highly questionable” because it is given, “through the prism of trying to solve the case”. 

He said the jury should be careful of her evidence and suggested that she had, from the start, put a spin on her evidence by saying that her late husband was not great friends with Quirke. He said there was an element of “revisionism” in her evidence and that she doesn’t want to accept things that make her look bad. 

At the heart of much of what went on between her and Quirke, he said, is a broken relationshp.

He added: “Attached to that can be bitterness and anger and unhappiness and they get mushed up together and people who loved each other deeply can find themselves in the family law courts roaring abuse at each other.”

He said the jury was being asked to accept her “unreliable evidence” beyond a reasonable doubt. He said there was a “pettiness” to the arguments between her and the accused including rows over her moving a ladder and him leaving muck in her driveway. He reminded them that his client looked up defamation and contacted a defamation solicitor when Mary Lowry accused him of stealing her passport. 

He described their relationship as “dysfunctional”. They had an affair, he said, but, “this is not a court of morality”. He also pointed out that the case had received “enormous press coverage”, adding: “I don’t know why. I think there’s a prurience to it.”

Addressing Quirke being seen on CCTV taking underwear from Lowry’s line, he said none of us are “whiter than white” when we conduct ourselves in private.

He added: “It doesn’t look great but what does it really establish?” He cautioned the jury against establishing anything profound from it, adding: “They were in a sexual relationship and people have all sorts of sexual interests and so what, actually. There may be less to it than meets the eye as opposed to more to it than meets the eye.”

Condon will continue his closing speech to the jury on Monday in front of Justice Eileen Creedon.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing.

Eoin Reynolds & Alison O'Riordan