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Partner of man whose body was found in slurry pit was 'shaking and upset' on day he disappeared

The man’s son told a jury he felt “straight away something wasn’t right”.

Mary Lowry arriving the Central Criminal Court in Dublin last week.
Mary Lowry arriving the Central Criminal Court in Dublin last week.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Updated Feb 4th 2019, 4:58 PM

THE SON OF a man whose body was found in a disused waste-tank has said his father’s partner was “shaking” and “upset” on the morning of his disappearance.

Robert Ryan Jnr said he felt “straight away something wasn’t right” when he met Mary Lowry (52) in the yard of her farm that morning.

He added: “It appeared to me she just wanted me out of the yard as quick as she could get me out.”

Ryan was giving evidence in the trial of Patrick Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary who is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Quirke has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 52-year-old Bobby Ryan – a DJ known as Mr Moonlight – on a date between 3 June 2011 and April 2013.

Ryan went missing in June 2011 and his body was found in a run-off tank on a farm owned by Lowry and leased by the accused at Fawnagown, Tipperary in April 2013.

Ryan Jnr today told prosecuting counsel Michael Bowman SC that his father and mother split in about 2005 and he went to live with his father in Cashel.

His father had girlfriends but the relationship with Lowry seemed more serious than the others. His father enjoyed life and had a number of interests, including music and dancing and he often went dancing with Lowry. He knew that his father bought Lowry’s sons remote control cars for Christmas 2010.

He said that Lowry seemed “very jealous” and as a result, they could not tell her that his father was still friends with another named woman.

He also noted that his father’s phone would be “hopping” with texts and that he seemed “pretty pissed off” about it.

A week before the disappearance Ryan Jnr noticed that there had been a problem between Lowry and his father following a trip to Bundoran.

On the morning his father disappeared the witness said he became concerned when he found that his father had not come home that morning and was not at the quarry in Killough where he worked. He knew he had spent the night with Lowry and suspected that he was planning on skipping work and going to the beach as it was a beautiful day.

Ryan Jnr went to Lowry’s house and drove past some sheds to a gateway into the surrounding land.

While he was parked there he noticed Mary Lowry in his rearview mirror and drove over to her.

He agreed with defence counsel Lorcan Staines SC that he previously told gardaí: “She appeared shaking to me, as if after having a car accident.”

He rolled down his window and, he told Staines, Lowry “mumbled” that she didn’t know where his dad was and added: “We didn’t have a fight.”

He said he got a feeling “straight away something wasn’t right” and added: “I knew something wasn’t right about the way she was acting.” He thought she had been crying, was “visibly shaking and very upset”.

Leanne Hallissey, the previous witness’s partner, told Bowman that she was watching television with the deceased the night before he disappeared. He was receiving “an awful lot of texts” she said and at about 9pm he left for Mary Lowry’s saying: “I’d better go across and see what’s wrong with her.”

‘A brilliant father’

Michelle Ryan, daughter of the deceased and also a DJ going by the name Shelley Moonlight, described her dad as a “brilliant father and a great personality”.

She was very close to him and following his split from her mother she became concerned for his mental health.

For several months after the break-up, she would call him as often as every 20 minutes while he was at work to check up on him.

After about four months she felt she was able to ease off on him a little and after about nine months she felt she could say, “there’s daddy again”. He was, she said, “one of a kind” and although he was down following the break-up with her mother he never missed a day of work and kept putting on a smile and playing his music.

Detailing the day her father disappeared she said she became extremely concerned when he failed to show up for work and then didn’t answer his phone. This was out of character for him.

She said she started searching for him with her aunt, contacted gardaí and a local hospital.

She told her aunt she had a “terrible feeling” that they were going to find her father’s van in a woods. She couldn’t explain why she thought this, she said.

After contacting Lowry the witness told Bowman she met her in Tipperary Town, got into Lowry’s car and they drove towards Lowry’s home.

Along the way she remembers Lowry, who was upset, said: “I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry.”

As they drove the witness decided she wanted to go to Breansha Wood, also known as Kilshane Wood. She added: “I have no explanation as to why I thought of it.”

Ryan began crying at this point and left the witness stand for ten minutes.

When she returned she described arriving at the woods where Lowry pulled into the car park. They immediately saw her father’s Citroen van. The witness noticed that the van was unlocked with her father’s DJ equipment inside, it was parked in second or fourth gear and the seat was in an unfamiliar position. She told gardaí that her father would not have left the van like this and he was not the last person to drive it.

She spent the rest of that day and night searching the woods for her father.

The witness agreed with defence counsel Bernard Condon SC that her father often talked about Lowry from the time he started seeing her.

When her father asked Michelle for her opinion of Lowry she said she told him to “P45 her” or give her a “dismissal”.

She also thought that her father’s relationship with Lowry had finished on the Tuesday before he went missing following the trip to Bundoran.

Following her father’s disappearance, she said she put up missing person posters all around Tipperary and agreed that she was upset when Lowry attempted to remove one that had been erected in front of Lowry’s gateway.

The trial continues in front of Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of six men and six women.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing. 

About the author:

Eoin Reynolds

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