Accused was 'very angry' over his ex's new lover Mr Moonlight, trail told

Accused Patrick Quirke outside the Central Criminal Court
Accused Patrick Quirke outside the Central Criminal Court

A man accused of murdering a DJ so that he could reignite his affair with the deceased’s girlfriend was “very angry with her” when he found out about her new relationship, a murder trial has heard.

Patrick Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan, a part-time DJ known as ‘Mr Moonlight’, between June 3, 2011, and April 2013.

His body was found in a run-off tank on the farm leased by the accused at Fawnagown, Tipperary, in April 2013.

The prosecution claims that Mr Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so that he could get back with Mr Ryan’s girlfriend Mary Lowry (52), with whom the accused had previously had an affair.

Yesterday, the jury at the Central Criminal Court heard from garda interviews given by the accused after Mr Ryan went missing and following the discovery of his remains.

Detective Garda Martin Steed told Michael Bowman SC, for the prosecution, that he interviewed Mr Quirke in June 2011 at the accused’s home.

Holiday

In that statement, the accused said he had a 10-year lease on Ms Lowry’s land at Fawnagowan and started grazing cattle there after her husband died.

Mr Quirke said he saw Ms Lowry on the morning Mr Ryan went missing, but did not stop to talk to her. He worked, he said, until noon and left for a holiday with his wife and family.

In November that year, Detective Garda Kieran Keane took another statement from Mr Quirke in which he said he wished to add to his previous statement that he began seeing Ms Lowry in early 2008 after her husband Martin died.

They were “off and on for a while”, he said, and they both knew there was no future in it.

The break-up, he said, was not amicable. She had met Mr Ryan a few months before and Mr Quirke said he was “very angry with her” when he found out.

On one occasion he said he saw texts from Mr Ryan on her phone and took it. He replied to Mr Ryan that Ms Lowry was with him now.

Mr Quirke further told gardai he wanted to remain friends with Ms Lowry but she wanted nothing to do with him.

He further described a meeting he had with Mr Ryan after Ms Lowry told the DJ about the earlier affair. They met at a hotel and talked for about an hour.

He told Mr Ryan that he was in a bad place and receiving counselling. He was friendly, Mr Quirke said, and sympathetic having had a relationship break-up himself.

On the day Mr Ryan disappeared, Mr Quirke said he was at the farm unusually early, at 8.45am, because he was going away with his family that day.

He said he did not think he ever saw Mr Ryan at Ms Lowry’s home, although he did see his van there on St Patrick’s Day.

He saw Ms Lowry that morning and waved to her across the yard.

He was gone by 9.15am and heard about Mr Ryan’s disappearance that evening.

He took part in searches for Mr Ryan when he returned from his holiday, he said.

In March 2013, Mr Quirke gave a cautioned voluntary statement to officers at Tipperary Garda Station after he was seen on CCTV footage around Ms Lowry’s home on December 3, 2012.

Det Gda Steed said the accused told gardai that he went into Rita Lowry’s home – Mary Lowry’s mother-in-law who lived in an adjoining property at Fawnagowan. He went inside, he said, to turn on the heating.

He also rang a doorbell and opened the postbox but he said he did not think there were any letters inside.

While in the shed area he noticed there was women’s underwear on the clothes line and looked at the label because, he said, he was “curious”.

He took the underwear off the line and then put it back.

Mr Quirke said he then tried a key that he had previously found in the yard in her front door and when he pushed the handle it opened.

He heard the beep of the alarm and “panicked, having realised what I had done was wrong”. He got in his 4×4 and drove away.

The following day he explained to Mary Lowry what had happened and gave her the key.

Giving evidence earlier, the first garda on the scene when Mr Ryan’s body was found said he noticed that Mr Quirke’s hands were “extremely clean” considering he had been working with slurry that morning.

Clean

Inspector Padraic Powell told David Humphries BL, for the prosecution, that when he arrived at the scene Mr Quirke and his wife were sitting on a wall. He said Mr Quirke brought him to the underground tank where he said he had found a body.

Insp Powell said he could not see anything from a standing position so he knelt down and could see what appeared to be the “outline of human remains”.

He added that Mr Quirke’s hands and clothes were clean and he was “very quiet”.

Under cross-examination by Lorcan Staines SC, for the defence, he accepted that he did not make a statement about what he saw that day, including the cleanliness of the accused’s hands, until more than two years later and he made no notes at the time.

Retired garda Tom Neville told Mr Bowman, for the prosecution, that the accused’s wife, Imelda, called him on his mobile phone on April 30, 2013.

He knew it was her because he had her number stored in his phone having previously got to know her through the local hurling club. She told him a body had been found in a tank at Mary Lowry’s land.

The witness told Ms Quirke not to touch anything and dispatched officers to the scene.

The trial continues.