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Accused said 'my son just died' over search for 'body decay'

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Patrick Quirke and his wife Imelda outside court, where he has pleaded not guilty to murder. Photo: Collins Courts

Patrick Quirke and his wife Imelda outside court, where he has pleaded not guilty to murder. Photo: Collins Courts

Patrick Quirke and his wife Imelda outside court, where he has pleaded not guilty to murder. Photo: Collins Courts

When gardai asked murder accused Patrick Quirke why he had searched the internet for "body decomposition timeline" he told them his son had died, and added "That's all I'm saying", a court has heard.

Gardai also put it to Mr Quirke that he had carried out similar internet searches before his son's tragic death in August 2012 but he denied that this blew his explanation "out of the water".

On the final day of prosecution evidence, it also emerged that gardai sent the sub-aqua unit to Ardmore in Co Waterford after a water diviner told them they would find Bobby Ryan's body there.

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Mr Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Ryan, a part-time DJ known as 'Mr Moonlight'.

Mr Ryan went missing on June 3, 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 Ms Lowry and leased by the accused at Fawnagowan, Tipperary, 22 months later in April 2013.

The prosecution has claimed Mr Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with Ms Lowry (52).

Garda Kieran Keane told Lorcan Staines SC, for the defence, that gardai sent the sub-aqua unit to Ardmore, Co Waterford, after a water diviner said the body would be found there.

He said that his understanding is that the diviner uses "psychic powers" using two rods over a map.

He told prosecution counsel, David Humphries BL, that he does not believe gardai went looking for the diviner but that they came into possession of the information.

Detective Inspector Seamus Maher yesterday told prosecution counsel Michael Bowman SC that gardai arrested Mr Quirke on suspicion of Mr Ryan's murder on June 19, 2014, and interviewed him the following day at Tipperary Garda Station.

Det Insp Maher agreed with counsel that, during those interviews, gardai asked Mr Quirke about a computer hard drive labelled as KKPQ1 which was seized from Mr Quirke's home in May 2013 and which gardai said they had identified as belonging to the accused.

A computer expert, they told him, had identified searches relating to the limitations of DNA evidence carried out some time before September 2012 and other searches relating to human decomposition on December 3, 2012.

There was also evidence, they told him, that someone had visited sites containing information about DNA and decomposition.

Gardai asked him if he could eliminate his wife and children as the people who carried out those searches. He said that he did not know what they meant.

They asked if there was any explanation for those searches and he replied: "My son had recently died. That's all I'm saying."

Gardai sympathised with him, telling him they could not imagine what that was like. He responded that the officers "don't believe a word I say".

His interviewers asked him why he looked at an article on the "limitations of DNA evidence" but he said he could not remember.

Gardai then put it to him that he was searching over a prolonged period on a number of occasions for terms relating to decomposition because he knew where Mr Ryan's body was and was trying to establish what condition it would be in.

He responded: "Why would I need to do that?"

He said that if he knew where Mr Ryan was, all he would have had to do is open the lid of the tank and look in.

Gardai suggested that someone might see him and ask questions but he said that did not make sense and, given the remote location, he could have checked it when no one was around.

"You wouldn't do it on a Saturday morning," he added.

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He told gardai they were not taking on board anything he was saying, and added: "What I say does stand up and make sense and you say, 'no, no, no, it wasn't like that Pat'."

He further described as a "load of crap" the theory that he alerted gardai to the body because he wanted to be "in control" and did not want it to be found by someone else after his lease on the land came to an end two months later.

He asked them why he would bring this "nightmare" on himself, his relationship with Ms Lowry coming out into the open.

He said repeatedly that the garda theory did not make sense and denied that the discovery was staged. If he wanted to, he said, he could have remained on the land for another two years and the decision to leave was his own.

Gardai later returned to the internet searches and confirmed that Mr Quirke's son Alan died on August 4, 2012.

Gardai said they had reviewed the evidence and found a search for "body decomposition" on July 25, 2012. They said this "blows out of the water" his explanation.

Mr Quirke said his explanation would not account for every search. He said the previous search did not "blow out of the water" his explanation for the searches.

The interview turned to the subject of the accused's affair and break-up with Ms Lowry.

Mr Quirke said he has "no real resentment of Mary" and added that he is not the one "going around saying what I think of her".

He said the best reaction was to say nothing, and added: "I'm constantly trying to defend myself."

He said he felt pressure, and added: "Why on Earth would I have discovered that body? Why on Earth would I have brought that on myself?"

He asked gardai why he would murder a man and then show people where the body was, particularly in April, one of the busiest farming months.

"Why not do it in January if this was thought out?" he said.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon told the jury of six men and six women that they will not be required again until Thursday.