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Thursday 17 October 2019

Killer Quirke begins life term after being found guilty of 'Mr Moonlight' murder

 

Patrick Quirke
Patrick Quirke
Patrick Quirke left the body of Bobby Ryan (pictured) in a run-off tank after killing him

Murderer Patrick Quirke today spends his first full day behind bars after being handed down a mandatory life sentence for the murder of part-time DJ Bobby Ryan.

The farmer, now known by his prison number 107243, did not react as the guilty verdict was read out yesterday.

The verdict came at the end of the longest running murder trial in Irish criminal history.

Barristers for the prosecution and defence took five days to complete their closing speeches to the jury, which took 20 hours and 39 minutes to come to its decision, a verdict which came six years and one day after Mr Ryan's remains were recovered.

He was found guilty of the murder of Bobby Ryan by a 10-2 majority jury verdict at the Central Criminal Court.

Quirke, who was sentenced to the mandatory life imprisonment, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of 52-year-old Mr Ryan, a popular DJ and musician with the stage name 'Mr Moonlight'.

Mr Ryan disappeared after leaving his girlfriend Mary Lowry's home at about 6.30am on June 3, 2011.

Rekindle

His body was eventually found in an underground run-off tank on the farm owned by Ms Lowry and leased by Quirke at Fawnagown, Tipperary, 22 months later on April 30, 2013.

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

Justice Eileen Creedon thanked the jury, telling them they had shown "exceptional patience", and exempted them from further service for life.

From the outset, the prosecution said there was "no smoking gun" that would link Quirke to the murder, but Michael Bowman SC, for the prosecution, said that strands of circumstantial evidence would be woven together to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

During 13 weeks of evidence that were frequently interrupted by legal argument, the jury was told that Mary Lowry was married to Martin Lowry, the best man at Quirke's wedding.

Martin died in September 2007, leaving Mary widowed with three young boys.

Quirke soon started farming Martin's land at Fawnagowan and helped Ms Lowry with her finances and farm issues.

In 2008 he took a seven-year lease on what was now her land at a cost of €12,600 per year. It later emerged that a Single Farm Payment from the EU of €11,000 meant that the net cost of the lease to Quirke was €1,600 per year.

In early 2008, Quirke and Ms Lowry began a sexual relationship - one that Ms Lowry described to the jury as "seedy", "sordid" and something she regrets.

In August 2010, Ms Lowry met Bobby Ryan at a dance. They kept in touch and he even helped her to obtain tickets to the All-Ireland hurling final.

Ms Lowry described Bobby as a "breath of fresh air" in her life.

He was fun and funny, they shared a love of dancing and music, and he loved her three boys - who also loved him.

She was happy that she didn't have to hide the relationship and lie to her family.

When her late husband's family found out she was seeing someone, they were happy for her and wished her well.

On June 2, 2011, Bobby Ryan called at Ms Lowry's home some time after 9pm. He stayed the night and he left at about 6.30am.

But the alarm was raised when Mr Ryan failed to show up at Killough Quarry where he worked as a truck driver.

He was described by his employer, Niall Quinn, as a perfect employee and punctual.

When Mr Ryan's daughter Michelle found out he hadn't turned up for work she was immediately concerned.

Searched

A search focusing on the woods began and within a few days gardai searched the land and farm buildings at Fawnagowan, but found nothing.

Some 22 months later, Quirke's wife Imelda phoned Garda Tom Neville to say that her husband had discovered a body in a disused waste water tank on the land he was renting from Ms Lowry.

Quirke was interviewed under caution that day and told gardai he was intending to spread slurry from a cow shed and needed water to agitate the slurry.

He said he planned on drawing water from that tank as he knew it would be full after a leak from the mains had poured water into it some weeks earlier.

Part of the tank was covered by two movable slabs of concrete, each weighing about 160kg.

Over the rest of the tank was a larger piece of poured concrete which was not designed to be moved.

Quirke told gardai he used a shovel to prise one of the slabs away, just enough to allow him to place a pipe from his vacuum tanker. As the vacuum tanker sucked, he said he noticed something in the tank that looked like a carpet or inflatable doll.

He moved the second slab to get a better look and said he immediately knew it was a body - and guessed it was Bobby Ryan's.

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