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Tuesday 26 March 2019

'No panic' as slab broke apart over body of Mr Moonlight, court hears

Patrick Quirke has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Ryan
Patrick Quirke has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Ryan
Widow Mary Lowry
Bobby Ryan

A digger driver who pulled a concrete slab from the underground tank where DJ Bobby 'Mr Moonlight' Ryan's remains were found said there was no "pandemonium or panic" when parts of the slab broke away and fell into the tank.

Tony Chearnley, a retired garda, agreed the concrete breaking up was "not ideal".

"We don't live in an ideal world. It wasn't ideal, but that was the best I could do," he said.

Mr Chearnley told the trial of farmer Patrick Quirke (50) that he went to the scene where Mr Ryan's body had been discovered on the afternoon of April 30, 2013.

Crack

He used the digger to pull a large piece of concrete away from the tank to allow gardai to access the body.

While pulling away the concrete, he told defence counsel Lorcan Staines, the lid broke where there had been a pre-existing crack and a lot of "small pieces" fell into the tank.

He said he did not hear any loud noises and did not see any dust.

He said he did not discuss the issue with anyone there, and he told prosecution counsel Michael Bowman, under re- examination, that he did not see any "pandemonium or panic" among gardai at the scene.

Mr Quirke told a garda investigating the disappearance of Mr Ryan there were only two tanks on his farm.

Gda Conor Ryan told prosecution counsel he visited the farm at Fawnagowan where Mr Ryan had last been seen in June 2011.

He met Mr Quirke by arrangement and watched as the farmer used a vacuum tanker to empty two tanks on his land.

One was a tank that collects waste through a slatted floor in a cattle shed. It had no slurry in it, Gda Ryan said.

The other was an open tank which contained a "small quantity" of slurry.

When they found nothing of value to the search, Gda Ryan asked Mr Quirke if there were any other tanks on the farm.

He said the accused told him those were the only two tanks.

Under cross-examination, the witness told counsel for the defence he could have asked Mr Quirke if there were any other "slurry tanks".

Mr Quirke, of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Ryan on a date between June 3, 2011, and April 2013.

The prosecution claims Mr Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with Mary Lowry (52), the deceased's girlfriend.

Gda Ryan further told Mr Bowman he attended the scene on the day Mr Ryan's body was found.

When he arrived he saw a tractor attached to a vacuum tanker that had a pipe running from it into the tank.

He noticed the vacuum pump handle was in the neutral position which, he said, would indicate it was not sucking. When he looked into the tanker, he noticed there were no fresh markings inside.

Crusted

He then went to the cow shed with the slatted floor. Gda Ryan said he noticed that the slurry in this tank was "heavily crusted".

As Gda Ryan is from a farming background, he was asked to move the tanker from the area where Mr Ryan's body lay.

He did this and then emptied the contents on to the ground. He said about 100 litres of soiled water came out.

Under cross-examination, Gda Ryan told defence lawyer Bernard Condon he could not be sure, but he was "nearly certain" he emptied the tank under the direction of his super- intendent.

Mr Condon asked him if it struck him as odd that a senior garda would ask him to empty a tank at a crime scene.

He replied: "No judge."

The trial continues on Monday.

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