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Evidence against Quirke 'no more than suspicion', Mr Moonlight jury told

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Patrick Quirke denies murder charge

Patrick Quirke denies murder charge

Patrick Quirke denies murder charge

The evidence against Patrick Quirke amounts to no more than suspicion and is not enough to convince a jury that he killed Bobby Ryan, a defence barrister has told the love rival murder trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Bernard Condon SC also told the jury it had been given substandard evidence owing to failures in the garda investigation.

He asked the jurors to imagine themselves or a person they loved in Mr Quirke's position, having done what he could to assist gardai and then having had everything he said interpreted in the worst possible way and be accused based on what Mary Lowry said and "a couple of internet searches".

Mr Condon completed his eight-hour speech to the jury yesterday by asking it to acquit his client.

Curious

The jury will return next Tuesday to hear the judge's charge from Ms Justice Eileen Creedon before it begins its deliberations.

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' who went missing on June 3, 2011, after leaving his girlfriend Ms 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).

Mr Condon reminded the jury that his client told gardai he was a "curious and inquisitive" person. He suggested that much of what the prosecution sought to use against him could be explained by these traits.

"You might say he is a nosy parker," Mr Condon said, adding: "Nobody would like to be called nosy but we all have flaws and personality quirks, but that's not murder."

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Bobby Ryan

Bobby Ryan

Bobby Ryan

He asked the jury to look fairly and with nuance at the evidence that Mr Quirke's computer was used to search for information on DNA and "human body decomposition" while Mr Ryan was still a missing person.

You could not, he said, convict based on those searches.

"If they move you, they will move you to no more than suspicion," he said.

They were general searches, he said, with no specific detail relating to this case, carried out in circumstances where Mr Ryan was missing and Mr Quirke was following the disappearance in the news.

Counsel further reminded the jury of Mr Quirke's garda interviews in which he said that if he knew where Mr Ryan's body was and wanted to know what condition it was in all he had to do was open the tank and look.

He noted that, in an interview, Mr Quirke had referenced his deceased son when asked about the decomposition searches. Mr Condon said it might be "macabre" but people do the strangest things on their computers.

"You are invited to weigh the evidence but you are not entitled to start and jump all the way to the end," he said.

Searches

"You can't go straight to guilty on the basis of some searches on the internet over a couple of minutes."

He described the prosecution as requiring "enormous leaps" and said the height of the prosecution case was suspicion.

He told the jurors they do not know anything about what happened on June 3, 2011.

All the jury has, Mr Condon said, is "this little piece which does not achieve what the prosecution wants it to achieve, which is to convince you with certainty that this man - who has denied, denied, denied - actually killed Bobby Ryan".

Earlier, counsel criticised the garda investigation, telling the jury to approach the prosecution's claims with "great care and scepticism".

Mr Condon told the jury that gardai should have searched Ms Lowry's house at Fawnagowan.

They should also have videoed the removal of Mr Ryan's body from the tank in 2013. They had failed to tell a pathologist that a concrete lid covering the tank cracked, dropping debris onto the body, he said.

They should have used the garda sub aqua team to recover the body rather than the fire brigade.

They had failed, he said, to record the finding of a hair clip in the tank beside the body, something Mr Condon suggested the prosecution was trying to "airbrush" out of the case.

He said prosecution counsel Michael Bowman had "poo-pooed it".

When Inspector Patrick O'Callaghan was asked about the clip, counsel said he "jumped to" the suggestion that it could have belonged to the Lowry sisters who grew up on the farm.

Mr Condon said the "more obvious" person would be Mary Lowry, who lived on the farm for the previous 15 years.

Dr Khalid Jaber, the former deputy State pathologist, did not attend the scene where the body was found and retained only one maggot from the body to be analysed.

Counsel said it was "extraordinary" that gardai emptied onto the ground the contents of the vacuum tanker which Mr Quirke said he used to draw water from the tank before discovering the body.

Mr Condon asked the jury if it was satisfied that gardai at the scene had maintained evidence with such "robustness" that they would have no criticism and no sleepless nights.