17 Aug 2022

Tipperary murder trial: Accused 'knew of disused tank where body was found'

Patrick Quirke

Patrick Quirke

A man accused of murdering his alleged love rival knew of the existence of the tank where the deceased's body was found two years after his disappearance, his trial has heard.

Jimmy Lowry said he grew up on the farm at Fawnagowan in Tipperary where 52-year-old Bobby Ryan's body was found in 2013. The witness told prosecuting counsel David Humphries BL the tank was built in the late 1970s to take waste from his father's milking parlour.

When Mr Humphries asked him who knew about the existence of the tank he said: "As far as I know myself, my brother Johnny, and Pat Quirke."

Patrick Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 52-year-old Bobby Ryan - a DJ known as Mr Moonlight - on a date between June 3, 2011 and April 2013.

He is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Mr Ryan went missing in June 2011 and 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 the deceased's girlfriend Mary Lowry (52) with whom the accused had previously had an alleged affair.

Mary Lowry's son Tommy (21) said that the accused started farming his father's land "more or less straight away" after his father died.

At first Mr Quirke wasn't around much but as time went on he came to the house "a lot more and made himself at home", he said and added that he didn't feel that Mr Quirke belonged inside his home.

He also remembered a family holiday with the accused and told Mr Humphries that he didn't like to spend time with Mr Quirke. He added: "I didn't like it one bit. That's just the way it was."

On one occasion he heard Mr Quirke asking his mother about a missing ladder. His mother replied by asking where her passport was and, the witness said, Mr Quirke responded by saying he had sold it.

He also remembered when Bobby Ryan first started dating his mother. He and his brothers got on well with Mr Ryan and they were all happy.

At first one of his brothers gave Mr Ryan a hard time, slagging him for being bald. He added: "He was young at the time and it was all a bit of fun and games."

Clare O'Grady told Mr Humphries that she saw a silver van parked on a laneway that leads to her home at Kilshane near the Fawnagowan farmyard on the morning that Mr Ryan went missing.

She said she thought it unusual as she leaves for work at 6.45am and lives on a quiet country lane. She had never before seen any vehicles there at that hour. 

The van was parked in a gateway but with the rear sticking out onto the road so she had to drive around it.

The trial has previously heard that the deceased drove a silver van which was found at a nearby woods the afternoon of the day he went missing.

Mary Ryan, the former wife of the deceased, told Mr Humphries that she split with Mr Ryan because they had grown apart.

They were, she said, more like friends than husband and wife, they had different interests and the split was amicable.

When she heard that he was seeing Mary Lowry she was happy for him and told him: "I hope everything goes well for you."
Johnny Lowry told Mr Humphries that when he found out his sister-in-law Mary Lowry, who was widowed by his brother Martin, was seeing a new man he was happy for her.

His sister Mary Carey said she was also happy that Ms Lowry was seeing someone and sent her a text to wish her well.  

Mary Glasheen told Mr Humphries that she dated Bobby Ryan in 2008.

They met at the Times Hotel and would go to dances there and at Pat Fox's in Cashel. They went out for three months and remained friends afterwards.

When Mr Ryan met Mary Lowry she was happy for them.

"They seemed happy," she said. She told defence counsel Bernard Condon SC she had been in touch with Mr Ryan the day before he disappeared and texted him at about 10 o'clock that night.

She didn't receive a reply and found this unusual.

Eileen Barlow was there the night Mary Lowry, her friend, met Bobby Ryan at the Times Hotel. She said they "really connected" and "seemed to be really buzzing".

Ms Barlow spoke to Mr Ryan that night because she wanted to make sure her friend was in safe hands as she had had a difficult time with her husband's illness and passing away.

Ms Barlow met them again at the Ballyglass Hotel on St Patrick's Day 2011 and got the impression they were happy and "joyous" together.

Niall Quinn, a sub-contractor at the quarry where Mr Ryan worked as a truck driver, described the deceased as punctual and a "perfect employee" who got on well with his colleagues and customers.

Before his disappearance he told Mr Humphries that Mr Ryan took the previous Friday off to travel to Bundoran. When he returned the following Monday, the witness felt Mr Ryan was in good form.

When he failed to show up for work on Friday June 3 Mr Quinn went to the deceased's house looking for him. He didn't find him and decided to take over Mr Ryan's truck driving duties for the day.

The trial continues in front of Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of six men and six women.

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