17 Aug 2022

Tipperary Murder Trial: Patrick Quirke was on anti-depressants to help with sleep due to stress over Mary Lowry

Tipperary Murder Trial: Patrick Quirke was on anti-depressants to help with sleep due to stress over Mary Lowry

The late Bobby Ryan (left) and Patrick Quirke (right)

A doctor put Tipperary's Patrick Quirke on a course of anti-depressants to help him sleep after he complained of being stressed over his affair with Mary Lowry, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Tipperary general practitioner Dr Ivor Hanrahan said Mr Quirke, who is on trial for the alleged murder of Bobby 'Mr Moonlight' Ryan, was "upset and quite hurt" about Ms Lowry's relationship with Mr Ryan.

Mr Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, County Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of part-time DJ Bobby Ryan. 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 Fawnagown, Tipperary, 22 months later in April 2013. The prosecution claims that Mr Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with Ms Lowry (52).

Dr Hanrahan told prosecution counsel Michael Bowman SC that Mr Quirke came for a routine consultation in September 2010 and mentioned a number of work and financial "stressors" he was dealing with at the time and that he was having difficulty sleeping. The doctor suggested medication, but Mr Quirke wasn't keen on that idea so the doctor referred him to a counsellor.

Around mid-September, Dr Hanrahan received a phone call from the counsellor and as a result of what he heard he prescribed mirtazapine, an anti-depressant, to Mr Quirke. He said he primarily prescribed the drug to help Mr Quirke's sleep which was disturbed.

In late 2010 and January 2011, the doctor had a number of phone conversations with the accused and prescribed a number of other medications to help with sleep disturbance. He said Mr Quirke remained upset and distressed and had other issues which Mr Quirke didn't want to discuss. Dr Hanrahan suggested a face to face consultation, which took place on February 3, 2011.

They had a long consultation during which Mr Quirke told the doctor that he had been having an affair with Mary Lowry, his wife's sister-in-law, which was a source of stress and upset to him. Mr Quirke asked the doctor not to make a note of the conversation so the doctor wrote in his file only that they discussed a confidential matter.

By the time this conversation took place, he said Mr Quirke had stopped taking the medication as it didn't seem to have helped him. They discussed the impact of the affair on Mr Quirke's well-being. From what Mr Quirke told him, the doctor believed that the relationship had at that point come to an end because she had started a relationship with another man. He said his understanding was that Mr Quirke still had feelings for Ms Lowry and "was quite hurt and upset that she had become involved with somebody else."

The doctor further explained that he prescribed anti-depressants rather than sleeping tablets as people can become addicted to sleeping tablets. 

Under cross examination, he told defence counsel Bernard Condon SC that there are two kinds of depression, one brought on by a stressful life event and the other in the absence of a particular event. He said he felt in Mr Quirke's case he was suffering from adjustment disorder, which can be a consequence of a stressful life event. He said Mr Quirke may not have met the criteria for depression. The doctor agreed with Mr Condon that Mr Quirke may have thought he had been diagnosed with depression because of the medication he had been prescribed. However, the doctor repeated that he had prescribed the medication "mainly" to treat sleep disturbance.

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

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