17 Aug 2022

Tipperary murder trial: Handwriting expert gives evidence on note found in Quirke home

Handwriting expert gives evidence on note found in Quirke home

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

A garda documents and handwriting expert developed indentations made on a page found in Patrick Quirke's home and discovered somebody had written: "What the guards will know," and details relating to Bobby Ryan's disappearance.

Following on from yesterday's evidence when a garda detailed notes relating to the investigation written on an A4 page found in Mr Quirke's home, Detective Garda Jeremiah Moloney said he examined pages found during the search.

He explained that when a person is writing the pages below can develop indentations that may not be visible to the naked eye.

Using an Electrostatic Detection Device, known as an ESDA machine, he said it is possible to develop those indentations and make them visible.

When he carried out the procedure on the document he said he was able to confidently record on one side of the page that someone had written: "What the gardai will know." Two lines below that he found the words: "Murdered poss in house." Four lines below that was the word "location" and a question mark.

Further down the page he found "Mary \ walk \ kids to school?" and the word "yes" with a ring around it. 

On line 16 of the page he found the words: "dispose of clothes \ phone \ any other evidence." On line 25 it read: "Mary had to see him, be with him."

The document also noted: "Mary" followed by something illegible and then: "Needle in haystack."

The writing further stated: "Bobby stayed in yard, ie two mins \ ten mins."

On the other side of the page he found the words: "Agitate need water," "Get load of... following," "Tuesday" and a person's name towards the bottom of the page. 

The witness agreed with Lorcan Staines SC for the defence that the indentations he found could have come from multiple pages and that in some places there was so much cross writing that he couldn't make out what was written.

He further agreed that he can't say how many different notes made up either page.

Mr Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co 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 Mr Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with the deceased's girlfriend Mary Lowry (52).

The trial also heard from solicitor Aidan Leahy who acted for Ms Lowry in 2012 when she decided to terminate Mr Quirke's lease on her land.

Mr Leahy told Mr Bowman that on December 12 he sent a letter to Mr Quirke saying his client, Ms Lowry, had "concerns" and suggested that terminating the lease would be in the best interests of Ms Lowry, Mr Quirke and their families.

The letter also stated that Mr Quirke should be aware that the intruder alarm at Ms Lowry's home had gone off on a number of occasions and while Ms Lowry was not making any allegations, she did report an incident to the gardai.

He said it was also noted that Mr Quirke appeared to have interfered with Ms Lowry's letters, looked through her windows and interfered with items on her clothes line.

The letter asked Mr Quirke to refrain from entering Ms Lowry's property and restrict his activities at Fawnagowan to the farmland.

A reply was received from Mr Quirke in January 2013 in which he said there were many inaccuracies in the previous letter that he was not going to comment on or clarify "to your benefit" but added that he may at some later time.

He said his mother-in-law lives at the property in Fawnagowan and looks forward to his visits and he plans on visiting her has he had done for years.

He added that he would consider the termination if he were compensated for loss of earnings and for investments he had made on the land.

In March of 2013 a solicitor acting on Mr Quirke's behalf wrote to Mr Leahy stating that the relationship between Ms Lowry and Mr Quirke had deteriorated and that Mr Quirke "regrets this deeply".

The letter also stated that Mr Quirke would pay a further three months rent and due to his previous relationship with Ms Lowry was prepared to forego any compensation.

He was "extremely regretful" and anxious that their relationship should not deteriorate any further, the letter stated. He also wished to continue to visit his mother-in-law, who lives in a property adjoining Ms Lowry's farmhouse.

A subsequent letter from Mr Leahy suggested July 3 as the date for termination of the lease and stated that there was no difficulty with Mr Quirke visiting his mother-in-law as long as he confined his visits to that purpose only.

Contained within the letters was also a request that Mr Quirke clean out a cattle shed and tanks before leaving.

His solicitor replied that he was leaving the sheds in the same condition they were in when he took up the lease.

In September 2013 Mr Quirke's solicitor sent a letter denying that a payment was owing from him.

Following that there was an allegation from Mr Quirke's solicitor that Ms Lowry made "inflammatory" comments about him in front of his mother-in-law and requested that she not do this again.

The witness confirmed to Mr Bowman that Ms Lowry had given her permission to have the letters used as evidence in the trial.

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

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