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Tipperary murder trial: Accused denies demanding money from Mary Lowry or taking advantage of a vulnerable widow

Eoin Reynolds

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Eoin Reynolds

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news@tipperarylive.ie

Accused denies demanding money from Mary Lowry or taking advantage of a vulnerable widow

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

Murder accused Patrick Quirke denied to gardai that he was trying to "take Mary Lowry to the cleaners" by demanding €20,000 from her or that he took advantage when she was vulnerable following her husband's death, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Mr Quirke detailed financial involvements with Ms Lowry amounting to tens of thousands of euro and spoke about the affair they carried on from January 2008 until early 2010.

He said he was angry when he discovered she had started a relationship with Bobby Ryan but denied being jealous.

He also talked of how he loved his wife but was "in love with" Mary Lowry who gave him "companionship, intimacy, trust and honesty".

It also emerged that when EU farm subsidies were taken into account Mr Quirke was paying e1,600 to rent Mary Lowry's farm at Fawnagowan. 

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 Ms Lowry (52).

Detective Garda David Buckley told prosecution counsel Michael Bowman SC that he arrested Patrick Quirke on January 20 2014 on suspicion of harassment of Ms Lowry. Gardai questioned him at Tipperary Garda Station.

Mr Quirke told gardai that Ms Lowry gave him €80,000 to invest in Contracts for Difference (CFDs) and they agreed that they would split any profits equally.

They made €40,000 each over a period of about 18 months, he said.

Gardai suggested to him that this was a "win win" situation for him as he was investing someone else's money. He said he managed the investment.

Gardai suggested this was an example of Mr Quirke having control over a "vulnerable woman". He replied: "I don't accept that."

He said that he did not take advantage and worked hard on the investment, asking gardai: "Would you go without pay for a year and a half?"

He further told gardai that he received a Single Farm Payment of €8,000 per year from the EU for the land he leased off Mary Lowry.

He said this would be normal and that those payments are not necessarily for the owner of the land but for the farmer. He paid €12,600 every year to Mary Lowry for rent of the land.

In later interviews he agreed that he received €11,000 from the Single Farm Payment and that this meant he was getting the farm for a net cost of €1,600.

He said this was "beneficial to me".

When gardai suggested this was futher evidence that he "used Mary Lowry in every way" he replied: "The game was a two-way street."

Gardai asked him about a provision in Ms Lowry's will for €100,000 to be left to Mr Quirke. He said he discussed this with her, telling her that if something happened to her she would have to consider what would happen to her children. He said whoever was to look after them would need the money to buy a bigger car and to add an extension to their home. He denied that this was a benefit to him.

At one point he needed to repay a bank loan and told Ms Lowry that he would have to sell shares at a loss to make the payment. He said Ms Lowry gave him €20,000 and told him she didn't need it back until her children started going to college.

They did not have an agreement on interest to be paid, he said.

Gardai suggested to him that he had demanded this money. He replied that he didn't demand it and said if was able to get €20,000 by demanding it he would have asked for €200,000.

He denied that he was trying to "take Mary Lowry to the cleaners". Gardai put it to him that he pressured Mary Lowry into giving him a cheque for €50,000.

He said that was a "downright lie" and challenged them to prove it. A cheque, he said, would leave a paper trail and they would find no evidence of a payment to him of €50,000 from Mary Lowry.

Detective Garda Martin Steed told Mr Bowman that he questioned the accused later that day. Mr Quirke told him that he owned 120 cows and 50 acres of land. He rented or leased another 110 acres.

He also invested in the stock market.

They talked about the death of Martin Lowry and how it had left three young boys without a father. Mr Quirke said he was close to Martin, who was best man at his wedding. He was personally affected, he said, as was his wife Imelda, Martin's sister.

Following Martin's death Mr Quirke took some of Martin's cows into his own herd. He said he paid Mary Lowry for these when he sold them. In October 2010 he discovered that his herd had been infected with bovine venereal diarrhoea (BVD) which had come from Martin's herd.

He estimated that he had by then lost 12 cows to the disease. He said he told Ms Lowry about this and she asked if she should compensate him. He told her she should and that Martin, her husband, would have. He didn't want to give her a figure because that could be seen as a form of intimidation but she suggested that he keep the e20,000 she had loaned him. He was satisfied, he said.

Gardai said to him that Mary Lowry said she was harassed and pressured to make a payment for the cattle. 

He denied that he was "putting the boot in to Mary Lowry", saying that if he sold an animal and the owner came back to him with such a problem he would try to put it right.

"That's good will," he said.

He was then asked about the start of his relationship with Ms Lowry in 2008. He said they became attracted to one another although he was still happy with his marriage. When asked why he started an affair he replied: "It's a good question that I have asked myself."

He said he was in love with Ms Lowry and she told him she loved him. He was happy with his wife and remained intimate with her at that time.

He said he "bitterly regretted" what he had done but added that with Mary Lowry he found "companionship, intimacy, trust and honesty."

He disagreed with gardai when they suggested Ms Lowry was vulnerable, having been left alone with three young children. "I believe she knew what she was doing," he said. 

The accused replied "yes" when asked: "You loved Imelda but were in love with Mary?" Life was "normal" for a time, he said, but then in December 2010, he said: "I found out she was seeing Bobby Ryan and had deceived me."

He had a suspicion, he said, that she was not being honest so when they were lying in her bed he took her phone from under her pillow.

He saw "lots of texts" with Mr Ryan.

He accepted he had no "authority" to take the phone and that this might have been an invasion of privacy but he said he was angry at being deceived. She objected but he did not give the phone back.

He used her phone to send a text to Bobby Ryan saying Ms Lowry wasn't being honest and was in a relationship with him, Patrick Quirke, for the past two years.

Bobby Ryan called back and Mr Quirke answered, telling him: "I'm the other man. I'm sorry you had to find out this way."

He left with her phone, angry and "in a rage".

She had to plead with him to get the phone back. Gardai suggested his behaviour had the hallmarks of jealousy.

He replied: "It was anger, the jealousy came later."

At that time he thought their relationship could survive the argument but it broke them up. He agreed that he was sad and depressed and that the break-up was a blow to him.

He denied ever telling Mary Lowry that he was considering self harm or had suicidal tendencies, saying that was a misunderstanding on her part.

He said he met Bobby Ryan on a couple of occasions and denied telling Mary Lowry that he didn't like Mr Ryan or that he "smells".

When gardai asked if he was jealous he said: "I wouldn't say I was ever jealous. Angry, sad, but not jealous."

He confirmed that he contacted Tusla, the child and family agency, about Mary Lowry. He feared for her three boys, he said, after an incident when Ms Lowry left them alone and when one of them woke up he was distraught to find his mother wasn't there.

He said he knew of this because Rita Lowry, the boy's paternal grandmother, told him. He believed Mary Lowry was "partying and neglecting her children."

When Ms Lowry asked him about it he denied reporting her to Tusla. He told gardai he was "afraid of what she would say or do to me."

He denied that he was afraid she would expose the affair, telling gardai he was afraid of how angry she would be. He added: "I wanted to avoid her anger."

Mr Quirke spoke about an 18th birthday party for a member of the Lowry family. He said Mary initially indicated she would not be there and, he said, the Lowry's were happy about that because she wasn't getting on with her husband's family at that time.

In the end she did come to the party with Bobby. Mr Quirke said he couldn't remember telling her that she shouldn't be there but he said the Lowry family were "disgusted".

The interview moved on to after Bobby Ryan's disappearance.

Mr Quirke said he again became intimate with Ms Lowry at this time but they weren't as close as before.

He said his love for Ms Lowry was "rekindled" and following a weekend at Fitzpatrick's Hotel in Killiney in south Dublin he said he hoped there would be more happy times like that. But he said they never got back to what they had before.

There was doubt on his part having seen a "different side" of Mary Lowry.

He had a "trust issue" and thought she might have a "guilt issue". They drifted apart, he said, and in March 2012 she met a man named Florence.

The relationship between Pat Quirke and Ms Lowry ended "abruptly", he said, when she told him she had spent the weekend with Florence.

He told gardai that a "leopard doesn't change its spots" but he was annoyed at being made a fool of twice. But he texted her, he said, wishing her the best.

About two weeks later he told Imelda about the affair and around that time Mary Lowry sent Imelda a card saying "sorry". He said Imelda was "furious" and tore up the card.

Det Gda Buckley told David Humphries BL for the prosecution that in his third interview Mr Quirke denied meeting Mary Lowry in her porch and said Mary Lowry was "out to get him" for the past three years.

Mr Quirke's son Alan died tragically in August 2012 and following the funeral Mr Quirke said he told Mary Lowry he was unhappy with how she conducted herself at the funeral and with her lack of support.

They had a "heated exchange", he said. He agreed that he could have said to her: "Not a text or a phone call from you and all I did for you."

He denied stealing her passport to prevent her from going on a family holiday in September 2012 and denied ever entering her property when she was not there.

He said that in December 2012 he realised he had a key for her front door. He had the key for about six months, he said, but only realised what it was for when he tried it in the door. He returned it to Mary Lowry the next day.

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