Tipperary farmer Patrick Quirke murder conviction appeal hearing set for next month

Sean McCarthaigh

Reporter:

Sean McCarthaigh

Tipperary farmer Patrick Quirke murder conviction appeal hearing set for next month

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

The Court of Appeal has heard that an appeal by Tipperary farmer Patrick Quirke against his conviction for the murder of Bobby Ryan could last up to four days.

Lawyers for Quirke and the DPP appeared before a brief sitting of the Court of Appeal on Tuesday to discuss progress in the case.

The full appeal hearing is listed for a date in October.

However, the President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham, expressed hope that the parties might be able to conduct the appeal in a shorter timeframe that the three to four days currently anticipated.

Mr Justice Birmingham adjourned the matter for mention to next week to allow both sides consider each other’s submissions on the appeal.

Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, had denied murdering Bobby Ryan (52), a part-time DJ going by the name ‘Mr Moonlight’, who went missing on June 3, 2011 after leaving his girlfriend Mary Lowry’s house at about 6.30am. 

The body of Mr Ryan was subsequently found in an underground run-off tank on the farm owned by Ms Lowry and leased by Quirke at Fawnagown, 22 months later, in April 2013.

It was the prosecution’s case that Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle a love affair with Ms Lowry and that he subsequently “staged” the discovery of the DJ’s body after Ms Lowry tried to terminate his lease at Fawnagowan. 

Quirke’s lawyers contended that the prosecution had failed to prove their case beyond mere suspicion. They pointed to “inconsistencies” in Mary Lowry’s evidence, and claimed she was “not a reliable witness”. 

A jury at the Central Criminal al Court found Quirke guilty of Mr Ryan’s murder by a 10-2 majority verdict after deliberating for almost 21 hours following a trial that lasted 13 weeks.

The farmer was given a mandatory life sentence by Ms Justice Eileen Creedon.

In evidence that was frequently interrupted by legal argument, the jury learned that Quirke started farming the land at Fawnagowan following the death of Ms Lowry’s husband, Martin, in September 2007. Martin Lowry had been best man at Quirke’s wedding. 

In early 2008 Quirke and Ms Lowry began a sexual relationship that she subsequently described as "seedy" and "sordid" and something she regretted.

In August 2010 Ms Lowry met Bobby Ryan at a dance, who she described as “fun”, “funny” and “a breath of fresh air”. 

When Quirke found out about their relationship, he told gardaí that he was angry and hurt. He took Ms Lowry's phone and texted Mr Ryan to tell him that he was in a relationship with Mary and she had not been honest. He then called Mr Ryan and told him: "I'm the man.”

On June 2, 2011 Bobby Ryan called to Ms Lowry's home some time after 9pm. He stayed the night and left around 6.30am. Ms Lowry, who waited to hear his van cross the cattle grid at the end of her drive, later told gardaí that he took longer than usual to drive away. He was not seen alive again. 

Quirke claimed his affair with Mary Lowry resumed in August 2011 and that the following month, they stayed in the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Waterford, something Ms Lowry said she couldn’t remember. 

In December 2012, Ms Lowry’s solicitor sent a letter to Quirke asking to terminate the lease at Fawnagowan. He agreed to leave that June. 

In April, Quirke called his wife Imelda to say he had found a body in a disused waste tank at Fawnagowan. Imelda arrived shortly afterwards and called Garda Tom Neville. Quirke gave a voluntary statement to gardaí and denied knowing how Ryan's body ended up in the tank.