Love triangle case: Injuries could have been caused by 'traffic collision or serious assault', court told

Patrick Quirke

Bobby 'Mr Moonlight' Ryan suffered multiple injuries that could have been caused by an accident, traffic collision or serious assault a pathologist told gardai investigating the DJ's death.

Superintendent Patrick O'Callaghan today (FRI) told the Central Criminal Court trial of Patrick Quirke that he was present when former Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber carried out a post mortem on the body shortly after it was discovered in a disused waste water tank in 2013. Supt O'Callaghan told defence counsel Lorcan Staines SC that he took notes as Dr Jaber spoke. Reading from his notes he said Dr Jaber identified "multiple injuries" which "could be the result of accident, traffic collision or serious assault."

Supt O'Callaghan added that Dr Jaber is not available to give evidence in the trial and therefore gardai enlisted the help of other pathologists to give their opinions on the post mortem. He further stated that he is aware Dr Jaber was contacted when the body was found but told gardai he was not willing to attend the scene so the decision was taken to remove the body from the tank without a pathologist present.

Mr Staines put it to him that it is best practice for a pathologist and other forensic experts to examine the body before it is moved. The witness said there was a garda from the technical bureau present and the office of the State Pathologist had been contacted. There was no urgency about the removal, he said, but there were concerns about people getting into the tank. Fire officers who removed the body did so wearing full body bio-hazard suits, equipment the gardai did not have access to, he said. He added: "I didn't think anyone could have gone in to the tank to carry out an examination when you look at the gear the fire officers had to wear."

When Mr Staines asked if he would do things the same way again Supt O'Callaghan said he would.

Supt O'Callaghan said he was aware that the deceased's arm had come away from the body but he did not know if it came away during or prior to removal from the tank. The first time he noticed it was when the body was laid on a plastic sheet on the ground.

The witness was giving evidence in the trial of Mr Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary who has pleaded not (NOT) guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan, a part-time DJ going by the name Mr Moonlight. Mr Ryan went missing on June 3, 2011 after leaving his girlfriend Mary Lowry's home at about 6.30am and 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 in April 2013. The prosecution claims that Mr Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with Ms Lowry (52).

The jury has previously heard that a hair clip and a number of other items including bone fragments and buttons were discovered in the tank alongside Mr Ryan's body. Supt O'Callaghan said he did not attach "a whole pile of significance" to the hair clip but following questions by Mr Quirke's defence lawyers the accused man's wife, Imelda Quirke, was asked if she recognised the clip. He explained that Ms Quirke was one of a number of girls who grew up on the farm and he suspected that it could have fallen into the tank at any point since it was built in the late 1970s. Ms Quirke did not recognise the clip.

Counsel also asked the witness why Mary Lowry's house was not searched in 2011 when Bobby Ryan went missing. Supt O'Callaghan said Ms Lowry had been cooperative with the investigation at all times and agreed that she allowed gardai to search her land and farm buildings. He said gardai did not search her home because although that was the last place he was seen, his van was found some distance away at Kilshane Woods. "It just wasn't done," he answered when asked why it was not searched but the farm and other buildings were.

Mr Staines has asked previous witnesses about the moment a large slab of reinforced concrete that covered most of the tank was removed by a garda driving a JCB. During that process the slab broke. Mr Staines said the breaking of the slab must have been a significant event yet in the book of evidence, which stretches to more than 1,000 pages, it is not mentioned once.

Supt O'Callaghan said the most significant event on the day was the discovery of the body and when the slab broke gardai just got on with their jobs. The next question, he said, was would fire officers now be able to get into the tank to get the body out. Nobody was trying to hide the fact that it broke, he said, adding that photos of the broken slab were included in the evidence.

Engineer Michael Reilly returned to the stand today to complete his evidence regarding the structure of the tank. He has previously said that it measures 3.6 metres by 1.8 metre and is 1.6 metres deep. Today he told David Humphries BL for the prosecution that two concrete lids that were used to cover one end of the tank would have provided a perfect seal if they were covered with soil and cow waste.

Justice Eileen Creedon warned the jury of six men and six women that the trial has attracted a lot of media attention but that they must make their decision based only on what they hear in court. She also reminded the media that the accused man has the presumption of innocence and asked journalists to be careful of how they report on the proceedings.

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