A woman whose former lover is accused of murdering her boyfriend has described her relationship with the accused as a "seedy affair" and said the only reason she started it was because she hadn't had sex for many years.
Mary Lowry has begun giving evidence in the trial of Patrick Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 52-year-old Bobby Ryan on a date between June 3, 2011 and April 2013.
The body of Mr Ryan - a DJ who went by the name Mr Moonlight - was found in a run-off tank on a farm at Fawnagowan in Tipperary in April 2013.
Ms Lowry also told prosecuting counsel Michael Bowman SC that she loved the deceased "to bits" and he made her and her children happy.
Detailing her history with the accused the witness said Mr Quirke is married to her late husband's sister. She started seeing Mr Quirke after her husband Martin died in September 2007. Mr Quirke, a farmer who had business dealings with her husband, helped her with her the farm and finances.
They became intimate in early 2008 and began a physical, sexual relationship. She was vulnerable, she said, having been left alone to look after three young children and Mr Quirke "crossed the line". She further described the accused as "overpowering" and "intimidating" and said he was always asking her for money.
In 2008 she changed her will to leave him €100,000 after he told her he would take care of her children if anything happened to her but he would need to build an extension to his home to do so. In December 2010 she loaned him €20,000, which she said she did not get back. On one occasion when she refused to give him money he pushed her against a table, she said. He apologised the next day. Some time after 2011 he asked for €16,500 because, he said, her husband's cattle had infected his herd with a disease.
When their affair began in 2008 Ms Lowry said she and Mr Quirke would go to her bedroom on Mondays and Fridays in the morning after her children had left for school. But she had a lot of misgivings and felt guilt and shame, she said. She knew Mr Quirke as a happily married man, married to her late husband's sister. She didn't tell any of her friends or family, even her brother with whom she is close.
Before Mr Quirke, she said she hadn't had a sexual relationship for many years as her husband had been sick. She added: "That is the only explanation I can give for this seedy affair, as I would call it."
They continued their relationship for about two years but she said the guilt and shame prompted her to try to break it off many times. She said Mr Quirke told her that if her friends found out about the affair they wouldn't talk to her and her family would not stand by her. She felt alone and scared, she said, adding: "I like people to like me." He would also tell her that nobody else would have her and her children.
While she said she had "regard" for Mr Quirke, he told her that he was in love with her but he also loved his wife. She ended the relationship in summer 2010. She said: "I wanted to enjoy my life and get on with looking after my children." She said there was nothing nice about having an affair, feeling guilty and telling lies. She added: "There was no future in the relationship."
In August 2010 she met Bobby Ryan, a DJ going by the name Mr Moonlight, and they began a relationship after he helped her to secure tickets to the All Ireland hurling final. They went dancing together at weekends. Mr Quirke, she said, didn't take the break-up well. He seemed depressed and she would "lend him an ear", thinking that if she was nice to him she could help him get over the break-up.
On one occasion she received a text from Bobby Ryan and when Mr Quirke saw it he grabbed her phone and drove away with it. He called Mr Ryan and when she asked him what he had said Mr Quirke said he told Mr Ryan: "She's mine."
She then revealed the affair to Bobby who offered to help, saying that he had also been through a difficult break-up. He met with Patrick Quirke in Hayes's Hotel in Thurles. They spoke for an hour and then shook hands, Ms Lowry said.
By this time she said she was "mad about" Bobby Ryan. He was good fun and they had an open relationship. "I didn't have to hide or tell lies or pretend," she said. He was a "breath of fresh air" for her three children who loved him and thought he was great fun. She loved him "to bits", she said and he made her and her children happy. "What more would you want from a relationship," she said.
In January or February of 2011 the relationship with Mr Ryan became intimate and he would sometimes stay with her at her home.
One morning that January when she had been out for a walk she returned to find Mr Quirke in her house. He told her he was looking for her and she had left the door open but she said this was not true and that she was security conscious. She confronted him but he insisted she left the door open. She also believed that Mr Quirke was responsible for calling social services and telling them that her children were not being properly looked after. Social services investigated and found nothing amiss. Mr Quirke denied making the call.
In February 2011 she saw a letter on the "Dear Patricia" page in the Sunday Independent from a married man complaining that he had an affair with a woman who had dumped him. She said the details seemed to show that it was Patrick Quirke and when she confronted him about it he told her he had nobody else to turn to. It was around this time that she changed her will to remove Patrick Quirke.
Mr Ryan stayed with her on the night of June 2 going into the morning when he disappeared. They made love that morning and he left at about 6.30am. She noticed that it took about seven or eight minutes for his van to cross the cattle grid at the end of the driveway. She saw Patrick Quirke on the farm at about 8.30am and thought it unusual that he would be there so early. She later noted that he seemed "hot and sweaty and bothered-looking".
Later that morning Mr Ryan's daughter Michelle became extremely concerned that her father had not returned home and didn't show up for work.
Ms Lowry and Michelle drove around for a time and found Mr Ryan's car at Kilshane Woods, about three miles from Ms Lowry's home. They spent the rest of the day searching the woods and over the coming days and weeks family, gardaí and volunteers searched the buildings and farmland around Fawnagowan but found nothing.
A few days after Mr Ryan's disappearance, Ms Lowry told a lady from Trace Ireland - a group that helps find missing people - about her affair with Patrick Quirke. She then told gardaí and came out to her family. "It was a very difficult time," she said. She told prosecuting counsel Michael Bowman SC that she penned a note to Imelda Quirke that said simply: "Sorry."
After Bobby Ryan's disappearance she said Mr Quirke "pestered" her, wanting to rekindle the relationship but she refused. They spent one night together at a hotel, she said, but they were not intimate and she left the following morning.
In the summer of 2012 tragedy struck Patrick and Imelda Quirke's family when their son Alan died. Ms Lowry said that following the funeral Mr Quirke came to her and asked why she wasn't supporting him at this difficult time. She said she told him to go home to his wife and children.
In September of that year she planned to go on a foreign holiday with her children but she couldn't find her passport. She said that she asked Mr Quirke what he had done with it and he told her that he sold it.
Ms Lowry will continue giving evidence in front of Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of six men and six women tomorrow.