Quirke murder trial: Agony aunts, underwear, hotels, and an affair in which ‘lines were crossed’

Patrick Quirke

Mary Lowry was a central figure throughout the trial of Patrick Quirke — she had relationships with the killer, the victim, and had been married to the killer’s “best friend”.

Ms Lowry said her affair with Quirke was “seedy” and the only reason she started it was because she hadn’t had sex for many years. 

She said she started seeing him after her husband Martin died — Quirke, who had business dealings with her husband Martin, helped her with her husband’s farm and finances.

They began a sexual relationship in early 2008 but she said he “crossed the line” and described her as vulnerable after her husband’s death which left her alone with three young children.

They would go to her bedroom on Mondays and Fridays in the morning after her children had left for school. She felt a lot of guilt and shame, she said, and didn’t tell any of her friends or family.

Before Quirke, she said she hadn’t had a sexual relationship for many years as her husband had been sick: “That is the only explanation I can give for this seedy affair, as I would call it.”

However, the relationship floundered to such an extent that Quirke wrote to an agony aunt bemoaning its breakdown. 

“I’ve made a right mess of my life and I need help on how to go forward,” the letter writer complained before detailing how he started an affair with a family friend after her husband died. 

He said he fell in love with the woman and their affair lasted for three years until he found out she was seeing someone else.

The letter complained that this woman had forgotten about him and he was left “broken-hearted” and “angry” at how well things were working out for her despite her lies, and cheating on him. 

The letter stated that he had no closure and was forced to carry this “dark secret” alone. 

The writer said he still loved his wife but is not “in love” with her and wished he could transfer his feelings for this other woman to his wife. 

Ms Lowry told the court she confronted Quirke and he accepted he had written it and told her he had nobody else to turn to.

In 2012 Mary Lowry put up CCTV cameras around her home after a series of break-ins. 

When she watched it back she saw Quirke arriving in his van, walking around the porch and shed area, and looking through the windows. 

She told the court Quirke stole underwear from her clothesline outside the shed. Quirke was also seen standing near a postbox shortly after the postman had delivered her mail.

Mary Lowry

Such was the seriousness of his actions, Quirke gave a cautioned voluntary statement to gardaí at Tipperary Garda Station as a result of the footage. 

He told gardaí he had noticed there was women’s underwear on the clothesline and looked at the label because, he said, he was “curious”. 

He took the underwear off the line and then put them back.

He said he then tried a key that he had previously found in the yard in the lock of her front door and when he pushed the handle, it opened. 

He heard the beep of the alarm and “panicked, having realised what I had done was wrong”. He got in his jeep and drove away.

The following day he told Ms Lowry what had happened and gave her the key.

After watching the footage in December 2012, Ms Lowry asked her solicitor to write to Quirke to terminate his lease on her land at Fawnagowan.

The following March, she said Quirke agreed to leave by early July 2013 and secured a lease on a neighbouring farm belonging to a woman named Mary Dillon.

In April, before the lease had terminated, Ms Lowry noticed a tractor on her land that she had not previously seen which was pulling an agitator for a slurry tank. 

When she went to take a closer look, she bumped into Quirke and told him: “You’re some c**t and I can’t wait to see the back of you and I hope you won’t be stealing Mary Dillon’s knickers off the line.”

His response, she said, was: “Ha.”

The following day gardaí arrived at the land and a superintendent told her that a body had been found in a run-off tank on her land that she did not previously know about. 

Quirke was there with his wife Imelda. Ms Lowry said she felt that Mrs Quirke seemed “shook” but Patrick Quirke “was not perturbed at all”.

It was put to Ms Lowry that she did not initially tell gardaí about her relationship with Quirke. 

She said it was because she was ashamed of the “sordid” affair. She said Quirke was “not very nice to me”. 

She said she had told the truth from the word go and accused Quirke of manipulating her both during and after their relationship.

She rejected a claim her late husband Martin and the accused had been close friends. They worked in the same line of business, she said, but were acquaintances rather than friends. 

Although Martin had been best man for Quirke, she pointed out that Quirke was not best man for Martin.

As the court proceedings went on, Ms Lowry’s evidence took a strange turn when she denied asking a relative of the deceased if gardaí would be able to tell if a body had been in the boot of a car.

Garda statements were read out from Ann Stapleton, the deceased man’s sister-in-law, who told gardaí that Ms Lowry rang her on June 5 “out of the blue” following Bobby Ryan’s disappearance. 

Ms Stapleton said Ms Lowry asked her about fingerprints and said: “If there was a body in it would they be able to tell?” 

Ms Stapleton said she responded by saying that would be down to forensics and then Ms Lowry started talking about something else.

In the witness stand, Ms Lowry said she spoke to Ms Stapleton on the phone but did not mention anything about a body in a car. She said it was “highly unlikely” that she would say such a thing.

In court she was asked why, when she gave statements in 2011, she did not mention that the accused looked “hot, sweaty, and bothered” on the day that Mr Ryan went missing. 

It was put to her that she only introduced this when questioned in 2013 and suggested to her that she did so as part of her “agenda” and in a bid to add poison to her statements about Quirke.

She was also asked about a conversation she had with the deceased’s son, Robert, on the morning that Mr Ryan went missing. 

She said she couldn’t remember telling Robert Ryan: “We didn’t have a fight.”

She said that she was worried and that Mr Ryan had previously told her of feeling depressed and said he had thought about ending his life by throwing himself in a lake. 

So she asked Robert if he had searched lakes and “things like that”.

She said she couldn’t remember if Robert replied: “That’s lies.”

In court it was put to her that she seemed to have “extraordinary memory when it related to Patrick Quirke” but “appears now not to have a memory of things at all”.

Ms Lowry replied:

I have suffered under the hands of Patrick Quirke and I can remember the things he has done to me.

She said she was a young widow with three small children when she started her affair with the accused. 

She was, she said, “obviously in a state and I was taken in by Mr Quirke who tried to help me but I didn’t realise he was just helping himself”.

Ms Lowry also denied becoming intimate with Quirke again after the disappearance and said she couldn’t remember staying with him in a “plush” hotel three months after she last saw her boyfriend.

She later said she spent a night in a hotel in Killiney, south Dublin, with him, that she felt pressured by Quirke, was “a bit scared” during the stay, and didn’t want to be there. She said she got drunk and nothing happened.

“We did not rekindle our affair,” she said.

Ms Lowry could not remember staying at the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Waterford, with Quirke in September 2011 and could not say if she had ever been there. 

When shown a print-out from her bank account showing a payment to the Cliff Hotel dated September 8, 2011, she said she couldn’t explain it and added that Quirke had a key to her home and access to her computer.

Siobhan Phillips, a manager at the Cliff House Hotel, later confirmed in evidence that a booking was made over the phone for a twin room for September 6, 2011. 

Confirmation for that booking was sent by email to msmarylowry1@eircom.net.

She said the booking was taken up and included dinner in the Michelin-star restaurant. 

Ms Phillips said she couldn’t say who stayed there or who had the dinner but that the bill, which came to €416.20, was paid by Laser card on September 7.

Ms Lowry took issue with Mr Ryan’s family putting missing posters up around her home. 

“It was like they were trying to say I had something to do with this man who was missing.”

Later in the trial, it was also revealed by gardaí that a text was retrieved from Ms Lowry’s phone in September 2011. 

Written in text shorthand, it said: “You think you are so cool out partying like Bobby never existed. We know you are hiding something and we are going to watch you until you crack.”

Gardaí investigated the source of the text but were unable to find out who sent it.

What Quirke told gardaí

While Patrick Quirke did not take the stand in his trial, his garda interviews gave a clear insight into his toxic on-off relationship with Mary Lowry, his feelings about her new relationship with the victim and how that triggered the murder of Bobby Ryan.

He told gardaí he was afraid of Mary Lowry and described his ex-lover as “vicious” and “verbally abusive”.

He said his only crime was having an affair with Ms Lowry and now his name was “mud” in the town where he grew up. 

He told investigators he didn’t kill Bobby Ryan and that whoever did was laughing at them for looking at him.

He said he was in love with the woman up to the time their relationship ended and she told him she loved him. 

He claimed when the relationship broke down he was angry with how she treated him but he had nothing against Bobby Ryan.

Quirke made a voluntary cautioned statement in which he detailed his movements on the day when Bobby Ryan disappeared and on the day, 22 months later, when he claimed to have discovered the body.

In relation to the discovery, gardaí asked him why he did not alert Mary Lowry, whose land the tank is on. He said he didn’t think she was there and he was afraid of what she might say.

He wasn’t “thinking straight or acting straight”, he said. He was concerned that the body was naked and when gardaí pressed him on that he said: “My first concern was that the man didn’t walk out of the house.”

“I just didn’t want to meet her [Mary Lowry], I just wanted to meet one person [Imelda].”

Bobby Ryan

He claimed he had a theory in his head at the time about the body being naked but he later had a conversation with someone who told him that a professional would remove the clothes to destroy forensic evidence.

Quirke claimed he was afraid of Mary Lowry adding to gardaí: “The whole thing frightened me.”

When asked why he was afraid of Ms Lowry he said he is “always afraid of her. She is vicious.”

He said she had abused him the previous day when he met her on the farm. 

“She let fly verbal abuse,” he said, after she was “caught snooping and didn’t like to be caught.”

Quirke said he avoided her at all costs but said she was not violent, just verbally abusive. 

He accepted that he was probably verbal towards her as well.

Gardaí quizzed him as to why he instinctively thought the body was Ryan’s and he replied: “Who else would it be?”

He said he didn’t believe Mr Ryan had gone to Spain to start a new life and always thought something sinister had happened. 

Quirke also told gardaí said he is curious by nature and couldn’t “go with the flow” or accept what other people were saying. 

He didn’t believe Mr Ryan committed suicide or hitched a lift to Rosslare and took a ferry to France. 

“People who commit suicide want to be found,” he told gardaí.

Gardaí asked Quirke about his relationship with Bobby Ryan. He said he didn’t know him well enough to like him, they had nothing in common and so probably weren’t going to be friends.

He claimed that, while he wasn’t happy with how his relationship with Mary Lowry ended, her being with Mr Ryan didn’t bother him.

“I had an affair with this woman but this is my only crime,” he said, adding: “I hate to say that I need to clear my name but my name is mud.”

In another interview, Quirke told gardaí Martin Lowry, Mary’s deceased husband, was his best friend and best man at his wedding.

The affair started in January 2008, he said, recalling that he told Ms Lowry that they should “pull back” because he was falling in love with her. 

He said she replied: “Me too.”

They usually met at Fawnagowan although he stayed overnight only once or twice. They occasionally went for lunch and went away together about three or four times.

He thought his wife might have “an inkling” about the affair but she said nothing. He said he occasionally discussed the future with Ms Lowry but not very seriously.

Patrick and Imelda Quirke. Photo: Collins.

He told Imelda about the affair in March 2012. He said he needed to know that their marriage could survive and added: “I needed to be honest.”

She didn’t take it well and has not spoken to Mary Lowry since. Previously they got on well, he said, having known one another for 25 years.

Quirke also detailed to gardaí his financial dealings with Ms Lowry. They had shared investments totalling tens of thousands of euros and she loaned him €20,000 to pay off a bank loan.

He said he also presented her with a bill for cattle that had died due to an infection from the herd he inherited from her husband. 

He said she agreed that he could keep the €20,000 loan as compensation. Ms Lowry denied this in her evidence to the court.

He found out she was seeing Bobby Ryan in December 2010 but didn’t think they were physically intimate at that time. 

He said she told him she wasn’t interested in a relationship with Mr Ryan and he, Quirke, told her she could still meet him, “as long as we don’t fall out”. 

She asked Quirke what he would do and he told her: “I still have Imelda.”

Around December 15, he said he became aware that Ms Lowry had lied to him about where she was the night before and the following week he saw text exchanges on her phone with Mr Ryan.

He took her phone and texted Mr Ryan, “pointing out she hadn’t been honest and was seeing me for the last three years”.

Mr Ryan then called and Quirke answered, saying, “sorry, but I’m the man.” He told gardaí: “That’s all I said and I hung up.”

Quirke was angry and Ms Lowry was angry. They had a “heated” argument in which he accused her of lying and she told him they were finished. 

He described Ms Lowry as “fiery” and said she has a “heated temper” but the argument was not physical.

The next time they met she was still angry because Mr Ryan didn’t want anything to do with her but they later made up and she seemed happier then.

Mr Quirke added:

I was angry because she was happy and she didn’t care if I was happy, sad or indifferent.

He said he was “disgusted” with Ms Lowry’s “whole attitude” which he found difficult to justify.

He said he spent a lot of time and effort sorting her out after her husband’s death and “it was all forgotten about”.

Following the argument over the phone Mr Ryan arranged to meet Quirke at Hayes’s Hotel in Thurles. They talked about the break-up of Mr Ryan’s marriage and Quirke apologised for the incident with the phone.

He was impressed with Mr Ryan and happy with the meeting because, “he didn’t perceive me as a person who had it in for him,” Quirke said. 

He denied trying to warn Mr Ryan off and said he wished them well. He went on to say that he hadn’t properly grieved his best friend Martin’s death and entered into counselling to help him with this and the breakdown of the affair.

He was not jealous of Bobby and Mary because he was getting on with his own life with his wife.

In August 2011, following Mr Ryan’s disappearance, he said he got back with Ms Lowry a few times but it wasn’t the same. 

They went to the Cliff House in Ardmore in September 2011 and to Fitzpatrick’s Hotel in Killiney, south Dublin in January 2012.

They talked about Mr Ryan’s disappearance, he said, telling gardaí: “I’m inquisitive, I’m curious.”

He said he wanted to know what happened and had theories. He said Ms Lowry had no theories and added: “It didn’t bother her. She was quite indifferent about it.” 

He put an end to the affair this time, he said, after he found out she was again seeing someone else.

When gardaí asked him if he was in love with Ms Lowry up to the time when they split he responded: “yes.”

He said shed had filled a void left when his best friend died. He was angry at how she had treated him but added he was never going to leave his wife.

He concluded the interview saying he never threatened Mr Ryan “in any way and I challenge anyone to show that I did. I did not kill Bobby Ryan. 

"There’s somebody out there who did do it and he is laughing at the moment because you are looking at me.”

He said he was doing everything he could do clear his name.

What the jury didn’t hear during the trial

The jury in the Patrick Quirke trial did not hear evidence that the accused had secret audio recordings of him being “intimate” with Mary Lowry and that his computer was used to look up articles on notorious Irish murderers including Joe O’Reilly.

The recordings were ruled as inadmissible because his defence team argued they would suggest to the jury that he had “strange sexual proclivities” and could prejudice them against him. 

Justice Eileen Creedon agreed, saying that the potential to prejudice the jury outweighed their value as evidence in the trial.

Mary Lowry told gardaí that she did not give permission to be recorded and was “disgusted” when gardaí played the audio to her.

It was one of several audio recordings found on Quirke’s computer following a search of his home in May 2013. 

Ms Lowry helped gardaí identify the voices on the recordings and said at least one was a conversation between Quirke and his wife Imelda. 

Two recordings were of Quirke and Ms Lowry and on others it was not possible to identify anyone.

Only one recording was played to the jury, that of a conversation between Ms Lowry and her boyfriend Flor Cantillon, whom she met almost a year after Bobby Ryan went missing.

No explanation was given as to how Quirke had those recordings on an external drive and both Mr Cantillon and Ms Lowry said they did not give their permission. 

Forensic IT examiner Detective Garda Paul Fitzpatrick said a Nokia mobile phone was the most likely device used to record.

The defence team didn’t want the jury to hear any of the recordings, including that with Mr Cantillon, because they said it would lead the jury to speculate as to how those files ended up on Quirke’s computer.

Prosecution counsel Michael Bowman SC fought hard to have them included, telling Justice Creedon that they were “not scandalous, but intimate”. 

The recording with Mr Cantillon, he said, showed that Quirke still wanted to be in a relationship with Ms Lowry and was infatuated with her.

Justice Creedon decided that only the conversation with Mr Cantillon was to be played to the jury.

The jury also did not find out that Quirke’s computer had been used to search for notorious wife murderer Joe O’Reilly. 

A blog article written by an Irish crime journalist titled ‘How Joe O’Reilly thought he had committed the perfect murder’ was among the pages visited. 

Joe O'Reilly

O’Reilly murdered his wife Rachel Callaly at their home in Naul, north Dublin, in October 2004 and was convicted after mobile phone evidence showed he was not where he claimed to be when the murder occurred.

Det Garda Fitzpatrick also found evidence that Quirke was looking up articles on Siobhan Kearney, who was murdered by her husband Brian in February 2006, and Jo Jo Dollard, who went missing in 1995.

Gardaí believe that Quirke was looking for information on how to get away with murder and the potential traps that could catch a murderer out. 

This tied in with other articles Quirke had viewed such as ‘The limits of DNA evidence’ and multiple articles on the decomposition of bodies.

Justice Creedon ruled the evidence as inadmissible, saying that the searches were relevant but she was concerned that those murders were “notorious” and therefore the fact of the searches would be prejudicial to Quirke but not sufficiently probative to justify their inclusion.

The defence pointed out that these murders were famous and many people in Ireland would have searched for information relating to them over the years.

Michelle Ryan, Mr Ryan’s daughter, told gardaí that Quirke warned her father to “stay away from Mary Lowry”. 

Ms Ryan told gardaí that her dad was at a Brendan Grace concert with Ms Lowry, Quirke, and Quirke’s wife Imelda when the accused approached him. 

Michelle Ryan and Mary Ryan, daughter and ex-wife of Bobby Ryan, leaving court in February. Photo: Collins Courts.

As this is hearsay it could not be said in front of the jury and the prosecution did not try to include it in the evidence.

Gardaí wanted to show that Quirke was lying when he said he saw something strange in the tank when he went to suck water from it with a vacuum tanker.

To show this, gardaí reenacted what Quirke would have seen, opening the tank in the same way Quirke explained he had opened it to push the hose from the vacuum tanker down into it. 

When Superintendent Patrick O’Callaghan looked he could see nothing inside the tank and determined that Quirke was lying.

The defence pointed out that gardaí had not employed an engineer to ensure that what they were looking at was exactly what Quirke had seen. 

They didn’t carry out any measurements and didn’t take into account lighting conditions, time of day, or time of year.

Justice Creedon said the reenactment was “frail” and ruled that it should not be shown to the jury as evidence.

Most of what the defence objected to was allowed by Justice Creedon.

‘What I say does stand up and make sense and you say no, no, no, it wasn’t like that, Pat’

A Google search for “rate of human decomposition” was carried out on a computer that was seized from Patrick Quirke’s house, the Central Criminal Court heard.

The internet search was carried out in December 2012, 18 months after Bobby Ryan went missing and four months before his body was discovered on land then leased by Quirke.

The user clicked on links to websites that contained articles called “The five stages of decomposition” and “How the human body decomposes after death”.

Detective Garda Paul Fitzpatrick, of the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau, searched one of the seized computers and discovered that on December 3, 2012, at about 3.30pm, a user searched on Google for “human body decomposition timeline” and later another search was made for “rate of human decomposition”.

There was evidence the user clicked on pages contained within the websites environmentalgraffiti.com, forensics4fiction.com, and suite101.com. 

When Det Garda Fitzpatrick looked at those pages, he found articles headed “The five stages of decomposition” and “How the human body decomposes after death”.

There was also evidence of YouTube videos embedded into the webpages viewed but he couldn’t say if they had been watched.

One of the videos was titled Body Farm and Beyond and the text associated with it stated “Takes you on a tour of the body farm” and contained references to “human remains, skin slippage, and DNA analysis”.

A second YouTube video related to the body farm was described as “a study of human decomposition on real corpses” and contained the note, “you will never forget the smell”.

There was also evidence of an image from an internet page which contained a reference to “decomposition stages”.

Detective Garda Paul Fitzpatrick. Picture: Collins Court

Det Garda Fitzpatrick also found older files relating to an operating system that had been on the computer before July 25, 2012. On this he found a record of a website called howstuffworks.com which contained information on DNA evidence and its limitations.

The detective garda also carried out an examination of a computer belonging to Mary Lowry on which he found a missing person poster relating to Bobby Ryan. 

He got no hits when he searched for “murder”, “decomposition”, and other keywords given to him by the investigating team.

The jury heard that Ms Lowry’s computer, which she gave to gardaí investigating the murder, was used to search for Mr Ryan’s name the day before his body was recovered.

When Det Garda Fitzpatrick searched Ms Lowry’s computer for keywords, he found a search for “trace Ireland Bobby Ryan” carried out at 9.45pm on April 29, 2013. 

Mr Ryan’s body was discovered the following day by Quirke.

When gardaí asked Quirke why he had searched the internet for “body decomposition timeline”, he told them his son had died and added: “That’s all I’m saying.”

During those interviews, gardaí told him a computer expert had identified searches relating to the limitations of DNA evidence carried out some time before September 2012 and other searches relating to human decomposition on December 3, 2012. 

There was also evidence, they told him, that someone had visited sites containing information about DNA and decomposition.

Gardaí asked him if he could eliminate his wife and children as the people who carried out those searches. He responded that he didn’t know what they meant.

He also said he was not familiar with “in private browsing” when gardaí asked if he activated a private browsing session when carrying out the searches.

They asked if there was any explanation for those searches and he replied: “My son had recently died. That’s all I’m saying.”

Gardaí sympathised with him, telling him they can’t imagine what that was like. He responded that the gardaí “don’t believe a word I say”.

He said they had charged him with assaulting Ms Lowry but didn’t properly investigate it and the charges were later dropped. 

Gardaí told him those charges were brought by Tipperary gardaí and his interviewers had nothing to do with that. 

Quirke responded that they all come under the same umbrella and he found it hard to believe that gardaí will listen to him.

His interviewers asked him why he looked at an article on the “limitations of DNA evidence” but he said he couldn’t remember.

Gardaí then put it to him that he was searching over a prolonged period on a number of occasions for terms relating to decomposition because he knew where Mr Ryan’s body was and was trying to establish what condition it would be in. 

He responded:

Why would I need to do that?

Quirke said that if he knew where Mr Ryan was, all he would have to do is open the lid of the tank and look in. He said it wouldn’t make sense for him to search for decomposition on the internet when he had unlimited access to the tank at all times.

Gardaí suggested that someone might see him and ask questions, but he said that didn’t make sense and that, given the remote location, he could have checked it when nobody was around. 

“You wouldn’t do it on a Saturday morning,” he said.

He told gardaí they weren’t taking on board anything he was saying and added: “What I say does stand up and make sense and you say, ‘no, no, no, it wasn’t like that, Pat’.”

He described as a “load of crap” the theory that he alerted gardaí to the body because he wanted to be “in control” and didn’t want it to be found by someone else after his lease on the land came to an end two months later.

He asked them why he would bring this “nightmare” on himself, his relationship with Ms Lowry coming out into the open. He said repeatedly that the Garda theory didn’t make sense and denied that the discovery was staged. 

If he wanted to, he said, he could have remained on the land for another two years and the decision to leave was his own.

Gardaí later returned to the internet searches and confirmed that Quirke’s son Alan died on August 4, 2012. 

Gardaí had reviewed the evidence and found a search for “body decomposition” on July 25, 2012. They said this “blows out of the water” his explanation. 

Quirke said his explanation wouldn’t account for every search. 

He said the search did not “blow out of the water” his explanation for the searches on December 3, 2012.

Handwritten notes made for an interesting twist

Patrick Quirke’s trial took a very interesting turn in mid-March when other crucial evidence found in his home was put before the jury.

Firstly there was a hand-written note which appeared to reference Mary Lowry.

Detective John Walsh said he discovered the notes on an A4 sheet of paper in an office area in Quirke’s house during a search in May 2013.

In court, he read from the document: “Mary last one to see him”, “body naked, either murdered and clothes taken off or never left the house”. 

The words “never left the house” were underlined.

It also contained questions including:

  • “Why did she find the van so quickly?
  • “Why did she look for him in a place where she knew he wouldn’t have needed to go?
  • “Why didn’t she act on leads?
  • “Why did she give varying accounts of how long he was in the yard before he left for work? Two minutes? 10 minutes?
  • “Why was she so adamant no activity took place in the yard? How would she hear? It wasn’t always possible.
  • “Why did she rip down photos of Bobby Ryan after his family put them up? Why was she relieved after Crime Call was a rubbish programme and got no help to jog anyone’s memory?”

A Garda documents and handwriting expert developed indentations made on a page found in the house and discovered somebody had written: “What the guards will know,” and details relating to Ryan’s disappearance.

Detective Garda Jeremiah Moloney said using an electrostatic detection device, known as an ESDA machine, it is possible to develop those indentations and make them visible.

He said he was able to confidently record on one side of the page that someone had written: “What the gardaí 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.”

Mary Lowry

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.

Det Moloney did concede 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 couldn’t say how many different notes made up either page.

Quirke ‘was fairly clean for a man doing a dirty job’

One of the first gardaí on the scene when DJ Bobby Ryan’s body was discovered observed that the accused man’s hands were “extremely clean”, considering he had been working with slurry that morning.

Inspector Padraic Powell said, when he arrived, Quirke and his wife were sitting on a wall.

He said Quirke brought him to the tank where he said he had located a body.

The tank was underground, covered by a concrete slab and there was a pipe from a water run-off going down into it.

Inspector Powell said his priority was to establish whether there was actually a body so he didn’t engage in much conversation with Quirke.

He knelt down and could see what appeared to be the “outline of human remains”.

Visibility wasn’t great and the body was covered in what appeared to be transparent algae.

He observed that Quirke was “extremely clean” considering he had been working with slurry.

His hands and clothes were clean, the officer said, and he was “very quiet”.

Inspector David Buckley told the trial he met Quirke at the scene and asked him to accompany gardaí to Tipperary Garda Station to make a cautioned voluntary statement.

In an interview, Quirke detailed how he found the body, saying he was trying to empty an underground tank and needed more water as the slurry was too thick.

An open tank that he would usually draw water from was empty but, he said, he knew water had been leaking into the underground tank beside the milking parlour.

He had not opened that tank since 2008, he said, but knew it was there because the previous owner of the farm, Martin Lowry, told him about it.

The scene in Co Tipperary where the body of Bobby Ryan was discovered in an underground tank. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22

Two concrete slabs were covering the tank.

He prised one of them aside, using a shovel, and put a suction pipe through the gap to draw whatever water was there.

As the water was being sucked up he noticed what he thought was a plastic dummy or an inflatable doll in the tank.

He turned off the pump and pulled off the second slab which, he said, was easier to move.

“I could see clearly it was a body.”

Quirke was “shocked”, he said, and phoned his wife Imelda who arrived, confirmed it was a body and phoned her friend Garda Tom Neville.

He had called his wife rather than gardaí out of “instinct” and because he wanted someone to confirm what he had seen.

Garda Buckley put it to the accused that he was “fairly clean for a man doing a dirty job”.

The accused replied that he was “only getting into it” when he made the discovery.

He denied having any role in Mr Ryan’s body being in the tank and said the only things he knew about Mr Ryan’s disappearance were the things Ms Lowry told him, like how she couldn’t be clear about whether it took 10 minutes or two minutes for Mr Ryan’s van to leave her driveway the morning of his disappearance.

Quirke had also asked how she found Mr Ryan’s van so quickly later that day in the car park leading into Kilshane Woods.

He wondered why, when she was looking for Mr Ryan, she did not travel along a route he would normally have taken but instead drove to the local beauty spot where she found the van.

Gardaí asked Quirke why he did not tell them about the tank in 2011 when they were searching for Mr Ryan.

He said he didn’t think of it and thought it was “laughable” when gardaí asked him to empty tanks on the land as part of the search.

Tank was opened weeks before body said to have been found

The tank containing Bobby Ryan’s remains was opened weeks before Patrick Quirke said he discovered the DJ’s decomposing body, an insect expert told the trial.

Dr John Manlove, a forensic entomologist, told the murder trial that he saw common blow fly larvae in the deceased’s chest cavity and on his back. 

These larvae, he said, were all at the same stage of development and indicated that they had infested the body at least 11 days prior to the discovery. 

The small number of larvae and lack of other insects indicated that the body was not exposed for a long period, he added.

Dr Manlove said an engineer’s report he was shown stated that the tank would be perfectly sealed by two concrete slabs that Quirke said he removed before finding the body.

The engineer’s report stated, he said, that once muck and cow waste were placed over the slabs, the tank would be perfectly sealed, making it impossible for flies to get in or out.

The entomologist therefore concluded that the first time the tank was opened was not on April 30, 2013, when Mr Quirke said he opened it, but some weeks before that.

Dr John Manlove. Photo: Collins

Garda Gerry Canty, a crime-scene examiner, photographed a number of items that were taken from the tank. 

These included, he said, bone fragments, a lady’s hair clip, cable ties, tubing, buttons, and pipe covers.

Detective Garda Sharon Langan, of the ballistics section of the Garda Technical Bureau, said the body was “fairly decomposed” and she noted a gold watch but no clothes.

The following day, she attended an autopsy carried out by Dr Khalid Jaber, who handed her samples including muscle tissue, the watch, bone marrow, head hair, a maggot, and a tooth.

Superintendent Patrick O’Callaghan, who also attended an autopsy shortly after the body was discovered, said Dr Jaber identified “multiple injuries” which “could be the result of accident/traffic collision or serious assault”.

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 happened 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.

Dr Jaber, the former deputy State pathologist, told gardaí that Mr Ryan’s injuries would have caused death within minutes and therefore he believed he was dead when he went into the tank. 

He noted that the deceased had suffered multiple blunt force trauma injuries, primarily to the face and the side of the head, with further injuries to the ribs and one leg.

Supt O’Callaghan said he did not attach “a whole pile of significance” to the hair clip in the slurry tank. The accused man’s wife, Imelda Quirke, was asked if she recognised the clip. 

He explained that Mrs 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. 

Mrs Quirke did not recognise the clip.

Gardaí found evidence of blood stains in the sitting room and bedroom of Mary Lowry’s home.

The stains, not visible to the naked eye, in the sitting room were on a light fitting and on the ceiling. 

Mary Lowry

In the bedroom they found positive reactions to the blood-testing equipment on the bedframe, mattress, and floor. The following day, gardaí returned and found “directional blood spots” on the inside of a wardrobe.

However, forensic scientist Dr Martina McBride found no evidence that a serious assault took place in Ms Lowry’s home, and that further analyses using tests designed specifically for human blood showed that none of the areas identified were actually blood stains — one of the stains was “probably fly faeces”.

She said that, considering the injuries to Mr Ryan, she would expect to see large amounts of blood in the area where he had been assaulted.

She concluded that there were no signs in Ms Lowry’s home of an assault where large amounts of blood were spilled.

She also said the house had been painted in the 22 months since Mr Ryan’s disappearance. 

This was why, she said, she examined skirting boards where water containing traces of blood might seep down when a wall is cleaned. 

She also examined ceilings because sometimes people don’t notice blood on the ceiling.

Disagreement over the injuries suffered by Bobby Ryan

Professor Jack Crane, a consultant pathologist and former State pathologist for Northern Ireland, told the murder trial he reviewed an autopsy carried out by Dr Khalid Jaber following the discovery of Bobby Ryan’s body in 2013.

Using Dr Jaber’s report and photographs taken at the autopsy, Prof Crane identified fractures to Mr Ryan’s head, nine of his ribs, and the femur or thigh bone.

He said Mr Ryan had sustained “severe head injuries”, fractures to the skull in the region of the forehead, eye sockets, right and left sides of the face, and the cheekbones.

The severity of those injuries was such, he said, that they could not have been caused by a simple fall into the tank.

They were, he said, due to blows to the head with a blunt object or as a result of being crushed or compressed and would have caused bleeding and damage to the brain causing death.

He noted that Dr Jaber referred to an injury to the deceased’s Adam’s apple that would be consistent with asphyxiation, but Prof Crane said there was no “unequivocal” evidence that death was due to asphyxiation. 

The rib fractures — six to the right of the torso and three to the left — could have been caused by a blow to the back or by falling into the tank.

The fracture to the thigh bone, the strongest bone in the body, was consistent, he said, with a heavy blow from a bat.

Bobby Ryan

He noted a suggestion that the injuries could have been caused by a motor vehicle collision but Prof Crane said: “While this is possible, there is no real evidence to support this.”

He said the combination of injuries was not consistent with a vehicle impact. 

He added that injuries such as the fracture to Mr Ryan’s thigh bone were “not uncommon” in punishment style attacks in Northern Ireland where baseball bats or other blunt objects were used.

Dr Michael Curtis was called by the defence.

Looking at the autospy and photos of the body, Dr Curtis said he was in “total agreement” with Dr Jaber that the cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head. 

He added that, in his opinion, the most likely mechanism for those injuries was “vehicular impact trauma, that is, a person being struck by a moving vehicle”.

He added that this was his opinion and there are other possibilities, including the use of a baton or baseball bat.

It was suggested to him that the removal of Mr Ryan’s clothes and personal effects suggested that the person responsible knew something about the limitations of forensic evidence. Dr Curtis agreed. 

He also agreed that any vehicle that caused those injuries to Mr Ryan would have suffered “significant damage”, most likely to the windscreen or the roof.

Radiologist Dr Anthony Ryan carried out a CT scan on Bobby Ryan’s body and found multiple fractures to the head, face, and ribs, and a fracture to the femur — a bone in the upper leg.

He said the injuries were a result of at least four impacts and could have been caused by a road traffic accident or blows with a blunt object.

The injuries to the face were most likely from a direct frontal impact. 

He said that when he sees such injuries from a hammer, he expects the face to be “depressed” but this injury was not like that, leading him to believe the injury resulted from an object larger than a hammer.

He added that the face could have impacted with a wall, the ground, or a vehicle, and that it was hit with “considerable force”.

He agreed the fracture to the femur, the strongest bone in the body surrounded by tough muscle, would have required a “great degree of force”. 

He said such fractures are usually caused by falls from a significant height or when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle.

While the witness said a bat could be used to fracture the femur, the U-shaped nature of the fracture raised a doubt about that possibility.

He said that, for a vehicle to cause the injuries he saw, it would have to be travelling at more than 30km/h but more likely closer to 50km/h.

More on this topic

Bobby Ryan's daughter: 'I will never forgive Quirke for taking our world away from us'

Mother of Patrick Quirke called Liveline in 2005 to complain about son

Former Scotland Yard officer recounts how Mary Lowry confessed affair with Patrick Quirke

Quirke trial: So how did Bobby Ryan die?

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