The jury in the trial of a 50-year-old farmer charged with murdering his alleged love rival, and hiding his body in an underground tank, have paused their deliberations for the night to resume tomorrow morning.
Earlier, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon told the jury of six men and six women that they must not be influenced by emotion, sympathy, anger or disgust, and must treat circumstantial evidence against the accused with care.
Patrick Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary has pleaded 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. 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 that Mr Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with Ms Lowry (52).
The two verdicts open to the jury are: guilty of murder or, alternatively, not guilty.
The jury began their deliberations shortly after 2pm and retired just after 4pm.
A short time into their deliberations, the jury sought all of Mr Quirke's interviews with gardaí as well as phone records, which were handed in. They will resume again tomorrow at 11am.
In her charge to the jury this morning, Ms Justice Creedon said it had been a long trial that had lasted many weeks.
She told the jury that their verdict must be unanimous until circumstances arise that can allow a majority verdict be returned by 10 of them.
She said the first rule for the jury, and a fundamental cornerstone of the criminal process, was the presumption of innocence which Mr Quirke enjoyed right until the end.
She said the onus of proof remained fairly and squarely on the prosecution and that the defence did not have to prove a thing.
She said an accused does not have to give evidence, and that a jury must not hold that against an accused, because they are entitled to remain silent.
Ms Justice Creedon said the jury were entitled to consider the impression a witness makes on them. She said they were entitled to bring their life experiences to these considerations, and that everybody assesses people in their lives constantly.
She said the prosecution relied on circumstantial evidence to prove Mr Quirke's guilt, and that, on the prosecution’s case, various circumstances taken together lead to the sure conclusion that Mr Quirke committed the crime.
She said the prosecution relied on evidence of the “intimate relationship” between Mary Lowry and Patrick Quirke between 2008 to 2010, and the subsequent “cooling” of that relationship.
She said the prosecution's case was that Bobby Ryan stayed with Mary Lowry on the night of June 3, 2011, and left the following morning fully clothed.
It was the prosecution’s case, Ms Justice Creedon said, that Bobby Ryan was violently assaulted after he left Mary Lowry’s house and placed into the tank by Patrick Quirke.
She said the prosecution contend that the discovery of Mr Ryan’s body by Patrick Quirke was “staged” because “he knew where the body was”.
She said the prosecution further relied on the circumstantial evidence of the discovery of the body and what the accused said about water levels in the tank.
She said they relied on the observations of Gda Conor Ryan on the water levels in the tank and conversations with the accused and the clothes he was wearing on the day of the discovery.
They further relied on an A4 sheet found in Patrick Quirke's home and what was written on that sheet, according to experts, Ms Justice Creedon said.
She said they relied on evidence from the hard drive found in Patrick Quirke's home and on internet searches on the decomposition of human bodies, that some of the searches were made prior to the death of Mr Quirke's son, and Mr Quirke's assertions that his son's death was the reason for the searches.
She said they further relied on correspondence between solicitors regarding the termination of the lease and on background evidence of the financial relationship between Mary Lowry and Patrick Quirke.
She said the prosecution further relied on Patrick Quirke's alleged financial difficulties and demands for money.
Ms Justice Creedon said the prosecution draws all of this evidence together and contrasts it with what they say are lies told by Mr Quirke, in his garda interviews, to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he murdered Bobby Ryan. The prosecution contends that any other conclusion is not rational.
She warned the jury that circumstantial evidence can be powerful but it must be treated with care. She told the jury to consider whether it revealed issues that "destroys" the prosecution case.
She said there was usually more than one way of looking at circumstantial evidence and if a rational explanation pointed to Mr Quirke's innocence, they must adopt the view favourable to the accused.
The defence, she said, contend that the evidence was insufficient to prove murder beyond a reasonable doubt, and was more consistent with innocence.
She said the defence point to “inconsistencies” in Mary Lowry’s evidence, contending that she was “not a reliable witness”.
Those inconsistencies relate to the alleged assault of her by Mr Quirke, her passport being taken and her memory of staying in the Cliff House Hotel.
She said the defence contend there was no evidence Patrick Quirke was in financial difficulty. They also contend that the garda investigation was inadequate and that certain evidence was not put before the jury.
She said the defence point to the garda failure to search Mary Lowry's house at Fawnagowan and the pathologist’s failure to attend the scene. They point to the fact that the recovery of the body was not video recorded, that a hair clip was recovered from the tank and not properly analysed, and that fingerprints from the van were not followed up.
She said the defence contend that evidence of computer searches was not sufficient to prove anything and was not directed to the facts of the case. The computer searches could be explained by inquisitiveness or curiosity on the part of Mr Quirke, according to the defence.
She said the defence contend that much of the background evidence was unreliable and insufficient to prove Mr Quirke’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that they must acquit.
Ms Justice Creedon told the jury that they must be satisfied of Mr Quirke’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It was not a “fanciful” doubt or a “flimsy” doubt but a reasonable doubt, that might make them pause or think about decisions they make in their own lives.
She told the jury that they couldn’t come back to court next week and say ‘I’ve had another think about that’.
“It’s not enough to say ‘I think he's guilty or probably guilty’. If that's where you are, you must acquit,” she told the jury.
She said they had to certain, satisfied and have no reasonable doubt about the matter.
She told them they were “required to be objective, dispassionate and must not be influenced by emotion, sympathy, anger or disgust.”