Sunday 24 March 2019

Computers and devices seized from the home of love rival trial accused, court told

Quirke 'asked garda after house search how Bobby Ryan had died'

Trial: Patrick Quirke leaves court with his wife Imelda. Photo: Collins Courts
Trial: Patrick Quirke leaves court with his wife Imelda. Photo: Collins Courts
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Computers and electronic devices were seized from the home of Patrick Quirke in a Garda search following the discovery of Bobby Ryan's body.

Det-Sgt John Keane told the Tipperary murder trial that when he cautioned Mr Quirke, the farmer told him "the media were wrong" in saying that the clothing and wallet of Mr Ryan had been recovered along with his remains.

He also asked how Mr Ryan had died, but the garda declined to tell him.

Mr Quirke (50) has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan, a part-time DJ known as Mr Moonlight, on a date between June 3, 2011, and April 2013.

Patrick O'Donnell, a farmer and agricultural contractor, told the trial yesterday that Mr Quirke asked to borrow his tractor and silage agitator in the month before the remains of Mr Ryan were found in a run-off tank.

He said he had spread slurry and baled silage for Mr Quirke on his farm at Breanshamore and his rented land at Fawnagowan, in Tipperary, for many years.

He described the slurry system at Fawnagowan, saying it "did not work in the way that it could".

The system was built in the 1970s and upgraded in the 1990s, said Mr O'Donnell. There was a shallow tank where the cows stood that fed into the old slurry pit. However, "it didn't work", he told the trial.

"That system was a great idea where it was perfected but it was never perfected there," he said, explaining that 'the fall' of the system had to be 'back' to the tank rather than forward.

He later explained that the connecting channel used to get blocked.

Asked whether he was aware of the tank in which the remains of Mr Ryan were found, Mr O'Donnell said: "I suppose, to be honest, I didn't think about it but they're outside all the tanks built in the 70s - they didn't work but they were there."

Asked by David Humphries BL, for the prosecution, why the run-off tanks did not work, Mr O'Donnell said they had "no capacity". "They were breeze-block built so they'd be porous," he said.

Asked whether he had ever used that tank at Fawnagowan for the purpose of drawing water, he said: "No, I'd want volume," adding that when he goes in to do a job he just wants to get it done.

He said he would be engaged in much larger jobs and so would need to draw water from a larger source, at the river at nearby Cordangan.

When asked whether he was aware of the type of silage fed to animals at Fawnagowan, Mr O'Donnell replied "mainly round bales", subsequently explaining that this made the slurry "much thicker altogether" with more water required to spread it.

The farmer said he thought it was around March 2013 when Mr Quirke asked whether he could borrow his tractor because he was no longer allowed to use Mary Lowry's tractor.

There was nothing unusual about this, he said, because as neighbours they would lend one another equipment often.

Under cross-examination, Mr O'Donnell agreed Mr Quirke had borrowed this equipment previously.

Bernard Condon SC, for the defence, asked whether the milking process was something that could vary from day to day. Mr O'Donnell agreed that you could encounter problems milking from one day to the next, saying: "Well, if you got up late you'd have a big problem - and cows could be a mile from the house or could be 50 yards from the house."

Meanwhile, he was also asked about the timekeeping of AI technician Breda Dwyer, saying it would be "mild" to say she was not the best time keeper. "But she would turn up," he said.

Put to him that she was "erratic", he said: "Totally," adding: "She got better, mind you."

Det-Sgt Keane told the trial he had searched Mr Quirke's house on May 17, 2013. When he cautioned the defendant, Mr Quirke said: "The media were wrong when they said the clothing and wallet were found in the tank with the body."

He said this after reading the warrant, which listed the items being searched for as including Mr Ryan's clothing, footwear, jewellery, keys and a weapon, Det-Sgt Keane said.

Mr Quirke asked how Mr Ryan had died and he replied that he couldn't tell him.

Gardaí spent several hours at Mr Quirke's house - arriving at 9.45am and leaving at 4.45pm, he said. Items taken away included computers and other electronic devices, a few documents, a pair of green overalls, a red portfolio "and items of that nature", Det Sgt Keane said.

A trailer was also taken and removed by gardaí.

Meanwhile, farm machinery salesman and part-time printer Seamus Buckley told the trial he met Mr Quirke at the Ploughing Championships in Wexford in 2012 and sold him a tractor some weeks later.

In early April 2013, Mr Quirke came to him again to trade in his vacuum tanker for a larger model.

Mr Buckley said he believed one of Mr Quirke's farm hands had picked up the tanker on the Friday before Mr Ryan's body was found.

He told the jury he also had involvement with the Quirkes following the tragic death of their young son in August 2012, discussing memorial cards in his role as printer.

The trial continues before Justice Eileen Creedon.

Irish Independent

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