Wednesday 20 February 2019

Farmer killed love rival and hid body in slurry tank to restart affair, court hears

Naked body of DJ 'Mr Moonlight' found three years after he vanished

Patrick Quirke, who is on trial for the murder of Mr Ryan. Picture: Collins
Patrick Quirke, who is on trial for the murder of Mr Ryan. Picture: Collins
Gardaí examine the slurry tank where the body of Bobby Ryan was found in Fawnagown, Co Tipperary. Picture: Brian Gavin/Press 22
Bobby Ryan

Eoin Reynolds

A farmer murdered his "love rival" - a DJ known as 'Mr Moonlight' - and hid his naked body in a slurry tank so he could rekindle an affair with his best friend's widow, a prosecution barrister has told a murder trial.

Michael Bowman SC opened the trial of Patrick Quirke by saying the prosecution will use circumstantial evidence to prove the guilt of the accused.

Mr Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan (52) on a date between June 3, 2011 and April 13, 2013.

Outlining the prosecution's case Mr Bowman said the accused started an affair in 2008 with Mary Lowry after the death of her husband Martin, Mr Quirke's best friend. Mr Quirke is married to Martin Lowry's sister, Imelda.

Ms Lowry had been left with a farm following her husband's death but had no interest in farming so Mr Quirke leased about 63 acres from her. He continued his relationship with Mary Lowry in secret until she ended it in 2010.

In August of that year she met Bobby Ryan, a local DJ who went by the name Mr Moonlight.

They started a relationship and Mr Bowman said Bobby Ryan offered Ms Lowry something the married Patrick Quirke could not - a "conventional relationship".

Mr Bowman said the accused "did what he felt compelled to do and got rid of his love rival in the hope that he could go back to how things were before Bobby Ryan."

Mr Ryan spent the night of June 2 with Mary Lowry at her home and left at about 6.30am so that her children would not know he had stayed over.

Ms Lowry was in the habit of waiting to hear Mr Ryan's van cross the grate at the end of the drive so that she could relax knowing he had left unnoticed.

On this morning, however, she noticed that he took longer than usual to drive away.

When Mr Ryan failed to turn up for work that morning at a local quarry his family were alerted and a search began.

Mr Ryan's silver van was found by a local beauty spot known as Kilshane Wood.

His daughter Michelle became concerned when she realised it was parked in fourth gear and was not locked despite having her father's DJ equipment inside.

The seats had been moved into an unfamiliar position.

Mr Bowman said the accused would say he was milking cows that morning.

Despite a search of the farmland, Mr Ryan was not found. In his absence, the relationship between the accused and Ms Lowry was rekindled. But, Mr Bowman said, again Ms Lowry put an end to it.

By April 2013 Ms Lowry had decided to terminate Mr Quirke's lease on her land and he agreed to leave by July 1 of that year.

On April 13, Mr Quirke said he was trying to get water from a slurry tank when he came across Mr Ryan's naked, dead body buried in what Mr Bowman described as a "concrete sarcophagus" inside the tank.

His clothes, car keys, phone and other belongings have never been found.

A post-mortem showed he had suffered blunt force trauma and sustained fractures to his skull, ribs and one leg.

The finding of the body, Mr Bowman said, was "carefully managed, orchestrated and staged" by Mr Quirke in circumstances where he knew he would soon be giving up control of the land where he had dumped the body.

He said the "innocent" explanation for finding the body at that time would not stand up to scrutiny.

While counsel said there would be no "smoking gun" evidence, the cumulative weight of circumstantial evidence would be enough to prove his guilt.

He said Mr Ryan had been murdered and the only question was by whom. The accused, he said, had the motive and the opportunity and had access to the tank where the body was found.

The trial continues in front of Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of six men and six women.

Irish Independent

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