Sunday 24 March 2019

Forensic tests proved no blood found in Mary Lowry's house, court told

There was no sign of assault, expert tells Tipperary murder trial

Mary Lowry. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Lowry. Photo: Tony Gavin
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

A forensic scientist found "no sign of an assault where large amounts of blood was spilled" in the home of Mary Lowry, the Tipperary murder trial has been told.

Sensitive forensic testing proved no blood was found at Ms Lowry's house.

Gardaí had initially identified blood spots at a number of areas at the scene but further analysis ruled that out.

Patrick Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan (52), a part-time DJ known as Mr Moonlight, on a date between June 3, 2011, and April 2013.

Dr Martina McBride, of Forensic Science Ireland which is part of the Department of Justice and Equality, attended the home of Ms Lowry on May 3, 2013.

She had been informed the house had been painted in the interim, Dr McBride told the Central Criminal Court, adding this informed her expectation of what she might find.

Dr Martina McBride, of Forensic Science Ireland. Photo: Collins Courts
Dr Martina McBride, of Forensic Science Ireland. Photo: Collins Courts

After testing in the living room and master bedroom, she came to the conclusion she did not find evidence of an assault.

"There was no sign of an assault where large amounts of blood was spilled," she said.

The house had been painted in the 22 months since Mr Ryan's disappearance but she examined skirting boards and ceilings because traces of blood might be found there, she explained.

Dr McBride carried out a visual examination of the living room and master bedroom and a number of samples were taken. The light fitting from the living room contained small spots that could be visually be mistaken for blood, she said. However, two further tests were negative for human blood.

Patrick Quirke. Photo: Collins Courts
Patrick Quirke. Photo: Collins Courts

Dr McBride said that, in her opinion, the substance was fly faeces, which can give a false positive for blood staining.

She explained that preliminary tests can indicate the presence of blood but also give a false positive reaction to a number of different substances, including vegetables, faeces and iron.

Asked in cross-examination by Lorcan Staines SC how the house being redecorated might have affected her expectation of finding blood, Dr McBride explained the first thing she wanted to know was what the injuries to the deceased man were.

She was told an assault, which would have created a lot of blood staining, she said.

"If he was killed in the house and there wasn't a clean-up, I'd expect to find a lot of blood," she added.

Asked whether it was fair to say she went there with a "low" expectation, she said: "No, not a low expectation but I would've expected to have found blood if the assault occurred in the house.

"I went there with the expectation that it was worth looking for blood," she said.

Dr Hillary Clark, also of Forensic Science Ireland, told Michael Bowman SC for the prosecution that she carried out DNA testing on the remains found in the tank, which were positive to 99.99pc that the DNA was that of the father of Michelle and Robert Ryan Jnr and therefore proved the body in the tank was that of Bobby Ryan.

No blood was found on the light fitting, carpet samples or the kickboard of a wardrobe, she said.

A swab on the wall behind the bed indicated a partial DNA profile but it was not enough for a profile and may have been from saliva, a touch, cough or sneeze, she said.

Meanwhile swabs taken from the vehicle of Bobby Ryan showed some elements that were present in Mr Ryan's own DNA profile.

Dr Clark had examined a hair clip found in the run-off tank and found that around a third of it was missing and it was unable to close.

She also examined a variety of cable ties, 15 in total, none of which had a diameter of more than 4cm when closed and therefore would not have been capable of looping around two arms or two legs, she told the jury.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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