Thursday 17 October 2019

'I did not kill Bobby Ryan' - what Quirke told gardaí after DJ's body found

Patrick Quirke and his wife Imelda leaving the courthouse. Picture: Collins
Patrick Quirke and his wife Imelda leaving the courthouse. Picture: Collins
Mary Lowry. Photo: Tony Gavin
Bobby Ryan
Grim find: Gardaí at the scene on the Lowry farm in 2013. Photo: Press 22
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Tracing Patrick Quirke's movements around the time of Bobby Ryan's death, gardaí went back to the day before the disappearance of the man Mr Quirke described as a "lived-for-the-moment type of chap".

It was Thursday, June 2, 2011. "I probably can't remember the Thursday at all," Mr Quirke told Inspector David Buckley in a voluntary cautioned statement on May 16, 2013.

The interviews, heard by the jury earlier this week, were lengthy and detailed.

It was his wife's birthday, Mr Quirke recalled, adding: "It was a normal day."

They would have baled silage on the farm and that evening, at around 8pm, he had travelled on his own to a meeting in the Horse and Jockey - it was a syndicate of property investors, of around 20 to 30 people, he told them.

There were discussions about the sale of a building. "It was slightly heated," Mr Quirke recalled.

It could have been 11.30pm when he left there and came home, he said.

He did not think he had met Mary Lowry that day.

"Myself and Mary were not getting on at that time," he said. They would not have had a reason to meet, he added.

He didn't think his wife was up when he got home but thought she might have been in bed but awake.

"I presume we did talk about the meeting," he said, adding: "She's a night-time person, I'm a morning person."

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

Gardaí had asked him what time he had got up the next morning, June 3, 2011.

Mr Quirke told them he never checks the time but thought that he probably got up around 6.15am.

He milked the cows at his own place at Breanshamore. He had 120 animals at this time, he said. There were around 15 in a row in the dairy, with each row taking around 10 to 12 minutes to milk.

When he was on the last row, he got a text from a local boy, who wanted to help out and he told him to come down.

It was around 8.30am and Mr Quirke left him to finish the milking while he went to Fawnagowan to collect his bulls from the shed.

"I wanted to get in and out fast," he said.

He dropped off the bulls, left them to follow the cows back to the paddock and they went in for breakfast at 9.20am, Mr Quirke said.

The youngster with him started to bring in the bales, Mr Quirke needed to fix a wire in a fence and when he went back to the house and got ready, Imelda was waiting and they set off together.

"Had ye a good weekend in the Heritage?" Inspector Buckley asked Mr Quirke during the interview.

He said they had. He and Imelda were "getting on well".

It was unusual for them to go away at that time of the year but he had arranged a weekend away at the hotel in Laois for Imelda as a birthday surprise, he told gardaí.

"She knew she was going somewhere, she didn't know where," he said.

At that point, Mr Quirke had been asked to jump forward to 2013, when Mr Ryan's remains were found.

He had gone to the run-off tank on April 30, expecting it to contain enough water for him to mix with slurry, but he was "disappointed" to find it was only a half to two-thirds full.

He had expected there to be more, he claimed, because there had been a leak in the milking parlour water system around March 12 or 13, and the water had flowed for two days.

He began to suck the water out but thought the hose seemed "stuck to the ground" so he stopped, moved his tractor and tanker forward by about a foot, and began again.

Initially, on his first glance through the hole in which his hose went in, he thought he saw carpet or plastic.

A "foreign object", he said to gardaí.

He pulled back the second flagstone over the tank and said "I saw it then".

Asked by gardaí whether he could describe it, he replied: "Graphically, every time I close my eyes."

He had called his wife Imelda but didn't tell her anything over the phone, just saying 'yes' in reply to her query as to whether he needed a lift.

When Imelda arrived, he showed her the body.

"She seemed kind of calm - maybe she was trying to keep me calm," he said.

Inspector Buckley put it to him that if it was his wife, he would have preferred her not to see the body in the tank.

To that, Mr Quirke replied: "I know what Imelda is like in a crisis. I know she'd know what to do."

Asked why he hadn't phoned gardaí, Mr Quirke said: "I don't know. I wasn't thinking straight. I wasn't acting straight.

"I just wanted to meet one person."

Gardaí then asked him why he did not alert the landowner, Mary Lowry. He said: "I didn't want to meet her," adding that he wanted to "avoid her".

He said he was concerned the body was naked, adding: "My first instinct was the man didn't walk out of the house."

Asked whether he had any theories of how the body had ended up in the tank, he replied: "I don't know. I turned that around in my head."

He said he had been involved in a conversation with someone who said it was "standard to remove the clothing to get rid of forensics" and that "someone professional would remove the clothes".

"You come up with theories. It frightened me, the whole thing frightened me," he told gardaí.

He was "afraid" of Mary Lowry, he claimed.

When asked why, he replied: "I'm always afraid of Mary Lowry.

"She's vicious. She already abused me the evening before in the yard," he said.

Asked whether she was ever violent towards him or whether it was verbal abuse, Mr Quirke replied that it was verbal abuse.

"Were you ever verbal towards her?" gardaí asked him, and Mr Quirke said: "Yes, probably."

Put to him that he had said his first instincts were that the body was that of Bobby Ryan, he said: "Sure, who else would it be?

"I always thought something sinister happened," he said.

"I suppose I'm always curious by nature. I couldn't go with the flow because I knew he didn't commit suicide," Mr Quirke said.

He told them he knew Mr Ryan had not just gone into the woods or "hitched a ride" to Rosslare and got the ferry - but also knew he hadn't committed suicide because they hadn't found a body, adding: "Anyone who commits suicide wants to be found."

The next interview was on May 21, 2013.

Gardaí had asked Mr Quirke about his affair with Ms Lowry.

He told them it started after he told her he would have to "pull back" from his involvement in her farm because he was "falling in love" with her.

Ms Lowry's exact answer was "I am too", he said.

Asked whether it was "widely known" that he and Ms Lowry were having an affair, he said: "Widely known here but not outside."

Asked to describe the relationship, Mr Quirke told gardaí he and Ms Lowry had generally met at Fawnagowan. They went out to lunch together "but not too much" and did not do much socialising. They went away for a night "three or four times", he said.

He later listed off the hotels in which they had been - in 2008, the Lyrath in Kilkenny and the G in Galway; in 2011 the Cliff House in Ardmore, Co Waterford, and January 2012, Fitzpatricks in Killiney, Co Dublin.

Asked whether his wife Imelda had "an inkling", he said: "Probably she did but she never said anything to me."

Ms Lowry and he had discussed a possible future together, with Ms Lowry saying "when the kids grew up".

They confided in one another and he advised her financially.

When she ended their affair in December 2010, he was angry. He took her phone and rang Bobby, saying: "I'm the man," before hanging up.

"I never threatened Bobby Ryan in any way," Mr Quirke told gardaí, adding: "I challenge anyone to show that I did.

"I did not kill Bobby Ryan - there is someone out there who did do it and he is laughing at the moment because you are looking at me," he said.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News