Sunday 18 August 2019

'Love rival' trial: During search of his home, Patrick Quirke asked investigating gardai how Bobby Ryan had died

Murder trial: Patrick Quirke (50) leaving court yesterday with his wife, Imelda
Murder trial: Patrick Quirke (50) leaving court yesterday with his wife, Imelda
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

COMPUTERS and electronic devices were amongst items removed from the home of Patrick Quirke by gardaí in a search of his home, 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.

Patrick 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 that Patrick Quirke asked to borrow his tractor and silage agitator in the month before the remains of Mr Ryan were discovered in a run-off tank.

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

Close: Bobby Ryan and his daughter Michelle were both DJs, calling themselves Mr Moonlight and Shelley Moonlight
Close: Bobby Ryan and his daughter Michelle were both DJs, calling themselves Mr Moonlight and Shelley Moonlight

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. 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' into to the tank rather than forward.

Asked how he would get the slurry from the slatted tank into the lagoon for spreading it, Mr O'Donnell said; "You'd agitate it", mix it with liquid and 'suck out a couple of loads.'

"Then it would blow into the tank," he said.

It would take about six loads of around two and a half thousand gallons each, to empty the slatted tank, he said, explaining: "But you'd lose a lot of that because it wouldn't carry....it would escape because of the fall being wrong in the tank."

He later explained that the connecting channel was inclined to block.

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

Again asked if he had ever used that tank, he said he had not.

Asked how long he had worked for Mr Quirke, Mr O'Donnell said he had worked doing slurry at Fawnagowan before Pat Quirke took over and so in all, he had worked there for about 15 years in total.

Asked if anyone had ever suggested he use that tank, he said no because the farmer would usually look after that himself as it would be 'too expensive to have me messing around with a small tank.'

Mr O'Donnell was asked about a conversation he had had with Mr Quirke around the issue of borrowing a tractor and trailer. Mr O'Donnell said he thought it was around March that Mr Quirke had asked if he could borrow his tractor because he was no longer allowed to use Mary Lowry's tractor.

However, there was nothing unusual about this, he said, because as neighbours they would lend one another equipment all the time.

Under cross examination, he said Mr Quirke had borrowed this equipment previously.

Bernard Condon SC for the defence asked about whether the milking process was something that could vary from day to day and 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," he said.

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."

Dt Sgt John Keane told the trial that he had searched Mr Quirke's house in the aftermath of the discovery of Bobby Ryan's body.

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."

Mr Quirke asked how Mr Ryan had died and the 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," Dt Sgt Keane said.

A trailer was also taken and removed by gardaí, he said.

The trial continues.

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