Sunday 24 March 2019

'Love rival' trial: further forensic testing proved no blood found at house of Mary Lowry

Patrick Quirke (50) at court on Tuesday. PIC: Collins Courts
Patrick Quirke (50) at court on Tuesday. PIC: Collins Courts
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

FURTHER forensic testing proved that no blood was found at the house of Mary Lowry, the Tipperary murder trial has heard.

Dr Martina McBride of Forensic Science Ireland attended the home of Mary Lowry on May 3, 2013 with the purpose of looking for any trace of blood staining in the house.

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

She came to the conclusion that she did not find evidence of an assault in the living room or bedroom.

"There was no sign of an assault where large amounts of blood was spilled," she said. The house had been painted in the meantime but nothing was found on the wooden floors, skirting or ceilings, she said.

She 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. Two further tests were negative for human blood.

Mary Lowry. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Lowry. Photo: Tony Gavin

Dr McBride said that, in her opinion, the substance was fly faeces, explaining that flies often congregate around a light fitting and fly faeces can give a false positive for blood staining.

Patrick Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary 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.

Dr McBride explained that preliminary tests can indicate that blood may be present but can also give a false positive reaction to a number of different substances, including vegetables, faeces, iron, rust and certain juices.

Luminol testing was done on the rooms, which she explained is particularly good for old or degraded blood stains. It is a spray which is of particular use to cover a wide area, she said, and if it comes in contact with something that may be blood, it gives off a blue fluorescence.

Dr McBride said that she always carries out a visual examination using a white light first, explaining that if she sees any stains, she would run a Kastle-Meyer test and see what the reaction was.

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

The fact that the deceased man had been missing two years and the house had been painted 'lessened my expectations,' she said.

"I have found blood in older scenes but you don't know til you get there," said Dr McBride.

Asked if 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.

While asked the significance of her mention of skirting boards and light fittings, Dr McBride replied that these are sometimes areas missing in redecoration, while "sometimes people don't notice blood on ceilings or spots on ceilings."

Dr Hillary Clark of Forensic Science Ireland told the trial 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 that the body in the tank was that of Bobby Ryan.

She also examined samples taken from Mary Lowry's house, including the light fitting, three pieces of carpet from the bedroom and the kickboard of the wardrobe. No blood was found on the light fitting, the carpet or the kickboard, 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, explaining that there are numerous ways in which DNA could be transferred.

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

Dr Clark had examined a hair clip found in the runoff 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 diametre of more than 4cm when closed and therefore would not have been capable of looping around two arms or two legs, she told the trial.

The trial continues

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