Sunday 24 March 2019

'Love rival' trial: Garda who found body of Bobby Ryan believed 'he had been murdered or seriously assaulted and died in tank'

Patrick Quirke. Picture: Collins
Patrick Quirke. Picture: Collins
Bobby Ryan
The scene at the farm in Fawnagowan outside Tipperary town where the body of Bobby Ryan was discovered. Picture: Brian Gavin/Press 22
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

A SENIOR garda who attended the scene after the discovery of a body in an agricultural tank has told how he looked into the tank and believed it was Bobby Ryan.

Superintendent Patrick O'Callaghan told the murder trial that as a result of what he saw, he believed "he had been murdered and placed in the tank or he had been placed in the tank as a result of a serious assault and died in the tank."

He said he received a call on April 30 2013 and went to Mary Lowry's farm at Fawnagowan, Co Tipperary.

Patrick 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 2013.

Accused Patrick Quirke outside court. Photo: Collins Courts
Accused Patrick Quirke outside court. Photo: Collins Courts

When Super O'Callaghan arrived at the scene, Patrick Quirke and his wife Imelda, were sitting on a small wall as you walked from the front yard at Mary Lowry's house towards the tank where the remains were found.

One of the flagstones over the tank was 'slightly ajar' and a pipe was stuck into the hole, he noted. It was attached to a tanker or slurry spread, which was attached to a tractor.

He looked in and initially saw nothing. He then got down on his knees and lowered his head in and could see the outline of a body. With the aid of a torch he brought with him, he could see a clearer view, he told the trial.

"As a result of what I saw I believe that the person in the tank was Bobby Ryan," he said.

"I believe that he had been murdered and placed in the tank or he had been placed in the tank as a result of a serious assault and died in the tank."

Super O'Callaghan said he requested that the scene be preserved.

He then called to Mary Lowry's house and told her "exactly what was going on - that the scene was now preserved and I asked her to leave the scene, which she did," he told the court.

Under cross examination, he said they had given her some time to 'collect her bits and pieces' and he told the court she was 'more than willing' to comply.

Super O'Callaghan said he was 'in and out of the scene' a number of times throughout the day and returned around 5.50pm.

Garda Conor Ryan pulled the tractor, trailer and pipe away from the scene and released the fluid, in the presence of a garda from the Scenes of Crime unit and Super O'Callaghan said he saw fluid coming out of the back.

He told the court a discussion had taken place on how best to remove the body given its condition in the tank. It was decided that they would lift the roof off, because the fire service had indicated they would not enter the tank unless the roof had been taken off.

The body was then taken from the tank, initially placed on the ground before being placed in a body bag and then removed to Waterford hospital.

Under cross examination, Super O'Callaghan told Lorcan Staines SC for the Defence that he went back to the station and described what he saw at the scene in his notebook. Not every garda at the scene takes notes, he said, adding: "If everyone takes notes nothing would be done. You take notes as best you can."

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