Thursday 21 March 2019

'Love rival' trial: Ladies' hair clip, cable ties and bone fragments found in tank with DJ's body

Garda examiner didn't make note about some items found with corpse

Patrick Quirke
Patrick Quirke
Detective Garda Sharon Langan
Garda Gerard Canty
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

A broken hair clip, cable ties, buttons and bone fragments were among a collection of items retrieved by gardaí from the tank in which the remains of Bobby Ryan were found.

Crime scene examiner Garda Gerry Canty told the trial he visited the farm at Fawnagowan, Co Tipperary, the day after Mr Ryan's remains were found.

He photographed the items taken from the tank.

Tubing, buttons and pipe covers were also found.

The items were placed in a clear tamper-evident bag as exhibits in the case, he said.

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


Under cross-examination by Lorcan Staines SC, for the defence, Garda Canty said there was no discussion about the items when they were found and he said he didn't have any thoughts about them.

He was asked if he was not surprised that a ladies' hair clip had been found in the tank.

"I wasn't surprised and nobody expressed surprise to me either," he said.

He agreed the photographs of the items were not given to the exhibits officer until five-and-a-half years after they had been taken, and also that he had not made a statement until November last year.

He agreed there was nothing in his notes or statement about a hair clip, nor was it catalogued on the outside of the tamper-evident bag.

However, he said the evidence bag containing the items was given to the exhibits officer and its contents would have been visible when the bag was new.

Mr Staines also put it to him that the chart disclosed to the defence said only that there were cable ties and pipe covers in the bag, but Gda Canty said he did not complete the chart.


Under questioning by Michael Bowman SC, for the prosecution, Gda Canty was asked if he had "any dealings at all" with the bag of evidence and Gda Canty said he did not.

Asked if he had made any recording in his notebook about buttons, cable ties or a length of pipe, he said he had not.

"I don't walk around with my notebook in my hand recording everything I see.

"If I think it's relevant, I record it," he said.

The daughter of Bobby Ryan left the court, accompanied by her mother, as images of his remains appeared momentarily on the large screens in courtroom 13.

The photographs were being shown as part of the series from the scene taken by Garda photographer John Kavanagh.

The garda was asked under cross-examination by Mr Staines if, during the taking of his photographs, he recalled the breaking of a large concrete slab as it was taken away by JCB from the top of the tank in which Mr Ryan's remains had been discovered.

Mr Staines put it to him there "must have been a large amount of dust in the air and a huge amount of noise if a concrete slab with metal in the middle of it breaks in half but you have no memory of it".

Gda Kavanagh agreed he did not.

"There's a decomposing body in that tank. This slab breaks off and material falls on to the body below," continued Mr Staines.

"This is a forensic scene -everyone is trying to keep it as pristine as possible but you've no memory at all."

Gda Kavanagh agreed again that he did not recall this happening.

Put to him it was "probably the most remarkable event of the whole day", Gda Kavanagh said that if he was taking photographs, he would probably have moved into a different position until they had finished what they were doing.

Earlier, Detective Garda Sharon Langan, of the ballistics section of the Garda Technical Bureau, told the trial she visited the farm at Fawnagowan on April 30, 2013.


On arrival, she looked into the tank and saw what she thought was a body lying face down in water or effluent.

The body was removed from the tank by firefighters wearing bio-hazard suits, who laid out the body on plastic sheeting.

"We wrapped the body and placed it in a body bag," she said. The body was "very decomposed", Gda Langan said, adding that she noted a gold watch.

The next day, she was present for the post-mortem examination at Waterford hospital carried out by Dr Khalid Jaber.

He gave her a number of samples including deep muscle tissue, the gold watch, bone marrow, head hair, a maggot and a tooth.

On May 20, 2013, she carried out an examination and took a number of exhibits from a Citroen Dispatch motor van, which had belonged to the deceased.

She used lighting to check for stains and took swabs from the driver's seat, seatbelt and front pedals.

Under cross-examination, Gda Langan said she was not aware the arm of the deceased had become detached amid the efforts to retrieve the remains from the tank.

Asked if she had questioned the absence of a pathologist at the scene, she said she had not but agreed it was best practice to do so and in an "ideal world all of that would fall into place".

She said sometimes scientists are requested but are not available.

"We carry on as best we can," she said.

She also examined the deceased's Citroen van and said she was "not optimistic" any evidence would be found given that it was 22 months later and it had been used in the interim.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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