Tuesday 16 July 2019

'Love rival' trial: Widow claims murder accused 'took her underwear from the clothes line'

Jury hears details of a letter published in 2011 to an agony aunt

Mary Lowry pictured outside court. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Mary Lowry pictured outside court. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Patrick Quirke, who is on trial for the murder of Mr Ryan. Picture: Collins
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

A WOMAN has told a murder trial that she confronted the man who was leasing her farm and accused him of taking her underwear from the clothes line.

Mary Lowry told the Central Criminal Court that she had four CCTV cameras installed on her farm in November 2012 after the Eircom Phonewatch alarm system she'd had put in two years previous had been activated some 17 times over that period.

Nobody knew the cameras were there apart from her three sons, she explained.

Footage was shown to the jury in the trial of Patrick Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 52-year-old Bobby Ryan, a DJ known as 'Mr Moonlight', on a date between June 3 2011 and April 2013.

Taken through the footage by counsel for the Prosecution, Ms Lowry identified Mr Quirke as coming onto her property on December 3, 2012.

The cameras captured Mr Quirke going into a shed at the back of her house, where she said the clothes line was located.

Asked what was on the line, she said: "Items of clothing, everything. I had underwear on that line."

The same footage showed Mr Quirke walking around the property and looking in the windows of her house, before returning to the shed.

Ms Lowry said that on returning to her home, she got her sons to retrieve the CCTV footage and she watched it.

Asked if she had confronted Mr Quirke after this incident, Ms Lowry said she had contacted the garda station. However at that stage, she said she did not want to go down the formal route, explaining that Mr Quirke had lost his son earlier that year. She thought that sending a solicitor's letter would be more appropriate, informing him that she wanted him to cease the lease and leave the farm.

Asked if she had any other engagement with Mr Quirke, she said that after informing her solicitor to draft a letter "as kind-hearted as possible" asking him to leave. That day, she came home and Mr Quirke handed her back a key to her front door, claiming he had found it in the yard on the day that she had seen him on the CCTV, December 3.

He said he had found the key that day and had just put it in the lock to see if it was her key.

Asked how he had presented, Ms Lowry said he was "very shaky and extremely nervous, very, very strange indeed".

"Physically, he was shaking," she added.

She believed the key was the one that had gone missing a long time previous, while her brother, Eddie, was building an extension to her house.

After he had received the solicitor's letter, Mr Quirke had written back saying the only way he would leave the lease is if she compensated him, giving him money to leave the farm.

"I wasn't going to do that. I did not do that," she told the court.

Letters went 'back and forth', Ms Lowry said, with her solicitor asking Mr Quirke not to come near the farm or the house.

Ultimately, in March, he was asked to leave the farm in early July 2013 and he agreed to do that. One final payment was due on the land but asked if she had been paid, Ms Lowry replied 'no.'

She said she was aware he had made alternative arrangements to lease land from a neighbour, Mary Dillon.

On the evening of April 29, an unfamiliar tractor with an agitator for stirring slurry drove into the farmyard and when she went down to check, saw that it was Pat Quirke. He asked if she was 'alright, there.'

Apologising to the court for her language, Ms Lowry said that she had told him: "You are some c*** and I can't wait to see the back of you and I hope that you won't be stealing Mary Dillon's knickers off the line."

That was in relation to the land he was going to lease, she explained, and also 'in relation to what he took off my clothes line,' she added.

His response was "ha," she claimed.

The following day, April 30 2013, Ms Lowry said gardaí arrived at her farm and informed her a body had been found in the septic tank "out the back."

She said she knew it was not the septic tank because she knew where that was located.

Ms Lowry said she had not been aware of the existence of the tank where the body was found. She met Mr Quirke and his wife, Imelda at the scene. She made no eye contact but told the court she felt Imelda was "shook by it."

"Pat was not perturbed at all," she claimed.

Ms Lowry told the court she has not returned to her house at Fawnagowan, Co Tipperary since that time, adding: "I left my home."

Meanwhile the jury heard details of a letter published in February 2011 in the Sunday Independent, to agony aunt, Patricia Redlich.

The letter read: “I've made a right mess of my life and I need help on how to go forward. It all started four years ago, when my best friend died. This man was also my wife's cousin and a close family friend. He left a wife and a young family after him.

"I coped by throwing myself into doing all I could for my friend's wife and children. There was much sorting out to do in relation to his business. Unfortunately, this led to an affair with his wife, and I fell deeply in love with her.

"It lasted three years and came to an abrupt end recently when I found out that she was seeing someone else. When I confronted her, she claimed that she had fallen out of love with me and was waiting for an opportunity to end "us".

"This was a defining moment for both of us. She no longer depended on me, and quickly forgot about me by putting all her energy into developing this new relationship. This man promised everything that I couldn't. She introduced him to everyone in the family, including my wife, and they were all delighted that she had found love again.

"My problem is that I am broken-hearted and angry at how well things have worked out for her, despite her lying and cheating on me. We meet on a constant basis as we have a business connection as well as the family connection. She refuses to discuss our affair and says it is in the past.

"She has confessed it to her new lover, while I have no closure and am forced to carry this dark secret alone. I now feel a tremendous amount of grief, and shame, for a lost love -- and am possibly suffering postponed grief for a dead friend - all in silence.

"I know I have done wrong and let my wife down badly. I contemplated telling her, but feel it would do nothing to relieve my burden while it would devastate her.

"I have been diagnosed with depression, but none of the medication is working. My wife has been a tremendous support and loves me deeply. Ironically, this almost makes things worse.

"Unfortunately, while I love her, I am not in love with her. I'm still in love with my ex-lover even though I accept that the affair is over. I wish I wasn't, and wish I could transfer the feelings I have for her back to my wife. How do I begin to rebuild my life?"

Ms Lowry told the court that she recognised this letter as having been written by Mr Quirke and has previously told the court that she was “fuming” over it.

The trial continues.

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