'Love rival' verdict: Patrick Quirke shows no emotion as he is handed down life sentence for the murder of Bobby Ryan
- Found guilty in majority verdict of murdering 'Mr Moonlight' DJ Bobby Ryan
- A number of friends and relatives of Mr Ryan wept after the verdict was delivered
- 'Was he calling our names for help?' his daughter asks
- Verdict after a 15-week murder trial, the longest in the history of the State
FARMER Patrick Quirke has been found guilty of murdering his love rival Bobby Ryan.
The jury at the Central Criminal Court returned the majority verdict of 10-2 this afternoon after deliberating for 20 hours and 39 minutes.
The verdict comes after a 15-week murder trial, the longest in the history of the State.
Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, had denied murdering Mr Ryan (52) on a date between June 3, 2011, and April 2013.
It was alleged Quirke killed Mr Ryan so he could rekindle his affair with Mary Lowry, the widow whose farm Quirke was leasing. This was denied by Quirke.
Mr Ryan was in a relationship with Ms Lowry at the time of his disappearance.
The jury has heard Mr Ryan disappeared after leaving Ms Lowry’s house at Fawnagown, Co Tipperary at 6.30am on the morning of June 3, 2011.
His body was discovered 22 months later by Quirke in an underground tank on the farm, but the prosecution alleged this was a “staged” discovery.
Quirke showed no reaction when the verdict was delivered.
He was taken into custody only to be brought back to court a short time later to be sentenced.
Mr Quirke's prisoner number will be 107243.
A number of friends and relatives of victim Mr Ryan - a father of two and part-time DJ known as Mr Moonlight - wept after the verdict was delivered.
"On June 3, 2011, our lives and world as we knew it was torn apart," his daughter Michelle said in an emotional victim impact statement.
"I can’t find the words to describe how it feels emotionally. It is a torment that is constantly with us. A black hole that is with us every day.
"The mental anguish wondering every day was daddy calling out for help. Was he calling our names for help?
"We close our eyes every night and picture daddy with fear in his eyes," she added.
“Daddy, I described you as ‘wow’ when I was asked, because that is what you are. Such a wonderful, caring father and grandfather.
“We will carry you in our hearts every day in everything we do for the rest of our lives.
“So until we meet again Moonlight, just know how much you are loved and sorely missed by us every day."
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon sentenced Quirke to a mandatory life sentence, starting from today.
When Quirke reappeared in court for the sentencing hearing, he was no longer wearing the tie he had on earlier in the day.
He looked directly ahead as Michelle Ryan delivered her victim impact statement.
There was no sign of emotion on his face.
Earlier, on entering the court just after 2.30pm, the court registrar asked the jury foreman if they had reached a verdict. He confirmed they had and handed the issue paper to the registrar.
The foreman then confirmed the verdict was one of guilty on a majority verdict of ten to two.
Ms Justice Creedon thanked the jury for their service. She said the jury had shown "exceptional patience" and she exempted each juror from jury duty for the rest of their lives.
The jury’s verdict came just hours after the judge told jurors that at this stage of their deliberations she would accept a majority verdict.
The prosecution case against Quirke was made up almost entirely of circumstantial evidence. The prosecution said that various circumstantial evidence, when woven together, proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, the defence disagreed. It said there was no hard evidence against Quirke and that he should be acquitted.
Although the jury did not give reasons for its decision, it is likely a number of strands of evidence proved crucial.
These included the evidence of Mary Lowry.
She “bared her soul” and candidly told everything about her private life, her guilt over a “seedy affair” with Quirke and her joy at finding a new relationship.
Her testimony gripped the nation and the truth she spoke was unmistakeable. She could not be shaken by the defence, no matter how hard they tried.
The evidence of artificial insemination technician Breda O’Dwyer was also crucial.
Knowing Patrick Quirke’s habits over the 15 years she had been going to his farm, she said he was unusually late finishing his milking on the morning of Mr Ryan’s disappearance and was adamant she was not mistaken on this. His alibi was suddenly shredded – opening up a window for murder.
Another key strand of evidence was the agony aunt letter to Patricia Redlich of the Sunday Independent in which Quirke wrote first hand of his anger at Mary Lowry that she had begun a new relationship despite all he had “done for her.”
"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,” he wrote. This proved to be a chilling, first hand account of what drove Quirke to murder.
Via video link from the Irish consulate in Boston, and with a slight American twang, social worker Deirdre Caverley gave evidence of a phone call she had taken in her role as social worker in south Tipperary, from Patrick Quirke in February 2011.
He had expressed “concerns” about the three Lowry children. He claimed Mary had 'lost the run of herself' and had become fixated on this relationship. It showed the extent to which Quirke would stoop to exert control over Ms Lowry – hoping she would be forced to choose between her children and Bobby and then come back to him.
The pathology evidence showed that Mr Ryan had similar injuries to punishment victims inflicted by members of paramilitary organisations, Jack Crane, the former Northern Ireland Chief Pathologist told the trial. Photographs showed Mr Ryan’s skull suffered multiple fractures.
CCTV footage was also a important part of the evidence.
This showed Quirke prowling Mary Lowry’s house and peering in her windows and interfering with underwear on her clothes line.
In garda interviews he said he was only “looking at the label” on the underwear because he was “curious.”
Multiple attempts were made by the defence to prevent internet searches by Quirke being put into evidence.
But it was futile – and the Google searches conducted by Quirke for “human decomposition” proved to be the turning point in the trial.
Another crucial piece of evidence was the A4 notepad with the writing deliberately left by Quirke in his study, which pointed to a clear plot by Quirke to implicate Mary Lowry in the murder of Bobby Ryan. However, the hidden writings revealed the murky truth, with Quirke writing: “What the guards will know” and “dispose of clothes\phone\any other evidence.”
The moment when it emerged that Quirke was effectively paying €1,600 a year to rent the 60 acres of prime land in the Golden Vale, as well as getting various ‘loans’ from Ms Lowry was also a crucial event in the trial.
Gardaí put it to him that he was using Mary Lowry in every way for “cash on demand and sex on demand.” Quirke denied it. But with such indisputable evidence, a clear motive emerged.
Another key piece of evidence came when Mary Lowry took the stand for the final time and secret recordings made of her by Quirke were put to her.
He had taped her laughing and chatting in her house with her then partner, Flor Cantillon. She had not known the tapes were made, nor had she consented to them. The tapes were played in court and we heard her, light-hearted, giggling and oblivious to the sinister, watchful monitoring of her.
More to follow