Maeve Sheehan: 'Two bright red spots on Patrick Quirke's cheeks the only giveaway of the turmoil beneath that implacable surface'
THE days had dragged by.
Spectators huddled in groups in the corridors of the circular mezzanine on the fourth floor. Reporters tapped on laptops.
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Pat Quirke and his wife, Imelda, mostly sat on a different floor, presumably for some privacy.
Yesterday they sat with their eldest son on the second floor, waiting, waiting.
Their son scrolled through his iPhone. Imelda sat beside him, legs crossed, holding a plastic bottle of water. Beside Imelda was Quirke sitting like a man under a great weight, bent forward, head down and arms resting on his knees.
When the jury returned at 11am this morning, they had been deliberating for 18 hours and 24 minutes. Ms Justice Eileen Creedon told the jury that she would accept a majority verdict rather than a unanimous verdict. The expectation by the seasoned court observers was this this would help speed things up.
Four hours later, a a frisson rippled through the corridors. “Hurry,” said a woman, one of the “regulars”. “There’s movement!” Everyone crammed into Court 13.
At 3.25pm, Quirke’s gowned defence team swept past them to their seats. Quirke followed, in one of the grey suits that he always wore, and a red tie.
For a man with features are so inscrutable, and so apparently immovable, his hazel eyes betrayed a deep anxiety. He took his place in the dock, sitting as he always did, straight backed, arms clasped in his lap, staring straight ahead.
Imelda sat in her usual seat. She was rarely accompanied by anyone other than their son. Today one of Quirke’s sisters sat with her.
"All rise", the tipstaff called, as the judge returned to the bench.
Quirke touched his nose. At 14.37, the jurors were called. Quirke put his hand to his mouth, but otherwise he did not move, his eyes staring straight ahead. 14.38, the jury returned.
The senior registrar Michael Neary asked if they had reached a verdict. Yes, the jury foreman replied.
Had a majority of 10 agreed a verdict? Yes.
Mr Neary read their decision from the paper handed him by the foreman. Guilty, said the registrar, so quietly and without drama that many people strained to register his words: did he say guilty?
Perhaps Quirke hadn’t quite registered the verdict either. He was sitting in his usual pose, still and staring straight ahead.
Except now he actually was the controlling, devious murderer the prosecution claimed him to be.
His wife, Imelda, dropped her head and stared into her lap. She looked shocked.
In the bench in front of Imelda, Bobby Ryan’s children, Bobby Jnr and Michelle, and their mother, and his brothers and extended family, wept, deep shuddering sobs, as though releasing years of pent-up, unfinished grief.
The court adjourned for a while to allow Bobby Ryan’s family to prepare their victim impact statement.
Shortly before 3.30pm, Quirke was back in the dock.
Michelle Ryan, trembling slightly, passed the man who murdered her father on her way to the witness box to read a victim impact statement on behalf of Bobby Ryan’s family.
She spoke of how last thing at night, they picture their father with fear in his eyes, she spoke of the “black hole” in their lives, lives “completely destroyed beyond repair”.
Quirke did not look at her. He sat back straight, gaze fixed straight ahead, his eyes downcast, fixed on a spot somewhere in the middle distance. He licked his lips. The seats occupied by Imelda and her sister-in-law were empty.
“Until we meet again Mr Moonlight,” Michelle Ryan continued, speaking directly to her Dad now: “Know you are loved and sorely missed by us every day,” she said.
“You are gone but will never be forgotten." She made it to the end of her heart-breaking victim impact statement, trembling, emotional but keeping it together for her, Dad. She returned to her seat, ashen faced.