Sunday 18 August 2019

Mary Lowry 'a dangerous witness', love rival trial told

Defence warns against entering 'realm of speculation' in Quirke verdict

Patrick Quirke with his wife Imelda leaving the Criminal Courts of Justice. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Patrick Quirke with his wife Imelda leaving the Criminal Courts of Justice. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Circumstantial evidence is "not a shortcut to a conviction", the barrister for Patrick Quirke told the jury in the Tipperary murder trial.

He described Mary Lowry as "a very dangerous witness" because she seeks to "solve the case".

Bernard Condon SC, for the defence, warned: "There is not enough to do a person for murder on what is presented here. We are in the realms of speculation."

And he said the case against his client, Patrick Quirke, was based on a theory rather than hard evidence.

Mr Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan (52), a part-time DJ known as Mr Moonlight, on a date between June 3, 2011, and April 2013.

Mr Condon said the jury must approach its function as would scientists, in a cold and dispassionate way, and with scepticism, which was "the greatest skill available to them".

He began his closing speech after lunch, telling the panel of six men and six women that Michael Bowman of the prosecution "seeks to do your job for you" and to do it without directing them to the "serious dangers" in some of the things presented to them.

He said "a vast number" of the items had their source in the evidence of Mary Lowry.

Other points were "conveniently airbrushed" out of the prosecution's narrative because it "doesn't suit", claimed Mr Condon.

"Make no mistake, this is a case based on theory," he said.

"A case, to use the words of the State pathologist, for which there is no hard evidence."

He said much was being made of circumstantial evidence, warning that "circumstantial evidence is not a shortcut to convict".

"It is not a shortcut to adopt a theory, to ignore alternatives in each and every one of the presentations Mr Bowman has identified," he added.

He described Ms Lowry as "a very dangerous witness", because she was engaged in a process in which she "should not be engaged in".

"Nobody is here to solve the case," said Mr Condon.

"You're here to see if the evidence supports the conviction of Mr Quirke.

"You're not here to solve the case and neither is Mary Lowry. Her evidence is highly, highly questionable because it's been given through the prism of what will solve the case.

"She said she'd bared her soul to get justice for Bobby. Ms Lowry has determined that justice for Bobby means to advance this prosecution."

He described Ms Lowry as a witness who was engaged in "quite striking revisionism".

Asked about the relationship between her late husband, Martin Lowry, and Mr Quirke, she seemed to suggest "they weren't really that close", said Mr Condon.

He claimed that was against all the other evidence in the case.

"Right from the outset she takes the opportunity to deliver evidence with a spin," he said.

He also claimed gardaí had taken up Ms Lowry's position that she had been vulnerable and that Mr Quirke had exerted control over her, and he warned the jury: "You must not allow yourselves to be dictated to by the police."

He compared the jury's task to deliberate on the evidence as taking a journey in the "forensic equivalent to a train".

"You are being invited by the prosecution to go to the last station on the line, it will be uphill and will twist and curve," he explained.

The prosecution should be able to bring them to the very last station on the journey with evidence as the fuel, he told them.

"If it isn't the sort of evidence that you yourself would be happy to be convicted on, if it is not grade-A fuel, you will not get to the station at the top marked guilty," he said.

Mr Condon said Mr Quirke was "parked in the train station marked innocence" and it was up to the prosecution to move him out of it and they had to do that with evidence - but Mr Condon said there was a problem here because "the evidence is thin".

"You will have to pass through several stops, you may go past suspicion station, likelihood station and even probability station, but if you get out there you are in the wrong place for conviction," he said.

He said it was not enough to do a person for murder on what was presented here, which was "in the realm of speculation".

At the heart of much of what went on between Ms Lowry and Mr Quirke, he said, was a broken relationship.

He added: "Attached to that can be bitterness and anger and unhappiness and they get mushed up together and people who loved each other deeply can find themselves in the family law courts roaring abuse at each other.

"People take positions, it becomes fraught, people's reactions can be extreme and unreliable.

"People can convince themselves they're the most wronged person in the world - a friend might need to take them aside."

Mr Condon said the jury was being asked to accept Ms Lowry's "unreliable evidence" beyond a reasonable doubt. He said there was a "pettiness" to the arguments between her and the accused, including rows over her moving a ladder and him leaving muck in her driveway.

He reminded them that his client had contacted a defamation solicitor when Ms Lowry accused him of stealing her passport.

He claimed Ms Lowry "either lost her passport or had it stolen" but wants to put it at the door of Mr Quirke, who told her he had "sold it". Mr Quirke said this was sarcasm. "Doesn't that have a ring of truth to it - otherwise what a stupid thing to say," Mr Condon said.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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