Thursday 22 August 2019

'Mary Lowry had his head melted,' garda's note read - but he can not recall who said it

Mary Lowry. Photo: Collins
Mary Lowry. Photo: Collins
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

A senior garda has told how he could not recall who had said "Mary Lowry had his head melted" - a comment which appeared in his notes of the initial disappearance of Bobby Ryan.

Chief Superintendent Dominic Hayes told the Tipperary murder trial that the line had emerged in a Garda conference in 2011 after Mr Ryan was reported missing.

The senior garda was giving evidence in the Central Criminal Court trial of farmer Patrick Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary.

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

Taken through his notes by Lorcan Staines SC, for the defence, Chief Supt Hayes explained he had taken down the line but did not recall where it had come from.

He explained he had happened to be in Tipperary because there were two separate murder investigations ongoing, and that he would not normally attend a missing persons' conference. Mr Ryan's body was not found until April 2013. Chief Supt Hayes was also asked about a mobile belonging to the deceased Mr Ryan, and the final time it had 'pinged' off a phone mast. The court was told this last 'ping' had been at 10.19am on June 3, 2011 - the day Mr Ryan went missing - at Crogue Motors on the Cashel Road in Tipperary.

Patrick Quirke. Photo: Collins
Patrick Quirke. Photo: Collins

Chief Supt Hayes explained that just because the phone 'pinged' off this mast, it didn't mean that the person was at that particular location.

He said that the mast was "close enough to Fawnagowan, across the fields".

Mr Staines also asked the senior garda about a note which read "clothing, jewellery, keys", with Mr Staines asking whether this suggested he was taking notes that these items were missing.

The Chief Supt said no, that these notes were made on April 30, 2013, on the day the remains of Mr Ryan were discovered in a run-off tank on Mary Lowry's farm. The post mortem had not been conducted at this stage, the garda told the court.

Notes: Chief Supt Dominic Hayes leaving court where he gave evidence about notes that were taken when part-time DJ Bobby Ryan went missing and when his body was later found. Photo: Collins
Notes: Chief Supt Dominic Hayes leaving court where he gave evidence about notes that were taken when part-time DJ Bobby Ryan went missing and when his body was later found. Photo: Collins

He said he had been under the impression the body was clothed at this point and was surprised when, the following day, he became aware that Mr Ryan's remains were naked when discovered.

He was also asked about a line reading "height-bumper" and asked why he was interested in this.

He said vehicles available in the yard had been examined but he said he was not sure if it was a tractor or a van and he could not put it any further.

The previous day, Chief Supt Hayes told the trial Mr Quirke was charged in 2012 with two burglaries and possession of a key to Ms Lowry's house.

Gardaí charged him and the matter came before the courts. However, the DPP directed the charges be dropped.

The trial has previously heard evidence Mr Quirke had an affair with Ms Lowry - the sister-in-law of his wife Imelda Quirke - between January 2008 and 2010 after the death of Ms Lowry's husband.

Ms Lowry ended the relationship with Mr Quirke, meeting Mr Ryan soon after and began a relationship with him that she says lasted until Mr Ryan's disappearance in June 2011.

When Chief Supt Hayes was asked about the process involved in removing Mr Ryan's remains from the run-off tank in April 2013, he said he was "very sure" there were no injuries inflicted on the body from falling debris when the concrete slab of the tank broke - though he conceded Mr Ryan's right arm had subsequently become detached.

Earlier in the week, Ms Lowry's middle son, Jack (19), gave evidence about how he had found Mr Quirke to be "in control most of the time, grumpy some of the time".

The college student claimed the dairy farmer who leased his mother's land "went around the farm as if he sort of owned the place".

However, he also told the jury he had got on with Mr Quirke when he was younger and had "nothing against him".

He knew all three of his children and got on well with them, he said.

Mr Quirke would be on the farm most days and he would spend time with the farmer and his son Alan, who died in a tragic farm accident in 2012.

He recalled holidays abroad together, where their two families had travelled to Portugal and to Spain, staying in two villas with a private pool.

Asked what age he was when his mother met Mr Ryan, he said he was around 11 years of age.

He had felt "weird" about the relationship at first, he said.

"I used to slag Bobby about being bald. I thought he was taking over my father's role really," he told the court.

Mr Ryan had taken the family to Tramore for a day out, bringing them to the carnival rides and arcades.

His mother and Mr Ryan seemed "very happy," he said.

Asked how was his mother, in particular, when Mr Ryan was around, Jack again replied: "Happy".

He was asked how an old Toyota Corolla came to be on the farm, and he told the court that Mr Ryan and his mother had bought the car "for Tommy, my older brother, to practise driving" and that he didn't drive it himself until he was 14 or 15.

Asked about the day Mr Ryan went missing, Jack said he came home from school on the bus with his eight-year-old brother and they went into their grandmother Rita's house for dinner.

Their uncle, Eddie, was there "which was strange," he said, adding: "We didn't have a clue what was going on."

A deposition for Rita Lowry was read into the record, taken at Nenagh District Court on September 28 last.

She told how she had spent more than 60 years at Fawnagowan, having lived happily there with her husband, John.

When her son Martin married Mary Lowry, they built on an extension to the house.

Asked how Mary was when Martin passed away she said: "She was upset, really upset, she was grieving."

Mr Quirke had helped out on the farm and she later added that he and Mary were "always great friends". After Mary met Mr Ryan, Rita was happy she had met someone because she had been very upset.

The trial continues next week.

Irish Independent

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