Sunday 19 May 2019

Mr Moonlight: 'Polish killer' rumour and van in woods were 'red herrings by Quirke'

Patrick Quirke. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Patrick Quirke. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Ralph Riegel

Patrick Quirke deliberately spread rumours about a Polish national being involved in the disappearance of Bobby Ryan in a calculated bid to divert attention, gardaí believe.

A senior Garda source indicated that while detectives had heard rumours of a Polish national somehow being involved, there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support it.

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"As far as we are concerned the person who killed Mr Ryan is behind bars," he said.

"Justice has been done and, certainly in my view, the jury got it right."

Gardaí also believe that Mr Ryan's Citroen van was deliberately abandoned near the sprawling Bansha Woods in Tipperary in a bid to waste both time and resources of gardaí and search volunteers.

The Central Criminal Court trial heard that Quirke (50) told one of his farm workers he had heard a rumour about east European nationals being involved in the disappearance of Bobby Ryan.

One young man on a farm work experience placement said Quirke told him in February 2013 that Mr Ryan had been the victim of "a Polish group".

Mr Ryan's daughter Michelle has also spoken out to dismiss speculation about a Polish national being involved.

"I don't believe it," she said.

The young woman, who delivered a moving victim impact statement before Quirke received his life sentence, warned about the dangers of rumours being spread.

However, she said she remains convinced that Quirke must have had help of some description.

"I believe there is more than one behind it," she said.

The Tipperary Garda source said it was believed such rumours about a Polish national were totally without foundation - though by coincidence a Pole, who had been living in Tipperary and east Limerick, returned to his native country in the 2011-2013 period.

He later took his own life.

Gardaí never had an opportunity to speak with the man about the rumours which had somehow targeted him.

"There was nothing more than rumour in respect of the Polish national," the source said.

"There was no forensic evidence, no eye-witness sightings near the scene and, as far as we were able to determine, there was no connection whatsoever with Mr Ryan. Or the defendant, for that matter."

The Pole is understood to have suffered from depression throughout his life and was unhappy and homesick in Ireland.

Quirke, now prisoner number 107243 in Mountjoy Prison, has commenced a life sentence after being convicted of the murder of his love rival, Tipperary quarry worker and part-time DJ Bobby Ryan.

Mr Ryan, also known by his DJ moniker 'Mr Moonlight', was murdered and his body dumped in a run-off pit on the farm that Quirke was operating on a lease basis.

His body was only found almost two years after his disappearance.

The Central Criminal Court jury convicted Quirke of murder on a 10-2 majority verdict after finding he killed the father of two in a fit of jealousy and greed.

The jury had deliberated for almost 21 hours.

Quirke had an affair with Mary Lowry, who was the widow of his wife's brother, and was envious of Ms Lowry's budding relationship with Mr Ryan.

He was also worried about losing control of the Lowry farm, which he had operated since 2008-09.

Quirke's murder trial, which began in January, now ranks as the longest running in the history of the State.

It also emerged during legal argument in Quirke's trial that he had displayed an interest in previous high-profile Irish murder cases.

Quirke had conducted detailed internet searches.

He had also researched rates of decomposition of human bodies, as well as Garda forensic and DNA sampling techniques.

The jury was not told that Quirke had visited an internet blog with the title: 'Why Joe O'Reilly thought he had committed the perfect murder'.

The blog was written about the notorious killing of Rachel O'Reilly by her husband, Joe, in north Dublin in October 2004.

Quirke also researched articles on Siobhán Kearney, murdered by her husband Brian in February 2006.

Another internet search involved Jo Jo Dullard, who went missing in 1995 and whose killer has never been found.

The jury was not told that, on the hard-drive of Quirke's computer, audio recordings were found of him engaged in intimate activity with Mary Lowry.

There was also an audio recording of him with his wife, Imelda.

Quirke, who has already signalled that he will appeal his conviction, has been described as a model inmate in Mountjoy.

He has been assigned future work in the kitchen and bakery of the prison.

However, he will be transferred to the Midlands Prison in Laois once suitable space becomes available.

Irish Independent

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