Thursday 22 August 2019

Patrick Quirke will appeal his conviction for murder

'Farmer killed Bobby for land, not money - and lay in wait for his defenceless victim'

Pat Quirke. Picture: Collins
Pat Quirke. Picture: Collins

Shane Phelan, Nicola Anderson and Ken Foy

Farmer Pat Quirke is already planning to appeal his conviction for the murder of love rival Bobby Ryan.

The Irish Independent has learned lawyers for Quirke are considering various grounds of appeal.

The development comes as a senior source close to the murder probe said land, rather than sex or money, was the real reason Quirke killed the quarry worker and part-time DJ known as 'Mr Moonlight'. Although no murder weapon was ever discovered, senior sources said gardaí believe Quirke lay in wait for his defenceless victim and fatally struck him on the head with an iron bar before stripping him of his clothing and dumping his body.

Quirke (50) was jailed for life on Wednesday after a jury found him guilty of murder on a majority verdict of 10-2 at the Central Criminal Court.

An informed source said it was "an absolute certainty" he would be appealing and that it was likely there would be several grounds of appeal.

Some are expected to centre on rulings made in the absence of the jury by trial judge Ms Justice Eileen Creedon.

Throughout the case, concerns were raised by the defence over the late disclosure of evidence and the Garda investigation. However, requests to discharge the jury over these issues were rejected by the trial judge.

She also rejected an application from the defence for a direction to the jury to acquit Quirke on the grounds the evidence against him was speculative and any conviction would be unsafe.

Another application to discharge the jury centred on remarks made by the judge in her charge to the jury.

The defence claimed its position was harmed when she made comments to the effect the prosecution did not have to prove the location of Mr Ryan's death.

Quirke's legal team wanted the jury discharged as they believed the judge's remarks could not be remedied.

Ms Justice Creedon rejected the application, but clarified her remarks to the jury.

She said that in fact what the prosecution had to prove was that the death of Mr Ryan occurred in Co Tipperary, but in law it did not have to prove a specific location.

The judge also told the jury that the time, date and location of the killing were an issue in the case, but it was up to them to decide what weight to give to evidence and that they needed to bear in mind the burden of proof was on the prosecution.

Mr Ryan (52) disappeared on the morning of June 3, 2011 after spending the night at his girlfriend Mary Lowry's home in Fawnagown, Co Tipperary.

It was alleged by the prosecution during the case that Quirke killed his victim so he could rekindle an affair he had with Ms Lowry between 2008 and 2012.

It was also alleged Quirke staged his discovery of the body in a run-off tank on Ms Lowry's farm in April 2013 as his lease of the property was going to be terminated and he would be unable to keep the body hidden.

A senior source close to the murder investigation said the farmland at Fawnagown was at the centre of the case.

Ms Lowry's three sons had no interest in following in the footsteps of their late father, dairy farmer Martin Lowry, who died from cancer in 2007. But the two sons of Quirke had an interest in farming.

The source claimed that while Quirke was able to rent the 60-acre farm for a minimal rent of €1,600 a year and was in a controlling relationship with Ms Lowry, there were no problems.

But when Ms Lowry began a relationship with Mr Ryan, Quirke's rage and sense of entitlement rose up, amid fears that the land might be taken away and go down another line.

The source said that with Mr Ryan out of the picture, Quirke could relax again, in the belief that things could go back to normal.

However, his plan was scuppered when Ms Lowry decided to end the seven-year lease prematurely, following her discovery that Quirke had been peering in through her windows and interfering with the underwear on her clothesline.

Another senior source said gardaí believed Quirke had laid in wait for his victim as he left Ms Lowry's home and fatally struck him on the head with an iron bar.

Gardaí think Quirke then dragged Mr Ryan's body into a milking parlour, stripped him naked there before putting the body in the run-off tank.

Senior gardaí believe Quirke's primary motive for the murder was for financial reasons rather than love for Ms Lowry.

"He was under huge financial pressure," a senior source said.

"He was involved with a group of other farmers that had lost huge money, massive money, in the recession.

"They had been cosy and were investing in shopping centres and apartments in places like Poland and beyond. But things turned bad after the economic downturn."

During the trial the defence denied Quirke had been in financial difficulty.

Irish Independent

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