Monday 19 August 2019

Quirke gets life after jury finds he murdered his love rival 'Mr Moonlight' Bobby Ryan

Memories: Bobby Ryan’s children Robert and Michelle Ryan hold a photo of their father outside court after the verdict and sentence. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Memories: Bobby Ryan’s children Robert and Michelle Ryan hold a photo of their father outside court after the verdict and sentence. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Farmer Pat Quirke has begun a life sentence after being found guilty of murdering his love rival Bobby Ryan.

A jury at the Central Criminal Court returned a majority verdict of 10-2 yesterday afternoon after deliberating for over 20 hours.

The verdict comes after a 71-day murder trial, the longest in the history of the State.

Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, had denied murdering Mr Ryan (52), a quarry worker and part-time DJ known as Mr Moonlight, on a date between June 3, 2011, and April 2013.

Bobby Ryan's children Robert Jnr and Michelle outside court
Bobby Ryan's children Robert Jnr and Michelle outside court

Quirke gave no reaction when the verdict was read out, staring straight ahead.

The prosecution alleged Quirke was motivated by "love and money" to kill Mr Ryan and dump his body.

It said Quirke killed his victim so he could rekindle his affair with Mary Lowry, the widow whose farm Quirke was leasing at Fawnagown, Co Tipperary.

This was denied by Quirke, who attempted to deflect attention onto Ms Lowry when he was interviewed by gardaí.

Ms Lowry had what she described as a "seedy" and "sordid" affair with Quirke between 2008 and 2010 and gave him financial assistance.

But she was in a relationship with Mr Ryan, a father-of-two, at the time of his disappearance.

The jury had heard Mr Ryan disappeared after leaving Ms Lowry's house at 6.30am on the morning of June 3, 2011.

His body was discovered 22 months later by Quirke in an underground tank on the farm, but the prosecution alleged this was a "staged" discovery.

Patrick Quirke left the body of Bobby Ryan (pictured) in a run-off tank after killing him
Patrick Quirke left the body of Bobby Ryan (pictured) in a run-off tank after killing him

Yesterday morning, after the jury had been deliberating for 18 hours and 24 minutes, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon told them she would accept a majority verdict on which 10 of them were agreed.

She said that if they could not reach at least a 10 to two majority they could write "disagree" or "disagreement".

Around 2.30pm word came through the jury had finally reached a verdict.

They filed into the jury box at 2.38pm, having been out for 20 hours and 39 minutes.

The jury foreman confirmed to the court registrar it had reached a verdict of guilty on a majority of 10 to two.

A number of friends and relatives of Mr Ryan wept after the verdict was delivered.

Quirke was quickly taken into custody, only to be brought back to court a short time later to be sentenced.

Patrick Quirke
Patrick Quirke

This time he was shorn of the tie he had been wearing earlier.

Again, he stayed looking straight ahead as his victim's daughter, Michelle Ryan, gave a moving victim impact statement.

There was no sign of emotion on his face.

She told the court how on June 3, 2011, the life and the world she and her family knew "was torn apart".

"I can't find the words to describe how it feels emotionally. It is a torment that is constantly with us. A black hole that is with us every day," she said.

Ms Ryan spoke of the mental anguish the family endured, wondering if her father had called out their names for help as he was killed.

"We close our eyes every night and picture Daddy with fear in his eyes," she said.

Ms Ryan said her family would carry him forever in their hearts.

"So until we meet again, Moonlight, just know how much you are loved and sorely missed by us every day."

After the victim impact statement was read, Ms Justice Creedon imposed a mandatory life sentence on Quirke.

The judge thanked the jury for their service.

She said the jury had shown "exceptional patience" and she exempted each juror from jury duty for the rest of their lives.

The verdict brought an end to a case which was almost entirely based on circumstantial evidence.

There was no murder weapon, no murder scene was identified and the case was described as being "forensically barren".

However, the prosecution argued there was a lot of circumstantial evidence.

Taken in isolation, each piece of evidence may merely have aroused suspicion.

But the prosecution successfully argued that when woven together, the various strands of circumstantial evidence proved Quirke's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Irish Independent

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