Tuesday 16 July 2019

Widow claims farmer accused of murder 'took my underwear'

Witness says her former lover was 'not perturbed' when DJ's dead body found

Mary Lowry said she had not returned to her farm since the day Bobby Ryan’s body had been found. Photo: Collins
Mary Lowry said she had not returned to her farm since the day Bobby Ryan’s body had been found. Photo: Collins
Pat Quirke was ‘not perturbed at all’ when the hidden body of Bobby Ryan was found, the Central Criminal Court was told. Picture: Collins
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

A woman has told a murder trial she confronted the farmer who was leasing her land and accused him of taking her underwear from her clothes line.

Mary Lowry told the Central Criminal Court that murder accused Pat Quirke was "not perturbed at all" after the body of Bobby Ryan was found concealed in a run-off slurry tank on her farm in April 2013.

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She said she had never returned to her house at Fawnagowan, Co Tipperary, since that day, adding: "I left my home."

It was her second day giving evidence at the trial of Patrick Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 52-year-old Mr Ryan, a DJ known as 'Mr Moonlight', on a date between June 3, 2011, and April 2013.

In his cross-examination of Ms Lowry, Bernard Condon SC, for the defence, put it to her she had taken "every opportunity" to portray herself in the best light possible and Mr Quirke in the worst light possible.

Ms Lowry replied: "Well, I'm not on trial. Mr Quirke is on trial. Mary Lowry is not on trial."

She told the court she had four CCTV cameras installed on her farm in November 2012 after the alarm system she had put in two years previously had been activated some 17 times over that period.

Nobody knew the cameras were there apart from her three sons, she explained.

Footage was shown to the jury in the trial.

Taken through the footage by counsel for the prosecution, Ms Lowry identified Mr Quirke coming onto her property on December 3, 2012.

The cameras captured Mr Quirke going into a shed at the back of her house, where she said the clothes line was located. Asked what was on the line, she said: "Items of clothing, everything. I had underwear on that line."

The same footage showed Mr Quirke walking around the property and looking in the windows of her house, before returning to the shed.

Ms Lowry said that on returning to her home, she got her sons to retrieve the CCTV footage and she watched it.

Asked whether she had confronted Mr Quirke after this incident, Ms Lowry said she had contacted the Garda station.

However, at that stage she said she did not want to go down the formal route, explaining Mr Quirke had lost his son earlier that year.

She thought sending a solicitor's letter would be more appropriate, informing him she wanted him to cease the lease and leave the farm.

"I just wanted the lease to finish. I just wanted to be rid of this man who was walking around my house taking things and upsetting me," she said.

She informed her solicitor to draft a letter "as kind-hearted as possible" asking him to leave.

That day, she came home and Mr Quirke handed her back a key to her front door, claiming he had found it in the yard on the day she had seen him on the CCTV, December 3.

He said he had found the key that day and had just put it in the lock to see if it was her key.

Asked how he had behaved, Ms Lowry said he was "very shaky and extremely nervous, very, very strange indeed".

"Physically, he was shaking," she added.

She believed the key was the one that had gone missing a long time previously, while her brother Eddie was building an extension to her house.

After he had received the solicitor's letter, Mr Quirke wrote back saying the only way he would leave the lease was if she compensated him financially. "I wasn't going to do that. I did not do that," she told the court.

Letters went "back and forth", Ms Lowry said, with her solicitor asking Mr Quirke not to come near the farm or house.

Ultimately, in March 2013, he was asked to leave the farm four months later in early July and he agreed. One final payment was due on the land but asked whether she had been paid, Ms Lowry replied: "No".

She said she was aware he had made alternative arrangements to lease land from a neighbour, Mary Dillon.

On the evening of April 29, an unfamiliar tractor with an agitator for stirring slurry drove into the farmyard. When she went to check, she saw it was Pat Quirke.

Apologising in advance to the court for her language, Ms Lowry said that she had told him: "You are some c*** and I can't wait to see the back of you and I hope that you won't be stealing Mary Dillon's knickers off the line."

That was in relation to the land he was going to lease, she explained, and also "in relation to what he took off my clothes line", she added. His response was "Ha", she claimed.

The following day, April 30, 2013, Ms Lowry said gardaí arrived at her farm and she went to see what had happened. She was subsequently informed a body had been found in the septic tank "out the back".

She said she knew it was not the septic tank because she knew where that was located.

Ms Lowry said she had not been aware of the existence of the run-off tank where the body was found.

She met Mr Quirke and his wife, Imelda, at the scene. She made no eye contact but told the court she felt Imelda was "shook by it". "Pat was not perturbed at all," she claimed.

Ms Lowry also told prosecution counsel Michael Bowman SC she had confronted the accused about a letter written to the 'Dear Patricia' column in the 'Sunday Independent', published in February 2011, because she recognised her own situation.

Mr Quirke accepted he had written it and told her he had nobody else to whom he could turn.

Under cross-examination by Mr Condon, Ms Lowry denied she had "learned off" a portion of her Garda statement.

Put to her she had endeavoured to present Mr Quirke in "the worst possible light", she replied: "Well, he hasn't been very nice to me, has he?"

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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