Thursday 23 May 2019

Imaginary drug dealers and a fake Polish suicide: How Pat Quirke planted rumours to shake off gardaí

How Pat Quirke planted rumours to shake off gardai

Life sentence: Pat Quirke. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Life sentence: Pat Quirke. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Pat Quirke planted false rumours that drug dealers and Polish people were involved in the murder of Bobby Ryan, in a deliberate attempt to deflect suspicion, gardai believe.

The dairy farmer, who was convicted 12 days ago of murdering his "love rival", Bobby Ryan, deliberately planted the rumour of Polish involvement in his killing, gardai believe. And when Mr Ryan first went missing, Quirke circulated the rumour that "drug dealers" had something to do with his disappearance.

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While Quirke is serving life in jail for murdering Mr Ryan, the rumours he started to get himself off the hook for murder took on a life of their own in Tipperary town last week, culminating in newspaper reports about a Polish suspect.

According to the reports, the Polish national was allegedly involved in the murder with Quirke but took his own life before gardai got to interview him.

But there was no "Polish suspect", claim sources close to the case, who say it was another of Quirke's devious inventions designed to divert suspicion elsewhere.

The 50-year-old dairy farmer, from Tipperary, was found guilty of murdering Bobby Ryan, in the longest and one of the most talked about trials in Ireland's criminal history.

At the heart of the case was Quirke's affair with Mary Lowry, a widow and his wife's sister-in-law, who ended their relationship to be with Bobby Ryan. Months later, in June 2011, Mr Ryan left Mary Lowry's home and disappeared. His body was found 22 months later in a disused run-off tank on her farm.

The rumours began almost as soon as Bobby Ryan went missing, according to the people who helped search for him, even though Quirke was even then under suspicion.

At that time Quirke was suspected of spreading a rumour that "drug dealers" were involved in Mr Ryan's disappearance.

A former friend of Quirke's told the Sunday Independent that someone close to the dairy farmer told him that Mr Ryan had been targeted by drug dealers.

The former friend believed Quirke was behind the rumour. It was utterly without foundation, he said. Bobby Ryan was beyond reproach in his character and habits.

Within days of "accidentally" finding Mr Ryan's body, Quirke planted the rumour that Polish people were involved to his farmhand Gary Cunningham.

Mr Cunningham, who testified at Quirke's trial, said Quirke asked if he heard any rumours about what happened to Mr Ryan. He could not recall his own response, but said Quirke told him that he'd heard a rumour that a "Polish group" was involved. Cross examined he said those rumours were going around.

Catherine Costello, the former policewoman who led volunteer searches for Bobby Ryan, said the rumours in the locality of Polish involvement persisted, even during Quirke's trial.

She said there were rumours that a Polish suspect had allegedly taken his own life and had left a note. "And his widow was going to be coming to the trial to give evidence for Quirke," she said. "If there was a shred of anything in that you would have used it," she said. "Nobody can actually give me this person's first name."

Sunday Independent

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