Paul Williams: 'Now Patrick Quirke joins the ranks of Ireland's most notorious killers'
Patrick Quirke, Prisoner 107243, has become a member of a select group within Ireland’s most notorious murderers; people whose shocking crimes will be enshrined in the collective public memory and the annals of the Irish criminal justice system.
The 50-year-old farmer, convicted of murdering his love rival after the longest murder trial on record, is joined within this small gang by other prisoners who became household names for the worst of reasons like Joe O’Reilly, Graham Dwyer and Brian Kearney.
Like the others Quirke is responsible for a particularly callous and cold-blooded murder that captivated the public during long hard-fought courtroom battles to prove their guilt.
He shares many common traits with O’Reilly, Dwyer and Kearney including the fact none of them had ever been involved in crime before and were seen as respectable middle-class, law-abiding citizens.
All of them displayed narcissistic tendencies as evidenced by a common belief that each one of them had carefully planned and executed the perfect murder.
In each case the killer demonstrated the attitude that he was cleverer than the police and could easily outwit them which in turn led to some of the best examples of detective work in the history of An Garda Siochana.
One piece of evidence gleaned from Quirke’s computer, that was not allowed into evidence, was his intense interest in the notorious case of wife killer Joe O’Reilly.
O’Reilly bludgeoned his wife Rachel and mother of his two young children, to death when he made a mid-morning visit to the couple’s home in The Naul, North Dublin in October 2004.
He had devised an elaborate plan to murder his wife and make it look like an intruder had attacked her and had built a false alibi that he was busy working in Dublin at the time of the crime.
O’Reilly even appeared on ‘The Late Late Show’ to appeal for information on the murder alongside Rachel’s mother who by then suspected that he was the killer.
He was eventually convicted after a long and dramatic garda investigation blew his alibi apart by tracking his movements through his mobile phone and an equally long court room drama.
It is reasonable to assume that by searching the online blog “Why Joe O’Reilly thought he had committed the perfect murder”, Quirke was trying to learn from O’Reilly’s mistakes.
Another individual Quirke is like to encounter is Brian Kearney whose cold blooded murder of his wife Siobhan in February 2006 earned him his place in the pantheon of notorious killers.
His motive for murder was that she intended leaving him causing him financial problems.
Kearney manually strangled his wife as she slept on the morning of her 49th birthday. Then he looped a vacuum cleaner flex around her neck and attempted to hoist her body over the en-suite door to make it look like suicide.
When the flex snapped he left the room, locking the door from the outside and slipped the key under the door. He left their three year old son watching a DVD and went to work knowing that Siobhan’s sister, Niamh, would be calling around soon.
When she got no answer at her sister’s door she called her father who broke in the door and found his daughter.
Kearney also put on a false face and attempted to brave it out but came unstuck after another intensive police investigation and his ghastly suicide ruse was exposed.
Graham Dwyer is also a household name who will always be synonymous with one of the most grotesque and depraved murders ever to come before the courts.
Elaine O’Hara, a vulnerable woman with a history of mental illness, had been groomed by Dwyer over a number of years during which they were involved in a BDSM relationship.
The Foxrock architect hid from the world his perverse fascination for picquerism - which involves inflicting pain on a victim using knives and drawing blood for the purpose of sexual gratification.
Dwyer probably reckoned that he had learned from the mistakes of O’Reilly and Kearney when he decided to finally fulfil his ultimate fantasy and murder Elaine O’Hara in August 2012.
He had always been careful about using unregistered phones when communicating with his “slave” and when she went missing he had engineered everything to make it look like she had taken her own life.
In a chain of astonishing coincidences Elaine’s skeletal remains were found in the Dublin Mountains around the same time that the phones Dwyer had used were located along with his BDSM equipment dumped in a Wicklow reservoir.
Again the latest scientific and technological methods were used to resurrect the truth in much the same way that a larvae had helped convince a jury of Patrick Quirke’s guilt.
Ireland’s latest inductee to the notorious lifers' club will have plenty to discuss as they while away the slow passage of prison time.