Monday 19 August 2019

'Search party would have found Bobby if we'd been let into farm'

Pat Quirke arrives in court last week with his wife Imelda. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Pat Quirke arrives in court last week with his wife Imelda. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

A member of a search party that tried to find the remains of murdered Bobby Ryan has claimed that had they been given access to the farm on the day he disappeared, he would have been found then.

Christopher Kelleher was part of the search party tasked with looking for the part-time DJ, known as Mr Moonlight, who was last seen leaving his girlfriend Mary Lowry's farmhouse on June 3, 2011.

Mr Ryan's body was found in a disused underground tank on Ms Lowry's farm 22 months after he disappeared.

Last week, Patrick Quirke, who had leased Ms Lowry's farm, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of Mr Ryan's murder.

However, Mr Kelleher maintains the search party would have found Mr Ryan's body had they been given access to the farm.

Speaking on the Virgin Media One documentary, 'Mr Moonlight: The Trial of Patrick Quirke', which was aired last night, he said the search party was asked to look in Bansha Woods, where Mr Ryan's van had been found and were refused access to the farm.

"If we were asked to search the farm, I have no doubt in my mind we wouldn't be here today. That body would have been found that day," said Mr Kelleher.

The same issue was raised by the victim's son Robert Ryan, who said that, looking back, he was "pretty close" to where his father's body would eventually be found nearly two years later.

"I was just at the other side of that milking parlour and it haunts me to this day," he said.

Also in the documentary, a leading medical expert said it was a "failure" that no pathologist supervised the removal of Mr Ryan's body when it was first found in April 2013.

Former state pathologist for Northern Ireland Professor Jack Crane, who gave evidence during the murder trial, raised concerns over some aspects of the investigation.

He said that it would have been "beneficial" for the former deputy State pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber to have seen the body in situ at the time of its discovery and to have supervised its removal. That meant he could have answered questions more comprehensively at a later stage.

"Certainly that's what I would have wanted to have done, if I had been involved in the case initially," he said.

"If, from the outset, you have the opportunity to examine the body in situ, then matters that may arise subsequently, you may very well then be in a position then to deal with.

"On the other hand, if you don't go to the scene and you haven't assessed it, then if some other matter is raised, then you may not be able to answer that and I think there were issues where it couldn't be answered because of that failure to do so."

However, Dr Jaber has told the Irish Independent there was nothing unusual in his non-attendance at the scene.

"It is likely there was an agreement and consensual understanding that I receive the body when it arrived at the mortuary," he said.

Dr Jaber said this would have been "the best place" to "fully examine the body".

"In reality, what was done with the handling of Bobby Ryan's body was most proper and correct," he said.

At the trial, Supt Patrick O'Callaghan told the court there were concerns about people getting into the tank.

Fire officers who removed the body wore full bio-hazard suits, equipment to which gardaí did not have access.

Meanwhile, Quirke's wife Imelda visited him at Mountjoy Prison in Dublin yesterday afternoon, where he has been held since his conviction last week.

Irish Independent

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