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Sunday 16 June 2019

Woman quizzed in Mr Moonlight murder investigation

Victim Bobby Ryan (inset)
Victim Bobby Ryan (inset)
Distraught: Bobby Ryan’s children Robert and Michelle Ryan outside the Criminal Courts of Justice after Patrick Quirke was found guilty. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Patrick Quirke. Photo: Collins Courts
FAMILY: Michelle Ryan with her father Bobby
Evidence: Mary Lowry outside court in January. Photo: Collins Courts
Pat Quirke. Photo: Collins
Heartfelt tribute: Bobby Ryan’s children Robert Ryan and Michelle Ryan at court after Patrick Quirke was convicted of murder. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
TIPPERARY GARDA STATION: Headquarters of the investigation into the murder of DJ Bobby Ryan after his body was found in April 2013.
Patrick Quirke pictured arriving at the Courts of Criminal Justice where he was convicted of the murder of Bobby Ryan. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Stock photo
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

A woman was arrested on suspicion of withholding information from gardai investigating the murder of Bobby Ryan.

The woman's arrest took place in June 2014 around the same time as Pat Quirke was questioned on suspicion of murdering the DJ known as Mr Moonlight. The dairy farmer from Breanshamore in Co Tipperary was convicted of murdering Mr Ryan three weeks ago. Details of Quirke's arrests were outlined at his murder trial but the arrest of the woman was not disclosed.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was interviewed more than 10 times for a period of four days after which she was released without charge. Detectives suspected that information relevant to their investigations may have been withheld from them. After interviewing the woman, they found no evidence of this and were satisfied that she had no knowledge of or information pertaining to the crime.

A majority jury found Quirke guilty of murdering Bobby Ryan after hearing evidence that Mr Ryan was his "love rival" for Mary Lowry, his widowed sister-in-law; that he concealed the body on a run-off tank on Ms Lowry's farm; and that he later staged the discovery of the body when he realised he would no longer have access to her farm.

Quirke was convicted on an accumulation of circumstantial evidence including key testimony provided by Ms Lowry. However, Ms Lowry is not the woman arrested on suspicion of withholding information. A central witness in the trial, she "bared her soul" to provide the vital evidence that helped to persuade the jury that Quirke was a murderer and was commended for the assistance she and her two sons provided to gardai. At his trial, it emerged that Quirke had tried to blacken Mary Lowry's name with her family and reported her to social workers in an attempt to sabotage her relationship with Mr Ryan. When he was interviewed by gardai, Quirke tried unsuccessfully to deflect suspicion from himself towards Ms Lowry, while later planting a rumour with a farmhand that a "Polish group" was involved in the murder.

Mr Ryan was last seen leaving Mary Lowry's home on the farm she leased to Quirke, on June 3, 2011. Gardai suspected that Quirke attacked Mr Ryan moments after he left the house, but they were unable to prove it. Experts called by the prosecution said Mr Ryan was most likely killed by blows from a baseball bat but could not pinpoint a time or place of death, as there was no forensic evidence.

Discrepancies emerged in Quirke's account of his movements on the morning that Bobby Ryan disappeared. He told gardai he rose at 6.15am, completed some tasks, started milking and was on Mary Lowry's farm at 8.30am for 20 minutes to collect two bulls, before returning to his own farm to finish milking and was having breakfast by 9.30am. Another witness said he was still milking at 9.30am, which was "unusual" for him as he'd normally be finished by then.

Speaking since Quirke's conviction, Bobby Ryan's daughter Michelle has said she believes her father's killer did not act alone.

At his trial, Quirke was depicted as a controlling man who used his affair with Ms Lowry to get access to her money. Gardai believe Quirke was a stalker who had placed a voice-activated recorder in her home to spy on her after their relationship ended. Gardai were also told that he harassed Ms Lowry to the point where Mr Ryan confronted Quirke months before the murder and told him to leave her alone, evidence that was not disclosed at the trial as it was deemed to be hearsay.

Sunday Independent

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