Accident, crash or assault could have caused Bobby Ryan’s injuries, court told

Patrick Quirke denies murdering DJ known as ‘Mr Moonlight’ in Co Tipperary in 2013

Patrick Quirke of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary arriving at the Central Criminal Court where he is charged with the murder of Bobby Ryan. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Patrick Quirke of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary arriving at the Central Criminal Court where he is charged with the murder of Bobby Ryan. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

Bobby Ryan suffered multiple injuries that could have been caused by an accident, a traffic collision or a serious assault, a pathologist told gardaí investigating the Co Tipperary DJ’s death.

Supt Patrick O’Callaghan told the Central Criminal Court trial of Patrick Quirke that he was present when former deputy State pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber carried out a postmortem on the body shortly after it was discovered in a disused waste water tank in 2013.

Supt O’Callaghan told defence counsel Lorcan Staines SC that he took notes as Dr Jaber spoke.

Reading from his notes he said Dr Jaber identified “multiple injuries” which “could be the result of accident / traffic collision or serious assault”.

Supt O’Callaghan added that Dr Jaber is not available to give evidence in the trial and therefore gardaí enlisted the help of other pathologists to give their opinions on the postmortem.

Not willing

He further stated that he was aware Dr Jaber was contacted when the body was found but told gardaí he was not willing to attend the scene so the decision was taken to remove the body without a pathologist present.

Mr Staines put it to him that it is best practice for a pathologist and other forensic experts to examine the body before it is moved. The witness said there was a garda from the technical bureau present and the office of the State Pathologist had been contacted. There was no urgency about the removal, he said, but there were concerns about people getting into the tank.

Fire officers who removed the body did so wearing full body bio-hazard suits, equipment gardaí did not have access to, he said.

“I didn’t think anyone could have gone in to the tank to carry out an examination when you look at the gear the fire officers had to wear.”

When Mr Staines asked if he would do things the same way again Supt O’Callaghan said he would.

Supt O’Callaghan said he was aware that the deceased’s arm had come away from the body but he did not know if it came away during or prior to removal from the tank. The first time he noticed it was when the body was laid on a plastic sheet on the ground.

Mr Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Ryan, a part-time DJ who went by the name ‘Mr Moonlight’.

Mr Ryan went missing on June 3rd, 2011 after leaving his girlfriend Mary Lowry’s home at about 6.30am and his body was found in an underground run-off tank on the farm owned by Ms Lowry and leased by the accused at Fawnagown, Tipperary in April 2013.

The prosecution claims that Mr Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with Ms Lowry (52).

Fragments

The jury has previously heard that a hair clip and a number of other items including bone fragments and buttons were discovered in the tank alongside Mr Ryan’s body.

Supt O’Callaghan said he did not attach “a whole pile of significance” to the hair clip but following questions by Mr Quirke’s defence lawyers, the accused man’s wife, Imelda Quirke, was asked if she recognised the clip.

He explained that Ms Quirke was one of a number of girls who grew up on the farm and he suspected that it could have fallen into the tank at any point since it was built in the late 1970s. Ms Quirke did not recognise the clip.

Counsel also asked Supt O’Callaghan why Ms Lowry’s house was not searched in 2011 when Mr Ryan went missing. Supt O’Callaghan said Ms Lowry was cooperative with the investigation at all times. He said gardaí did not search her home because although that was the last place he was seen, his van was found some distance away at Kilshane Woods.

Supt O’Callaghan agreed that as part of the investigation there was a report that Ms Lowry’s house had been redecorated between 2011 and 2013. However, he could not remember it and could not stand over whether the house had been redecorated.

Mr Staines has asked previous witnesses about the moment a large slab of reinforced concrete that covered most of the tank was removed by a garda driving a JCB.

Not mentioned

During that process the slab broke. Mr Staines said the breaking of the slab must have been a significant event yet in the book of evidence, which stretches to more than 1,000 pages, it is not mentioned.

Supt O’Callaghan said the most significant event on the day was the discovery of the body and when the slab broke gardaí just got on with their jobs. The next question, he said, was would fire officers now be able to get into the tank to get the body out. Nobody was trying to hide the fact that it broke, he said, adding that photos of the broken slab were included in the evidence.

Justice Eileen Creedon warned the jury of six men and six women that the trial has attracted a lot of media attention but that they must make their decision based only on what they hear in court.

She also reminded the media that the accused man has the presumption of innocence and asked journalists to be careful of how they report on the proceedings.