A garda in charge of exhibits in the Patrick Quirke trial said he does not remember being told about a woman's hair clip taken from the tank where DJ Bobby Ryan's body was found.
Detective Garda Kieran Keane was giving evidence in the trial of Mr Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan, a part-time DJ going 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. 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 22 months later in April 2013.
The prosecution claims that Mr Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with Ms Lowry (52).
Det Garda Keane told prosecuting counsel Michael Bowman SC that he was appointed as exhibits officer in 2011 following Mr Ryan’s disappearance. It is his job to secure all exhibits, he said, and he tracks them using an exhibits chart.
Item 33 on this chart referred initially to a bag containing cable ties and pipe covers recovered from the tank and handed to the exhibits officer by Garda Larry Stapleton.
Following an examination by a forensic scientist in January of this year, the chart was updated to state that the bag also included a hair clip.
Lorcan Staines SC for the defence asked Det Garda Keane and Garda Stapleton about the tortoiseshell hair clip, which was broken.
Garda Stapleton told counsel that he bagged the hair clip along with other items taken from the tank and handed the bag to Det Garda Kieran Keane.
He said he did not write on the bag what was contained within it as this was not his practice and there was no space on the bag for that purpose. The witness also said that photos were taken of everything that was taken from the tank, including the hair clip.
Mr Staines said those photos were not made available to the defence until November 2018, more than five years later and at a time when Mr Quirke was awaiting trial.
The witness said he could not answer for that. He further told Mr Staines that he told the exhibits officer what was in the bag but agreed with Mr Staines that Det Garda Keane did not include the hair clip on the original chart. Mr Staines suggested it would be “highly unlikely” that Garda Keane, who was doing his best to be accurate, would have failed to note the hair clip if he was told of it.
Mr Staines further put it to the witness that he did not make a statement about this until five-and-a-half years after the fact and questioned how he could be so sure of what he told Det Garda Keane.
Garda Stapleton said he would have told his colleage about the hair clip because that is what is in his notes from the time. “I know from the way I wrote it that’s what I told to Garda Keane.”
Garda Keane told Mr Staines that he does not remember the conversation with Garda Stapleton but said he would have noted on the chart everything that he knew was contained within the bag.
Mr Staines suggested to him that it is “highly likely” that he was not told about the hair clip.
The witness replied: “I can’t recall what Larry Stapleton told me.”
Earlier in the trial, it was suggested that the chart available to gardaí contained a reference to the hair clip while the one disclosed to the defence did not.
Mr Staines told Det Garda Keane there is no suggestion that he acted improperly in carrying out his duty and the garda accepted this.
The witness further explained to Mr Bowman that the exhibits chart was changed in January 2019 to include the presence of the hair clip following the examination by Forensic Science Ireland.
He said it is a matter of routine that the chart is changed, updated or amended when new information becomes available. The trial also heard from veterinary surgeon Kieran O’Mahony who said that he tested Mr Quirke’s herd in 2010 and found evidence of BVD infection.
Another vet, Kevin Lenihan, said he was due to call to the Quirke farm at Fawnagowan to dehorn an animal on the morning Mr Ryan’s body was found but he, Mr Lenihan, cancelled the appointment.
Justice Eileen Creedon told the jury of six men and six women that the trial will run beyond the originally predicted eight weeks and they may be required until March 22nd, two weeks more than originally anticipated.