Murder accused ‘stole underwear from former lover’s clothes line’

Court hears Patrick Quirke wrote letter to newspaper agony aunt seeking help

 Patrick Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, leaving court on Wednesday.  Photograph: Collins Courts

Patrick Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, leaving court on Wednesday. Photograph: Collins Courts


A farmer who denies murdering his love rival allegedly stole underwear from his former lover’s clothes line, a murder trial has heard.

Mary Lowry (52) was continuing giving evidence on Wednesday at the Central Criminal Court in the trial of 50-year-old Patrick Quirke who denies murdering Ms Lowry’s boyfriend Bobby Ryan (52) - a DJ known as Mr Moonlight - on a date between June 3rd, 2011 and April 2013.

Mr Ryan’s body was found in a run-off tank on a farm at Fawnagowan in Tipperary in late April 2013.

The trial has already heard Ms Lowry began what she called a “seedy affair” with Mr Quirke some time after her husband Martin Lowry died of cancer in September 2007.

She described the accused as “overpowering” and “intimidating” and said he was always asking her for money. She ended the relationship in the summer of 2010 and in August 2010 she met Mr Ryan and they began a relationship.

Mary Lowry arrives at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin to give evidence in the trial of Patrick Quirke. Photograph: Collins Courts
Mary Lowry arrives at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin to give evidence in the trial of Patrick Quirke. Photograph: Collins Courts

The witness told prosecution counsel Michael Bowman on Wednesday that she put up CCTV cameras around her home after a series of break-ins in 2012. In court Ms Lowry viewed footage from her home taken on the morning of December 3rd, 2012 in which she identified the accused arriving in his van and then walking around the porch and shed area of her home and looking through windows.

The witness said there was a clothes line with underwear and other items hanging outside the shed and Mr Quirke was also seen standing near a post box shortly after the postman had delivered her mail.

After watching the footage in December 2012, Ms Lowry asked her solicitor to write to Mr Quirke to terminate his lease on her land at Fawnagowan. In March the following year she said Mr Quirke agreed to leave by early July 2013 and secured a lease on a neighbouring farm belonging to a woman named Mary Dillon.

In April, before the lease had terminated, Ms Lowry noticed a tractor on her land that she had not previously seen which was pulling an agitator for a slurry tank. When she went to take a closer look she bumped into Mr Quirke and told him: “You’re some c***t and I can’t wait to see the back of you and I hope you won’t be stealing Mary Dillon’s knickers off the line.” She said this remark related to what he had taken off her line. His response, she said, was: “Ha.”

The following day gardaí arrived at the land and a superintendent told her that a body had been found in a run-off tank on her land that she did not previously know about. Mr Quirke was there with his wife Imelda and the witness said she felt that Mrs Quirke seemed “shook” but Mr Quirke “was not perturbed at all”.

She left her home that day and has not returned.

The jury were told on Wednesday more about a letter which Ms Lowry told the court on Tuesday she saw on the “Dear Patricia” page in the Sunday Independent in February 2011 from a married man complaining that he had an affair with a woman who had dumped him. She said the details seemed to show that it was Patrick Quirke and when she confronted him about it he told her he had nobody else to turn to.

The letter stated: “I’ve made a right mess of my life and I need help on how to go forward.” The writer detailed how he started an affair with a family friend after her husband died. He said he fell in love with the woman and their affair lasted for three years until he found out she was seeing someone else.

The letter complained that this woman had forgotten about him and he was left “broken-hearted” and “angry” at how well things were working out for her despite her lies, and cheating on him. The letter further stated that he had no closure and was forced to carry this “dark secret” alone. The writer said he still loves his wife but is not “in love” with her and wishes he could transfer his feelings for this other woman to his wife.

Cross examination

Under cross-examination, Ms Lowry told Bernard Condon SC defending that she told the truth in her evidence and to gardaí. She accepted that she did not initially tell gardaí about her relationship with Mr Quirke because, she said, she was ashamed of the “sordid” affair.

Mr Condon suggested that in her evidence she had painted the accused in the worst possible light and was settling scores by “putting the boot in”. She denied this and said Mr Quirke was “not very nice to me”.

She said she had told the truth from the outset and accused Mr Quirke of manipulating her both during and after their relationship. She rejected a claim by Mr Condon that her late husband and the accused had been close friends. They worked in the same line of business, she said, but were acquaintances rather than friends.

She accepted she had told gardaí in a statement in June 2011 that Mr Quirke was the kind of man who “would have your best interests at heart. I always got on fine with Pat”. She said this was what she thought at the time but she later realised he did not have her best interests at heart.

Mr Condon put it to her that she had told the jury that Mr Quirke assaulted her in her kitchen by pushing her against a table. Counsel questioned how she could tell gardaí that Mr Quirke was the type of man who had her best interests at heart in the light of that assault. Mr Condon said this suggested she was either not assaulted or that she lied to gardaí.

Ms Lowry said Mr Quirke did assault her and she did not lie. She also denied having learned off “verbatim” portions of her statement.

Opening the trial last week Mr Bowman said the prosecution will use circumstantial evidence to prove the guilt of the accused. He told the jury Mr Ryan offered Mary Lowry something that the married Mr Quirke could not, a “conventional relationship”. Mr Bowman said the accused, “did what he felt compelled to do and got rid of his love rival in the hope that he could go back to how things were before Bobby Ryan.”

Bobby Ryan (52) of Boherlahan, near Cashel in south Tipperary, whose remains were found in April 2013.
Bobby Ryan (52) of Boherlahan, near Cashel in south Tipperary, whose remains were found in April 2013.

Ms Lowry will continue giving evidence under cross examination on Thursday in front of Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of six men and six women.

Full text of the Dear Patricia letter:

February 20th, 2011.

“I’ve made a right mess of my life and I need help on how to go forward. It all started four years ago, when my best friend died. This man was also my wife’s cousin and a close family friend. He left a wife and a young family after him.

“I coped by throwing myself into doing all I could for my friend’s wife and children. There was much sorting out to do in relation to his business. Unfortunately, this led to an affair with his wife, and I fell deeply in love with her.

“It lasted three years and came to an abrupt end recently when I found out that she was seeing someone else. When I confronted her, she claimed that she had fallen out of love with me and was waiting for an opportunity to end ‘us’.

“This was a defining moment for both of us. She no longer depended on me, and quickly forgot about me by putting all her energy into developing this new relationship. This man promised everything that I couldn’t. She introduced him to everyone in the family, including my wife, and they were all delighted that she had found love again.

“My problem is that I am broken-hearted and angry at how well things have worked out for her, despite her lying and cheating on me. We meet on a constant basis as we have a business connection as well as the family connection. She refuses to discuss our affair and says it is in the past. She has confessed it to her new lover, while I have no closure and am forced to carry this dark secret alone. I now feel a tremendous amount of grief, and shame, for a lost love - and am possibly suffering postponed grief for a dead friend - all in silence.

“I know I have done wrong and let my wife down badly. I contemplated telling her, but feel it would do nothing to relieve my burden while it would devastate her.

“I have been diagnosed with depression, but none of the medication is working. My wife has been a tremendous support and loves me deeply. Ironically, this almost makes things worse.

“Unfortunately, while I love her, I am not in love with her. I’m still in love with my ex-lover even though I accept that the affair is over. I wish I wasn’t, and wish I could transfer the feelings I have for her back to my wife. How do I begin to rebuild my life?”