Supreme Court may be Patrick Quirke’s last option to overturn murder conviction

Legal sources say Tipperary farmer has ‘nothing to lose’ after Court of Appeal bid dismissed

Patrick Quirke may have one more opportunity to try to overturn his conviction for the murder of Bobby Ryan despite the Court of Appeal's (CoA) categoric dismissal of his appeal on Tuesday.

The Tipperary farmer is expected to consider seeking another appeal to the Supreme Court after his lawyers analyse the CoA's 111-page judgment.

If he decides to seek an appeal, a panel of Supreme Court judges will consider his application in chambers after which they will publish a determination on whether it meets the criteria for a hearing in the State’s highest court.

Those criteria require him to have grounds of appeal which raise a matter of general public importance or rendering it necessary, in the interests of justice, that an appeal be heard. If the court decides to hear an appeal, it will fix a hearing date later.


Quirke (51), of Breanshamore, had denied murdering Mr Ryan, a part-time DJ going by the name ‘Mr Moonlight’, who went missing on June 3rd, 2011 after leaving his girlfriend Mary Lowry’s house at about 6.30am. HIs body was subsequently found in an underground run-off tank on a farm owned by Ms Lowry and leased by Quirke at Fawnagown in April 2013.

It was the prosecution’s case that Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with Ms Lowry (52) and that he subsequently “staged” the discovery of the DJ’s body after she tried to terminate his lease. He was found guilty at the Central Criminal Court by a majority jury verdict in 2019.

Circumstantial evidence

Possible grounds of appeal, according to legal sources, could include asking the Supreme Court to decide issues concerning the proper treatment of circumstantial evidence and the circumstances in which a case based on such evidence should be withdrawn from a jury.

Another ground could focus on whether the trial judge and CoA dealt appropriately with the issue of defence applications concerning the prosecution’s presentation of pathologist evidence.

Sources believe it is likely that a further appeal will be sought, noting that more than 50 grounds were advanced in the CoA appeal on behalf of Quirke.

“There’s plenty to pick over in the appeal court’s judgment,” said one barrister. “After 71 days in the Central Criminal Court, he might as well go for it. He’s serving a life sentence, he has nothing to lose.”

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times