Murder accused Patrick Quirke told gardaí he was afraid of Mary Lowry and described his ex-lover as "vicious" and "verbally abusive", the Central Criminal Court has heard.
The farmer added that his only crime was having an affair with Ms Lowry and now his name is “mud” in the town where he grew up.
Mr Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary 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).
Inspector David Buckley today told prosecution counsel David Humphries BL that on May 16th, 2013 the accused made a voluntary cautioned statement at Tipperary Garda Station in which he detailed his movements on the day Mr Ryan disappeared and on the day, 22 months later, when Mr Quirke said he discovered the body.
Detailing events leading up to the discovery of the body, the accused told gardaí he opened the tank to draw water from it to agitate slurry in another shed when he saw what he initially thought was a carpet or piece of plastic.
On closer look he discovered it was a body and called his wife Imelda who then called gardaí.
Insp Buckley asked why he did not alert Mary Lowry, whose land the tank is on. He said he didn’t think she was there and added that he was afraid what he might say.
He was not “thinking straight or acting straight”, he said.
He was concerned that the body was naked and when gardaí pressed him on that he said: “My first concern was that the man didn’t walk out of the house.”
He added: “I just didn’t want to meet her [Mary Lowry], I just wanted to meet one person [Imelda].”
He had a theory in his head at the time, he said, about the body being naked but he later had a conversation with someone who told him that a professional would remove the clothes to destroy forensic evidence.
He was afraid of Mary Lowry, he said, adding: “The whole thing frightened me.”
When asked why he was afraid of Ms Lowry he said he is “always afraid of her. She is vicious.”
He said she had abused him the previous day when he met her on the farm. “She let fly verbal abuse,” he said, after she was “caught snooping and didn’t like to be caught.”
He said he avoids her at all costs but said she was not violent, just verbally abusive. He accepted that he was probably verbal towards her as well.
Gardaí asked him why he instinctively thought the body was that of Bobby Ryan and he replied: “Who else would it be?”
He said he didn’t believe Mr Ryan had gone to Spain to start a new life and always thought something sinister had happened. Mr Quirke said he is curious by nature and couldn’t “go with the flow” or accept what other people were saying.
‘My name is mud’
He did not believe Mr Ryan had killed himself or hitched a lift to Rosslare and took a ferry to France. “People who commit suicide want to be found,” he said.
When gardaí asked him about his relationship with Bobby Ryan he said he did not know him well enough to like him. They had nothing in common and so probably were not going to be friends.
While he was not happy with how his relationship with Mary Lowry ended, her being with Mr Ryan didn’t bother him. He further stated that he had spent his life in Tipperary and now his name was “destroyed”.
“I had an affair with this woman but this is my only crime,” he said. “I hate to say that I need to clear my name but my name is mud.”
On May 21st, Mr Quirke again attended Tipperary Garda station to give a voluntary cautioned statement.
Insp Buckley said the accused told gardaí on that occasion that Martin Lowry, Mary’s deceased husband, was his best friend and best man at his wedding.
After Martin’s death in 2007 Mr Quirke rented the land at Fawnagowan from Mary Lowry for €12,600 per year.
The affair started in January 2008, he said, recalling that he told Ms Lowry that they should “pull back” because he was falling in love with her.
He said she replied: “Me too.”
They usually met at Fawnagowan although he stayed overnight only once or twice. They occasionally went for lunch and went away together about three or four times. He thought his wife might have “an inkling” about the affair but she said nothing.
He said he occasionally discussed the future with Ms Lowry but not very seriously. He told Imelda about the affair in March 2012. He said he needed to know that their marriage could survive and added: “I needed to be honest.”
She didn’t take it well and has not spoken to Mary Lowry since. Previously they got on well, he said, having known one another for 25 years.
Mr Quirke said his conversations with Ms Lowry during the affair would be about her children, her upbringing and day-to-day matters. He also detailed to gardaí his financial dealings with Ms Lowry.
They had shared investments totalling tens of thousands of euros and she loaned him €20,000 to pay off a bank loan. He said he also presented her with a bill for cattle that had died due to an infection from the herd he inherited from her husband.
He said she agreed that he could keep the €20,000 loan as compensation. Mary Lowry denied this in her evidence to the court.
He found out she was seeing Bobby Ryan in December 2010 but didn’t think they were physically intimate at that time. He said she told him she wasn’t interested in a relationship with Mr Ryan and he, Mr Quirke, told her she could still meet him, “as long as we don’t fall out”.
She asked Mr Quirke what he would do and he told her: “I still have Imelda.”
Around December 15th he said he became aware that Ms Lowry had lied to him about where she was the night before and the following week he he saw text exchanges on her phone with Mr Ryan. He took her phone and texted Mr Ryan, “pointing out she hadn’t been honest and was seeing me for the last three years.”
Mr Ryan then called and Mr Quirke answered, saying, “sorry, but I’m the man.”
He told gardaí: “That’s all I said and I hung up.”
Mr Quirke was angry and Ms Lowry was angry. They had a “heated” argument in which he accused her of lying and she told him they were finished.
He described Ms Lowry as “fiery” and said she has a “heated temper” but the argument was not physical.
The next time they met she was still angry because Mr Ryan didn’t want anything to do with her but she later made up with Mr Ryan and seemed happier then. Mr Quirke added: “I was angry because she was happy and she didn’t care if I was happy, sad or indifferent.”
He said he was “disgusted” with Ms Lowry’s “whole attitude” which he found difficult to justify. He said he spent a lot of time and effort sorting her out after her husband’s death and “it was all forgotten about”.
Following the argument over the phone, Mr Ryan arranged to meet Mr Quirke at Hayes’s Hotel in Thurles. They talked about the break up of Mr Ryan’s marriage and Mr Quirke apologised for the incident with the phone.
He was impressed with Mr Ryan and happy with the meeting because, “he didn’t perceive me as a person who had it in for him,” Mr Quirke said.
He denied trying to warn Mr Ryan off and said he wished them well. He went on to say that he hadn’t properly grieved his friend Martin’s death and entered into counselling to help him this and the break down of the affair.
He was not jealous of Bobby and Mary because he was getting on with his own life with his wife.
In August 2011, following Mr Ryan’s disappearance, he said he got back with Ms Lowry a few times but it was not the same. They went to the Cliff House in Ardmore in September 2011 and to Fitzpatrick’s Hotel in Killiney, south Dublin in January 2012.
They talked about Mr Ryan’s disappearance, he said, telling gardaí: “I’m inquisitive, I’m curious.”
He said he wanted to know what happened and had theories. He said Ms Lowry had no theories and added: “It didn’t bother her. She was quite indifferent about it.”
He put an end to the affair this time, he said, after he found out she was again seeing someone else.
When gardaí asked him if he was in love with Ms Lowry up to the time when they split he responded: “yes.”
He said Ms Lowry had filled a void left when his best friend died. He was angry at how she had treated him but added that he was never going to leave his wife.
He concluded the interview saying he never threatened Mr Ryan “in any way and I challenge anyone to show that I did. I did not kill Bobby Ryan. There’s somebody out there who did do it and he is laughing at the moment because you are looking at me.”
He said he was doing everything he could do clear his name.
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon told the jury of six men and six women to return on Monday as there are matters to be dealt with in their absence.