Patrick Quirke, 50, killed Bobby Ryan, 52, and hid body for two years in run-off tank
A farmer from County Tipperary has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering a love rival, following a 15-week trial that has transfixed Ireland.
Patrick Quirke, 50, killed Bobby Ryan, 52, a part-time DJ known as Mr Moonlight, in 2011 and hid the body for two years in a farm’s underground tank, a jury decided on Wednesday.
Quirke showed no emotion as the verdict was read out at Dublin’s central criminal court, the climax to the longest murder trial in the state’s history.
Prosecutors said “love and money” motivated the crime because Quirke sought to rekindle an affair with Mary Lowry, who gave him emotional and financial support until she entered a relationship with Ryan.
Members of Ryan’s family cried and hugged in the public gallery after the verdict was announced. The jury of six men and six women deliberated for more than 18 hours over eight days before reaching a 10-2 decision.
Quirke denied killing Ryan. In the absence of witnesses, confessions or conclusive results from forensic DNA testing, the case was based on circumstantial evidence.
Details of the romantic rivalry in Fawnagowan, 120 miles (190km) south-west of Dublin, evoked a torrid soap opera and frequently pushed Brexit off the front pages.
Lowry, 52, began an affair with Quirke in 2008, a year after her husband died of cancer. Quirke is married to her late husband’s sister and helped with Lowry’s farm and finances.
Lowry testified she sought comfort but Quirke became “overpowering” and she grew ashamed of the relationship.
She ended it in 2010 and started dating Ryan, calling him a “breath of fresh air”. Quirke resented Ryan, the court heard. He wrote an anonymous letter to a newspaper advice column complaining he was a married man ditched by his girlfriend.
Ryan vanished on 3 June 2011 after leaving Lowry’s home. Lowry said Quirke later showed up at the farm looking “hot and sweaty and bothered”.
Prosecutors said Quirke inflicted blunt force trauma on Ryan – possibly with a vehicle – and hid the body in a disused run-off tank. Searches for the missing man proved unsuccessful.
In April 2013 Quirke told police he had discovered a body in the tank while pumping water. Prosecutors said he did so because his lease on the farm – and control over the tank – was due to expire.
Police found Google searches for “human decomposition timeline” on a laptop in Quirke’s home.
Ryan’s daughter, Michelle, said in a victim impact statement his disappearance had tormented the family. She said she hoped “daddy will now rest in peace”.