Evidence of Pat Quirke's bad behaviour towards Mary Lowry was necessary to set the context for the murder of Bobby Ryan, lawyers for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) have argued.
Quirke's appeal against his conviction has previously heard from his lawyers who argued that his trial was rendered unfair by evidence showing Quirke taking underwear off Mary Lowry's washing line and suggestions from gardai that he had "cash on demand and sex on demand" from Ms Lowry. Bernard Condon SC for Quirke also complained that the prosecution relied on "tittle tattle" and overemphasized the importance of Ms Lowry's claims that Quirke was "controlling".
Quirke (51), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary was convicted last year of the murder of popular DJ and father-of-two Bobby "Mr Moonlight" Ryan (52) at Fawnagowan in Tipperary. Mr Ryan disappeared on June 3, 2011 after he left Ms Lowry's home early in the morning. His badly decomposed body was discovered in a disused, underground tank on 30 April 2013 on farmland owned by Ms Lowry and leased by Quirke. Ms Lowry had previously had an affair with Quirke and the prosecution said that he murdered Bobby Ryan so he could rekindle their affair.
Michael Bowman SC for the DPP today said that the defence had suggested that all the jury needed to know about the relationship between Quirke and Ms Lowry was contained in an agony aunt letter that Quirke wrote to the Dear Patricia column in the Sunday Independent outlining the affair and subsequent breakdown. Mr Bowman described this as an "anodyne" description of their relationship which used only the "meaningless and vacuous" expression that "differences arose between the couple". Mr Bowman said the reality was that Quirke was entangled both financially and intimately with Ms Lowry in what she saw as a "seedy" relationship compromised by "deceit and lies." He said Quirke had a "deep-seated obsession" with Mary Lowry and relied on her both for intimacy and for money but she wanted to "disentangle him from her life". Mr Bowman told the judges that the Dear Patricia letter contained nothing about the fact that Quirke was using substantial sums of Mary Lowry's money to invest in Contracts for Difference and had taken a loan from her of e20,000 on which he did not have to make any repayments.
Mr Bowman said: "The financial relationship is absolutely crucial to understand what Pat Quirke had to lose when he loses Mary Lowry." Ms Lowry was, counsel said, a confidant and a lover but "without dispute she was also a source of revenue."
Counsel cited repeated attempts by Quirke to remove Bobby Ryan from Mary Lowry's life which were not contained in the agony aunt letter. The letter, he said, did not communicate the extent of their relationship at all. The evidence showed, Mr Bowman said, that Quirke had a "sense of moral entitlement" over Mary Lowry and that he believed she was indebted to him and that she owed him something.
He said the difficulties between Ms Lowry and Quirke were relevant to the case and there was no doubt that Quirke's motive was "to remove Bobby Ryan and take his rightful position as Mary Lowry's lover, as he saw it."
Counsel further argued that there was no suggestion that Quirke's misconduct towards Ms Lowry suggested to the jury that he must have killed Bobby Ryan, but it was relevant to show his "commitment to her personal affairs".
Mr Bowman also argued against a defence suggestion that the jury should not have heard the evidence of entomologist Dr John Manlove. Dr Manlove told the trial that a fly larva found on Mr Ryan's body was laid at least eleven days earlier and the prosecution argued that this proved that Quirke opened the airtight tank to have a look in the weeks before he staged the discovery of the body.
Mr Bowman said the defence suggestion that the jury should not have heard the scientist's evidence was "preposterous". He said the evidence showed that the tank had been opened just once and briefly because there was only one infestation and there was no evidence of vermin damage to the body which would be expected if the seal around the tank had been breached by a flood, as was suggested by Quirke's defence.
Mr Bowman also described as "nonsense" a defence claim that there was no evidence that Pat Quirke was the person who carried out google searches on body decomposition on a computer seized by gardai at Quirke's home.
Mr Bowman pointed to garda interviews where, when asked about the searches, Quirke replied: "My son had recently died. That's all I'm saying." This was, Mr Bowman said, Quirke acknowledging that he had carried out the search. Mr Bowman said: "The suggestion we can’t put him behind the computer is nonsense. That is the primary evidence. There is no other explanation."
The appellant's lawyers also complained today that a warrant to search Pat Quirke's home was flawed and that gardai withheld information from the judge who granted it. Mr Condon said the warrant stated that gardai wanted to search Quirke's home for clothes or jewellery belonging to Bobby Ryan and for a possible murder weapon. Considering it was almost two years since Mr Ryan had gone missing, counsel said gardai must have known those items would not be there.
Instead, gardai seized a computer belonging to Mr Quirke and used forensic techniques to uncover google searches Quirke had carried out on decomposition of bodies and on infamous murderers such as Joe O'Reilly. Mr Condon said the computer evidence was "always what they were looking for" and questioned why they didn't mention that on the warrant.
Computers, counsel said, contain a store of "pretty much everything that one does." When warrants became part of criminal law, Mr Condon said, it was not possible to "lift someone's entire life" in a digital box. Given that the right to privacy in the home is a fundamental right, he said the judge who issued the warrant should have been told that gardai intended to take computers from Mr Quirke's home. He further suggested that it was open to the Court of Appeal to set a principle regarding the taking of computers during such searches.
Mr Bowman will continue his submissions tomorrow, Friday.