Ryan Family

Farmer guilty of "Moonlight murder" of love rival whose body was hidden in tank

(Pictured: Robert Ryan Jnr and Michelle Ryan, the children of ‘Mr Moonlight’, Bobby Ryan. Credit: Collins)

Patrick Quirke has been found guilty of the murder of part-time DJ Bobby Ryan by a ten to two majority jury verdict at the Central Criminal Court.

Following the verdict, Mr Ryan’s daughter Michelle delivered an emotional statement in which she said: “We will carry you with us in our hearts for the rest of our lives. So until we meet again Moonlight, know how much you are loved and sorely missed every day.”

Quirke, who was sentenced to the mandatory life imprisonment, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of 52-year-old Mr Ryan, a popular DJ and musician whose stage name was “Mr Moonlight”. Mr Ryan disappeared after leaving his girlfriend Mary Lowry’s home at about 6.30am on June 3, 2011. His body was found in an underground run-off tank on the farm owned by Ms Lowry and leased by Quirke at Fawnagown, Tipperary 22 months later on April 30 2013.

The prosecution said Quirke murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with Ms Lowry (52).

Evidence in the trial, the longest murder trial in the history of the State, lasted for 13 weeks amid lengthy legal argument carried out in the absence of the jury.

Barristers for the prosecution and defence took five days to complete their closing speeches to the jury, who took 20 hours and 39 minutes to come to their decision, a decision which came six years and one day after Mr Ryan’s remains were recovered.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon thanked the jury, telling them they had shown “exceptional patience,” and exempted them from further service for life.

Following the verdict, Mr Ryan’s son Robert and daughter Michelle and their mother Mary Ryan, who have attended every day of the trial, wept and comforted one another. Quirke was led away by prison guards followed by his legal team and his wife Imelda, who has also been present throughout the trial.

Michelle told the court her family’s lives and world were torn apart the day her dad, whom she described as “wow”, went missing. His disappearance and death are a “torment constantly with us, a black hole with us every day.”

They wonder, she said, if her Dad called out for help and when they close their eyes to sleep they see him with fear in his eyes before waking up from the nightmare. Knowing how he died and where he lay for those 22 months “rips us apart,” she said, adding: “We don’t have a life any more, just an existence.”

Michelle described her father as a loving dad and a loving grandfather who was adored by his grandchildren. They can’t understand why their “Granda Bob” was there one day and gone the next. Some day, they will have to explain to them how he was taken.

She said the family will never doubt how much he loved them and she cannot put into words how much they love him. She said their “precious memories of him will never be taken”.

She added: “This has consumed our lives and we will live with this for the rest of our lives.”

Earlier in the day, Ms Justice Creedon told the six men and six women of the jury that they could return a majority verdict if at least ten of them agreed. The jury spent another three hours and 12 minutes before emerging with their verdict.

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