A seven judge Supreme Court has been urged to direct a retrial of Tipperary farmer Patrick Quirke for the charge of murder of part-time DJ Bobby Ryan.
Lawyers for Quirke told the court that a trial court is the “best place” to resolve issues arising from its March ruling that a computer was unlawfully seized from Quirke’s home by gardaí.
Following submissions on Tuesday, the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell, said the court will give its judgment later on the consequences flowing from the earlier findings.
The Supreme Court declared in March that the search of the computer, as a “portal into the digital world”, was unlawful as this was not sought in the sworn information seeking the warrant, so it was not judicially authorised.
The judgment marked a win for Quirke (53) in his bid to overturn his 2019 conviction by a majority verdict of 10:2 for the murder of his alleged love rival. Quirke denied the murder charge.
His 13-week trial at the Central Criminal Court was the longest murder trial in the history of the State.
Quirke’s trial was told the computer was used for internet searches on the rate of decomposition of human remains and the limitations of forensic DNA.
On Tuesday, Quirke’s senior counsel, Bernard Condon SC, said his client wants a trial judge to conduct an inquiry into whether the computer evidence may be admissible.
‘Duty of candour’
The Supreme Court cannot fall back on “mere inadvertence” on the part of the gardaí, who applied for the warrant to search Quirke’s home. They knew they wanted to search Quirke’s computer but did not say that in the application to the issuing District Court judge, he said.
The gardaí have a “duty of candour” and they seem to have been “reckless” in the information they left out of the warrant application, said Mr Condon.
Meanwhile, Seán Guerin SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, argued the Supreme Court should decide that the computer evidence was admissible. An appellant court can examine whether the interference with privacy should be treated as an unjustifiable breach of a right, he added.
He submitted that careful judicial scrutiny can occur at a later stage to protect the privacy rights of the accused.
‘Trouble arrived at the doorstep’ of man who denie…
Quirke pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Ryan, a part-time DJ going by the name of ‘Mr Moonlight’.
Quirke was arrested after Mr Ryan’s remains were found in a disused underground tank on a farm at Fawnagowan, owned by Mary Lowry on April 30th, 2013, almost two years after he went missing.
Mr Ryan had been in a relationship with Ms Lowry and was last seen alive as he left her home early on June 3rd, 2011. The prosecution argued at Quirke’s trial that circumstantial evidence validly established that he had murdered Mr Ryan.
It was contended that Quirke had staged the discovery of the body as he was about to give up his lease on the farm and feared he would be found out. The prosecution argued Quirke had murdered Mr Ryan so he could rekindle an affair with Ms Lowry.