Bobby Ryan suffered “a minimum of four” blunt-force blows to his head and face, with multiple fractures resulting, a radiologist has told the Tipperary murder trial.
Anthony Ryan said a CT scan showed injuries consistent with being struck by a vehicle and thrown, though he could not rule out an assault.
Patrick Quirke (50), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan (52), a part-time DJ known as ‘Mr Moonlight’, on a date between June 3, 2011, and April 2013.
Meanwhile, the trial also heard evidence that gardaí have never discovered the identity of the person who sent a text message to Mary Lowry three months after the disappearance of her partner Bobby Ryan.
Phonetically written, it read: “U tink u r so col out partyn lik Bobby nevr existd. We no u hidn somethn nd wer gonta watch u till u crak.”
Translated to proper English, it reads: “You think you are so cool, out partying like Bobby never existed. We know you’re hiding something and we are going to watch you until you crack.”
The text was sent in September 2011. Mr Ryan was last seen on June 3, 2011. His body was found in April 2013.
Radiologist Anthony Ryan, of University Hospital Waterford, told the court he performed a CT scan on the remains of Mr Ryan on May 1, 2013.
It showed “very extensive” skull fractures, with signs the force was “more likely to come from behind and above, or directly behind”.
The injuries also included several rib fractures and a fractured thigh bone just above the knee which, he agreed under cross-examination, was an injury “usually caused by high-energy injuries such as falls from significant heights or motor vehicle injuries”.
However, he told prosecuting counsel Michael Bowman he could not rule out a blow from an implement such as a bat. He said if the injuries were caused by a vehicle it would have to be travelling at a minimum of 30kmh, but closer to 50kmh.
Under cross-examination by Lorcan Staines SC, for the defence, he agreed some of the rib fractures may have been caused by small pieces of concrete falling into the tank during the recovery of the body.
But it was “highly unlikely” that the injuries to the skull, face or leg were caused by this, he said.
Garda Tony O’Brien, who conducted a forensic examination of handsets in the investigation, said he took possession of the mobile phones belonging to Mary Lowry, Mr Quirke, his wife Imelda, and Michelle and Robert Ryan, the children of Mr Ryan.
Mr Quirke’s records showed that on the morning Mr Ryan’s body was retrieved from a run-off tank at Fawnagowan, Co Tipperary, he made a call to his wife Imelda lasting eight seconds at 12.33pm.
Seconds later, he rang the local veterinary clinic, Glen Vet, in a call lasting 13 seconds.
Within a minute of that, the phone called voicemail and a minute later called Mr Quirke’s wife twice more and on the last occasion, the call lasted for 36 seconds.
The data retrieved from Ms Lowry’s phone showed she made at least six attempts to call Mr Ryan on June 5, 2011, two days after his disappearance.
She made two attempts to call him in September 2011.
Robert Ryan’s phone showed that on the morning of his father’s disappearance, he sent him a text message saying “Da are you not working today?” This text was sent at 9.44am on June 3, 2011.
Under cross-examination, Garda O’Brien said no messages were recovered from Ms Lowry’s Nokia phone that was examined in June 2011. He had gone through the handset and he said that if anything was relevant he would have transcribed that.
“Obviously I saw nothing I deemed relevant on June 6, 2011,” he said.
In September of that year, gardaí again sought Ms Lowry’s phone and this time it was a different Nokia device, with Garda O’Brien saying that “perhaps” she had upgraded it.
That phone’s memory was downloaded on September 19, 2011, and a text was retrieved from it. It was written phonetically and said: “You think you are so cool out partying like Bobby never existed. We know you’re hiding something and we are going to watch you until you crack.”
Counsel for the defence put it to Garda O’Brien that he had investigated the number from which it was sent and that this investigation was “unsuccessful”. He agreed.
Later, under questioning by Mr Bowman for the prosecution, Garda O’Brien agreed gardaí had established the phone number that sent the text had not been used for anything else.
Edward Doocey BL, for the prosecution, asked whether the investigation team knew of the text and Garda O’Brien replied: “I believe so.”
Asked whether anyone had queried the lack of success in examining Ms Lowry’s first phone, the garda said he did not recall. Asked whether there was any Garda consultation on how to advance it, Garda O’Brien said: “I suppose at that stage it was a missing persons investigation and not a murder investigation.”
Mr Doocey also asked the witness to bring the jury through CCTV footage taken from Ms Lowry’s home on the day Mr Ryan’s body was found in a disused run-off tank on her farm, which was leased to Mr Quirke. The footage showed Mr Quirke arriving in his 4×4 at 12.11pm, followed about 40 minutes later by his wife Imelda.
Ms Lowry arrived at the yard a few minutes later, with the first Garda van arriving at 1.20pm.
The trial continues.