High Court Reporters
Tipperary farmer Patrick Quirke has won a significant issue in his appeal against his conviction for the murder in 2011 of Bobby Ryan, the DJ known as Mr Moonlight.
The seven-judge Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the seizure of a computer from Quirke's home by gardaí, as part of investigations into the murder of Mr Ryan, was unlawful. The court will meet next week to hear legal argument on the ramifications of the ruling.
The consequences of the court’s finding that a computer was unlawfully seized from Quirke’s home will be decided later.
Quirke (53), of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary, is serving a life sentence imposed after his conviction in 2019 after a 15-week trial. He had denied any involvement in the murder.
The prosecution said during the appeal that the computer was used for internet searches on the rate of decomposition of human remains and on the limitations of forensic DNA.
Further legal argument is required regarding the effects of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Chief Justice Donal O’Donnell said on Monday.
A seven-judge court unanimously found that while a physical analysis of a computer device is allowed, its use as a “portal into the digital world” where a more significant intrusion onto the privacy rights of the accused occurred, was unlawful in the absence of sufficient judicial analysis prior to authorisation of the search, the court said.
This analysis could have been obtained through a “clear reference” to computer devices in the sworn information gardaí provided to the district judge and a sworn statement indicating why such a digital search might be reasonably needed.
The court rejected Quirke’s second ground of appeal, which related to the prosecution’s discretion in calling certain witnesses.
The Supreme Court heard his appeal, containing two grounds, over two days in December. Judgement was reserved.
The court scheduled the case for further case management next Wednesday.
In November 2021, the Court of Appeal rejected Quirke’s appeal against his conviction.
More to follow...