The Supreme Court has set a date in October for an appeal by Tipperary farmer Patrick Quirke against his conviction for the murder of Bobby Ryan in 2011.

At a brief hearing this morning, the court was also told the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission may apply to take part and make submissions in the hearing.

The hearing will take place on 25 October.

Last April, the Supreme Court determined there are two matters of general public importance involved in his appeal which may arise in other criminal trials and would benefit from clarification.

The issues relate to the validity of a search warrant and the DPP's discretion to call witnesses at trial.

In November last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed Quirke's appeal against conviction on all 52 grounds.

That court found there was nothing to cause doubt about the safety of the verdict or the fairness of the trial.

Quirke 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 trial in 2019 heard he murdered his love rival Bobby Ryan - a DJ known as Mr Moonlight - so he could rekindle an affair with farm owner Mary Lowry.

Mr Ryan's remains were found in a disused underground tank on Ms Lowry's farm almost two years after he went missing. He had been in a relationship with Ms Lowry and was last seen alive as he left her home to go to work early on 3 June 2011.

The prosecution said Patrick Quirke 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.

In his application for a further appeal to the Supreme Court lawyers for Patrick Quirke said there were two key issues of public importance which should be determined by the court.

Bobby Ryan's remains were found almost two years after he went missing

The first concerns the validity of the warrant used to search and seize material from his home.

It was argued that a specific failure to inform and expressly include the intention to seize computers containing the personal data of an entire family avoided scrutiny and safeguarding of constitutional rights.

Among the items seized with the warrant was a computer which formed a key part of the evidence against Quirke after it was found to have been used for internet searches on human decomposition and DNA.

The Court of Appeal ruled that while the absence of a reference to computers was sub optimal it was not fatal to the validity of the warrant.

The second issue to be considered by the Supreme Court is the discretion of the DPP to call witnesses in a case, in particular expert witnesses.

The court noted that Dr Khalid Jabbar, the former Deputy State Pathologist, had given an opinion that the death of Bobby Ryan was the result of blunt force trauma. Dr Jabbar had not attended the crime scene and was not available as a prosecution witness in the trial.

His report and findings were reviewed within the Office of the State Pathologist by Professor Marie Cassidy, the State Pathologist, and by two colleagues. They were unanimously of the view that the cause of death was blunt force trauma, likely due to vehicular impact trauma.

At a later stage, Professor Jack Crane, the State Pathologist in Northern Ireland, also furnished an opinion for the prosecution. He was also of the view that the cause of death was blunt force trauma; however he did not believe that the evidence was there to support the conclusion of vehicular impact trauma.

The defence felt that in light of the differing opinions, the prosecution should call both experts Dr Crane and Dr Michael Curtis on behalf of the Office of the State Pathologist.

The prosecution refused and the defence called Dr Curtis as a witness.

However, the defence team later argued that the prosecution later "took advantage" of the situation to explore theories for which there was no evidential basis.

The Court of Appeal ruled that while the manner in which the pathology witnesses were called was "sub optimal" and "unusual" it rejected those grounds for appeal.