Village in shock as businessman turns out to be killer on-the-run
Published 05/08/2011 | 05:00
HE has been described as both "charming" and "odd", depending on who you talk to.
But today the people of a leafy Co Wicklow community are waking up to the reality that the neighbour they knew as Ioan Thomas had a secret past as a double killer.
Thomas (45) ran a successful domestic damp-proofing company from his home in Trooperstown, near Roundwood, employing three people and with plans to expand. He was looking to setting up a wine bar business.
But the man who tried "unsuccessfully" to add a Welsh lilt to his accent wasn't who people thought he was.
He is, in fact, a double killer who burned his own grandmother and her sister to death to pay off debts to his cocaine dealer.
He was also convicted of unlawfully having sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Thomas -- originally named Ian Kentzer -- was sentenced to life in prison in 1991 after he admitted killing his grandmother Mary Goodrich, aged 92, and 89-year-old great aunt Jessie Thomas in a blaze at their home in Ringinglow Road, Ecclesall, Yorkshire.
In November 2005 a judge ruled he should be freed. A lawyer told Mr Justice Davis at London's Royal Courts of Justice that Thomas had won awards for his literature and had published a book of poetry during his time in prison.
On his release, Thomas was chastised by his siblings and, after complaints, he was returned to jail.
He successfully won the right to freedom and persuaded the probation service to relocate him to Wales and away from Yorkshire where relatives, still angry at his crimes, still lived.
But in June 2008 he decided to quit the UK and move to Trooperstown in Co Wicklow, where he established a business called Mould Busters.
He could not have picked a more remote location.
Several hundred yards up a dirt track -- off the main Trooperstown to Moneystown Road -- lies a development containing several cottages and apartments in a converted stables where Thomas rented a home.
Most locals did not want to talk about their now-notorious neighbour.
However, local Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle, who lives less than half a mile from Thomas, told the Irish Independent the local community was in "utter shock" to discover a double killer had been living amongst them.
He called for an urgent investigation into how convicted criminals from other jurisdictions were traced.
Thomas carried out the brutal killings to cover up his theft of more than £30,000 (€34,500) of his elderly relatives' money, which he stole to fund his cocaine addiction and to keep his failing video library business afloat. Both pensioners died from smoke inhalation.
It was initially thought the fire was an accident but, when interviewed, Thomas quickly confessed, saying: "I wanted to start a fire. The intention was that my Gran and Aunt Jess should die."
One woman in Roundwood said she thought Thomas had "tried to put on a Welsh accent", but it "didn't sound right".
Three weeks ago the lies and the pretence finally begun to unravel.
Gardai stopped Thomas for a speeding offence, but when Thomas handed over his UK drivers licence, officers weren't happy with his explanation as to why he hadn't obtained an Irish licence.
On further investigation with the UK police they discovered Thomas was an on-the-run convicted murderer.
Yesterday the High Court in Dublin heard Ian Kentzer had legally changed his name to Ioan Thomas following his release on licence from prison and had moved from his native Yorkshire to South Wales.
He admitted in evidence that he had breached the conditions of his release by failing to report to his probation and by moving to Ireland several years ago.
Detective Sergeant Sean Fallon said Thomas had served a minimum life sentence following his conviction for the double murders. He had also been convicted in the mid 1980s of a sexual offence against a minor.
Sgt Fallon said Thomas had been released from prison in 2005 on two conditions, that he not leave the UK and that he keep in touch with his probation supervising officer and the Child Protection Service.
Thomas told his barrister, Jim Colgan, that in December 1991 he had pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including two counts of murder, and had been sentenced to life imprisonment with a specified minimum term of 15 years.
On December 29, 2005, he was released under licence and in his home town he had been harassed by two siblings who wanted him to remain in prison.
He was recalled to prison on January 5, 2007, for six months, until investigations revealed there had been no grounds for the allegations against him.
He said that with the consent of the authorities he moved to Wales in February 2008 and changed his name by deed poll from Ian David Kentzer to Ioan Thomas.
Relations with his probation officer deteriorated and he moved to Ireland in June 2008 and lived since at his address.
Judge Sheehan said Thomas had admitted breaching his prison release licence and he would refuse him bail.
Thomas told the court he would consent to his extradition and waived his right to remain in Ireland for 10 days.