Tuesday 11 December 2018

Gardaí fear suspect in murder of Rosie (78) fled country after botched raid

The home of Rosie Handrahan at Thomondgate, Limerick. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The home of Rosie Handrahan at Thomondgate, Limerick. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Ralph Riegel

Gardaí are trying to trace a number of convicted criminals, including an eastern European sex offender, as part of their investigation into the murder of Limerick widow Rosie Hanrahan.

Detectives are also trying to confirm the movements of two serial burglars in Limerick, as their primary theory remains that the pensioner (78) was killed during a botched break-in to target her Christmas cash.

Gardaí now have the initial results of DNA tests conducted at Ms Hanrahan's home from December 15.

A senior source said they now have "multiple" avenues of investigation as a result of the genetic fingerprint tests conducted for Garda Technical Bureau staff.

It is understood detectives want to trace the whereabouts of an eastern European sex offender to help eliminate him from their inquiries.

He became a potential suspect on foot of forensic evidence at the scene.

Widow Rose Hanrahan (78) was killed at her Thomondgate property in what gardaí believe was a botched burglary looking
for the pensioner’s Christmas cash.
Widow Rose Hanrahan (78) was killed at her Thomondgate property in what gardaí believe was a botched burglary looking for the pensioner’s Christmas cash.

However, DNA evidence from up to a dozen individuals was obtained at the house, with much of the material likely to be totally unconnected to the killing.

Garda interest in the man heightened after he was suspected to have left Ireland within 36 hours of Ms Hanrahan's death.

The man had been associating over recent times with known Limerick criminals, though he has no convictions for burglary in Ireland.

Officers are now cross-referencing the forensic results to determine if there is a link between Ms Hanrahan's murder and a series of raids in Limerick city and county over recent weeks.

Detectives believe she was killed by a burglar who panicked when she confronted him in the house after he mistakenly believed the Thomondgate home was empty.

The killer, who strangled the pensioner as she lay helpless on the floor, did not find a significant sum of cash that Ms Hanrahan had in the house for the Christmas period.

She had hidden the cash, understood to be a four-figure sum, in a secret storage area she had in her kitchen/utility room.

It is suspected the widow may have been under surveillance or the burglar somehow got information that she had cash in the house.

There was a spate of break-ins at properties across Limerick city and county over recent weeks.

Some bear similarities to how the killer gained access to Ms Hanrahan's home.

Detectives have not ruled out the possibility that the killer may have acted as part of a two to four person gang.

A Garda source said it was making good progress with its hunt for the pensioner's killer.

"We are very pleased with the level of response we have received from the public," he said.

"People are outraged over what happened to this elderly lady in her own home and they want her killer caught."

Ms Hanrahan's body was found lying in the hallway by her shocked sister, Evelyn, who called with her husband, Jim Kenny, to the Thomondgate property on the afternoon of Friday, December 15.

Irish Independent

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