Sunday 17 December 2017

Burglars who found bodies will face charges for break-in

Julia Holmes and Tom Ruttle
Julia Holmes and Tom Ruttle

Paul Williams

The gang of burglars who found the bodies of an on-the-run fraudster and her partner during a break-in are likely to face criminal charges.

The Irish Independent understands that the four thieves, who are all known to gardaí as serial burglars, are being investigated for breaking and entering at the farmhouse.

The intruders phoned gardaí at 3am on Monday to raise the alarm and admit that they found the bodies while ransacking the house near Askeaton, Co Limerick. A source said that they were "terrified" of being blamed for the deaths of convicted fraudster Julia Holmes (63) and her partner Thomas Ruttle (56), who are believed to have been dead for two months.

Sources say that the men have been suspected of carrying out a string of burglaries in Co Limerick and they will be charged despite contacting gardaí over the deaths.

"The area has been scourged with burglaries and break-ins and we have to do everything we can to stop this trend. This is being investigated as a criminal offence," a source said last night.

Gardaí now believe that the couple had entered a suicide pact and left notes on the kitchen table which were signed by each of them on March 14.

They instructed the finder of the notes to go to the bedroom where the bodies were found and they also wrote the name of a local person who should be contacted.

However, when traced by gardaí, the person had no idea why they would have wanted her to be contacted.

The cause of death may take weeks to establish as officers await the results of tests.

A post mortem on Monday evening found no evidence of how the couple died. Two firearms licensed to Mr Ruttle were found in the house and one of them was found on the floor close to the bed where the bodies were lying side by side. Neither had been fired.

Gardaí say they believe the couple are likely to have taken a poisonous substance.

Ms Holmes, who was originally from Ballynahinch, Co Down, had over 20 convictions for fraud offences and many aliases. The grandmother was also the subject of an international police hunt involving gardaí, the PSNI and the FBI.

She had been living for the past three years with Mr Ruttle, a separated father of two grown children, who she claimed she had married.

Locally, it was claimed that the dead woman also ran up debts totalling €75,000 to builders for renovation work carried out on Mr Ruttle's house.

Irish Independent

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