'I’m supposed to retire, I don’t want to go to jail' - woman denies murdering Irishman in 'meat pie row' in rural Australia
A WOMAN has denied killing an Irishman in Australia in a row over meat pies, saying: "I'm supposed to retire, I don't want to go to jail."
Paddy Moriarty (70) went missing alongside his beloved dog Kellie in the remote Australian Outback town of Larrimah on December 16 last and police say it's "unlikely" that he's alive.
Just twelve people live in the community of Larrimah and local woman Fran Hodgetts (75) has denied any involvement in the disappearance of the Limerick native.
Ms Hodgetts told 9News.com that she has co-operated with the police investigation.
She said: "They’ve been here five times with warrants.
"They scraped my incinerator out, my large septic, they pumped my septic out, thinking Paddy was down there.
"They checked my house three times.
"I swear on my mother's grave and my father's grave and I swear on the lives of my grandkids - I've got nine grandkids - that I never left this property.
"I don’t know where he is and I had nothing to do with Paddy.”
- Read More: The strange disappearance of Paddy Moriarty from a tiny town 'where people don't always get along'
Ms Hodgetts runs The Devonshire Tea House, which sells baked buffalo, crocodile and camel pies.
It has been reported that Ms Hodgetts fell out with Mr Moriarty after he supported a rival cafe, the Pink Panther Pub, when they also began to serve pies.
Ms Hodgetts told 9News.com that she was unhappy he was affecting her business but refutes any suggestion that she could have harmed him.
"I told the detectives I don’t bulls**t and I don’t lie.
"When you find him or find his clothes I’m going to sit back and then say, ‘I told you so’. I’m supposed to retire now, I don’t want to go to f***ing jail."
A fake ad has appeared on a tourism sign promoting "Fran's Sweeney Todd Pies" - a reference to the musical and film where a barber killed his customers and used their remains into pies.
Ms Hodgetts said she was unhappy with the posters and insists she wasn't behind them.
She told the Australian: "It wasn’t up there when I went to town last a fortnight ago, I’ll take it down because it’s not very funny, is it?
"I’ve got people coming in and asking me for Paddy pies and I tell them, ‘no, I do waffle pies now’."
Police have carried out extensive searches of local lakes and scrubland but are yet to find anything.
Detective Seargeant Matt Allen, of Northern Territory police said: "I don't think Moriarty is alive.
"We conduct routine checks. We check banks, we check transport companies. We check Centrelink where he was on some sort of pension, where he gets regular payments.
"All those signs of life have been checked with unfortunately negative results.
"There is a remote possibility he's alive but I would say it's unlikely."
Police investigators also told A Current Affair, "there was a chicken in the oven and food on the table. His personal items were still in his house, such as bank cards and his hat”.