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Irishwoman on the run for eight years after double murder arrested in South Africa


Ruth Lawrence (42)

Ruth Lawrence (42)

Ruth Lawrence (42)

An Irish woman who has been on the run for eight years for the double murder of two best friends has been arrested in South Africa.

Ruth Lawrence (42), originally from Clontarf, Dublin, was at the centre of a global manhunt until a dawn police swoop yesterday.

The Hawks – an elite South African police unit – said they were acting on an international warrant and that Lawrence will appear in court today.

She fled Ireland in 2014 with her then boyfriend, Neville Van Westhuizen (39), and headed for his native country of South Africa.

Her boyfriend is also wanted in connection with the double murder but is already serving a life sentence in South Africa for the horrific killing of a teenager.

Gardaí confirmed the two murder victims, Eoin O’Connor (32) and Anthony Keegan (33), were not criminals or part of a drugs gang but have not revealed a motive for the double killing.

The victims were found wrapped in plastic sheeting and buried in a shallow grave on Inchicup Island, Lough Sheelin in Co Meath eight years ago.

Lawrence split with her then boyfriend Van Westhuizen in 2017.

Hawks spokesperson Captain Christopher Singo said vital information about Lawrence and her whereabouts was received on September 28.

She was arrested in Pellissier, Bloemfontein, yesterday in connection with the killing of “best friends” Mr O’Connor and Mr Keegan.

Their bodies were found wrapped in plastic sheeting and buried in a shallow grave and ever since she has been wanted by Interpol.

Her former boyfriend is currently serving 15 years in a prison in Durban for the murder of a teenager in 2017 and will be quizzed by police.

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Cpt Singo said: “Her arrest comes on an Interpol warrant regarding the murder of Eoin O’Connor (32) and Anthony Keegan (33) in Ireland.

“They were both found murdered in 2014 and after the murder of the deceased persons the suspect then fled the country to South Africa”.

Van Westhuizen was given a 15-year prison sentence for murder, attempted murder and kidnapping at Durban High Court in 2017.

The court heard he and three other men grabbed three teenagers in a local tattoo parlour who they suspected of having stolen a mobile phone that was charging.

They beat the three boys up badly and then forced them to drink a poisonous concoction then let them go but one of the teenagers subsequently died after staggering back home.

It was said in court that Neville Peter van der Westhuizen was also wanted by Irish police in connection with a murder.

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