herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Burglars to be charged for breaking into house where bodies found

Julia Holmes and Thomas Ruttle
Julia Holmes and Thomas Ruttle

The gang of burglars who discovered the decomposing bodies of a woman and man during a break-in are likely to face criminal charges.

The four thieves, who are all known to gardai as serial burglars, are being investigated for breaking and entering at the Limerick farmhouse where they made the grisly discovery of the bodies of Julia Holmes (63) and her partner Thomas Ruttle (56).

The thieves phoned gardai at 3am on Monday to raise the alarm, admitting that they found the bodies during a break-in at the house on the Rathkeale to Askeaton road.

A source said that they were "terrified" of being blamed for the deaths of convicted fraudster Holmes and her partner Ruttle, who are believed to have been dead for several weeks.

Sources say that the men have been suspected of carrying out a string of burglaries in Limerick and they will be charged, regardless of the fact that they called the gardai.

"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.

Meanwhile, gardai believe that the couple had entered a suicide pact and left notes on the kitchen table which were signed by each of them.

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

However, when contacted by gardai, this 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 toxicology tests on the remains. A post-mortem on Monday found no evidence of how the couple died.

Initially it was thought that they had been shot dead in a murder/suicide but the State Pathologist confirmed there were no gunshot wounds on the remains.

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 found lying side-by-side. Neither had been fired.

SUBSTANCE

Gardai say they believe the couple are likely to have taken a poisonous substance, but denied reports that empty vials were found in the bedroom.

Julia Holmes - who was originally from Ballynahinch, Co Down - had over 20 convictions for fraud offences and as many aliases.

The grandmother was the subject of an international police hunt involving gardai, the PSNI and the FBI.

She had been living for the past three years with Thomas Ruttle, a separated father of two grown children.

It is claimed that the dead woman ran up debts totalling €75,000 to local builders for renovation work carried out recently on Mr Ruttle's house where they had lived.

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