herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Gardai probe if Limerick bodies are of wanted fraudster Julia Holmes and partner

The farmhouse at the centre of the inquiries, Julia Holmes, inset
The farmhouse at the centre of the inquiries, Julia Holmes, inset
Undated handout photo issued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland of Julia Holmes who is on the run from police in Northern Ireland after jumping bail on fraud charges more than two years ago

Gardai are waiting for post mortems to confirm whether the bodies of two people found in a house this morning are that of an alleged fraudster grandmother and her partner.

Julia Holmes, 63, who is currently at the centre of a worldwide police hunt, had recently been traced to a farm house in Boolaglass, Askeaton, Co Limerick, which she had been renting.

According to a well-informed source Ms Holmes, who was wanted by the FBI; PSNI and Gardaí, had been in a relationship with a local farmer who owns the house.

READ MORE: Bodies of man and woman found in Limerick

The badly decomposing bodies of a woman and a man were discovered in an upstairs bedroom by Gardai at around 3am this morning.

Gardai are investigating a number of lines of enquiry, including murder suicide.

Ms Holmes, and the owner of the house, Thomas Ruttle, who is aged in his 50s, had not been seen for the past few weeks.

Gardai said they could not yet confirm if the bodies were that of the missing pair.

"The bodies are decomposing so it's hard to say who they are. We don't want to say it's them if it's not, for obvious reasons," a Garda source said.

Gardai believe Mr Ruttle had a number of licensed firearms, including a shotgun and a rifle.

Gardai said they could not say how the man and woman died, however it's understood a gun was found in the bedroom near the bodies.

The State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy was expected to attend the scene in West Limerick to carry out a preliminary examination of the bodies before she conducts full post mortem examinations later this evening.

Julia Holmes, who is alleged to have used different aliases including, Croen Ruttle, Dr Watson, Julia Watson and Celia Watson, is wanted by the PSNI after going on the run in 2011.

She disappeared from her home in Ballynahinch, Co Down, in January 2011. A warrant for her arrest was issued when she failed to turn up to court in Newtownards for a series of alleged frauds totalling £18,000.

She was previously deported to Northern Ireland from the United States in 2006 after she was arrested in connection with a $500,000 property scam.

Ms Holmes recently set up a company called Irish Bee Sensation, which won a gold award at the prestigious Irish Food Awards in the pure Irish honey section.

There is no suggestion Mr Ruttle had anything to do with any of the alleged fraudulent activities of his partner.

"The scene is preserved and we are awaiting the arrival of Marie Cassidy and the Garda Technical Bureau. The man who owns the house is local but we can't say if it's him. The bodies are badly decomposing," said a Garda source.

"The problem is the bodies are decomposing. We won't know what type of injuries the bodies have until we hear from the State Pathologist.

"The owner has a number of licenses for a number of firearms. The investigation is in its early stages."

Another Garda source said: "We are trying to ascertain what happened. It appears the bodies have been there for some time. The detective unit is on the way."

The Garda added: "Julia Holmes and her partner were renting the house with her partner. She's not local to the area. She garnered a lot of media attention recently on BBC and RTE about alleged fraud incidents. She was renting the house a number of weeks ago."

"There appears to be a firearm at the scene, but we have to rule out a number of callers to the house in the past few weeks," the Garda said.

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