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Friday 9 December 2016

'Now not the time to blame' mourners told as partner of con artist is buried

Tom and Croen Ruttle
Tom and Croen Ruttle

MOURNERS at the funeral of a Co Limerick man who died in an apparent suicide pact have been told that "today is not a day for blame or anger".

Thomas Ruttle, who was found dead with his partner Julia Holmes in his farmhouse, has been laid to rest over a fortnight after his body was discovered.

The badly decomposed bodies of the 56 year-old and Ms Holmes (63) were discovered in an upstairs bedroom of the home at Boolaglass, Askeaton, Co Limerick on May 18 last.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Julia Holmes, who used over 40 different aliases, was a convicted fraudster who was the subject of PSNI and FBI police investigations.

Gardai believe the couple may have died from deliberate exposure to carbon monoxide.

Toxicology

Detectives are awaiting the results of toxicology tests, which could take another week, before they can confirm how the couple died.

Speaking at the funeral service for Thomas Ruttle at St Mary's Church of Ireland in Askeaton, Reverend Keith Scott told those gathered that their time of grief had been made more difficult by the strangeness of the events leading up to Mr Ruttle's death.

Mourners who had to wait over a fortnight to pay their final respects to the popular local bee keeper began to arrive at St Mary's church an hour before the service.

"There is no sorrow like the sorrow at the death of a loved one. It has been made all the more intense for us today because of the uncertainty and the long wait which has had to be endured to get to today, by the almost incomprehensible events surrounding Thomas death," said Rev Scott.

"There is a sense that somehow we have failed. That somehow there was something we should have said or done.

"Hindsight, they say, is 20/20 vision. Afterwards we see clearly, and then comes the blame, contempt and anger, the deep regret for things done or left undone, words said or left unsaid."

Rev Scott told mourners who were led by Mr Rutttle's sons, Ian and Kelvin, that they have little power to change how events unfold themselves in the world.

"The little we can do will always be messy and ambivalent, and there is always something left hanging unfinished. So today is not a time for blame and anger. Let our grief be a grief without bitterness, or blame."

Reverend Scott urged those gathered in mourning to support Mr Ruttle's family, including his sisters Jean and Claire and his brother Edward.

"We need to be patient and understanding with one another, care for, support, and help one another through the difficult times, and not expect too much or too quickly."

In a tribute read out on behalf of Mr Ruttle's sons, Ian and Kelvin Ruttle described their father as "a devoted, generous and loving father who was dedicated to beekeeping for over thirty years."

Mr Ruttle was laid to rest in the family plot on the church grounds.

Estranged

Meanwhile, the remains of Julia Holmes, the woman who claimed to be married to Thomas Ruttle, despite never divorcing her previous two husbands, remain in the morgue at University Hospital Limerick.

This is despite a letter she sent to solicitors in Belfast requesting that she be buried alongside Mr Ruttle.

It is looking increasingly unlikely that any of the families that she encountered over her 40 years in Northern Ireland, the US and the south of Ireland, will come forward to claim her remains.

Her only child, a son whom she abandoned 40 years ago in Northern Ireland as a baby, has said that he wants nothing to do with his estranged mother.

It's understood the 63-year-old, who was born Cecilia Julia McKitterick in Castlederg, Co Tyrone in 1952, will be cremated later in the week.

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