herald

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Gardai in hunt for Rose's killer try to trace sex offender

Victim Rose Hanrahan
Victim Rose Hanrahan

Gardai are trying to trace the whereabouts of a number of convicted criminals - including an Eastern European sex offender - as part of their investigation into the murder of Limerick widow Rose Hanrahan (78).

Detectives are also trying to confirm the movements of two serial burglars in Limerick, as their primary theory remains that the pensioner was killed during a botched break-in to target her Christmas cash.

Gardai now have the initial results of DNA tests conducted at Mrs Hanrahan's home from December 15.

Eliminate

A source said they now have "multiple" avenues of investigation as a result of the genetic fingerprint tests.

It is understood detectives want to trace the whereabouts of an Eastern European sex offender to help eliminate him from their inquiries.

He became a potential suspect on foot of forensic evidence. However, some DNA material found by detectives is believed to be totally unconnected to the killing.

Garda interest in the man heightened after he is suspected to have left Ireland within 36 hours of Mrs Hanrahan's death.

He had been associating over recent times with known Limerick criminals, though he has no convictions for burglary in Ireland.

Officers are now cross-referencing the forensic results to determine if there is a link between Mrs Hanrahan's murder and a series of robberies conducted in Limerick city and county over recent weeks.

Detectives believe she was killed by a burglar who panicked when she confronted him in the house, after he mistakenly believed her home was empty on December 14 or 15.

The killer, who strangled the pensioner as she lay helpless on the floor, failed to locate a significant sum of cash which Mrs Hanrahan had in the house for the Christmas period.

She had hidden the cash, understood to be a four-figure sum, in a secret storage area she had in her kitchen/utility room.

It is suspected the widow may have been under surveillance or that the burglar somehow obtained information that she had cash in the house.

Gardai believe the killer displayed all the hallmarks of someone who had broken into homes before.

Smashed

There have been a spate of break-ins at properties across Limerick over recent weeks.

Some bear uncanny similarities to how the killer gained access to Mrs Hanrahan's home - through a smashed back window or door while the property was thought to be empty.

Gardai have not ruled out the possibility that the killer may have acted as part of a gang.

Superintendent Derek Smart, who is leading the murder probe, again urged people with information to come forward.

"We would appeal for anyone with any piece of information, no matter how trivial they might think it is, to contact us," he said.

"That piece of information could prove critical to unlocking a key part of the investigation."

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