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Burglars who found dead fraudster to face charges

By Paul Williams

Published 20/05/2015

Serial conwoman Julia Holmes
Serial conwoman Julia Holmes

The gang of burglars who found the decomposing bodies of an on-the-run fraudster from Northern Ireland and her partner during a break-in are likely to face criminal charges.

It is understood the four thieves, who are all known to gardai as serial burglars, are being investigated for breaking and entering at the Co Limerick farmhouse where they made the grim discovery.

The intruders rang gardai at 3am on Monday to raise the alarm and admitted they found the bodies while ransacking the house near Askeaton.

A source said that they were “terrified” of being blamed for the deaths of convicted fraudster Julia Holmes (63) and her partner Thomas Ruttle (56), who are believed to have been dead for two months.

Sources say the men are suspected of carrying out a string of burglaries in Co Limerick and will be charged despite contacting gardai over the deaths. “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.

Gardai now believe the couple had entered a suicide pact and left notes on the kitchen table which were signed by each of them on March 14.

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 Republic’s State Pathologist said 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 lying side-by-side. Neither had been fired.

Gardai say they believe the couple are likely to have taken a poisonous substance.

Ms Holmes, from Ballynahinch, Co Down, had more than 20 convictions for fraud offences and had many aliases.

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

She had been living for the past three years with Mr Ruttle, a separated father of two grown children, who she claimed she had married.

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