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Tipperary couple deaths: Gardaí widen search to Australia for relatives of tragic pensioners

Post-mortem results help gardaí rule out murder-suicide 

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The scene where the bodies of Nicholas and Hilary Smith were found in a bungalow near Cloneen, Co Tipperary. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

The scene where the bodies of Nicholas and Hilary Smith were found in a bungalow near Cloneen, Co Tipperary. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Dylan Vaughan

The scene where the bodies of Nicholas and Hilary Smith were found in a bungalow near Cloneen, Co Tipperary. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

The search for relatives of the tragic couple whose bodies were found in their home in Co Tipperary this week has extended to Australia.

Gardaí have made official enquires with Interpol and the UK police but also with authorities in Australia, where it is believed Nicholas Smith (81) and his wife Hilary (79) lived at one stage.

“So far, despite extensive international initial enquiries, no trace of relatives of this couple have been found,” a source said last night.

“They are originally from England and after their bodies were discovered and their identities confirmed, the process of establishing next-of-kin began but there has been no luck so far,” the source added.

It is understood both husband and wife had spent time working on cruise ships.

In relation to Monday’s grim discovery, gardaí have ruled out murder-suicide and had always said third-party involvement was not an issue.

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It is understood post-mortems have discounted a “suicide pact” theory that was being actively investigated at one stage.

“What has shown up here is that neither of these people have any injuries which are consistent with violence. At this stage there is no indication of criminality,” a source said.

Last night, it emerged Mr Smith died from natural causes – but the cause of his wife’s death remains unclear.

Medical attempts to clarify the circumstances of her death have so far been inconclusive.

It is believed the bodies of the couple may have lain undiscovered in their Cloneen, Co Tipperary, home for over 18 months, and the couple may have been dead since November or December 2020.

The property was fully secured when gardaí called at 4pm on Monday amid welfare concerns for the couple.

Locals had been told before the pandemic that the couple would be relocating to France and selling the property to friends based in England.

However, a man who lived nearby became increasingly concerned at the unkempt nature of the house – and the fact that the couple’s car was parked behind the bungalow and had not been moved for more than 12 months.

There was no sign of forced entry when gardaí arrived and no indication of any disturbance within the bungalow.

A careful search of the property yielded no weapons or anything to indicate foul play.

Mr Smith’s body was discovered in the bedroom of the bungalow. However, the remains of his wife were found just up the hallway in the sitting room, and the blinds were drawn in both rooms.

Detectives are examining a number of theories, ranging from whether the Covid-19 virus was somehow involved in the circumstances of the deaths or whether there was another medical cause.

A source said particular attention was being paid to a number of prescription medications that had been found in the property. Both of the deceased had been dealing with a number of health issues ranging from arthritis to an auto-immune disorder.

Such is the painstaking nature of the garda investigation that even the chimney and boiler in the property are being checked to eliminate carbon-monoxide poisoning as a possible cause.

Garda technical experts are now examining all banking, phone and computer records in a bid to determine the final timeframe of activity by Mr and Mrs Smith.


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