'Suicide pact' blamed in deaths of couple found in Co Limerick house

'Suicide pact' blamed in deaths of couple found in Co Limerick house

The decomposing bodies of a fraudster grandmother and her innocent partner were found by a group of Travellers, who broke into a house in rural Limerick and discovered the two corpses writes David Raleigh.

Details of the discovery of the bodies of Julia Holmes (aged 63), and father-of-two Thomas Ruttle (aged 53), last year, were heard at their inquest today.

Medical evidence from a pathological report into the couple's deaths could not confirm how they died. However Coroner Antoinette Simon, said she accepted all of the evidence pointed to a "suicide pact".

Holmes, from Tyrone, was wanted by the FBI and the PSNI for a series of property frauds. She had served time in jail in Texas for a $500,000 fraud.

'Suicide pact' blamed in deaths of couple found in Co Limerick house

Holmes, who was married to two other men when she tried to marry Mr Ruttle, had falsely claimed she had cancer.

She ran up debts of €70,000 with builders in West Limerick who had performed improvement works at the Ruttle home.

Mr Ruttle had no involvement in any of Holmes' crimes.

The Coroner said she was satisfied Holmes and Mr Ruttle both died of "an asphyxia type death due to carbon monoxide poisoning".

'Suicide pact' blamed in deaths of couple found in Co Limerick house

No third party was involved and there was no sign of trauma to the bodies.

Sergeant Gearoid Thompson, gave testimony that "members of the Harty family", a Traveller clan from Askeaton, told him they had been "looking for scrap metal" at the Ruttle farmhouse but instead they "found two dead bodies".

When Sgt Thompson went to the house he said he noticed a strong "smell of dead bodies". He found the bodies lying next to each other on a double bed.

State Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy noted Mr Ruttle was "lying on his back with his right leg hanging over the bed".

She said his leg was "resting" on a .22 rifle, which was loaded with two cartridges.

The rifle had not been fired, nor had another shotgun that was also found in the bedroom, the court heard.

Julia Holmes, whose family did not attend the inquest, was located "face down" on the bed and "dressed in pyjamas".

Mr Ruttle's sister, Jane Gardner, wept as she listened to the last moments of her beloved brother's life.

Her husband John Gardener thanked the jury and the Gardaí.

The Coroner said it was "the most tragic of circumstances and saddening of situations".

Suicide notes left at the house were not read out.

Mr Ruttle's children, Ian (aged 18) and Kelvin (aged 16), who are studying for their Junior and Leaving Certificates, shed tears as they listened to the evidence.

They were accompanied by their mother Lian, and grandparents Ted, and Pauline Knight.

Pauline and Ted Knight
Pauline and Ted Knight

In a heartbreaking moment during the inquest, Mr Ruttle's ex partner Lian Knight asked the coroner if it was possible to determine who had died first.

She politely nodded as Prof Cassidy told her it was "impossible to say".

Speaking afterwards, Ted Knight described the events as "horrific" and said Holmes had been a "vile person".

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