Askeaton Deaths: Finders may face burglary charge

Three members of the Travelling community who discovered the bodies of Thomas Ruttle and Julia Holmes during a break-in to the Ruttle home early on Monday are expected to be charged with attempted burglary.

They alerted gardaí after making the find, fearing they might be linked to the deaths. The three have made detailed statements to gardaí about their movements.

The bodies have not yet been formally identified as this process will be done through dental records.

READ MORE: Askeaton deaths: Cause of deaths not established in Limerick case .

Thomas Ruttle, aged 56, and Julia Holmes, 63, are believed to have died more than two months ago and autopsies carried out on their badly-decomposed bodies have not yet been conclusive as to the cause of death.

It was initially thought it may have been a murder- suicide as Mr Ruttle’s licensed 22 rifle was found near the bodies.

However, it is believed the autopsy carried out by Prof Marie Cassidy, the state pathologist, found no signs of gunshot wounds and early indications were that the gun was not discharged.

Gardaí now suspect the couple may have taken poison in a suicide pact as they lay in bed.

Lots of messages in the handwriting of both people were found on the kitchen table.

Sources say toxicology tests to ascertain if the couple took a fatal dose of medication or poison could take up to three weeks to come up with results.

As the investigation under Supet Tom O’Connor, Newcastle West, and Det Insp Eamon O’Neill, Henry St, Limerick, continues, the technical examination of the Ruttle home at Boolaglas on the Rathkeale/Askeaton road was completed at lunchtime yesterday.

Items gathered by a team of forensic detectives from the Garda Technical Bureau have been sent for analysis to Garda headquarters.

Due to the complexity of the technical examination, the forensic detectives were assisted by a forensic scientist.

Meanwhile, the Church of Ireland clergyman — who visited the scene on Monday and blessed the bodies of Mr Ruttle and Ms Holmes after they were brought out of the house in body bags before being placed in coffins — said the Ruttle family have expressed a wish that the funeral take place in private.

Reverend Keith Scott said yesterday: “This is a very deep shock and a difficult time for all of us and the family who are deeply upset.

“They want to grieve in private and peace.”

Rev Scott said that on Monday, he sympathised with those who had to work at the scene — the gardaí and undertaker.

He said: “It was very unpleasant for everybody concerned. The gardaí did not want want me to go into the house because they were still working on the scene with the technical examination.

“The gardaí contacted me earlier in the day and asked if I wished to go to the house. They then rang me.

“When I got there the scene was still preserved and they didn’t want any more contamination than there already was. They did not want anybody entering the house until they were finished their technical examination.

“The bodies were brought out in body bags and it was then I said the blessing. It was very grim.

“The deaths of Tom and Julia occurred in very difficult circumstances and it is very difficult for everybody concerned. The family are trying to cope the best they can.

“No funeral arrangements have been made yet and we can make no plans until the bodies are released and then we will work out what will happen.

“The family wish the funeral to take place out of the glare of publicity with a service for family and friends as privately as possible so they can get on with their grieving.”

READ MORE: Askeaton deaths: Cause of deaths not established in Limerick case .

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