The gruesome final chapter in the life of a con-woman who left a trail of fraud across three continents unfolded at a coroner’s inquest in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, yesterday.
Julia Holmes, 63, a native of Co Tyrone, lured Thomas Ruttle, 56, into what became her final fatal deceit.
Five men discovered two decomposed bodies when they broke into Mr Ruttle’s home at Boolaglass, Askeaton, on May 18 , 2015, to carry out a robbery. Suicide notes and letters written by both deceased were found.
Ted Knight, grandfather of Thomas Ruttle’s two sons from a previous relationship — Ian, 19, and Kevin, 15 — described the events as “horrific” and Holmes as a “vile, vile person”.
His wife, Pauline Knight, described Mr Ruttle, who had worked for her husband for many years, as “a gentleman”. “He was a very nice man. A great carpenter, great with his hands... brilliant,” she said.
Mr Knight said his former employee had been “a wonderful man”.
“We are grandparents to his two boys. It was a terrible shock but there’s nothing we can do about it,” he said.
Mr Knight said the verdicts meant some form of closure for the family, especially for Mr Ruttle’s sons.
“At least now they understand things a little bit better than they did, I think,” he said. “I think they [have been] in shock. Today clarified a lot of stuff for them.
“They went back into themselves and they have been very quiet about it.”
Mr Knight said the last time he saw Mr Ruttle, “he was in great form”. “He was a lovely guy to be with, a very quiet man, unassuming... a great man.”
He disagreed with any suggestion Mr Ruttle was gullible and taken in by Holmes.
“No,” he said. “He was his own man. He did his own thing, and he was a lovely chap.”
Mr Knight said he never met Holmes, “thanks be to goodness”. “And we never wanted to either,” his wife said.
Although the autopsy could not determine pathological findings regarding the cause of death, due to the condition of the bodies, there were definite clues as to how they died.
Coroner Antoinette Simon directed a jury of seven men to return verdicts of death by suicide.
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