Five men walked into a garda station, late at night, and shockingly revealed how, while carrying out a break-in at an isolated rural house in Co Limerick, they had discovered two rotting bodies.
The grim saga unfolded yesterday at an inquest in Newcastle West into the deaths of Thomas Ruttle, aged 56, and Julia Holmes, aged 63.
Their badly decomposed bodies were found side by side in a bed at Mr Ruttle’s home at Boolaglass Askeaton.
Suicide notes were also discovered.
Ms Holmes, who originally came from Co Tyrone, had led the precarious life of an international fraudster before meeting the innocent and staid Mr Ruttle on the internet.
He knew nothing of her life of crime.
Due to the state of decomposition, post-mortem examinations could not determine an exact cause of death.
Coroner Antoinette Simon directed a jury of seven men to return a verdict that both persons died by suicide.
Inspector Brian O’Donovan, opening the hearing, read out a sworn deposition given by Sergeant Gearoid Thompson.
Sgt Thompson recalled being on duty at Newcastle West garda station shortly after midnight on May 18, 2015.
Five men, members of the Harty family from Askeaton, arrived and asked to speak to the duty sergeant.
The five men were agitated and one asked to speak in private with the sergeant.
Pa Harty told the officer that members of the family had gone to a house between Askeaton and Rathkeale earlier that night to steal scrap.
They knew a man named Ruttle lived there with a woman from the North who was wanted by the police.
Mr Harty told gardaí how they found two bodies upstairs in a bed after forcing their way into the house.
Gardaí went to the house and found the badly decomposed bodies side by side on a bed.
There had been a rifle and shotgun in the bedroom but they had not been discharged.
Hand-written suicide notes by Thomas Ruttle and Julia Holmes were discovered on the kitchen table.
The notes provided instructions as to what was to be done with the bodies.
The notes indicated there was a suicide pact between the pair.
Ms Simon said she would not publicly disclose the contents of the notes and letters written by the couple, but would make them available to the families if requested.
The house appeared to have been ransacked, Dr Cassidy said, but there had been no signs of violence on either body.
Due to the state of the bodies, her analysis could not establish an exact cause of death.
The coroner said the over-riding evidence was that the pair died by suicide. Ms Simon said she was satisfied there was no third party involved.
She directed the jury to return verdicts of death by suicide verdict in respect of Mr Ruttle and Ms Holmes.
She said the deaths had caused extreme sadness to the families of the deceased and expressed the hope that the inquest would bring to a finality the past lives of the deceased.
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