Couple found dead in Tipperary wrote letter to neighbour saying they were leaving the area

Gardaí are understood to have seen a letter, written by either Nicholas Smith, 81, or his wife Hilary, 79, in which one of them writes that another English couple are coming to stay at the house.
Couple found dead in Tipperary wrote letter to neighbour saying they were leaving the area

Gardaí at the scene in Cloneen, Co Tipperary.  Picture: Brendan Gleeson

The elderly English couple found dead in their Tipperary home wrote a letter to a local resident in the autumn of 2020 in which they said they were leaving the area.

Gardaí are understood to have seen a letter, written by either Nicholas Smith, 81, or his wife Hilary, 79, in which one of them writes that another English couple are coming to stay at the house.

The letter also urged the woman not to worry if she saw “strangers” at the house.

The couple, whose bodies were found on Monday, may have lain undiscovered in their home for up to 18 months

The Irish Examiner understands that the letter was sent to a woman who was friendly with the couple, after she had called to their house following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The woman, who is being comforted by friends and family, is said to be very distraught at the couple’s death. She had called to the house around September or October 2020 to check that they were all right, and to offer to do shopping for them.

A short while later, either Nicholas or Hilary Smith put the letter through the woman’s letter box.

They said they were sorry that they were out when she had called and that they were very thankful that she had taken the time to check up on them.

The couple, who are both understood to have had underlying health issues, have been formally identified by their dental records.

Detective are continuing to examine the couples belongings in a bid to determine the circumstances of their deaths.

It is understood that as well as checking the use-by dates of food in their fridge and larder, detectives are also forensically examining mobile phones and computers owned by Nicholas and Hilary Smith.

They are also continuing to go through postal and other correspondence in the house to see if there are any clues as to what was going on in the property in the weeks and months before the couple, who are from the UK, died.

Detectives are also speaking to local residents who live in and around the village of Cloneen, in south Tipperary near the remote house where the couple lived for about 10 years.

While the Smiths paid someone €500 to keep cutting the grass for as long as the money lasted, the couple appear not to have widely used the local amenities and services over the last decade.

A number of differing scenarios are being looked as as far as how the couple died. Murder-suicide and double suicide will have to be ruled out.

Toxicology tests may also indicated whether the couple may have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Detectives are also understood to be liaising with UK authorities in connection with the couple’s death.

Although post mortems have already been carried out, results are inconclusive and detectives are awaiting the results of the toxicology tests.

The UK authorities might be able to help as far as tracing any relatives of Nicholas, 81, and Hilary, 79.

The snag for the authorities is trying to track down the right ones, given how common the name Nicholas or Nick Smith is.

There were no signs of a forced entry, curtains were drawn – and the couple appear to have indicated to locals they were selling up and moving away in the months and weeks before they vanished from sight.

Since news of the couple’s death broke, the local community has been subjected to “hatred and misinformation”.

Cllr Mark Fitzgearld. Picture: Brendan Gleeson
Cllr Mark Fitzgearld. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

A local councillor has said that comments on social media have added to the pain being felt locally.

Local Fine Gael councillor Mark Fitzgerald, whose family own The Thatch pub in Cloneen village, told Morning Ireland: “Unfortunately, the full story had not emerged when these bodies were found and there was a lot of hatred and misinformation put out especially on social media and that really compounded the issue.

“There's a lot of hurt and pain in good people in a hard working area.”

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

logo podcast

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

IE logo

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

LOTTO RESULTS

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

  • 5
  • 16
  • 18
  • 20
  • 25
  • 35
  • 2

Full Lotto draw results »