a judge said she hoped four burglars would be “cured for life” after discovering two badly decomposed bodies when they broke into a house near Askeaton last May.
It later emerged that the bodies were those of missing local man Thomas Ruttle and his partner Julia Holmes who was at the time being sought by gardai and police in Northern Ireland in connection with a number of suspected frauds.
The grim discovery was made at the house in Boolaglass in the early hours of May 18 last.
At Newcastle West district court last Friday, three Askeaton men were bound to the peace for 12 months after pleading guilty to burglary charges. They are 19-year-old Willie Harty of 2 Moig South; Patrick Harty, aged 31, of 24 Church View Askeaton; and Michael Harty, aged 20, of Main Street Askeaton. A fourth, Michael Harty, aged 25, of 16 Lismakeera, Askeaton was remanded to appear in court this Thursday where he is due to plead guilty to the burglary charge.
Inspector Brian O’Donovan told the court that the four Hartys had broken into the property in Boolaglass on the night of April 17/18 last. They had initially gone around the outside of the house and gathered up all the copper they could find. They then found an iron bar in a shed and used it to break into the house.
“They went upstairs into a room where they were disturbed by a body,” Insp O’Donovan said, adding that there was very little visibility in the house at the time as the lights were not working.
On discovering the two dead bodies, the four men fled the house and later went to report their find to gardai.
The men’s solicitor Michael O’Donnell noted that there were “very unusual and unique elements” to the situation. “[The bodies] had been there for a number of months before these Hartys came upon them,” he said.
“What they found was very bad and it certainly shook these young lads up. It was a big shock and surprise to the system.”
He pointed out that the four had not intended to go into the house and only did so because it appeared to be unoccupied.
The court heard that Patrick Harty had 60 previous convictions for offences including drugs, firearms, public order, criminal damage and burglary; Willie Harty had one previous conviction for handling stolen property while Michael Harty had no previous convictions.
“Wouldn’t I love to have been a fly on the wall that night,” Judge Aingeal Ní Chonduin commented, on hearing the evidence. “I hope they are cured for life,” she added.
“It was a dreadful case, dreadful circumstances but they got a right bad fright I would say.”
Judge Ni Chonduin bound the three men to the peace, to be of good behaviour and not to reoffend for a period of 12 months.
“They did their civic duty; I am giving them credit for that,” she said.
However, she added: “They had no business doing what they were doing”.