Tragic death couple sold fake artisan honey at Wexford food show

By David Tucker

Published 26/05/2015 | 00:00

The 'artisan' honey the couple sold in Wexford.
The 'artisan' honey the couple sold in Wexford.

a couple found dead at a Limerick farmhouse who are believed to have died in a joint suicide pact, took part in the Wexford Food and Wine Festival this time last year, touting their 'so-called' artisan honey and 'Sicilian cherries in honey and potcheen'.

The bodies of Thomas Ruttle, aged 56, and Julia Holmes, aged 63, were found in the upstairs bedroom of a farmhouse Boolaglass, Askeaton, last week. They had been dead for some time and 'written documentation' was found alsongside their bodies.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Julia Holmes had been the subject of PSNI and FBI investigations for alleged fraud offences committed in Texas and the North.

She has been sought by the PSNI since she absconded in 2011 after being charged in relation to an £18,000 fraud.

In 2006 she was deported from the US where she was convicted in connection with a $500,000 property scam in Texas, which involved seeking investments from friends for non-existing Irish properties.

Under the alias Croen and Julianne Ruttle, Julia Holmes operated a Munster-based 'artisan' honey company.

It has been claimed that her company Bee Sensations imported honey and rebranded it as its own, and was so successful in passing it off as original that the company won a gold medal at the Irish Food Awards last year. The Irish Food Awards organisation announced last month that it was conducting 'a complete and thorough review into the matter'.

Holmes claimed semi-magical qualities for her honey which generally originated in eastern Europe.

Wexford businesswoman Denise O'Connor Murphy was among those who bought products - mainly what were being sold as 'Sicilian cherries in honey and potcheen' - from the couple at last year's food and wine festival.

'I bought three jars on the Saturday and went back on the Sunday to buy three more and it was so good I was planning to go and get more last weekend,' said Denise, ' it was only when someone else who had bought from them told me they were the couple found dead in Limerick than I realised that it was them.' she said.

Denise said she still had a business card from the couple given to her last year in the names; 'Tom and Croen Ruttle'. She remembers Tom as being quiet and unobtrusive.

A spokesperson for the Wexford Food and Wine Festival could not be reached for comment.

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