Ruth Lawrence’s ex-partner also facing extradition to Ireland over brutal double murder

Neville van der Westhuizen (40) is said to have fled to his native South Africa with Ms Lawrence in 2014 after two men were shot dead and buried in a shallow grave

Ruth Lawrence and Neville Van der Westhuizen

Neasa Cumiskey and Jamie PyattSunday World

The ex-partner of double murder suspect Ruth Lawrence is also facing extradition to Ireland in connection with the 2014 killings of two friends in Co Meath, the South African reports.

Neville Van der Westhuizen (40) is said to have fled to his native South Africa with Ms Lawrence in 2014, where they both travelled the country working as tattooists before splitting up.

In a statement on November 19, South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said: “In their latest breakthrough, Interpol South Africa has tracked down an Ireland fugitive to one of the country’s correctional centres in Kwa-Zulu Natal”.

Mr Van Der Westhuizen is currently serving a 15-year sentence for kidnapping, assault and culpable murder of a teenager at his tattoo parlour in Durban in 2020.

When Van der Westhuizen was arrested in connection with the death of the teenager it was found there was an outstanding Interpol warrant out for him for another Dublin murder case in 2014.

Ms Lawrence was traced and arrested by the Hawks in Bloemfontein last month at a detached bungalow where she had been living and working as a tattooist using the name Ruth Lawless, having dyed her hair jet black.

“She has already appeared before the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on the murder charges. The matter has already been enrolled in court for an extradition inquiry,” Mathe added.

Both Lawrence and Van der Westhuizen are wanted in connection with the killing of best friends Eoin O’Connor (32) and Anthony Keegan (33) whose bodies were found wrapped up in plastic sheeting.

They were buried in a shallow grave on Inchicup Island, Lough Sheelin, Co Meath, in 2014 at the time Lawrence and Van der Westhuizen fled.

At Ms Lawrence’s bail hearing on October 12 her legal counsel said she had decided not to fight extradition.

Ms Lawrence, from Clontarf, is expected to be charged – when extradited to Ireland – with the murders of both O’Connor and Keegan in Co Cavan in April, 2014, in or near her rented home.

Van der Westhuizen has also already appeared before the Durban Magistrates Court and his extradition enquiry has been postponed to 12 December.

“These ongoing arrests and take down operations should send a stern warning to those fugitives of justice who are in the country and criminals in South Africa that we are squeezing the space for them to operate, either they hand themselves over to authorities or we fetch them ourselves. South Africa is not a hiding place and a playground for criminals,” said National Police Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola.

It is believed O’Connor and Keegan’s bodies were transported by boat onto a nearby island on a lake between Cavan and Meath and buried in a shallow grave by a tree. Their remains were found there six weeks later.

It is understood both men died from gunshot wounds to the head.

The National Prosecuting Authority said it estimated that the paperwork would be completed within 3 months to allow gardaí to fly Lawrence back to Dublin for trial.

Today's Headlines

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos