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Up to three months to extradite on-the-run double murder suspect back to Dublin

Ruth Lawrence (42) is said to have fled Dublin in 2014 with her partner after two men were shot dead and buried in a shallow grave

Ruth Lawrence

Jamie PyattIndependent.ie

Irish double murder suspect Ruth Lawrence appeared before magistrates in South Africa today and heard it could take up to three months to formally extradite her back to Dublin.

Ms Lawrence sat quietly in the dock for the five-minute hearing reading a book before her case was adjourned and she was remanded in custody to a prison in Bloemfontein.

The 42-year-old is said to have fled Dublin in 2014 with her partner after two men were shot dead and buried in a shallow grave and an Interpol warrant was issued for their arrest.

She was arrested 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.

Ms Lawrence fled with Neville van der Westhuizen (39) to his native South Africa where they both travelled the country working as tattooists before splitting up.

She is 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 her partner Van der Westhuizen fled.

Van der Westhuizen is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for the kidnapping, assault and culpable murder of a teenager at his tattoo parlour in Durban in 2020 after splitting with Ms Lawrence.

It is believed he ended their relationship in 2015 and Ms Lawrence travelled between Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein working in tattoo parlours and being helped by local church groups.

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.

South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority refuse to discuss what action they are taking, if any, over the Interpol warrants issued against van der Westhuizen for two murders in Ireland.

In June this year it emerged that gardai had escalated their hunt for Ms Lawrence and Van der Westhuizen by issuing a new Interpol Arrest Warrant.

It was ordered by the Director of Public Prosecutions who agreed that gardaí now had enough evidence for both fugitives to be arrested and charged with double murder.

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.

It is believed their 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.

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