POLICE in Australia have arrested a Northern Ireland man in connection with the murders six years ago of sex offender Thomas O’Hare and his partner Lisa McClatchey.
The arrest was made at the request of the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team who are probing the double murders in 2006.
The suspect is being held ahead of possible extradition proceedings in Australia.
PSNI detectives could travel to Australia to help secure the suspect’s extradition back to Northern Ireland.
Two weeks ago two GAA playing brothers were remanded in custody on Tuesday after appearing at Armagh Magistrates Court charged with the brutal double murders.
Sex offender Thomas O’Hare, 33, and his 21-year-old partner Lisa McClatchy were doused in petrol and set on fire by a gang of men at their home in Foley Road close to Keady in November 2006.
In the dock on were Martin Smith, 40, from Kevlin Glen in Omagh and 37-year-old Niall Smith of Mourneview, Mowhan in Armagh.
They were both charged with the double murder and also one count of arson each.
The brothers were arrested by Gardaí from its extradition unit at addresses in Dundalk Co Louth and Balbriggan in Co Dublin.
At a Dublin court in December, Sergeant Martin O’Neill said when he asked Martin Smith if he knew what the arrest was about, Smith shook his head.
Sergeant Jim Kirwan, who arrested Niall Smith, said the accused told him, “I don’t want to say something about that to Gardaí until I speak to my solicitor.”
On Monday, January 7, a Dublin court approved their extradition and the brothers were handed over to the PSNI for their first appearance at Armagh Magistrates Court on Tuesday morning.
Following their court appearance in Armagh, the Smith brothers were taken away to the remand unit in Maghaberry prison and will appear back in court in four weeks time.
Thomas O’Hare died in hospital from his horrific burns days after a gang burst into his home in south Armagh.
O’Hare was suspected locally of abusing an eight-year-old boy.
The torch bungalow in Keady attacked in November 2006
The 33-year-old was in the bungalow in Keady with his girlfriend Lisa McClatchey when four men burst in and doused the couple and their living room with petrol.
McClatchey, who knew nothing of O’Hare’s past, was described by local people as a complete innocent caught up in the apparent revenge attack. She too later died after suffering 80 per cent burns.
She and O’Hare were at home in his house near the village of Keady on Monday night when the four men burst in.
A struggle ensued in which the petrol was ignited, and all six were engulfed in flames.
Neighbours said they heard an explosion, then saw Miss McClatchey running from the house with her clothes and hair on fire.
One witness said she was like a fireball.
Four men were then driven off towards the border by two others.
Some hours later, four men, all brothers, were admitted to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
Two of them, aged 24 and 34, were transferred to St James’s Hospital in Dublin where their conditions were initially described as serious.
All four are from Newtownhamilton in south Armagh, but two have been living in Dublin.
For the past six years, Gardai have been liaising with the PSNI over the investigation.
At the time of the murders, a 43-year-old man was arrested by the PSNI in the Co Armagh area on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and arson.
Thomas O’Hare had been placed on the PSNI’s sex offenders list following a conviction in 1999 relating to the sexual assault of a young boy from south Armagh.
He served a three-year jail-term, and had been living in the Craigavon area until not long before his death.
It is understood that while in Craigavon he struck up a relationship with Lisa McClatchey.
Miss McClatchey’s uncle, Harold Gracie, was the local senior Orangeman who led the Drumcree protest for several years until his death last year.
Local people said O’Hare and McClatchey had only moved into the house at Foley, outside Keady, in recent months.
It is understood that O’Hare inherited the bungalow from a relative who died earlier this year.
Locals said the couple only stayed at the house a few days a week, and that O’Hare was believed to be refurbishing the house with the intention of selling it.