TWO GAA playing brothers have appeared in court in the Republic on Wednesday charged with a brutal double murder in Co Armagh six years ago.
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.
Martin Smith, 40, from Kevlin Glen in Omagh and 37-year-old Niall Smith of Mourneview, Mowhan in Armagh are charged with the attack.
The brothers were arrested by Gardaí from the extradition unit at addresses in Dundalk Co Louth and Balbriggan in Co Dublin.
Both face two charges of murder and one of arson.
At a Dublin court on Wednesday, 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.”
Both men were remanded in custody to appear before Judge John Edwards next week when their lawyers are expected to indicate whether they will contest the extradition bid by the PSNI.
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 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 yesterday remained 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.