Kerry Babies: 'After all these years, Baby John deserves the truth'

Latest: Gardaí have confirmed a DNA profile has conclusively stated Joanne Hayes is not Baby John’s mother.

In an apology to Ms Hayes, Superintendent Flor Murphy, who is leading the investigation, said: “It is a matter of significant regret for An Garda Síochána that it has taken such a long time for it to be confirmed that Ms Hayes is not the mother of Baby John. 

“On behalf of An Garda Síochána, I would like to sincerely apologise to Ms Hayes for that, as well as the awful stress and pain she has been put through as a result of the original investigation into this matter, which fell well short of the required standards.

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“The Tribunal headed by Mr Justice Kevin Lynch into that investigation rightly criticised many aspects of that investigation. For those failings, I apologise. 

“It is accepted that the original investigation fell short of what was required and expected of a professional police service, but I want to reassure the public that this will be a thorough and professional investigation. While this investigation team cannot change what happened in the past, we can help find the answers into what happened to Baby John and are determined to do so.”

File photo of Joanne Hayes

Gardai say that over 30 years later Ireland is a different place, one which isn’t so heavily influenced by religion.

They are appealing for anyone with information into Baby John’s case to come forward and say he deserves the truth.

“Ireland was a different place in 1984. It was a different society with different societal pressures. We would hope that in the Ireland of 2018 that people will be more prepared to come forward.

“Our strong belief at the current time is that the answers to this are in Caherciveen and the close surrounding areas.

“We would ask anyone who was living in Caherciveen and surrounding areas around the time of April 1984 to speak to us. Even the smallest piece of information could be vital.

“After all these years, Baby John deserves the truth.”

An incident room has been established in Caherciveen Garda Station and the investigation will be supported by the Garda Serious Crime Review Team.

The public are asked to call Gardaí in Caherciveen on 066 9473610 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 with any information.

Update: 2pm: Gardaí formally apologise to Joanne Hayes 

Gardaí in Co. Kerry have announced that a DNA profile from the baby who was found in Cahersiveen in 1984 has confirmed that Joanne Hayes was not his mother. 

The baby boy - known as Baby John - was found at White Strand beach in Cahersiveen on April 14, 1984.

The full DNA profile has been established from a blood sample taken from the murdered newborn baby and preserved by gardaí.

Although blood group testing in the 1980s quickly established no link between the Cahersiveen baby and the woman at the centre of the investigation, Joanne Hayes, DNA testing had not been carried out until now.

Officers said that they have formally apologised to Ms Hayes.

They have apologised to her for the stress and pain she was put through as part of the original investigation into the murder of 'Baby John' in Kerry in 1984.

The Gardaí also confirmed that they are re-opening the murder investigation into the baby boy who was found with multiple stab wounds in a plastic bag on the rocks at White Strand.

Update: 9.55amGardaí likely to offer  apology on  Kerry Babies case

Gardaí this afternoon are likely to offer an apology for their handling of the Kerry Babies casein which a single woman from Abbeydorney was accused of having two children by two different fathers at the same time in 1984, writes Anne Lucey.

A tribunal of inquiry was held into the handling of the investigation by gardaí in the 1980s.

The apology is likely to be offered in Cahersiveen later this afternoon where a press conference has been called, according to a senior garda source.

The conference is to give details of a re-opening of the murder investigation into a baby boy found with multiple stab wounds in a plastic bag on the rocks at White Strand.

Although blood group testing in the 1980s quickly established no link between the Cahersiveen baby and the woman at the centre of the investigation, Joanne Hayes, DNA testing had not been carried out until now.

Ms Hayes' solicitor Pat Mann had several times called for DNA testing.

The full DNA profile has been established from a blood sample taken from the murdered newborn baby and preserved by gardaí.

The baby boy - known as Baby John - was found at White Strand beach in Cahersiveen on April 14, 1984.

The child was buried in the cemetery in Cahersiveen in a poignant ceremony with a guard of honour by local school children. |The granite headstone over his grave reads:

“I am the Kerry baby named John I forgive”.

It has been vandalised a number of times, most recently in 2010. Mementos such as toys have also been left in the grave over the years.

Supt Flor Murphy, who is head of the garda division in the area, said every aspect will be explored later this afternoon.

He also stressed the review was totally focussed on the Cahersiveen baby.

The DNA information would be of assistance if gardaí got new information about the possible identity of the mother and the father, the Supt added.

Gardaí still do not know if the baby was washed up on the tide or left on the rock.

6.44am: Gardaí to begin review into Kerry babies case

By Catherine Shanahan

A garda review of the death of a baby whose murder is bound forever to one of the most divisive sagas in modern Irish history gets under way today.

In the 33 years since the body of Baby John was found on White Strand, Caherciveen, Co Kerry, no light has ever been shed on who his parents are and how he ended up there — despite a murder investigation and lengthy tribunal that reflected poorly on garda behaviour, and even less favourably on the prevailing unpalatable attitudes towards female sexuality, and unmarried mothers in particular.

However, on last night’s Claire Byrne Live show, it was revealed that a full DNA profile of the Caherciveeen baby had been generated, which may explain the re-opening of the case.

Two years ago, the Hayes family said it believes tissue samples retained from the dead infant could dispel doubts over their innocence in the child’s death.

The Kerry Babies case divided society like no other. Joanna Hayes, from Abbeydorney, outside Tralee, was an unmarried mother who had been having an affair with a local married man, Jeremiah Locke, resulting in a pregnancy, with ultimately no baby to show for it.

This raised garda suspicions during their investigations into the mystery behind the baby washed up on the beach. Ms Hayes was arrested and confessed to the murder.

The 25-year-old initially told gardaí she had miscarried after four months, but later said she had a baby boy, which she delivered while standing up in a field.

The baby appeared to be dead and she panicked and went home, and the following morning she returned to the spot and placed it in a drain, she told them.

Gardaí then extracted confessions from other members of the family that Ms Hayes had beaten and stabbed the baby to death, and that her siblings had disposed of the body at Slea Head, suggesting that the baby found on Caherciveen Beach on April 14, 1984, was hers.

Charges were preferred against Ms Hayes and family members, but in a sensational twist the day after their court appearance, the body of a second baby was found in a hole of water on the Hayes’ farm, bearing out Ms Hayes’ story.

The garda presumption then was that twins were born to Ms Hayes, but results of blood tests on tissue from the Caherciveen baby, which became known about three weeks after the charges had been preferred, debunked this theory.

The charges were not dropped until October 1984 and there was an immediate outcry after details of the case became public knowledge. The Hayes family claimed they had been ill-treated by the gardaí and forced to make statements, and that the charges had been fabricated.

The then justice minister, Michael Noonan, ordered a public tribunal of inquiry.

The Kerry Babies Tribunal lasted 82 days in 1985. It ended with High Court Judge Kevin Lynch clearing the garda investigating teams, in general, while finding that the investigation was “slipshod”.

He unequivocally found that Joanne Hayes did not have twins, but one baby — the Abbeydorney baby.

The news that the case of Baby John is being revisited may not be welcomed in all quarters. The review will be conducted by gardaí in Caherciveen supported by the Serious Crime Review Team.

At a news briefing scheduled for Caherciveen garda station at 2pm today, investigating gardaí will appeal for information from anyone living in Caherciveen and surrounding areas around April 1984 that could help finally unravel the mystery of where Baby John came from and who his parents are, while simultaneously bringing closure for Joanna Hayes and her family.

- Irish Examiner

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