Who was Baby John? The baby found stabbed on an Irish beach in 1984

Who was Baby John? The baby found stabbed on an Irish beach in 1984

EARLIER this week An Garda Síochána formally apologised to an Irish woman who had been wrongly accused of the murder of a baby boy found on a beach in 1984. 

The lifeless body of the baby, named Baby John by the undertaker, was discovered face down on White Strand beach in Caherciveen Co Kerry with 28 stab wounds on April 14 that year.

Gardaí have estimated Baby John was three days old at the time of his death.

On the same day as Baby John was found, Joanne Hayes from Abbeydorney Co Kerry - over 40 miles away - was admitted to hospital after she gave birth to a baby who had died and was buried on her family's farm.

An Garda Síochána have apologised to Joanne Hayes 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. (Picture: RollingNews.ie)

Convinced she was the mother of Baby John - despite Ms Hayes and the father of her baby being a different blood group to Baby John - gardaí pursued a murder charge against her on the theory that she had given birth to twins with different biological fathers.

The charges were dropped four years later and a tribunal of inquiry named the Kerry Babies Tribunal, was launched heavily criticising the conduct of gardaí in the course of the investigation.

Thirty four years after he was found, who was Baby John? 

Speaking to The Irish Times, Jack Griffin who found Baby John on the beach that day said he had hoped the baby was a doll, but he knew he wasn't.

"I left the house here in the evening around 8pm to go down there for a run and I ran across the strand, and on my way across the strand - the rocks were there at the far side - to my right something caught my eye and I thought it was a doll first of all.

"It was pink in colour, face downwards with black hair and I thought to myself, it can’t be a baby. I was trying to say to myself it was a doll, but deep down I knew it wasn’t so I blessed myself.

"I was nervous but I went down to check it again before I went up to Brendan O’Shea, my wife’s nephew.

"Brendan was only 18 at the time and he was working on a car, but he said he would come back with me and we went back down the beach.

Baby John was found on White Strand Beach in Co Kerry. (Picture: RTÉ)

"He was braver than me because he tipped it and then we went into the barracks then and the guards came back – it was dark at this stage but we had torches.

"Then Tom Cournane, the undertaker, came and he christened the child. He called him John and he became known as Baby John. Tom called a priest.

"It was a bad enough shock to find a baby but then when we learned he had been stabbed, it was an even worse shock for people."

"A lot of people have put it behind them and moved on, as it were, but it’s still a sorry sad story to think of that poor baby ending up on that beach down there.”

As An Garda Síochána relaunched the investigation into the murder of Baby John, they said they believe the answers to the questions over the infant's death lie solely in Caherciveen.

Our strong belief is that the answers are in Caherciveen. 

Superintendent Flor Murphy said: "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 would be more prepared to come forward.

"We have never found out the full circumstances of the death of Baby John. We need the public's help to change that.

"Someone is Baby John's mother. Someone is Baby John's father. People have carried a lot of pain and hurt for the last 30 years.

"Our strong belief is that the answers are in Caherciveen and the close surrounding areas."

"This is an opportunity for them to help bring closure to this terrible event and ensure that Baby John receives justice.

"We would ask anyone who was living in Caherciveen and surrounding areas around April 14 1984 to talk to us.

"Even the smallest bit of information could be vital. Anyone who does come forward will be treated with sensitivity and compassion."

Anyone with information relating to the death of Baby John should contact Caherciveen Garda Station on 066 947 3610 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.