GARDAI will today announce a review into the mysterious death of a newborn baby in Kerry in the 1980’s, two years after a woman wrongly accused of the murder called for DNA samples to be tested.
The body of an infant baby boy was found on White Strand beach at Cahersiveen in Kerry on 14 April 1984. He had been stabbed to death.
Joanne Hayes was a 25-year-old local woman who had been known to be pregnant and was soon arrested by gardaí as part of their investigation. A murder case and a subsequent tribunal of inquiry would absolve her of any wrongdoing.
It would later transpire that the child she was carrying was stillborn. She panicked and buried the child in a field near her home.
Two years ago, the family’s solicitor Pat Mann released a statement which said that Hayes had no problem in submitting a sample of her blood which could be tested against a sample of tissue of the dead child which was retained by the State.
DNA testing was not available in the 1980s.
Now that a DNA profile has been established for the murdered child, it is hoped that his family can be identified. Gardaí believe this could help end the mystery of the child’s violent death.
Gardaí will announce that the review is being conducted by investigating officers in Cahersiveen supported by the Serious Crime Review Team.
The first baby, the boy found at White Strand was baptised, and named John.
Joanne Hayes’ murder case and the 1985 tribunal seared the Kerry Babies case into the national consciousness, demonstrating as it did the attitudes towards women, family and religion in 1980s Ireland.
The Garda investigation of the case led to the establishment of the Kerry Babies Tribunal in late 1984. Chaired by Mr Justice Kevin Lynch, it ran for 77 days in Tralee and Dublin and heard evidence from 109 witnesses including the Hayes family.
The Hayes family alleged they were coerced by gardaí into making false statements of admission but this was strenuously denied by gardaí. Mr Justice Lynch rejected the claims by the Hayes family that they had been intimidated by gardaí into making false confessions.
Confirmation today that Ms Hayes is not the mother of Baby John means that gardaí are still searching for his parents. It is expected they will issue an appeal today for anyone living in the Cahersiveen or South Kerry area around April 1984 with information to contact them.
It’s understood gardaí have already notified Ms Hayes’s solicitor Pat Mann of the development and he, in turn, has communicated the news to Ms Hayes.
But so far they have made no comment in relation to the confirmation that she was not the mother of the Cahersiveen baby.