Gardaí investigating the killing of a baby in Kerry almost 40 years ago are hoping to receive the results of DNA tests by the end of the week which will confirm whether a couple arrested as part of the investigation are related to the infant.
Detectives investigating the murder of ‘Baby John’, who was found on White Strand near Cahersiveen in April 1984, last Thursday arrested a man in his 60s and a woman in her 50s in south Kerry in connection with the murder of the child.
They were detained at Garda stations in Listowel and Castleisland under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and swab samples taken were sent to Dublin to be tested at Forensic Science Ireland.
Gardaí are seeking to establish if their DNA profiles match that of ‘Baby John’. A DNA sample was taken in 2021 when his grave at Holy Cross cemetery in Cahersiveen was exhumed after it emerged that a sample taken at postmortem in 1984 had deteriorated.
The couple’s solicitor, Padraig O’Connell, has stressed that his clients deny having anything to do with the murder of the infant, who the then State pathologist Dr John Harbison said had lived for three days before he was killed and his body dumped into the sea.
Mr O’Connell said should a DNA match be found between one of the couple and Baby John, this would not prove that they killed the infant, who was found with 28 stab wounds and a broken neck.
The solicitor told Radio Kerry’s Kerry Today with Jerry O’Sullivan that his clients were “in a state of shock” when they were arrested but had complied fully with the law in voluntarily giving their DNA samples to investigating officers.
He said they had been arrested on suspicion of murder and “there isn’t a scintilla of evidence to justify that, and no evidence was put in front of them that would justify that”.
The Garda press office said it did not comment on the specifics of any criminal investigation. A spokesman said the investigation was continuing and a file would be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions on the matter.
Fianna Fáil councillor Norma Moriarty said the latest arrests had caused shock and sadness in south Kerry as they had brought back the trauma of what had happened 40 years ago. She said there was a lot of empathy for the couple involved.
“A lot of families have been impacted by the arrests and we need to learn from the past and ensure that the mistakes made back then are not repeated,” she said. “I just wonder would the gardaí have been better to approach the couple discreetly first to see what direction it might take the investigation?”