Kerry Babies: Garda appeals for mother of ‘Baby John’ to come forward

Officer leading review of case says exhumation was considered ‘absolutely necessary’

Kerry babies case: ‘Baby John’s’ grave, at Holy Cross cemetery in Cahersiveen. Photograph: Domnick Walsh

Kerry babies case: ‘Baby John’s’ grave, at Holy Cross cemetery in Cahersiveen. Photograph: Domnick Walsh

 

The Garda Superintendent in charge of the review into the unsolved murder of a baby in Co Kerry 37 years ago has again appealed to the mother to come forward.

‘Baby John’ was found on White Strand beach in Cahersiveen with 28 stab wounds. Gardaí believe there are still members of the public with important information regarding his death.

A fresh investigation was opened at the beginning of 2018 following a Garda apology to Kerry woman Joanne Hayes, who had been wrongly accused of the murder.

On Tuesday evening, gardaí said they had briefly exhumed the remains of ‘Baby John’ from Holy Cross Cemetery in Cahersiveen and taken the remains to the morgue at University Hospital Kerry, Tralee, for examination, before they were re-interred some hours later.

Supt Flor Murphy said on Wednesday morning the ongoing investigation into the death meant it was essential to exhume the remains.

The process was assisted by the Garda Technical Bureau, a forensic anthropologist and relevant personnel from Kerry County Council and the Health Service Executive (HSE) some hours later.

Supt Murphy also appealed directly to residents of south Kerry to come forward with any information.

The case review saw an incident room set up in Cahersiveen Garda station involving local personnel as well as investigating officers from the Garda Serious Crime Review Team.

At the time, gardaí said a viable DNA profile existed and advances in DNA technology since the death had allowed them to open new avenues of investigation.

DNA samples have been provided by local people and door-to-door inquiries have taken place.

The Cahersiveen inquiry has been disrupted by the pandemic but progress was being made, Supt Murphy told Radio Kerry.

“We believe people are out there who have not yet come forward.” He said the exhumation was considered “absolutely necessary” for the investigation and was conducted with “sensitivity, dignity and respect”.

“We want to bring closure and deliver justice to ‘Baby John’,” he said.

Supt Murphy said Baby John’s mother was the “key to unlocking this mystery”.

“I’m appealing to the mother of Baby John,” he said.

“I believe she has information, she is the key to unlocking this mystery. Me and my colleagues, we genuinely believe that she has suffered, she has suffered loss and upset, and has grieved over the last 37 years.

“We want the mother of baby John to come forward and talk to us.

“She will be treated with the utmost compassion and understanding. We have adequately and properly trained Garda personnel to deal with her and understand the background situation to this.”

Supt Murphy vowed gardaí would “continue to endeavour to deliver justice for baby John”.

“We can not forget a five-day-old helpless, innocent boy was stabbed in the region of 28 times and left on a beach in south Kerry in 1984,” he told RTÉ’s News at One.

“An Garda Síochána has a responsibility, an obligation to investigate this matter and the investigation team is committed to delivering justice and delivering answers to questions and to resolving this.”

The Garda applied for an exhumation licence to exhume the baby’s remains at Holy Cross Cemetery, Cahersiveen, two weeks ago.The application was made to Kerry County Council on September 1st.

In January 2018, when opening the review into the death gardaí said a viable DNA profle had been obtained from the body and it was this which enabled new avenues of investigation. It also led gardaí to confirm that Joanne Hayes, the woman wrongly accused of the baby’s murder in 1984, was not his mother.

“Principally, a viable DNA profile has been obtained from samples taken from Baby John in the course of the original investigation. This sample has been examined and compared and as a result of this analysis, we can conclusively state that Ms Joanne Hayes is not the mother of Baby John,” Supt Murphy said in January 2018.