Kerry baby was three days old when he was killed

Gardaí begin new investigation into death of Baby John ‘as if it happened today’

Garda Breda O’Donoghue, Det Walter O’Sullivan, Supt Flor Murphy and Det John Brennan  at the Kerry Babies press conference in Cahersiveen Garda station on Tuesday. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

Garda Breda O’Donoghue, Det Walter O’Sullivan, Supt Flor Murphy and Det John Brennan at the Kerry Babies press conference in Cahersiveen Garda station on Tuesday. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

 

A baby found washed up on a beach near Cahersiveen more than 30 years ago was three days old when he was killed, gardaí have revealed.

Supt Flor Murphy told a press briefing that the infant, known as Baby John, was found on White Strand outside Cahersiveen on April 14th, 1984, two days after he was killed. He had been stabbed 28 times.

“Everybody involved in this investigation is totally committed to getting the answers to what happened to Baby John. We must not forget that a baby boy...was stabbed to death and left on a beach in south Kerry in April 1984,” Supt Murphy told the briefing at Cahersiveen Garda station, announcing a Serious Review Team investigation into the death of Baby John.

He said State pathologist Prof John Harbison concluded at a postmortem that the baby had been dead for about two days when he was found.

He asked anyone with information to come forward. “We particularly want Baby John’s mother to come forward. She is the key to unlocking this mystery about the circumstances of his birth and his death.

“She may have suffered pain and loss and anguish over the last 30-odd years, but we’re in a different place now compared to the 1980s, and we will talk to her with compassion and sensitivity and in a professional manner, and we have trained people to do that.”

DNA profile

Det Chief Supt Walter O’Sullivan, who is heading-up the Serious Review Team investigation, said Forensic Science Ireland had been able to build a full DNA profile for Baby John from a blood sample taken at postmortem. However, public assistance would prove vital.

“DNA brings great certainty, but the greatest assistance in this case will come from the people of south Kerry,” he said.

“We are certainly acting on the premise that the answers to the questions lie in south Kerry and the Iveragh peninsula, and we would ask people to come forward even after 34 years.

“Time has moved on but time can now become the friend of the investigator in that our society has changed and people may now be freer to come forward with information as attitudes and relationships and loyalties can change.”

Det Chief Supt O’Sullivan said Baby John died as “a result of a frenzied attack” after suffering 28 stab wounds. However, he said the law was “merciful”, and anyone coming forward with information would be dealt with in absolute confidence and with compassion.

Identifying people

He said the team would begin identifying people to approach and ask for DNA samples in a bid to try and identify relatives of Baby John. He hoped people would co-operate with gardaí. “We are investigating Baby’s John death as if it happened today.”

He said as well as reviewing the original statements and evidence gathered in the case, the cold case review team would also talk to local fishermen to try to find out about the tides and where Baby John’s body may have entered the sea before it was washed up at White Strand.