Gardaí apologise to Joanne Hayes for “the awful stress and pain” caused by Kerry babies case 11 months ago

Gardaí apologise to Joanne Hayes for “the awful stress and pain” caused by Kerry babies case

A review has been opened into the death of a new-born baby in Kerry in 1984.

An Garda Síochána have apologised to Joanne Hayes for “the awful stress and pain she has been put through” as a result of an investigation into a case that became known as the Kerry babies case.

On Tuesday, Gardaí said that they can “conclusively state that Ms. Joanne Hayes is not the mother of Baby John,” a baby who was found with multiple injuries on White Strand Beach in Caherciveen, Co Kerry, on 14 April, 1984.

Ms Hayes had given birth to a baby boy who died on the family farm in Abbeydorney, near Tralee, shortly after the discovery of Baby John and was arrested on the grounds that she had given birth to both babies who had been fathered by two different men, something Hayes always denied.

A murder charge against Hayes was dropped later in 1984 and a tribunal established to investigate the handling of the case by Gardaí at the time.

Nearly 34 years on, An Garda Síochána announced that they can conclusively state that Ms Hayes was not the mother of Baby John and have appealed to anyone living in Caherciveen in early 1984 to come forward with any information, no matter how small they may think it might be.

Speaking in Caherciveen Garda Station on Tuesday, Superintendent Flor Murphy, who is leading the investigation, said that advances in DNA technology now allow An Garda Síochána to establish a number of important facts that enable new avenues of investigation into the death of Baby John.

Superintendent Murphy also formally apologised to Ms Hayes for the “awful stress and pain” she has been put through as a result.

"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," Superintendent Murphy said.

"We have been in close contact with Ms Hayes through a Family Liaison Officer since the DNA sample confirmed this.

“She has been informed of the results and the investigation. At all times Ms Hayes has co-operated fully with An Garda Síochána. The Acting Garda Commissioner has written to and spoken to Ms Hayes to formally apologise to her on behalf of An Garda Síochána, and I will now re-state that apology.

"It is a matter of significant regret for An Garda Síochána that it has taken such a long time for it to be confirmed that Ms Hayes is not the mother of Baby John.

"On behalf of An Garda Síochána, I would like to sincerely apologise to Ms Hayes for that, as well as the awful stress and pain she has been put through as a result of the original investigation into this matter, which fell well short of the required standards.”

"The Tribunal headed by Mr Justice Kevin Lynch into that investigation rightly criticised many aspects of that investigation. For those failings, I apologise,” Murphy added.

"It is accepted that the original investigation fell short of what was required and expected of a professional police service, but I want to reassure the public that this will be a thorough and professional investigation. While this investigation team cannot change what happened in the past, we can help find the answers into what happened to Baby John and are determined to do so.

"We have a duty and professional responsibility to investigate. We must establish the full circumstances surrounding the death of this child.”

"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 will be more prepared to come forward.”

Superintendent Murphy also issued the following appeal to the public in an effort to assist the investigation.

"On April 14 1984 on White Strand Beach in Caherciveen the lifeless body of a new-born baby boy was found in a bag. The baby was called Baby John and he is buried here in Caherciveen. 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. Someone knew his mother or father. People have carried a lot of pain and hurt over the last 30 years. This is an opportunity for them to help bring closure to this terrible event and ensure that Baby John receives justice.

"Our strong belief at the current time is that the answers to this are in Caherciveen and the close surrounding areas.

"We would ask anyone who was living in Caherciveen and surrounding areas around the time of April 1984 to speak to us.

"Even the smallest piece of information could be vital.

"Anyone who comes forward will be treated with sensitivity. We will have specially trained personnel available who are trained in dealing with difficult and sensitive issues in a compassionate and professional manner.

"After all these years, Baby John deserves the truth.

"Please help us find that truth for Baby John by contacting us here in Caherciveen on 066 9473610 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.”