MURDER PROBE |
Kerry Babies: Baby John ‘probable mum’ is late garda’s daughter
The couple ‘repeatedly and vehemently’ denied to gardai during interview that they played any role in the five-day-old infant’s murder.
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A couple arrested on suspicion of the murder of the Kerry baby named ‘John’ ‘repeatedly and vehemently’ denied to gardai during interview that they played any role in the five-day-old infant’s murder.
The woman, identified by a familial DNA sample as the ‘probable’ mother of ‘Baby John,’ is the daughter of a deceased garda who passed away a number of years prior to the infant’s murder in 1984.
Sources say her familial link to a deceased garda will be “looked at” to see if it impacted on the original 1984 murder probe – which resulted in innocent Kerry woman Joanne Hayes being wrongly charged with ‘Baby John’s’ murder.
But the same sources, pointing out the officer had been dead for a number of years at the time of the murder, said there is currently no evidence to show this was a factor.
During their detention this week, both the woman (50s) and her partner (60s) provided gardai with a sample of their DNA that will be used to establish, beyond scientific doubt, whether they are in fact the infant’s parents.
At the time of their arrest, gardai also sealed off and searched sites in Kerry linked to the investigation – although sources declined to say if officers were hunting for a murder weapon or other items linked to the tot.
‘Baby John’ was found dead on White Strand, outside Cahersiveen on April 14th, 1984.
The five-day-old had been stabbed 28 times and his neck was broken.
In an interview with this newspaper yesterday, solicitor Padraig O’Connell – who is representing the couple – declined to comment on the alleged DNA match that led to their arrests.
But he said: “There’s a world of difference if a situation were to be proven on DNA and the allegation of murder.”
Asked whether the couple had denied the murder, he said: “Absolutely, they fully deny the accusation of murder.
“They were arrested under section 4 on an allegation that each of them had committed murder.
“There isn’t a scintilla of evidence against either or both of such an allegation being substantiated.
“Each of them totally and absolutely deny any allegation of murder.
“The problem is they have been brought in on allegations of murder tied into alleged DNA results and it’s a quantum leap to go from DNA to murder.
“And I can tell you on the record they have made absolutely no admissions whatsoever.”
The Sunday World understands that the couple’s arrest is linked to a ‘DNA dragnet’ carried out by gardai in 2018.
Around 20 officers were despatched to canvass the area in September of that year and obtained DNA samples from as many local people as possible.
At the time, gardaí said they were not acting on specific intelligence.
But they added it was hoped that DNA samples taken from a number of people in south Kerry would unearth a link between the murdered infant and his biological parents.
It’s believed that, as a result of this dragnet, a DNA sample was obtained from a family member of the couple that subsequently identified them as probable matches as the infant’s parents.
However, the comparison process was held up by the fact the old sample, which was taken from Baby John’s body in 1984, had either deteriorated or there was just too little left to be of much use.
Fresh samples of DNA from ‘Baby John’ were retrieved for comparison after his remains were exhumed from his grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in Cahersiveen on September 14, 2021.
Mr. O’Connell told the Sunday World yesterday that prior to gardai knocking on the couple’s door on Thursday, the pair had no knowledge of their status as suspects having never been spoken to previously by gardai investigating the horrific killing.
“My clients were never visited by the gardai prior to this … never,” he said,
“The first they knew of this was their arrests and, of course, they co-operated in the garda station and gave a DNA sample.”
Mr O’Connell went on to describe the interviews as an ‘intensive interrogation.’
“It was intensive interrogation that bordered on the unacceptable as far as I’m concerned and I can be quoted on that,” he said.
“It was a bolt out of the blue to them … innocent people who are presumed innocent and suddenly thrust into the limelight where there are allegations of murder.
“And they’re released on foot of that!
“What part of the pieces are they going to be able to pick up now?
“They are in gainful employment, they are members of the community and suddenly they have been thrust into the limelight as alleged murderers.
“And, certainly, what they (investigators) have in the garda file doesn’t substantiate them being charged at this point in time, at least, or not at all.”
Mr O’Connell described the couple, now at the centre of one of Ireland’s longest running and most disturbing murder probes as ‘decent and law-abiding people.’
“These are people with no previous convictions whatsoever,” he said.
“They never have been so much as involved in the most minor of traffic matters… they are just ordinary, hard-working decent people with reputations.”
After the couple’s arrests, the woman was taken to Castleisland Garda Station while the man was taken to Listowel Garda Station for questioning.
It’s understood both local detectives and officers from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation took part in their interviews.
The woman was released without charge at 7.20pm on Friday evening while her partner was released at 1.30am on Saturday.
The reason for the time differential was the man had a rest period after an interview terminated at 1am on Friday morning.
The woman did not take a rest period – preferring instead to be questioned straight through.
Asked if he had spoken with his clients in the wake of their release from custody, Mr. O’Connell said: “They are stoic and they believe in their own innocence,” he said.
“The only way they can get their lives together again is based on their absolute innocence and their fervent belief the allegations against them are unfounded.”