Gardaí re-open unsolved 1984 'Baby John' death case

Baby John's body was found with multiple injuries on White Strand Beach in Caherciveen, Co Kerry, on April 14 1984.
Baby John's body was found with multiple injuries on White Strand Beach in Caherciveen, Co Kerry, on April 14 1984.

Gardaí have re-opened an unsolved case involving the death of a baby boy whose remains were discovered on a beach in Co. Kerry in 1984.

Gardaí are appealing to anyone who lived in Caherciveen in early 1984 to come forward with any information no matter how small they may think it might be.

An Garda Síochána opened a review into the death of the newborn baby boy - Baby John - whose body was found with multiple injuries on White Strand Beach in Caherciveen, Co Kerry, on April 14 1984.

An incident room has been established in Caherciveen Garda Station and a Senior Investigating Officer (S.I.O.) appointed. The investigation will be supported by the Garda Serious Crime Review Team. We are seeking the assistance of the community in Caherciveen and the surrounding areas.

Speaking today (January 16, 2018) in Caherciveen Garda Station, 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 said: "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.

"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.

"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.”

The Garda appeal

Superintendent Murphy issued the following appeal to the public: "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."