A retired detective who was part of the 1984 investigation into the murder of ‘Kerry Babies’ has said he now accepts, in light of DNA evidence, that Joanne Hayes was not Baby John’s mother.
Erry O’Carroll, who was one of two detectives to personally question Ms. Hayes who propagated the discredited theory that she was the mother of both babies, said: “The DNA, I must accept, is finite evidence.”
However, when asked if he was sorry that Ms Hayes – who was wrongfully charged with murder after the original inquiry – was dragged into it, Mr O’Carroll said he was saving his sympathy for the dead babies.
“I only have sympathy for two creatures,” he said, “the babies — and that’s my last word on that.”
Joanne Hayes and her family previously received apologies from both An Garda Síochána and the state for their treatment during the investigation, their baseless prosecution and the subsequent “character assassination” that took place at the Kerry Babies tribunal.
Mr O’ Carroll’s comments come more than a week after a couple identified by DNA as Baby John’s parents were arrested on suspicion of murder.
The retired detective has always denied all allegations of wrongdoing by Garda during the original investigation.
‘Baby John’ was found dead on April 14, 1984 on White Strand, outside Cahersiveen.
The five-day-old had been stabbed 28 times and had his neck broken.
Asked if the name of the woman, now identified as Baby John’s mother, had come up during the original investigation, Mr O’Carroll said: “No, never.
“I have to tell you, I was only doing that research for two days and I was just talking to the family.
“But no, that name was never mentioned. Never.”
Mr O’Carroll said he now knows the recently identified mother had a father who was a garda who had died at the time of the child’s birth.
Asked if he thought this contributed to information about the child’s birth being withheld from the original investigation team, he said: “I was aware that an investigation had been going on for a week or two before I got involved. hit.
“I wasn’t involved in that or any of the house-to-house searches, but I can see where that comes from. It could lend itself to that assumption. It seems like a huge fluke that something like this didn’t come to light.
“I’m sure today’s cold case folks — it’s 40 years to me, but I’m just putting on my detective hat — I have no doubt that this is a line of inquiry that will be explored.
“The evidence has now come to light, so of course it will have to be investigated.”
In 2014 Mr O’Carroll wrote that he “vehemently disagreed with a central finding of the (Kerry Babies) tribunal: that Joanne Hayes did not give birth to twins”.
He wrote: “I am convinced that Mrs Hayes did indeed give birth to twins and was the mother of both the Tralee and Cahersiveen babies.
“The only way to uncover the truth of the Kerry Babies mystery is to both exhume babies and subject tissue samples to DNA analysis. This, I believe, would prove that Mrs. Hayes was the mother of both babies.
Asked if he now accepts that this was not the case in light of the DNA evidence, Mr O’Carroll said: “I have always said – yes, if there was definitive evidence.
“I was never happy with the blood grouping – but DNA, I have to accept, that is finite evidence.
“If they took Baby John’s DNA, and it’s tied up and final, and they obviously used outside agencies for objectivity and reliability, that’s the end of it.”
Separately, the attorney for the couple arrested on suspicion of Baby John’s murder has confirmed that his clients are yet to return to their homes or jobs after their release.
Padraig O’Connell also said – after reports that the DNA samples taken from his clients during their detention had confirmed their parentage of Baby John – this had not been presented to him or his clients by Gardaí.
“The DNA was voluntarily given by my clients,” he said. “It has been sent and neither my clients nor I have been informed of the DNA results.
“I am certainly not aware of the DNA results and neither of my clients and that 100 percent. I haven’t heard anything since my clients were released.”
Mr O’Connell also said he called on the DPP to expedite its decision on whether to charge, once Gardaí has provided it with the file on the case.
“There is not a shred of evidence against my clients,” he said.
“They are totally traumatized. They have not returned to their homes or their jobs. Their lives are in turmoil and we need beneficial progress without delay.”