Gardaí are expected to interview relatives of the Kerry couple who were arrested 10 days ago on suspicion of the murder of the infant Baby John almost 40 years ago.
ccording to sources, gardaí are satisfied that the couple — a woman in her 50s and a man in his 60s — are the biological parents of the infant who was stabbed to death. His body was found on White Strand in Cahersiveen.
However the couple’s solicitor, Padraig O’Connell, said they “adamantly and trenchantly” deny murdering the infant. The solicitor claimed that there is no evidence to even suspect them of the crime.
Garda sources say that during their 24 hours in custody, the couple made no admissions relating to the infant, its birth or death. Detectives are now expected to turn to close relatives and friends of the couple, in an attempt to find out what — if anything — they knew about a pregnancy in the spring of 1984.
It is understood the original garda file is also being examined to find out whether the woman and her family were contacted by gardaí who conducted house-to-house inquiries and circulated questionnaires as part of their original murder investigation.
The woman is understood to be the daughter of a garda, but he died several years before the investigation was launched into the murder of Baby John.
“The investigation will now have to look at interviewing people who were around the region at the time. My understanding is that there will be an element of trying to find out if there is anybody who knew anything at the time,” said a source.
“Gardaí will want to know whether the family was contacted in the door-to-door inquiries that were conducted at the time.
“There is a long way to go in this investigation,” said the source, who added: “Identifying Baby John’s parentage is a very, very important step.”
The infant’s lifeless body was discovered on April 14, 1984, on White Strand beach. He had suffered 28 stab wounds to his body and his neck was broken. The subsequent murder investigation led to the Kerry Babies scandal.
Gardaí switched the investigation to Abbeydorney, some distance away in north Kerry, after a hospital notified the investigation team of a woman who had given birth but did not have a baby.
Gardaí went on to secure false confessions from Joanne Hayes and her family. The 25-year-old was charged with murder — but the charge was dropped when blood tests proved she could not have given birth to Baby John.
The State apologised to Joanne Hayes in 2018 when DNA tests provided further incontrovertible proof that she was not Baby John’s mother. Gardaí launched a cold-case review of the murder, which generated the DNA breakthrough that in turn led to the arrest of the couple on March 23.
The couple’s solicitor said his clients have not been provided with DNA results and have received no communications since their release from custody last weekend. He said he is constant contact with the couple, who remain in shock over the arrests.
“Their life is on hold. They have not returned to their home. They have not returned to their employment,” he said.
“They absolutely trenchantly, adamantly deny the allegation of murder and there are no grounds for even the suspicion of murder.”
The couple are parents of grown-up children and are known and respected in their community.
They were identified as the parents of Baby John after a voluntary DNA taken from a family member provided a match with the infant.
The solicitor said there is “not one scintilla of evidence” to substantiate an allegation of murder.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris last week defended the decision to arrest the couple, and the manner in which they were interviewed while in custody, saying he had been “fully briefed and informed” about the operation.