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Detective calls for DNA analysis to settle Kerry Babies case

ONE of the detectives who first heard Joanne Hayes's controversial murder confession in the Kerry Babies case, is calling for the case to be reopened.

Det Insp Gerry O'Carroll wants a DNA analysis of the two babies to determine once and for all if the Garda's case that they were twins was correct.

After the body of a stabbed baby boy was washed up in Caherciveen in April 1984, the ensuing investigation pinpointed Joanne Hayes as a suspect. Joanne Hayes first told gardaí that she had given birth to a child which she had subsequently hidden on her family farm. That body was not discovered until after Joanne Hayes, her three siblings, aunt and mother had confessed to involvement in the birth, death and disposal of the Caherciveen baby.

The gardaí believed she had had twins; the Hayeses insisted they had been coerced into making a false confession. Two internal Garda investigations were inconclusive so a tribunal was set up in January 1985.

O'Carroll believes that he and other officers were scapegoated. Although the report of the five-month tribunal found the gardaí innocent of the Hayes family's allegations of mistreatment, several of the officers involved were reassigned from detective duties in October 1985. All were later reassigned to detective status.

Now based in Bray, Gerry O'Carroll has been active in pursuing the injustice he feels the case brought on him. He was transferred to computer duties and made moves to bring this matter to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg before being reassigned as a detective.

In April 1987 then Det Sgts O'Carroll, PJ Browne and Det Gda John Harrington began legal proceedings on the foot of Joanne Hayes' account of the Kerry Babies saga as told in her book My Story. The defendants were named as Joanne Hayes, John Barrett, co-author of the book, Printset and Design Ltd., Brandon Books Publishers Ltd., Easons and Sons Ltd and Powers Supermarkets.

The following year they settled four-figure sums out of court with Powers Supermarkets (Quinnsworth) for selling copies of the book and in November 1989 an out-of-court settlement was reached with Brandon Books. The three detectives accepted an apology and £17,500 each. It was at the time the largest libel settlement by any Irish publisher. The apology acknowledged that the book contained serious defamatory words about the gardaí.

The rights of Joanne's book were bought by Silver Screen Development Productions in 1986 and in 1988 there was talk of Edna O'Brien writing the screenplay. The successful libel action rendered this impossible.

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