Saturday 15 December 2018

Gardaí trawling 15,000 DNA profiles for connections to murdered Baby John

Joanne Hayes pictured with her daughter around 1985
Joanne Hayes pictured with her daughter around 1985

Robin Schiller and Nicola Anderson

Gardaí are trawling 15,000 DNA profiles for any connections that will lead them to the parents of murdered Baby John.

The size of the national DNA database, which is populated with the profiles of both convicted offenders and unidentified suspects in criminal probes, means the process is ongoing.

Joanne Hayes: charges were dropped after blood tests
Joanne Hayes: charges were dropped after blood tests

It has so far failed to return a match to the DNA sample taken from the murdered infant in 1984. Recent technological advances have allowed scientists to build a complete DNA profile of Baby John, allowing for newer techniques to shed more light on the case.

The infant was thought to be around five days old when he was killed. He was found with 28 stab wounds at White Strand beach, Cahersiveen, on April 14, 1984. The DNA database currently contains 14,843 convicted offenders and suspect profiles, 3,978 crime stain profiles as well as 1,488 elimination profiles. Investigating gardaí have also appealed for local people to voluntarily contact them and supply their DNA.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Flor Murphy, the senior officer overseeing the fresh investigation into the murder of Baby John, said that gardaí “have a duty” to re-open the probe.

“Who has been his voice for the last 34 years?” asked the Killarney-based garda.

He said the investigations team had already received calls from the public since it was tasked on Tuesday, but cautioned: “This is early days.”

Asked why the case was being reopened now, Supt Murphy (inset) said: “It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.

“It just had to be done. We’ve a duty to investigate this. There’s a five-day-old infant stabbed to death – we just can’t let that happen.

“If someone lost their infant at five days old today, there’d rightly be an outrage, questions would be asked, parents would be distraught and communities would be concerned. It would be investigated.

“If it was any other child, people would be shouting for justice. Who has been his voice for the last 34 years?”

Questioned as to how the investigation of DNA in the local Cahersiveen area would be carried out, Supt Murphy said gardaí would fully explore every opportunity they were given under the 2015 DNA database legislation.

Meanwhile, retired murder squad detective Gerry O’Carroll, who was part of the original Kerry Babies investigation, has repeated calls for the exhumation of both babies in the case for DNA purposes.

Mr O’Carroll investigated the case at detective sergeant rank as one member of the team led by Supt John Courtney.

He told ‘The Kerryman’ he still believes in the need for a new examination of the remains of both Baby John and the baby found on the Hayes’ farm in Abbeydorney.

“The only way we can conclusively put this to bed forever is for both bodies to be exhumed and for an outside agency, such as Scotland Yard, to carry out a complete, independent DNA analysis of the remains.

“I would, of course, accept the outcome of any such investigation,” Mr O’Carroll said.

Irish Independent

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