Wednesday 22 November 2017

Kilcock fire: Man arrested in connection with 1987 triple murder probe released without charge

The man arrested earlier this week in connection with a fatal house fire in Kilcock in 1987 has been released without charge.

The house in Kilcock where Kerri Ann and Mary Ellen Byrne (pictured inset above with their mother Elizabeth) died with their aunt, Barbara Doyle (inset below), who was babysitting them in 1987
The house in Kilcock where Kerri Ann and Mary Ellen Byrne (pictured inset above with their mother Elizabeth) died with their aunt, Barbara Doyle (inset below), who was babysitting them in 1987

Sean Nolan

A man arrested earlier this week in connection with a fatal house fire in Kildare 30 years ago has been released without charge.

The man was arrested on Tuesday, less than a week after gardai launched a murder investigation into the 1987 blaze that killed two children and their babysitter.

Kerrie Ann Byrne (3), her sister Mary Ellen Byrne (8) and their aunt Barbara Doyle (20), who was babysitting, died in the fire that occurred at Church Lane, Kilcock in Kildare on September 20, 1987.

Gardai confirmed that the man, aged in his 50s, was freed last night.

A file will now be prepared for the information of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Kerrie and Mary's parents Aidan - who died in 2013 - and Elizabeth had gone to a 21st birthday party on the fateful night in the local area and Barbara was minding the girls.

Last week, gardaí said that evidence uncovered during a cold case review turned the investigation into a triple murder inquiry.

Gardaí said they found evidence that they can not disclose in the event of a prosecution, but this led them to believe the fire was started deliberately.

After making a public appeal for information last Wednesday, officers later thanked members of the public who came forward and provided information to the investigation team.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said: "We are satisfied there are people who will remember this fire and the deaths of Barbara, Mary Ellen, and Kerrie, and who have not yet spoken to gardaí." He asked these people to contact investigating officers.

Speaking at an earlier press conference in Leixlip, Mr Roche said that "new evidence" had sparked the decision to upgrade the investigation on the 30th anniversary of the tragedy.

"New information has come into our possession and we now believe the fire was started deliberately," Supt Roche said.

"This case has never been closed, from time to time it has been revisited, but within the last five years it has been reviewed with the serious crime review team also helping to develop the case further."

The young girls' mother, Elizabeth Byrne, who still lives in the house where the fire occurred, was not surprised by the news of the murder investigation on the tragedy's 30th anniversary as gardaí have been liaising with her regarding the inquiry for some time.

Supt Roche said that the investigating team feel it is "significant" that the fire was reported between 3am and 4am that day.

"It's significant because we believe people may have been travelling home from the 21st who could have seen things in the vicinity," he explained.

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News