Monday 23 April 2018

Murder investigation launched into 1987 house fire that killed two children and babysitter

Kerrie Ann Byrne (3), her sister Mary Ellen Byrne (8) with their mother Elizabeth
Kerrie Ann Byrne (3), her sister Mary Ellen Byrne (8) with their mother Elizabeth
Barbara Doyle
The scene of the fire on Church Lane, Kilcock
The scene of the fire on Church Lane, Kilcock
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

GARDAI have launched a murder investigation into a house fire that killed two children and their babysitter 30 years ago.

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

The young children's parents Aidan, who is now deceased, and mother Elizabeth went to a 21st party that night in the local area.

It was originally believed that the fire was accidental.

This morning, at a conference in Co Kildare, gardaí confirmed that the investigation had been upgraded to a murder.

In a statement gardaí said new evidence has "come into our possession and we now believe the fire was started deliberately".

How the story was reported at the time. Picture: Irish Independent
How the story was reported at the time. Picture: Irish Independent

Speaking at the time of their deaths mother Liz told the Irish Independent: "I came around to this house and saw the fire. I was screaming and roaring their names but there was no answer.

"They hadn't a chance, it was an inferno, God love them."

She revealed that Kerrie's birthday was just weeks away at the time of her death.

"She had only gone to school two weeks and loved it," she said. "We had bought her copybooks and everything."

The scene of the fire on Church Lane, Kilcock
The scene of the fire on Church Lane, Kilcock

The children's mother still lives in the house.

Speaking at Leixlip Garda Station 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."

Gardai said that today's development follows a five-year investigation, and that they have a number of strands of new evidence - but they cannot disclose what that is.

Nobody has ever been arrested in relation to the case.

Supt Roche appealed for anyone with information to contact gardaí on 01-6667800 or the Garda confidential line 18006661111

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