The Kerry Babies Tribunal opened in Tralee on January 7, 1985, and ran for 82 days. During the course of the tribunal, a number of claims by the Hayes’ family that they had been assaulted by gardaí investigating the case were examined. All were rejected as untrue.
Head of the tribunal Justice Kevin Lynch devoted a number of chapters to the allegations of assault and included two further chapters assessing the “creditworthiness” of the Hayes family and the Garda examining the case.
Before assessing the claims of assault, Justice Lynch noted: “The tribunal is satisfied that if the gardaí were prosecuted before a jury for the matters alleged against them by the Hayes family, the jury would have no hesitation in rejecting all such charges because of the broad unreliability so far as truthfulness is concerned, of the Hayes family.”
In relation to the gardaí, Justice Lynch was critical of some gardaí who, although did not tell “barefaced lies”, were guilty of “gilding the lily” and the “elevation of honest beliefs or suspicions into positive facts”.
Assault claims by Joanne Hayes
Joanne Hayes made three claims against two individual gardaí. The first was an investigating garda poked her in the shoulder with his index finger while telling her to tell the truth. The second concerned another garda who she said “gave her two hard slaps across the face” and put her sitting in his lap to assist in getting a statement from her.
The garda involved denied the allegations.
In relation to the first allegation, the tribunal interviewed a number of other gardaí present at the time and determined it was satisfied “no physical contact” occurred and the “alleged assault did not take place”.
It also noted, in the closing submissions of Ms Hayes, there was “so much backing off, or backtracking, from this allegation that it almost amounted to a withdrawal of it, at least insofar as an allegation of any consequence is concerned”.
The tribunal also “carefully considered” the other second allegations of assault and decided it was also satisfied it did not take place.
With regard to the third allegation by Joanne Hayes, the tribunal found that not only was it untrue but it was “a deliberate damaging distortion of the true facts” which were stated by the accused gardaí.
Assault and Kathleen Hayes
Joanne Hayes’ sister Kathleen made one allegation of assault against a Garda who she said “on one occasion slapped her on the back of the head with his open hand about six times”. This assault was alleged to have taken place in the presence of another Garda. Both denied the allegation.
The tribunal noted that no mention was made by Kathleen Hayes to her mother or to any member of the family about the assault when she returned from Tralee Garda Station about 1.10am on May 2, 1984, but did complain the following morning to her aunt Sister Aquinas.
“The tribunal has carefully considered and weighed all the evidence relating to Kathleen Hayes’ complaint of assault and is satisfied that there was no assault on Kathleen Hayes by any member of the Garda Síochána,” concluded the tribunal report.
Assault and Ned Hayes
Joanne Hayes’ brother Ned Hayes made the following complaints of assault against a named Garda who he claimed: (a) Punched him from behind on four occasions for about two minutes each time (b) Turned him upside-down for about three minutes and (c) Kept hitting him from behind in the kidneys.
He also claimed that another Garda: (d) Tried to catch him by the private parts when he was being held upside-down by the above Garda and (e) Knocked him off his chair and put him face down on the ground and kneed him in the back and tried to pull his head back.
The tribunal found that Ned Hayes’ evidence in support of the allegations was “so contradictory and confused that it is hopelessly unreliable”.
It found that the two accused gardaí “are hefty men” but that “they would not be able to perform this feat of strength”.
In his allegation, Ned Hayes said he was “roaring” as a result of the assaults. However, the tribunal found it “very strange” that there was no evidence that “any typist, any cleaner, any member of the public on the busy street outside, any other member of the Hayes family or Bridie Fuller [Joanne Hayes’ aunt, who was in a room opposite the Traffic Corps Room (otherwise known as the Crime Office) in which Ned Hayes was being interviewed, heard a sound”.
The tribunal did not accept Ned Hayes’ evidence that he had no discussion whatever about his day in the Garda Station with other members of his family and that he went to bed shortly after getting home, and said if an assault had taken place it would have been “one of the prime topics of conversation”.
It agreed that he did complain to his aunt, Sr Aquinas, the following day and made no complaint of the assault on the RTÉ To-Day To-Night programme transmitted on October 16, 1984, until it was “put into his mouth to do so by the interviewer”.
“The tribunal is satisfied that there is no truth whatsoever in Ned Hayes’ allegations of assault. They are products of his fertile literary and dramatic imagination, aided and abetted by his two sisters,” concluded the tribunal report.
Assault and Mike Hayes
Joanne Hayes’ brother Mike Hayes claimed that a Garda caught him by the collar of his jacket and pulled him towards him and stared at him. This Garda then took him around the room, walking with his arm around his shoulder, telling him to tell the truth and gave him two punches in the stomach.
However, both the accused Garda and a colleague said that Mike Hayes was not wearing a jacket of any sort, but that he was wearing a green pullover or jumper, as his upper outerwear.
The tribunal also noted that on February 4 and 5, 1985, when giving evidence to the tribunal, Mike Hayes wore a pullover or jumper and no jacket.
However, “the most important piece of evidence” for the tribunal related to notes made by a Garda at the time of the incident which stated Ned Hayes was wearing “Wellingtons, green jumper, pants, blue kaki cap”.
As a result, the tribunal said it was satisfied that Mike Hayes was not wearing a donkey jacket or any jacket on the day of the alleged assault when he went to Tralee Garda Station. Indeed it found the allegation that he was grabbed by his jacket and stared at was “a fabrication concocted for him by his sisters and sworn to by him on their orders”.
Mike Hayes’ other allegations were also dismissed as without foundation.
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