Couple arrested in Kerry Babies case left 'in limbo', solicitor claims

Their South Kerry home is a crime scene and there is no estimated time for the return of DNA results or the preparation of a file for the DPP
Couple arrested in Kerry Babies case left 'in limbo', solicitor claims

Baby John's grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in Cahersiveen Co Kerry, where he has lain for 39 years. Picture: Alan Landers

The two people arrested in connection with the Kerry Babies investigation could be in limbo for “months”, their solicitor has claimed.

The two — a man aged in his 60s and a woman in her 50s — were arrested last Thursday. It came some 39 years after the discovery of the infant, thereafter named Baby John, on White Strand Beach near Caherciveen, Co Kerry. 

They were both since released without charge and a file is to be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Solicitor Padraig O’Connell, who is based in Killarney, said it could be a “long time” before he or his clients learn the results of tests on DNA samples given after their arrests Thursday evening.

The processing of any file on their case could also take a while before being given to the DPP.

In the meantime, their home in south Kerry remains part of a crime scene investigation.

As a result, they have to stay with friends and relatives until detectives give them permission to return.

It has been reported that a DNA sample was taken from a bin, which led to the two arrests at 7.30pm on Thursday evening.

Asked about this, Mr O’Connell said: “My clients are waiting for due process to take its course and for people not to jump to any conclusions.

“The gardaí had to come up with something from somebody somewhere to get the authority to arrest them.

“But arresting somebody on the basis of DNA is totally different to arresting somebody on suspicion of murder.

“The allegation against them is from the Gardaí, yet these are people who have never been in a garda station in their life. They don’t even have penalty points.

They have never even been fined for parking on a double-yellow line.

"They are hard-working, extremely community-driven people who are now open to all sorts of speculation, and this is just not appropriate, in my view.” 

He added: “They were arrested, interrogated — in what was an oppressive interrogation — then they were released.

“They haven’t been charged, and we await hearing from the DPP, and that could take a long time — months.” 

Mr O'Connell would not comment on the nature of the relationship between the man and the woman and Baby John. 

He said: “I am not going to comment on that because they gave a sample to gardaí voluntarily and we await the results.

“Until such time as DNA results come back, I hold my fire, and it would be wholly wrong to do otherwise.

They certainly won’t be making a statement.” 

Neither Mr O’Connell nor his clients will be told when the DNA results are actually returned as this is “a logistical matter”, and up to the gardaí to divulge when it suits them.

He also described the man and woman’s house as being a “scene of crime investigation”.

The man and woman, who are both understood to be the parents of two grown-up children, were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of the offence of murder.

Detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, she was held in Castleisland Garda Station, and he was held in Listowel.

Because she did not take a rest break, she was the first to be released, on Friday at around 7.30pm.

The man in his 60s was released early the following morning.

'A significant development'

Their arrests and subsequent release without charge is the latest twist in the near 40-year case.

An extensive investigation has been ongoing since 2018 into the incident by Kerry Gardaí, supported by the Garda Serious Crime Review Team.

Hundreds of people in south Kerry have been interviewed and over 560 lines of enquiry have been initiated.

After the arrests, gardaí described them in a statement as being “a significant development” in the investigation into Baby John’s death in 1984.

He was found on White Strand, Cahersiveen, in the evening of Sunday, April 14, 1984.

The then State pathologist, Dr John Harbison, discovered the baby had 28 stab wounds — four pierced his heart, and the baby’s neck had been broken.

An investigation was immediately launched, with house-to-house inquiries being made in the area around White Strand, Cahersiveen, and adjacent areas.

Local receptionist Joanne Hayes ended up being wrongly accused of being involved.

She was later exonerated, and the State not only gave her and her family a formal apology, but a substantial payment was made to the family for the hurt and suffering they endured as a result of the way gardaí handled their investigation.

To date, Baby John’s parents have never been formally identified or come forward.

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