World Grave exhumed in 1984 baby death investigation

02:46  15 september  2021
02:46  15 september  2021 Source:   bbc.com

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The remains of a baby boy who was found dead on a beach in the Republic of Ireland 37 years ago have been exhumed as part of an ongoing investigation.

The infant, who had suffered multiple stab wounds, was discovered by a jogger at White Strand, Cahersiveen, County Kerry, on 14 April 1984.

The child has never been formally identified but he was given the name "Baby John" before his burial in 1984.

Gardaí (Irish police) confirmed they exhumed his remains on Tuesday morning.

The exhumation at Holy Cross Cemetery in Caherciveen began at dawn and the remains were reinterred the same day.

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The original 1984 investigation into the child's death was seriously mishandled and became a national scandal known as the "Kerry Babies" case.

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At the time, Gardaí (Irish police) focused their attention on a 25-year-old single mother, Joanne Hayes.

They wrongly accusing her of killing Baby John and a second infant, whose body was found buried on her family farm.

a man looking at the camera: Joanne Hayes was wrongly accused of murdering a baby found with multiple stab wounds © BBC Joanne Hayes was wrongly accused of murdering a baby found with multiple stab wounds

Ms Hayes came under suspicion as she had been admitted as a patient at Tralee General Hospital on the day that Baby John's body was found.

She had recently been pregnant but because there was no sign of her baby, detectives wrongly convinced themselves that she was Baby John's mother and charged her with murder.

They searched her family farm at at Abbeydorney, County Kerry, and found the body of a second newborn baby boy.

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  • Apology to woman accused of murdering baby in 1984

Ms Hayes had been having an affair with a married man at the time and the couple already had one child together, a toddler whom she was raising alone.

She became pregnant with her lover's second child and gave birth at home, but the baby was either stillborn or died shortly after birth and was buried on the family farm.

Ms Hayes later revealed these details to gardaí when they questioned her over Baby John's death.

Blood tests confirmed she and her lover were the parents of the baby found dead on the farm, but that child had a different blood type to Baby John.

Despite the blood results, gardaí proceeded with their case against Ms Hayes, putting forward a mistaken theory that she had given birth to twins with different biological fathers, and then murdered both babies.

Ms Hayes and her family claimed they had been mistreated by gardaí and had been intimidated into making false statements.

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The case caused major controversy and a tribunal was set up to examine the force's handling of the case.

The tribunal concluded that Ms Hayes was not Baby John's mother and criticised the investigation.

In January 2018, gardaí began a review of the Baby John case.

A full DNA profile was generated from a 1984 blood sample and this evidence confirmed that Ms Hayes is not Baby John's mother.

The results led gardaí to issue a public apology to Ms Hayes for the stress and pain they put her through during the 1984 investigation.

Baby John's parents have not yet been identified.

Tuesday's exhumation was carried out on foot of a ministerial order, granted in accordance with the Coroners Act, police said.

Baby John's remains were taken to the morgue at University Hospital Kerry, Tralee, for examination and were reinterred in the same grave on Tuesday afternoon.

"Investigating gardaí continue to believe that there are members of the public who have information in relation to the death of Baby John in April 1984 and we are appealing to those people to come forward and help us," police added.

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