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DNA at centre of Kerry Baby case was ‘voluntarily handed over by relative’ of Baby John

Source of the crucial sample was not even born in 1984

Inquiry: The grave of Baby John, who was murdered in 1984, in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry. Photo: Mark Condren

Ken Foy and Sinead

DNA at the centre of the Kerry Baby case was voluntarily handed over by a person who gardai believe to be a sibling of the deceased Baby John.

This was a breakthrough which prompted the investigation team to make the high-profile arrests of a couple in Kerry last week.

It is understood that the person who the original sample was taken from had not even been born at the time of the murder in 1984.

But sources say that the DNA matched samples that were taken from Baby John when his body was exhumed at Holy Cross Cemetery in Cahersiveen in September, 2021.

This then led gardai to focus on the couple, who have denied any role in the murder of the five-day-old infant. Gardai believe the couple are the biological parents of Baby John.

Gardai are now awaiting results from further DNA samples taken from the couple last week.

But it may be weeks before they become available and many months later before the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) makes a decision in the case.

The couple’s solicitor Padraig O’Connell says they deny any wrongdoing and want the matter dealt with as quickly as possible. He has questioned the validity of the couple’s arrest, which happened on Thursday last week, and subsequent detention for more than 24 hours.

Mr O’Connell earlier told the Irish Independent: “Proving they are the parents is one thing. Providing DNA that is a match, so be it, but that doesn’t prove anything.

“Since when did having matching DNA allow someone to be an alleged murderer?”

It is not known if the woman, who is in her 50s, and man, in his 60s, have yet returned to their home.

Mr O’Connell said they are in ‘state of shock’ at what has unfolded in their lives and he said they wil be exonerated in due course.

“They are in a total state of shock,” he said.

He added: “I believe they will be exonerated and will not be charged. No evidence was put before them to substantiate their arrest nor any charge.

He said that this speed is important in this case from both the Gardaí and the DPP.

“I want it to be expedited on both sides. The gardaí must get the file to the DPP and a decision on the file to be determined,” he said.

The initial investigation into the baby’s death in 1984 was deeply flawed and eventually resulted in a State apology to local woman Joanne Hayes, who had given birth to a stillborn baby at around the same time Baby John was killed.

A cold-case review launched in 2018, and the exhumation of Baby John’s remains in 2021 to obtain a new DNA sample brought local and national attention to the case again.

With modern scientific breakthroughs it was believed that advances could be made in the investigation.

The passage of time since then had led to assumptions that gardai did not have enough new evidence to advance the case.

But the announcement of the arrests on Thursday evening took locals by surprise.

It is understood that the Kerry couple have never had any dealings with gardaí or solicitors until the arrests.

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