A retired detective sergeant, who specialised in cold case reviews, has said he hopes the next stage of the Kerry Babies case "doesn't develop into a witch hunt".

The body of a baby boy was found on a beach in Cahersiveen in 1984 with multiple stab wounds.

The subsequent discovery of the body of a second baby on a farm near Abbeydorney outside Tralee led to the arrest of Joanne Hayes.

A tribunal of inquiry followed in a case that became known as the Kerry Babies case.

Gardaí apologised to Ms Hayes yesterday and said a full DNA profile has now been established from a blood sample taken at the time and preserved. It confirmed she was not the mother of the baby.

Welcoming the apology, former detective sergeant Alan Bailey said: "There's still a very vulnerable mother out there whose child died in the most tragic of circumstances."

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Bailey said that he "hoped as a society we have moved on to be able to treat her with respect and dignity also.

"The original investigation is a classic example of an investigation establishing the crime to fit the facts as opposed to establishing the facts to fit the crime."


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Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry published 1985


Mr Bailey was in charge of the cold case review team since its inception until his retirement in 2011.

He said the apology to Ms Hayes was long overdue, adding he "hoped it's closure for the nightmare the family have been going through for so many years".

Mr Bailey said the work involved in creating a DNA profile was painstaking and the use of familial DNA was only recognised by the courts in recent years.

He said the DNA profiling database is limited at the moment, as it has only been established in the last year or two, and said that as more DNA profiles are fed into the database it will widen the cache.

Director of DNA at Forensic Science Ireland Dr Geraldine O'Donnell said a request to generate a DNA profile for Baby John came at the end of last year.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, she said the baby's blood sample, which was submitted in 1984, was kept "in anticipation of technological advances".

She said the sample was dried onto a piece of cotton cloth and frozen until required and the DNA profile can be compared to that of Baby John's mother, father or a sibling.

Dr O'Connell said DNA profiling is very accurate when establishing parentage.