In March 2002, the body of a newborn baby girl was found in Carryduff. She had been murdered. Over 16 years later, key people involved in her case say they still hope someone will come forward and explain what happened to the child known as Carrie. KATHRYN TORNEY reports.
Danielle Clifton is shocked to be contacted about the Baby Carrie case, but she hasn’t forgotten her.
Now aged 27 and a mother of two, Danielle was one of five children aged 10 and 11-years-old who found Carrie’s body.
Shortly after her birth and with the umbilical cord which had bound her to her mother for nine months still hanging from her body, the baby girl was stabbed multiple times. She died from brutal blows to her head which fractured her skull.
It’s believed she was buried soon after in a garden or flowerbed and, weeks later, her body was removed and placed in a bin bag at the Duck Walk behind Lough Moss Leisure Centre in Carryduff.
Danielle and her four friends saw something – it turned out to be the umbilical cord – hanging out from a bin bag lying in undergrowth on the ground. One of the boys shook the plastic bag with his shoe, then 10-year-old Danielle opened it.
“I knew straight away it was a baby,” she told The Detail. “Some of the others thought it was a doll but I knew from how real the features were. Now that I am a mother myself, I just think how could anybody do that? It could have been someone I know who did it. That’s bone-chilling to think about.
“If anyone has even the tiniest bit of information they think might help or if they heard something, please just come forward with it.”
As well as tracking down Danielle, The Detail has also spoken to the lead detective on the case, reviewed old newspaper cuttings and archive documents, examined papers relating to the inquest and had access to the police press records on the first two years of the murder investigation. This shows the long-term strategy employed by the police to keep Carrie in the hearts and minds of the public.
After being questioned about the case, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said that the investigation remains open. It has issued a new appeal for information on Carrie’s death and pledged to follow any “credible investigative lines of enquiry”.
The PSNI has confirmed that Carrie's death is one of 23 homicides recorded in Northern Ireland over the last twenty years where the victim was aged two or under. This includes cases of murder, manslaughter and infanticide. Twenty-three young lives brought to a violent end before they really got started.
These deaths will include three-month-old Cárágh Walsh from west Belfast who died from “violent shaking” in 2014. And 18-month-old Clodagh and nine-month-old baby James who were killed along with their three older siblings and mother when their father, convicted sex offender Arthur McElhill, set fire to the family home in Omagh in 2007.