Journalist Ian Bailey said he believes to this day that there is a French connection to the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
He told a High Court jury “very suspect” information came from France after the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier in West Cork in December 1996 but was never seriously inquired into by gardai.
He had invited gardai to his home on January 14, 1997 to discuss the “French connection”.
He was becoming aware, as “an investigative journalist”, of material in France and he and another woman had expressed their views to gardaí in that regard. He denied he regarded himself as a form of “super-journalist” who knew more than other journalists.
He believed there was an “overfocus” on himself by gardaí and matters in France should have been looked into more seriously.
“I believe to this day there is a French connection.”
Mr Bailey said he regarded as “quite shocking” and “very strange” that Ms Toscan du Plantier’s husband Daniel had not come to West Cork to assist gardaí in the immediate aftermath of her murder to assist gardai and identify her body because he was too busy with business commitments.
When Luan O Braonáin, counsel for the State, asked was he suggesting Daniel Toscan du Plantier was in any way involved with the death, Mr Bailey said he was not using those words, but Counsel he could “draw your own conclusions”.
When counsel referred to “smoke and mirrors”, Mr Bailey said he was told a lot of information from France concerning the victim’s private life, including she was leaving her husband and had been involved in a “catfight” with her husband’s mistress.
Earlier, when counsel suggested the Sunday Tribune had removed “lascivious” details about Ms Toscan du Plantier’s private life from articles supplied by him to the newspaper in January 1997, Mr Bailey said he was not sure what was removed.
Counsel said the material referred to Ms Toscan du Plantier’s “love life” and to her having “male companions” and “multiple partners”. Mr Bailey said he did recall Helen Callanan of the Sunday Tribune telling him she had taken material about Ms Toscan du Plantier’s personal life out of an article.
He agreed another article written by him had reported Ms Toscan du Plantier had said, during a visit to a west Cork beauty spot, she was experiencing a feeling of unexplained terror. Mr Bailey said he was told that information by a local woman.
The case before a judge and jury continues today.
‘Foolish’ joke about killing Sophie
By Ann O’Loughlin
Ian Bailey has said he made a “regrettable black joke” to the effect that he killed the French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier to resurrect his career as a journalist.
State counsel Luán Ó Braonáin said journalist Helen Callanan would say that, after she told Mr Bailey around late January 1997 it was being said he had murdered Ms Toscan du Plantier — whose body was found in West Cork on December 23, 1996 — Mr Bailey said words to the effect: “Of course, Yes I did, I killed her to resurrect my career as a journalist.”
That was “a regrettable black joke”, “very foolish of me”, and “very unwise” Mr Bailey told the High Court yesterday on the seventh day of his action for damages against the State for alleged wrongful arrest during the investigation of the murder.
When Ms Callanan told him it was being said he was the murderer, he asked who was saying that, it was very damaging, seriously defamatory and might be worth €20,000 to him as a result.
He believed he also said words to the effect “Yeah, it was me, I killed her to resurrect my career as a journalist”, but was unsure if he made those comments over one or more conversations with Ms Callanan.
Mr Ó Braonáin said Ms Callanan, news editor of the Sunday Tribune in 1996 and 1997, reported Mr Bailey’s comments to gardaí prior to Mr Bailey’s arrest on February 10, 1997, in connection with the murder and made a statement in that regard.
The State was contending those words, and several other matters, gave rise to a reasonable suspicion by gardaí concerning Mr Bailey, he said. The other matters included scratches on his arms, violence to his partner, Jules Thomas, inconsistent accounts of his movements, his exchanges with gardaí, and material provided by him to the media, counsel said.
Mr Bailey said he did not accept there were reasonable grounds for his arrest on February 10, 1997.
The cross-examination of Mr Bailey continued yesterday. The defendants reject all his claims.
Questioned about his first arrest, Mr Bailey said he was “absolutely certain” he was not told his rights by arresting gardaí when they came to his home at the Prairie, Schull. After a diary document in his own writing was provided to him related to the arrest which stated “told my rights”, he accepted he must have been mistaken in his recollection.
When counsel put to him he falsely stated a Garda made a “death threat” to the effect he would be found in a ditch with a bullet in the back of his head, Mr Bailey said it happened. He denied gardaí had not adopted a harsh and abrupt tone when arresting him and he had built a wrong narrative.
Counsel asked about a statement made by a local boy, Malachi Reid, in which the boy said Mr Bailey told him “out of the blue” while giving him a lift: “I went up there with a rock one night and bashed her fucking brains in.” Mr Bailey said what he told the boy was “they are saying” he (Mr Bailey) had done that. When counsel said the boy also said Mr Bailey was drunk and had said he had done it to get a story for the newspapers, Mr Bailey said he was not drunk and had not said that.
The case continues.
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