Ian Bailey remains a person of interest for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, according to the garda who has been in charge of the murder inquiry since 2010.
Journalist Mr Bailey was among 54 people initially categorised as suspects or persons of interest, the High Court heard yesterday.
There were reasonable grounds to suspect Mr Bailey and the suspicion was “amplified” as a result of him saying in Garda interviews that he was missing from his house for a number of hours on December 22/23, 1996, the night of the murder, Chief Supt Thomas Hayes said.
While Mr Bailey had given an explanation for that, it was not independently corroborated, the garda said during Mr Bailey’s damages action against the State.
Other reasonable grounds to suspect Mr Bailey included his history of violence towards his partner, Jules Thomas, and inaccuracies in his accounts of his movements, he said. The facts had not changed other than evidence given to the court last month from Marie Farrell, a shopkeeper in Schull, Chief Supt Hayes added.
Chief Supt Hayes said the initial identification of 54 persons was intended to encompass all possible lines of inquiry. The investigation remains open and none of the current team were part of the original investigation.
Chief Supt Hayes said there was no “formal Garda surveillance” of Mr Bailey since he took over the inquiry and he was satisfied there was no formal surveillance of Mr Bailey prior to that. Any intelligence on Mr Bailey was “passive recording of intelligence”.
He told Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, that he had checked records of warrants related to road traffic offences alleged against Chris Farrell, husband of Marie Farrell. Of five warrants sent for reissuing, involving total fines of €698, none were reissued by the courts office because the applications for reissue were not made before they expired.
Some 25 other warrants, totalling €15,092 and involving a mixture of civil and road traffic debts, were executed and paid, he said. The civil debt amounted to about €9,000.
Also yesterday, John Dukelow, a fisherman, said he and Mr Bailey were good neighbours when he lived at Liscaha, Schull and he remains friendly with him. When he gave Mr Bailey a lift some time after the murder, Mr Bailey told him: “You won’t believe this, they think I’m after murdering that woman” and Mr Bailey was very shaken, he said.
Mr Dukelow said Det Garda Liam Leahy later told him there was “no doubt about it, that bastard did that”. He did not believe for a moment Mr Bailey did it and told the garda that.
Tom Brosnan, a supermarket owner from Schull, said he knew Mr Bailey and was surprised when he was arrested, as he was “the last person I thought would do something like this”. He believed that, after the arrest, the majority of people around Schull would feel Mr Bailey did it, he added.
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