The Garda Commissioner wants to block the release of internal Garda files into its investigation of the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder case, while it has also emerged that some original files have gone missing.
The revelation comes almost 17 years to the day since the French filmmaker was murdered outside her holiday home near Schull in West Cork and two years after self-confessed suspect Ian Bailey launched a legal action against the State.
It is in response to that civil action that Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has sought to block access to a string of files wanted by Mr Bailey’s legal team.
Among the documents the commissioner wants to withhold is an internal report carried out by a senior garda into the case.
That report was written by Assistant Commissioner Ray McAndrew and has never been published.
RTÉ’s This Week programme yesterday revealed the 375-page report had not simply been a fact-finding mission, as initially thought, but included recommendations that were passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2007.
It also emerged that the garda commissioner wants to block 128 separate files comprising 2,898 documents, as well as the 327 page original garda investigation report.
Other documents the gardaí do not want to release include three separate reports compiled by Chief Supt Tom Hayes, one on how the original Garda investigation was undertaken, a 42-page report regarding a witness who claimed he had been offered drugs by gardaí in West Cork and another, 111-page report, on Marie Farrell, a local woman who had initially claimed she saw Mr Bailey in the vicinity of Ms du Plantier’s home before her killing but who later retracted the claim, alleging she had felt under Garda pressure to make her original statements.
It emerged that gardaí also wish to withhold access to material on the arrest of Jules Thomas, Mr Bailey’s partner.
Earlier this year, the High Court ordered gardaí to hand over thousands of documents and related material to Mr Bailey’s legal team, but the force has failed to do so, prompting Mr Bailey to go back to the High Court again last month after a number of time extensions had been missed.
Now it has emerged that 25 documents have been lost or mislaid. Of those 24 are handwritten witness statements that formed part of the original murder investigation, although copies do exist.
However, the original suspect files for Ian Bailey and Jules Thomas are understood to be missing.
This Week quoted a Garda spokesman as saying the commissioner was entitled to assert privilege like anyone else in a civil action.
Mr Bailey’s solicitor, Frank Buttimer, said they would persist with the civil action as “this case goes to the root of potential misbehaviour, potential scandal”.
“What amazes me is the silence which is emanating from various quarters, various people in positions of power with regard to the matter,” he said. “I cannot for the life of me understand how this case has not received more attention and has not caused more concern than it should have.”
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