Ex-garda: Claim of ‘Provos’ threat is lie

A garda has rejected suggestions he and another detective were asked to “put the frighteners” on Martin Graham in June 1997 after gardaí lost trust in the former British soldier as an informant in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation.

Michael J McCarthy, now retired, denied Mr Graham’s claims he was threatened with the “Provos” during his detention by Garda McCarthy and Detective Garda Bart O’Leary in June 1997.

Mr McCarthy said a colleague of his had been blown up by the Provos and it “pains me to even use the word”. He agreed the word ‘Provos’ would also resonate with Mr Graham as he had previously served with the British Army in the North.

He and Garda O’Leary went to meet detectives Jim Fitzgerald and Liam Leahy near Skibbereen, West Cork, on June 7, 1997, after being asked by them to detain Mr Graham for a drugs search.

Mr Graham later got out of the detectives’ unmarked car about 3km outside Skibbereen and agreed to accompany him and Garda O’Leary in their unmarked car to Skibbereen Garda Station. They had to wait outside until 2pm when it opened and Garda O’Leary apologised to Mr Graham for the delay, he said.

Inside the station, they searched Mr Graham and his belongings but found nothing except a box with about 20 “reefers”, bits of cardboard, about which Mr Graham was cautioned before he left the station at 2.50pm, he said.

Mr McCarthy said he had never heard of Mr Graham before and did not know of his involvement in providing information to gardaí relating to the murder. He was unaware of a claim Mr Graham taped conversations with gardaí in which, Mr Graham alleged, he had been given cannabis by gardaí.

Mr McCarthy said he had wondered why detectives Fitzgerald and Leahy had not searched Mr Graham when he was in their car earlier.

The witness said he and another garda arrested Ian Bailey on August 2, 1997, for suspected drink-driving. He photocopied a piece of paper found among Mr Bailey’s property which contained something “like a poem” in verse form, beginning something like “Liam says to Jim”, with a reference to “Ian” at the end. He gave the photocopy to Sergeant Maurice Walsh.

Mr McCarthy was giving evidence yesterday in the continuing action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the probe into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier whose body was found near Toormore, Schull, on December 23, 1996. The defendants deny all claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

Earlier, Maurice Walsh, also retired, said Marie Farrell made various statements to him in 1997 on a free and voluntary basis. He could not recall exactly what questions he would have put to her but believed, when taking a statement from her in October 1997, he would have told her the DPP had sought clarification of descriptions she had given of a man whom she saw outside her shop on December 21, 1996, when Ms Toscan du Plantier was inside. He said he probably asked her to compare with someone else what the man’s height would be.

Mr Walsh reiterated his denial of Ms Farrell’s claim he exposed himself to her in the ladies’ toilets of Schull golf club. He said: “I have no understanding of how that woman’s mind works.”

He said Ms Farrell’s claims were “total and utter lies” and the “casual way” she outlined the alleged incident was “horrible”, “as if she was talking about a trip to the local shop”. It was “incredible” that he would risk his family and career to do something like that.

He also denied the detention of Mr Graham in June 1997 was “staged” to take Mr Graham “out of the picture”.

Former Garda Norma Keane said she was involved in the arrest and interview of Mr Bailey’s partner Jules Thomas on February 10, 1997. She knew nothing about suggestions the arrest was orchestrated to put pressure on Mr Bailey. She denied as “total lies” Ms Thomas’s evidence that gardai went “on and on” to her that Mr Bailey had “done it”.

Garda Kevin Kelleher, now retired, said he took a statement from Ms Farrell at Ballydehob Garda Station on February 14, 1997, which was signed by her and witnessed by himself and other gardaí. He denied she was asked to sign blank pages on that occasion.

The case continues.


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