A retired garda chief superintendent yesterday told the High Court he asked the State Solicitor for West Cork in 1998 to raise the Garda case against Ian Bailey directly with the DPP, rather than any of his officials.
Dermot Dwyer said, after the second arrest of Mr Bailey on January 28, 1998 in connection with the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, he was “very perturbed” about some of the correspondence from the DPP’s office concerning the garda file.
In those circumstances, he said, West Cork State Solicitor Malachy Boohig was asked to meet with himself and senior gardaí at Bandon garda station on March 9, 1998. Chief Supt Sean Camon and Sgt Liam Hogan were also there, but Asst Commissioner Martin McQuinn was not, he said.
Mr Dwyer said he and Chief Supt Camon outlined matters to Mr Boohig; he himself did most of the talking and outlined “very clearly” gardaí had a “very good” case, including five or six admissions.
There were 200 to 300 pieces of correspondence from the DPP’s office. He was very perturbed about some of that, had never seen the DPP’s own name on any of it and asked Mr Boohig to talk to the DPP himself.
Asked whether Chef Supt Camon, just after that meeting, told Mr Boohig he understood he and then Minister for Justice John O’Donogue had gone to the same college and would Mr Boohig get the minister to have a word with the DPP, Mr Dwyer said he never heard Supt Camon say that.
He himself never asked Mr Boohig to get on to the Minister for Justice or anyone else and, in 40 years as a garda, never asked a politician to do anything for himself or the garda force. From 1998 to May 2014, he never heard a word from Mr Boohig, former DPP Eamonn Barnes or Robert Sheehan of the DPP’s office suggesting gardaí made any approach to anyone and he was “shocked” when told in May 2014 this matter was raised in the High Court.
He was giving evidence in the action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the Garda investigation into the murder of Ms du Plantier whose body was found near Toomore, Schull, on December 23, 1996.
Evidence in the case may conclude today, the 59th day, after which it will adjourn for a week to resume from March 23, when the jury will hear closing speeches, followed by a charge from Mr Justice John Hedigan. A verdict may be delivered before the end of this month.
Yesterday, Mr Dwyer denied as “very wrong and unfair” suggestions by Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, the Garda investigation into the murder was approached with “tunnel vision” and with a view to get Mr Bailey charged “at all costs”. He also denied there was a “campaign” by gardaí suggesting Mr Bailey would “kill again” unless he was charged.
The job of the gardaí was to investigate a murder and that must be done honestly, this was an “outrageous” and “shocking” murder, it created panic in the area and gardaí were very concerned about it.
It was possible he could have said to Mr Bailey that Mr Bailey had murdered Sophie Toscan du Plantier but could not remember it, Mr Dwyer said. He could have made those comments when interviewing Mr Bailey during his first arrest on February 10, 1997, because Mr Bailey had been seen walking towards Kealfada Bridge “out of control” with his hands up to his head and hadn’t tried to hide when a car drove by, he said.
He denied as “totally incorrect” Mr Bailey’s evidence that when he met Mr Bailey for the first time on January 26, 1997, he told him he would “place” him at Kealfada Bridge near Schull in the early hours of December 23, 1996.
He asked to meet Mr Bailey that day because he was “alarmed” after reading a Sunday Tribune article, headlined “Du Plantier takes legal action”, under the name of Eoin Bailey and a French woman which was “fairly detailed” about aspects of the murder and the French legal process.
He got to Mr Bailey’s home about 3pm on January 26 and was there until 5pm and Mr Bailey was pleasant, he said. He denied he had asked Mr Bailey whether he played poker, as Mr Bailey had testified. He was interested to find out about Mr Bailey and why he came to Ireland and his background and other matters, he added.
He said Mr Bailey asked him on February 3, 1997, to call out to him and when he did so, Mr Bailey raised matters including the failure of Ms du Plantier’s husband to come over to Ireland after her body was discovered.
He said he was told by Supt J P Twomey about unpaid warrants concerning Marie Farrell sometime between 1997 and 1998, but never met Ms Farrell about warrants. When Supt Twomey raised the issue with him on a corridor, he was aware Ms Farrell was under pressure at the time and may have told the superintendent to leave them for now. There were many reasons why gardai don’t immediately execute warrants, including “common sense and humanity”.
His view was the warrants would be paid off down the road and they were. He may have asked, as a joke, whether there was a fund to help pay off the fines.
He denied evidence by Ms Farrell that, when called to give evidence in libel actions brought by Mr Bailey, he told her all she had to do was “stick to the story”. He denied he told her she would be brought to court in handcuffs if she did not go ahead with giving evidence. He believed she might be short of money to get home and gave her €20 for a taxi.
There were “different ways” of looking at Ms Farrell and “even the biggest liar tells the truth sometimes”, he said. She had been out where she shouldn’t be, saw something, there was “a bit of goodness in her” and she picked up the phone to gardaí and later made statements.
Many of the things she said for the first five or six months were the truth but she would not say who she was with, that was a problem and “things went out of control from 2004”.
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