It has been claimed that a newly uncovered file shows gardaí knew as far back as 2002 that there were question marks regarding the credibility of Marie Farrell, a key witness in the initial garda probe into the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
RTÉ last night said it had obtained a garda file which documents a review conducted by senior gardaí into the original investigation of the filmmaker’s death in Schull in December 1996.
Philip Boucher Hayes said the file he had obtained showed that gardaí knew as far back as 2002, when the review was conducted, that there were issues over Ms Farrell’s evidence and her credibility as a witness.
He told RTÉ’s Drivetime that the file had been compiled by a garda team who spent a year reviewing material gathered as part of the initial murder probe.
He said the file showed the review turned up no new evidence and acknowledged that the evidence against Ian Bailey was circumstantial.
Regarding Ms Farrell, who initially claimed to have seen Mr Bailey near the scene of Ms du Plantier’s murder on the night she was killed, the file states that the chief witness’ credibility “was severely weakened by the inconsistencies and lies in statements made to gardaí”.
In 2005, Ms Farrell would dramatically change her story and claim she had been pressurised by gardaí, an allegation consistently and vehemently denied by An Garda Síochána.
Mr Boucher Hayes said the file stated: “There is a difficulty accepting the evidence of Marie Farrell in regard to her third sighting of Ian Bailey at Kealfadda bridge on the morning of December 23, 1996. The review team are of the opinion that Marie Farrell’s untruthfulness regarding this matter raises doubt as to her credibility as a witness.”
The latest claims emerged as French authorities confirmed it was likely a trial against Mr Bailey for involuntary homicide will continue next year even though Mr Bailey will not be there.
That is due to the decision of the High Court on Monday to dismiss the latest attempt to have Mr Bailey extradited.
Mr Bailey has always denied any involvement in Ms du Plantier’s death.
Today the Court of Appeal will give judgment on Ian Bailey’s appeal over a High Court jury’s dismissal of his claim that various gardaí conspired to frame him for the late 1996 murder.
The appeal was heard over two days last March and Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan, sitting with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, said it raised “important and difficult issues” and the court was reserving judgment.
Mr Bailey’s grounds of appeal include claims the trial judge should not, on day 62 of the 64-day case and following a State application, have withdrawn from the jury most of Mr Bailey’s claims, including of wrongful arrest, on grounds those were statute barred. Mr Bailey claims that meant the jury was left to consider only a “narrow” aspect of his conspiracy claim.
The State has cross-appealed the judge’s decision insofar as it allowed the jury consider whether three gardaí conspired to frame Mr Bailey for murder.
The State contends the conspiracy claim was imprecisely pleaded and was also statute barred.
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