Judge ‘unfairly disparaged’ key witness, Ian Bailey says in appeal

Marie Farrell

A High Court judge “unfairly disparaged” Marie Farrell, a key witness for Ian Bailey, during Mr Bailey’s civil case for damages against the Garda commissioner and State, the Court of Appeal has been told.

Mr Justice John Hedigan’s refusal to discharge the jury after warning Ms Farrell about perjury in front of them irreparably damaged Mr Bailey’s case, his lawyers submitted.

Mr Bailey claims the judge’s handling of the case meant the jury never got to address a range of matters he alleges demonstrated a conspiracy to frame him for the 1996 murder in West Cork of French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Those alleged acts included leaking his name to the media the night before his first arrest; paying British former soldier Martin Graham cash and drugs to implicate him; arresting his partner Jules Thomas and her daughter Fenella with a view to pressuring him; and persisting in advancing Ms Farrell as a witness against him despite “clear warnings and misgivings” from the DPP’s office on her evidence.

Mr Bailey also contends evidence from former DPPs Eamonn Barnes and James Hamilton, along with evidence of Robert Sheehan, a solicitor in the DPP’s office who was critical of the Garda file relating to Mr Bailey, was wrongly curtailed by the trial judge. 

Mr Sheehan was not permitted to refer to his own contemporaneous notes, the court was told.

These are among 17 grounds advanced in Mr Bailey’s appeal over the jury’s dismissal in March 2015 of his claim gardaí conspired to frame him for the murder of Ms du Plantier, whose body was found close to her holiday home near Schull in late December 1996.

Mr Bailey, who has always denied any involvement in the murder, was in court with his partner Jules Thomas yesterday for the opening of the appeal before a three-judge Court of Appeal.

Several grounds of appeal concern Mr Justice Hedigan’s decision not to allow most of Mr Bailey’s case, including his claims of wrongful arrest, be decided by the jury on grounds those were statute barred, brought outside the relevant six-year time limit for such claims.

The defendants, relying on the statute of limitations, had applied, towards the end of the 64-day case, to remove it from the jury.

Tom Creed SC and Ronan Munro SC, for Mr Bailey, said the judge’s ruling on day 62 meant the jury got no opportunity to consider the conspiracy claims in full or to decide important issues relating to the alleged conspiracy.

Mr Creed said the State’s application was made too late and involved an abuse of process for reasons including that substantial costs had been incurred by then. The claim of an “over- arching” Garda conspiracy against Mr Bailey was not statute barred but the ruling removed important issues from the jury relating to the alleged conspiracy, he argued.

Mr Bailey’s claim for damages for breach of constitutional rights, including to his reputation and to privacy, also did not go to the jury, which had no opportunity to consider whether they accepted aspects of the Garda evidence, he said.

Separately, a decision is pending by the High Court on a European Arrest Warrant issued by the French authorities aimed at having Mr Bailey extradited to stand trial in France for voluntary homicide.

The appeal continues.


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