Witness says officers demanded he hand over secret recordings
A man has told the High Court two unidentified gardaí threatened him with the “Provos” after dragging him into a car in Skibbereen and driving him around “digging” him, demanding he hand over recordings.
Becoming upset in the witness box, Martin Graham, who served with British forces in Northern Ireland for two years, said: “I thought I was going to be murdered.”
Mr Graham said he believed the recordings being referred to related to his having previously arranged with the Irish Mirror newspaper he would secretly record a conversation with gardaí after he told the newspaper he was given cannabis by gardaí in order to approach Ian Bailey and “soften him up”.
The recording did not in fact activate but a media photographer took pictures of him with cannabis after returning from meeting two gardaí, Det Garda Jim Fitzpatrick and Liam Leahy, in their car, he said.
He said he had met those two detectives on various occasions after he had gone to Skibbereen garda station soon after his first encounter with Mr Bailey in February 1997 in the home of Russell Barrett in Skibbereen.
Mr Bailey went there when freed after his first arrest on February 10, 1997 in connection with the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, whose body was found near Toormore, Schull, on December 23 1996.
Mr Graham said Det Gardai Fitzgerald and Leahy wanted him to befriend Mr Bailey and had given him cash, cannabis and clothes as “incentives” to do so.
He said he was also told “the family” would be grateful if he could come up with a favourable statement, which he took to mean as a statement that would implicate Mr Bailey in the murder. There was a reference to €5,000, he said.
He said he ultimately “came clean” with Mr Bailey about his dealings with gardaí and told Mr Bailey he was “being stitched”. He did not remember when he told Mr Bailey.
He also contacted the newspapers because he felt threatened and in a dangerous position and wanted “insurance”, he said.
Some papers didn’t want to know but eventually he met a reporter and photographer from the Irish Mirror and it was arranged he would meet the two detectives in Skibbereen, the media would watch and take photos and he would record the encounter.
He was searched by the media representatives before he met the gardaí to ensure he had nothing on him, he met the gardaí and was given cannabis and the media took photos of him with the cannabis, in a police evidence bag, when he got back. The recording had not activated, he said.
He was giving evidence in the continuing action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and state arising from the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier.
They deny all his claims, including of wrongful arrest and conspiracy to manufacture evidence.
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