A retired garda said he had regarded Ian Bailey as a suspect in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation, and did not recall suspecting anyone else.
Kevin Kelleher denied he had been under pressure to ‘get’ Mr Bailey.
He also rejected suggestions he had ‘set out’ to ensure Mr Bailey was the man Marie Farrell saw on a road near Schull, hours before the body was found.
Mr Kelleher further denied asking Ms Farrell to come to his home on January 28, 1997, for the sole purpose of identifying, in a video, Mr Bailey as the man she saw at Kealfada Bridge in the early hours of December 23, 1996.
“That’s not true,” he told Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey in the High Court.
When counsel asked was he shocked other gardaí suggested Mr Kelleher was “not doing much down there”, witness said: “I was doing my job to the best of my ability.”
He denied Ms Farrell was in “utter trepidation” after he informed her she had been identified as an anonymous caller “Fiona”, on a Garda confidential line.
He also denied she was so full of trepidation she agreed to say the man she had seen was Ian Bailey, having earlier said it was not.
Ms Farrell was “relieved” her secret that she was Fiona was out, he said. But he denied it was “absolutely incredible” to suggest she was relieved to be identified when she was out in the early hours of December 23 with a man who was not her husband.
He agreed Ms Farrell had said she did not want to make a statement and did not want notes taken when she agreed to speak with him and two detectives at his home.
He had told her what she said would be treated in confidence but he would be neglecting his duty as a garda if he had not provided her information to superiors.
When she was identified as Fiona, “she knew the consequences”, he said.
He said he was directed by the murder incident room to get a statement from Ms Farrell and kept in contact with her but could not say if others did the same.
He denied that he put pressure on her.
Mr Kelleher said he possibly gave her assurances of confidentiality but it was never going to be in confidence.
She agreed to make a statement on February 14, 1997, he said.
There was a Garda memo, dated February 7, of what she had told gardaí on January 28, he said.
When it was put to him that memo was “hatched” by two detectives, he said he was “not party to hatching anything”.
He agreed he had, at his home on January 28, shown Ms Farrell a video of the 1996 Christmas Day swim in Schull but said that video was of no evidential value and denied Ms Farrell’s claim it featured Mr Bailey.
He said he had been instructed the previous evening to meet her to confirm she was the anonymous caller and to introduce her to two detectives and he had asked her to come to his house and maybe look at a video as a pretext.
He denied Ms Farrell’s evidence that he had prior to January 28, given her a video of the Christmas Day swim —that did feature Mr Bailey reciting poetry — and asked her to see if she recognised anyone in it.
He rejected suggestions he was making such denials because he knew it would have been “grossly improper practice” to do that.
Ms Farrell was “very good at adding to incidents” and had “a very good knack of landing gardaí in trouble after 2005”, he said.
Mr Kelleher has concluded his evidence in the continuing action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the Garda investigation into the murder of Ms du Plantier.
The defendants deny all of Mr Bailey’s claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy.
Earlier, Mr Kelleher said he had by December 27, 1996, regarded Mr Bailey as a suspect and did not recall suspecting anyone else.
He said he took a statement from Ms Farrell on January 22, 1997, in which she referred to the man she said she saw as being “very tall”.
Asked whether he had any difficulty with a man she previously described as five feet ten now being described as “very tall”, he said those were the words Ms Farrell used.
Her evidence that she made no statement to him on January 22, 1997, was a lie, he said.
The case continues.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved