We look back at the evidence given by some of the most important witnesses called during Ian Bailey’s court action
Ian Bailey, now aged 58, moved to Ireland around 1990 from the UK for a different life after he became “somewhat disillusioned” by journalism.
He admitted to being enchanted by West Cork and met his long-term partner Jules Thomas there.
During several days in the witness box, he spoke of the despair that followed his arrests as a suspect, his attempts to clear his name, death threats, and his thoughts of suicide, while his prayers were answered when Maire Farrell withdrew a statement.
He had contemplated suicide, he said, due to “a deep sense of despair and hopelessness” and “collapse of normality” after being twice arrested, in 1997 and on his 41st birthday in 1998.
A garda had told him there was “a nice little cell waiting for you in Mountjoy”.
Shocked by both arrests, he said local talk he himself had something to do with it was a “dreadful, rotten, stinking lie”.
His mind was further troubled, he said, by what he considered “a death threat” made during his one of his arrests. He claimed a garda told him: “If we can’t pin this on you, you’re finished in Ireland. You’ll be found dead in a ditch with a bullet in the back of your head.”
Mr Bailey said: “I don’t think I handled it very well in the early days.
“I got to the stage where I was contemplating the possibility of suicide.”
Mr Bailey said he always believed in the power of prayer and “the truth would come out”.
When Marie Farrell had retracted statements, it was “a great relief” and in many ways the answer to his prayer.
Mr Bailey also said he had killed three turkeys on Sunday, December 22, the day before the body was found, and got a light scratch on the hairline from one turkey’s leg when hanging the bird onto a nail to kill it.
He also cut down a Christmas tree that Sunday afternoon and had some welts on his arm.
Some of the “vitriol” written about him in the media was difficult to deal with and he always hoped a “cavalry” would come, he said. He said gardaí told him during questioning “if you think an Englishman is going to come over here and get away with this, you are wrong”.
Mr Bailey said he brought a case for damages against the State to “establish once and for all I had nothing to do with it and I am a victim of a conspiracy”.
He added: “It is to clear my name and ultimately to try [to] knock out the dirty rotten stinking lies perpetuated by members of the Garda Síochána.”
The French extradition process in the Irish courts meant Mr Bailey was unable to visit his mother before she died in 2010 or even go to her funeral which was “the cruellest abuse of this whole thing”.
He also feared he was going to be “shipped out”.
“Had they succeeded, I would probably be now rotting in some French hole.”
Relating to his alleged informal admissions of ‘murder’, he said they were examples of “my dry and black humour” and not intended as admissions. Mr Bailey said he was “unwisely trying to make light of the situation”.
“I have a very dry sense of humour, they were not actually admissions, they were examples of my dry and black humour.”
On the issue of domestic violence which was also raised in the witness box, he said: “I wasn’t the only person in West Cork who engaged in domestic violence when drink was involved.”
He said it was to his “eternal shame” he had assaulted his partner, and blamed drinking, and the reasons for it had “long been cured”.
Ian Bailey’s long-term partner, Jules Thomas had told the court she did not trust the gardaí dealing with the investigation.
The Welsh-born mother-of-three, an artist who moved to Ireland in the 1970s, is also taking a civil action against the State for wrongful arrest.
She had been arrested in February 1997 for murder under common law but said no questions whatsoever were put to her “as to how you did this murder” while she had been under arrest.
She claimed gardaí told her Ian Bailey had confessed to the murder when he “never had”.
“I didn’t believe it”, she said.
During her 12 hours in custody, she said gardaí had been “aggressive”, “horrible”, “banging fists on the table”, “really intimidating” and kept saying Mr Bailey had done it, she said.
“I was very frightened.” They got “very angry with me” and kept saying “come on, tell the truth”.
Gardaí also tried to get her to look at photos of the dead woman but she refused, she said. “I did not want that image in my head.”
She was very sympathetic to the dead woman’s family, it was “a very very awful thing to happen to anyone”.
She had heard Mr Bailey tell journalist Helen Callanan over the phone “Yeah, I committed the murder” but that was “not meant to be taken seriously at all”, she said.
Statements suggesting Mr Bailey had a knowledge of matters that was hard to account for were made by persons who had “good reason to lie”, she added.
She did not trust the gardaí dealing with the investigation, she said.
When she had been asked was it not reasonable for gardaí to suspect a man with a history of violence towards women, she said there had been a handful of other local incidents of “alcoholic violence towards wives” but that was “not considered on the same level as murder”.
“Finding a motive would be much more a line to go down,” she added.
Life with journalist Ian Bailey, she said, had not been a bed of roses.
She had been assaulted in 1993, a second occasion in 1996 and a third time in 2001.
There had been absolutely no violent incidents since then, she said.
The violence, she said, was “still a bad memory” and “kind of unforgiveable” but she did believe “there is good in everyone”.
Former shopkeeper Marie Farrell admitted she did not tell the truth to a circuit court libel action brought by Mr Bailey in 2003. She was in the defence camp at that stage, against Mr Bailey. In December last, she took to the witness box in the High Court but as a key witness on behalf of Mr Bailey against the State.
She told Mr Bailey’s counsel she had not received any threats or inducements to go to court. Ms Farrell had contacted a garda confidential line within days of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and, referring to herself as ‘Fiona’, made calls relating to an incident in the hours before the body had been found.
As a result of her calls, Mr Bailey came under garda suspicion but after the libel hearing, Ms Farrell withdrew the claims.
However, in a new disclosure before the High Court, she recalled the ‘male stranger’ she saw.
She first saw the same man standing across the road from her shop in Schull the previous Saturday afternoon, December 21, when Ms Toscan Du Plantier was browsing inside. She did not know the man but he was “not Ian Bailey”. He “stood out as being a stranger”, was slim, with sallow skin, about 1.72m and wore a beret and long black coat with silver buttons.
Ms Toscan du Plantier left the shop and turned right and, a minute or two later, the man crossed the road and walked in the same direction as her, she said. Ms Farrell and her husband came to Schull in 1995 from Longford with their five children.
In Cork on December 22 in 1996, she met a male friend from Longford. They drove to Goleen, and in Schull about 2am she saw the same man she had seen outside her shop.
Ms Farrell said, from early 1997, she had daily talks over months with Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald where they would discuss “everything”, including personal matters and the Garda murder investigation. She said her relationship with Det Fitzgerald developed after she agreed in late January 1997 to make a statement saying the man she saw was Ian Bailey. Mr Bailey, she said, was not the man she saw but agreed after gardaí told her he might kill again.
She was told she would never have to give evidence in court. She thought she just had to give a “two-line” statement. She went to Ballydehob gardaí on February 14, 1997. After she told them she was in a hurry, she said she was told they would write down what she told them. She stayed about half an hour. Before she left, she signed four to eight blank pages.
When shown various statements with her signature, including statements that the man she saw near Schull about 2am on December 23 was definitely Mr Bailey, she said she had not made those statements. She made other statements later in 1997 and rehearsed what was to go into those with Det Fitzgerald, she said. Some of the material was accurate, some was not.
She had a personal difficulty about saying where she was that night as her husband did not know she was out with a married male friend. She initially rang gardaí anonymously.
She said she had gone to Frank Buttimer, solicitor for Mr Bailey, in March 2005 saying she had made false claims against his client. “Attitudes towards us changed, definitely the attitude of the gardaí changed,” she said.
She also claimed Det Gda Fitzgerald stripped while she was looking after a house. “I told him to get the fuck out,” she said. Ms Farrell gave that evidence after being repeatedly pressed to tell what “dark secret” she had regarding the officer to whom she had referred, but not identified, during a phonecall to Bandon Garda station.
When it was suggested to her no normal person could forget when such an incident happened, she said she remembered but could not say exactly when it occurred. The only people she had told about the incident to date were her husband and, recently, Mr Buttimer.
Told that a detective sergeant would also deny a claim of an incident at Schull golf club in summer 1998, Ms Farrell said the incident did happen. She did not make a big deal about it, such incidents happened when people have drink on them and when she was younger, incidents like that happened “every other weekend”.
When asked if every other weekend men approached her “with their penis out”, she said: “Not like that, no. But do you think I wouldn’t have been propositioned by a man years ago when I was younger, thinner and better looking?”
The judge said yesterday a transcript of Ms Farrell’s evidence will be sent to the director of public prosecutions.
Former news editor with the Sunday Tribune Helen Callanan told the High Court she did not consider Ian Bailey was engaging in “black humour” when he told her: “It was me, I did it, I killed her to resurrect my career”.
She regarded the remarks, made in a telephone call in February 1997, as a confession and reported them to gardaí.
She knew Mr Bailey had said they were a “regrettable black joke” but she considered it very serious, unusual and upsetting as Sophie Toscan du Plantier had been murdered weeks earlier.
Jim Duggan, for Mr Bailey, put to Ms Callanan that Mr Bailey was “very cross” someone had said he was a murder suspect, wanted to find out who, and had mentioned that information was worth €20,000 for a possible defamation action.
Ms Callanan said it would not be incorrect to report he was a suspect because he was a suspect. If Mr Bailey was saying what he said to her out of exasperation, that was another matter, she said. She agreed what he said was very surprising.
Her level of shock at what he said also arose because a person reporting the murder for her newspaper was a suspect and was saying to her he did it. She denied she disliked Mr Bailey and said she had never met him.
She told Mr Bailey in early February 1997 she had been told he was “the suspect in the case”.
Mr Bailey’s response was “incredible“, he was “cool and calm” and asked her who told her and said it was worth €20,000 to him. He seemed unable to see he “had effectively duped me”.
The idea did not occur to him to extricate himself, the “moral compass was broken” and he had never apologised, she added.
She had previously excised parts of his stories which referred to Ms du Plantier having lovers and, during a “serious” conversation with Mr Bailey, he had said: “It was me,” she said.
She thought at first he meant he was a lover of Ms du Plantier but he went on to say: “It was me, I did it, I killed her, I did it to resurrect my career.”
She was “flabbergasted”, did not know what to make of what he said and reported it to gardaí.
Ms Callanan said she had been asked in winter 1996 by another journalist to give “a chance” to a reporter, named as “Eoin” Bailey.
She never met him but spoke to him by phone and Mr Bailey provided one or two stories but was not a regular freelancer.
All the Irish material concerning the murder published in the Sunday Tribune came from Mr Bailey and a number of stories were run before she learned he was a suspect.
“That was probably the single biggest fiasco I had ever encountered; that the reporter I had on a story was in fact the suspect.”
Ian Bailey had been among 54 people initially categorised as suspects or persons of interest for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Chief Supt Thomas Hayes, in charge of the murder investigation since 2010, told the High Court Mr Bailey remained a ‘person of interest’.
There were reasonable grounds to suspect Mr Bailey, he said.
The suspicion was “amplified” as a result of Mr Bailey saying, during Garda interviews, he had been missing from his house for a number of hours on December 22/23, 1996, the night of the murder.
Chief Supt Hayes said while Mr Bailey had given an explanation for that, the explanation was not independently corroborated.
Other reasonable grounds to suspect Mr Bailey included his history of violence towards his partner and inaccuracies in the accounts given by him of his movements.
The facts had not changed other than evidence given to the court by Marie Farrell.
Chief Supt Hayes said the initial identification of 54 persons was intended to encompass all possible lines of inquiry.
The investigation remains open and none of the current investigation team were part of the original investigation team, he said. There was no “formal Garda surveillance” of Mr Bailey since he took over the investigation and he was satisfied there was no formal surveillance of Mr Bailey prior to that.
Retired garda Jim Fitzgerald insisted throughout a lengthy cross-examination any relationship he had with Marie Farrell had been professional.
However, Mr Bailey’s counsel had suggested the pair had a “close relationship”.
After a recorded phone conversation from October 9, 1997, had been played to the jury, Mr Fitzgerald did acknowledge he was “familiar” with Ms Farrell and had discussed a range of matters with her. He denied the conversation showed he was “fixing things up” for Ms Farrell.
During the conversation, and immediately after a redacted exchange between them, Ms Farrell said to Mr Fitzgerald: “You are a pervert.”
He replied: “I fucking am not... if I am, I’m talking to another one.”
Asked to describe his relationship with Ms Farrell, he said it was a “normal” relationship between a garda and witness.
Mr Fitzgerald said he was down in the Farrells’ house a number of times and had two beers with her husband on December 23, 1997, the first anniversary of Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s murder. He had visited the house to give Ms Farrell information about the source of threatening phonecalls from a public phone box.
Mr Fitzgerald also denied he had introduced Ms Farrell to Fianna Fail senator Peter Callanan as “part and parcel” of Mr Fitzgerald’s “looking after” Ms Farrell and her family. Ms Farrell had claimed the introduction was for the purpose of assisting her with housing issues.
He also denied suggesting to Ms Farrell she should instruct a solicitor to write to Mr Bailey’s solicitor complaining Mr Bailey was threatening her.
He further denied he told Ms Farrell her description of a man she saw in the early hours of December 23 did not fit Ian Bailey and needed to be “tidied up” for the garda file for the DPP.
Although he agreed the DPP had said her evidence was unreliable, he had considered that related to her giving different heights for the man she saw. There were explanations for the heights, including her vantage point, and she had given a height of 6ft as well as 5ft10in, he said.
Counsel pointed out that was “a long way” from Mr Bailey’s height of 6ft 4in.
Mr Fitzgerald denied he suggested to Ms Farrell she should pick the name of a dead man when asked to identify her companion on the night. The ex-detective said that would have contradicted his own efforts to identify and locate that companion.
He also dismissed Ms Farrell’s claim he, on an unidentified date, stripped in a holiday home. That was a “complete false allegation”, he had said.
Mr Fitzgerald said the matter originated after she made a “threatening” phonecall to him in 2010 accusing him of sending the Garda traffic corps after her son, which he had not done. He said she had told him during the call, if he did not stop, she would think of an allegation and might be able to prove it. He gave his report of that call to superiors in May 2010.
He said the idea of taping an encounter between Ms Farrell and Mr Bailey in Ms Farrell’s shop was both her idea and also the idea of Sgt Liam Hogan.
Asked about another recorded phonecall of April 20 in 1998 with Ms Farrell, in which he expressed annoyance several times that she had made a statement to Sgt Maurice Walsh, he said he was very annoyed because she made that statement after he had reported to the incident room her previous insistence she would not be making any statements or going to court.
Their friendship came to an end after that call but there was contact in June 1998 after material came back from the DPP, he said.
He denied he told her to make claims of intimidation against Mr Bailey to build up a picture of Mr Bailey as dangerous.
Mr Fitzgerald said Ms Farrell rang his home and told his wife about being threatened by Mr Bailey so often his wife put a “do not answer” on the calls.
State witness Maurice Walsh, who had been a detective sergeant at the time of the murder, told the High Court he was unaware of any alleged underhand arrangement between former colleague Jim Fitzgerald and Marie Farrell concerning the making of statements.
Ms Farrell, in evidence, had said statements she made were part of a scheme between Mr Fitzgerald and Mr Walsh who dismissed her claims. He took various statements from Ms Farrell during 1997 and 1998 just as she had dictated those, he said. There was no indication the statements had been prepared, Mr Walsh said.
Referring to claims from Ms Farrell that he told her she “would not have a peaceful day in Schull” if she withdrew statements, Mr Walsh said that was “a complete fabrication”. Having retired as a detective inspector, Mr Walsh was forced to deny a number of claims of a personal nature made by Ms Farrell.
In evidence, she had said Mr Walsh had been involved in an incident in Schull Golf Club, sometime in the summer of 1998 while allegedly asking her wasn’t it a thrill to be “fitting up” Ian Bailey. In court, Mr Walsh said her claim was an “outrageous lie”. He said there was “no truth whatsoever” in the “revolting” claim. He said the claim had been “deeply upsetting” to himself and his family.
He said the truth was he and his wife were in the golf club in summer 1998 with another couple. They were celebrating his promotion and the investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier was not to the forefront of his mind.
He denied several other claims by Ms Farrell including he went to her bedroom in a Dublin hotel on a later date while she was in the city for court proceedings.
Based in Dublin at that time, he said Ms Farrell asked him to meet her for a drink. He said he made a “misjudgment” and met her in a pub before returning her to the Ashling Hotel but he had not gone to her bedroom as alleged.
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