Farrell: I had to leave my home

Marie Farrell yesterday told a High Court jury she decided to leave her home in Schull after Garda intimidation of her children.

Farrell: I had to leave my home

“My children were being punished because I was no longer prepared to toe the Garda line,” an emotional Marie Farrell told the court.

She became upset when saying Garda Anthony Finn had called one of her sons a “bastard” on the street. After she made a complaint, Garda Finn called to her home with another garda and apologised and said it would not happen again, she said.

Another of her teenage children talked of “jumping off the rocks into the sea” due to what was happening to her family, she said.

The shopkeeper was giving evidence on the 16th day of Ian Bailey’s action against the State. She said she had gone to Frank Buttimer, solicitor for journalist Mr Bailey, in March 2005 saying she had made false claims against his client.

This led to a letter being sent to the justice minister and a lot of media attention and life became “undescribable”, she said.

She had contacted Mr Buttimer saying she had made false statements against Mr Bailey, including she saw him about 2am on December 23, 1996, near Schull, West Cork, hours before the body of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found.

Ms Farrell said she met Mr Buttimer two or three times and met Mr Bailey once briefly “just to apologise to him” in Mr Buttimer’s office in September 2005. She also received a letter from Mr Buttimer thanking her and stating Mr Bailey had no interest in taking a case against her.

Ms Farrell also said Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald rang her saying he knew she was in contact with Mr Buttimer and had asked her to keep him, Det Fitzgerald, “out of it”. Det Fitzgerald had said if she did so, he would sort out a summons related to one of her children, she said.

She said “attitudes towards us changed, definitely the attitude of the gardai changed”.

Her children began to be intimidated and bullied by one garda, she said.

Asked to name that garda, she said it was Anthony Finn.

Life was “undescribable” after she went to Mr Buttimer and there was a lot media attention. Becoming upset, she said their children had had a great life in Schull, their friends were there, but that all changed and her husband had said they had “no choice but to get out of here”.

Ms Farrell said she and her husband decided to put their house on the market in January 2006. In March 2006, while at a hospital with her daughter, she met Det Fitzgerald on crutches who asked her: “Jesus, did you ever think it would end up like this?” He said he was told to clear his locker “of anything that might link him to me”, she said.

He also told her it will “probably all end in a tribunal but sure when it’s all over we’ll have a drink”, she said. This was “all very strange”. Their house sold in June 2006 at a “huge financial loss”.

Ms Farrell completed her direct evidence yesterday in the civil action by Mr Bailey against the Garda commissioner and the State arising from the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier.

The defendants deny all of Mr Bailey’s claims, including of wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

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