Surveillance was ‘oppressive’

Retired garda John Wilson has agreed that intelligence about journalist Ian Bailey was recorded on the Garda Pulse system when the Garda investigation into the 1996 murder in West Cork of Sophie Toscan du Plantier was continuing.

Surveillance was ‘oppressive’

Mr Wilson said he stood over his view the surveillance of Mr Bailey was “oppressive” and he disagreed with the State that this was not surveillance but observation.

When Luán Ó Braonáin, counsel for the State, said Mr Bailey remains a “person of interest” in relation to the investigation, Mr Wilson said he believed Mr Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas were subject to a level of surveillance reserved for active criminal offenders.

Mr Wilson said he was not aware, when certain intelligence material was being recorded in 2002, that Ms Thomas had sought a barring order.

He agreed that other recordings were made at the time of Mr Bailey’s libel actions in 2003 and when the French authorities had sought the extradition of Mr Bailey, which was ultimately refused by the Supreme Court.

Mr Wilson is being cross-examined in the continuing action by Mr Bailey against the Garda commissioner and State over the investigation into the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996.

Ms Toscan du Plantier’s body was found near her holiday home at Toormore, Schull, Co Cork, on December 23, 1996.

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

Mr Wilson said that when a person is recorded on the Pulse system, they are given an identification number that remains with them for life.

He understood that anyone who reports matters to the gardaí is also allocated a number.

When an officer checks a person on the system and notes a number of entries, “alarm bells ring”, he said.

He agreed with counsel that a Pulse ID number is not a criminal ID number.

Mr Wilson said, if he carried out a check on a person, their previous history is recorded on Pulse.

Asked by Mr Ó Braonáin was it not necessary to collate or record information to make an assessment of a person, Mr Wilson said there is a “big difference” between having intelligence recorded on a person and having information recorded.

His concern in this case was the level of intelligence recorded on Mr Bailey, he said.

He agreed that a recorded sighting of Mr Bailey at Cork Airport was made when the murder investigation was continuing and Mr Bailey was a suspect.

When counsel suggested that Mr Bailey remains a “person of interest” in relation to the investigation, Mr Wilson said Mr Bailey seemed to have taken his action because of serious issues with how the investigation was dealt with initially.

His view was the level of intelligence Mr Bailey and Ms Thomas were subjected to is “reserved for active criminal offenders”.

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