A detective sergeant involved in the investigation of the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier told a detective chief superintendent in 1997 “all we have” against journalist Ian Bailey was “very weak circumstantial evidence”, a High Court jury has heard.
In a recorded conversation of June 25, 1997, Sgt Liam Hogan, now deceased, said “...even to have him out there at 3 o’clock in the morning, he is still a mile and a half from the scene, he roams the fucking place all the time”.
Sgt Hogan told Supt Seán Camon, also deceased, they had to “break” Mr Bailey’s partner, Jules Thomas. “I tell you now, unless we break Jules, who I think must have fucking something for us, we need her broken and we need to have it because if you stand back from it, it is a very arguable, 50/50.”
Earlier in the conversation, when discussing a file for the DPP, Supt Camon said: “That auld interim file that came up was a load of gobbledygook.”
Sgt Hogan replied: “That was written in a day.”
When Supt Camon said: “Kelleher had a memo on that too which was real Pudsy Ryan entirely,” Sgt Hogan replied: “You see there are statements here that I have to go back to fill it in; I have to talk to them, one man put in here ‘I believe she was attempting to tell the truth and trying to recall’...when the evidence clearly shows...she is anything but, she has been out there working, conniving, twisting.”
When Supt Camon said: “That is not fucking evidence,” Sgt Hogan replied: “I know but it is in the statement; it has to be taken fucking out of it.”
When Sgt Hogan later said: “Barnes is not going to...go out on a limb on this one,” Supt Camon said: “He doesn’t go out on a limb on anything.”
Sgt Hogan also said Mr Bailey, after his release following his first arrest on February 10, 1997, “went to the Jacksons the next day and questioned them about what they said to the guards, himself and Jules did, and that wasn’t picked up to a great degree”.
Sgt Hogan said: “Bailey has been saying ‘the guards are saying I got a blackout, sure maybe I did and I did it’ and Mr Bailey had said in the local pub he would “take the pension...off a couple of guards yet”.
The recorded conversation between the two men was among six recordings made at Bandon Garda Station and played in court yesterday in the civil action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and the State over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier, whose body was found near Toormore, Schull, on December 23, 1996.
Mr Bailey, who has always denied any involvement in the murder, has alleged wrongful arrest and conspiracy, among various claims. The defendants deny all the claims.
After 24 days at hearing, during which evidence was heard from nine witnesses, including Mr Bailey, Ms Thomas and Marie Farrell, the action has adjourned to resume on January 13.
Mr Justice John Hedigan wished the jury a happy Christmas. He recognised this was a “diffcult and onerous” case but it was “also very interesting,” he added.
Yesterday, Chief Supt Thomas Hayes, now in charge of the du Plantier murder investigation, said the investigation was continuing.
He was also aware of a number of road traffic warrants, two or three, relating to Marie Farrell, that were not paid and were not reissued.
In another recorded conversation of June 23, 1997, Sgt Hogan and Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald discussed a statement by Beryl Thomas, mother of Jules Thomas, saying her daughter would be protective of “your man” and “cover up for him”.
Sgt Hogan was told by Det Fitzgerald that another man was making a statement.
Mr Bailey “told him that he wanted to set up these two guards in a fraudulent scene”.
Later, Sgt Hogan said Mr Bailey had told a woman he had a theory “Sophie’s husband” had “hired a hit-man to kill her” and injuries to her hands were inflicted to give the impression “a local madman” had done it.
Det Fitzgerald replied: “That’s right, and he’s a self-admitting madman.”
Sgt Hogan said: “Yes, absolutely.”
Det Fitzgerald also referred to being told he would have to transcribe the tapes of a man, Martin Graham, and they could not be kept from the DPP. Sgt Hogan also talked about “a pattern” and stated that “he and Jules went and quizzed the Jacksons in the early days”.
He said: “So this is brilliant like, in a way, if we can get a charge at all we’ll get a charge on the two of them I think.”
He went on to ask: “Wouldn’t that be a great achievement?” and said “And I want one of the fucking charge sheets”.
Det Fitzgerald said: “Oh, it doesn’t matter a fuck to me anyway...”
Det Hogan also referred to questionnaires being “a fuck-up from day one”.