‘Nothing untoward’ in interview

A detective inspector has denied that, during their investigation into the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, gardaí made no effort to verify the truth of Ian Bailey’s account of various matters, including how he got scratches on his hands and arms.

‘Nothing untoward’ in interview

Det Insp Michael Kelleher, now retired, also told the High Court there was “nothing untoward” in the conduct of an interview with Mr Bailey at Bandon Garda Station after his first arrest on February 10, 1997, in connection with the murder.

He denied Mr Bailey’s claim that he put his leg on the table where Mr Bailey was sitting during an interview on February 10, 1997 and “shoved” his crotch towards Mr Bailey’s face.

He agreed there was no forensic evidence to link Mr Bailey to the murder scene. There were more than 40 suspects during the investigation but, when he left four months after he joined it, the only “genuine” suspect was Mr Bailey, he said.

Mr Kelleher was giving 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 whose body was found near Toormore, Schull, on the morning of December 23, 1996. The defendants deny all claims, including of wrongful arrest and conspiracy to manufacture evidence.

The court was told Virginia Oliver, a daughter of Mr Bailey’s partner Jules Thomas, had made a statement saying Mr Bailey was violent towards her mother who had gone to hospital after an incident in April 1996 where Ms Oliver said she saw her mother with her right eye swollen and bleeding; large clumps of hair missing from her head; a bite mark; and bruising. Ms Oliver had also said in her statement that Mr Bailey made a pass at her on Christmas Day 1995.

Ms Oliver also said in the statement she could verify Mr Bailey had killed turkeys and she had seen scratches on his hands after he cut down a Christmas tree. Saffron Thomas, another daughter of Ms Thomas, had also made a statement relating to Mr Bailey killing turkeys and cutting down the tree, the court heard.

When Tom Creed, for Mr Bailey, suggested Ms Oliver’s statement concerning the scratches was “entirely believeable” given the antipathy she clearly displayed towards Mr Bailey, Mr Kelleher agreed that Ms Oliver did not appear to like Mr Bailey.

He said he would consider the statement but the “global picture” must also be considered, not one or two things. His recollection was that there were some inconsistencies between what the sisters said, he added.

He agreed gardaí had asked people whether they saw scratches on Mr Bailey’s hands and arms prior to the murder but disagreed that gardaí were specifically directed to do that in light of statements from two men, saying they saw scratches on Mr Bailey’s hands on December 24, 1996. It was an important matter, he said.

Earlier, Mr Kelleher told Luán O Braonáin, for the State, that h

e believed the body of Ms du Plantier was still at the scene on December 23, 1996, and a post-mortem was carried out by Dr John Harbison, the then State pathologist, the next day. He agreed Dr Harbison was unable to establish the time of death due to factors including that it was very cold and an outdoor scene.

The case continues today.

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