Ex-garda denies arresting Bailey’s partner ‘in bad faith’

A former detective inspector has denied gardaí arrested Jules Thomas in bad faith so as to put pressure on her partner Ian Mr Bailey, at the time of his first arrest in connection with the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in West Cork.

Ex-garda denies arresting Bailey’s partner ‘in bad faith’

Michael Kelleher, now retired, said Ms Thomas was arrested on February 10, 1997, under common law for the crime of murder, the same day Mr Bailey was arrested. His understanding was, when a person is arrested for murder, it does not mean they themselves have had to have committed murder, they could have aided and abetted it or been an accessory.

He said there was a reasonable suspicion Ms Thomas was “an accessory after the fact” and had told “lies” concerning Mr Bailey being at home on the morning of December 23, 1996, the day Ms Toscan du Plantier’s body was found.

Ms Thomas was aware Mr Bailey had left her house that morning and the reasonable suspsicion concerning her was borne out by her later admission Mr Bailey did leave the house and Mr Bailey also himself admitted he left the house, he added.

Asked why Mr Bailey leaving the house made a person an accessory after the fact, he said: “Why the lies?” and it “was all part of the building blocks”.

He denied a suggestion by Tom Creed, for Mr Bailey, the only reason she was arrested was to put pressure on him and that was bad faith on the part of gardaí. He agreed Ms Thomas had denied any knowledge of the murder aside from what she had heard was in the press.

He disagreed anything that would not assist Mr Bailey was done by gardaí and anything that would assist him was not done.

It was the 39th day of the action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier . The defendants deny all the claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

Mr Kelleher said he was “disgusted” Mr Bailey had said — on seeing Mr Kelleher in court — he recognised him as the garda who allegedly “shoved” his crotch towards Mr Bailey’s face during an interview in Bandon Garda Station in February 1997.

Mr Kelleher, who denies any such incident, said he attended Mr Bailey’s libel actions in 2003, and also saw Mr Bailey several times when both were studying law in University College Cork. It was not correct, he said, the first time Mr Bailey set eyes on him since 1997 was in court this week. He had not introduced himself to Mr Bailey in UCC, he agreed.

Mr Creed asked Mr Kelleher about evidence from Det Garda John Culligan of four grounds for the detention of Mr Bailey on February 10, 1997. These were that he had a false alibi, had admitted to the murder to “a companion”, had scratches, and was seen at Kealfada Bridge, counsel outlined.

Mr Kelleher said the false alibi ground related to gardaí being told Mr Bailey had not left his house on the night of December 22/23, 1996 when there was an alleged sighting of him at Kealfada Bridge. Mr Bailey told gardaí during his arrest he had gone to the studio house near Ms Thomas’ home to write.

When he said he understood Mr Bailey had said he went there sometime after 2am, Mr Creed said he did not think that was correct.

Mr Kelleher said all statements made in the inquiry, not just Marie Farrell’s, were considered. He did not initially have concerns about Ms Farrell’s credibility in terms of what she had said about various sightings of a man between December 21 and 23, 1996 but understood she had lied about some matters because she was “in a compromised position”.

Asked was the statement by Ms Farrell about her sightings not considered very significant, he said it was “another building block” towards a reasonable suspicion. He denied there was pressure to get a statement from Ms Farrell.

He denied the Garda “mindset” was they did not accept Mr Bailey’s explanation he got scratches from cutting down a Christmas tree but agreed some gardaí considered them briar scratches. He disagreed the scratches were deliberately not photographed because that would have allowed for the establishment of their exact nature.

Retired assistant Garda commissioner Noel Smith began his evidence just before the case adjourned yesterday, and said there was a “media frenzy” concerning the murder and he gave many interviews to journalists but did not initiate those contacts.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.