Ex-garda rejects claim Bailey was an early suspect

A witness yesterday rejected suggestions gardaí must have believed their investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier had gone “into orbit” after they identified Marie Farrrell as the anonymous caller who claimed she had seen a man in a long black coat running on the road near Schull hours before the body was found.

Ex-garda rejects claim Bailey was an early suspect

Jim Fitzgerald denied gardaí must have suspected, before they met Ms Farrell on January 28, 1997, when she confirmed she was the anonymous caller, Ian Bailey was possibly the man she had seen on the road near Schull on the night of December 22/23, 1996.

He also denied Ms Farrell was told on January 28 gardaí knew Mr Bailey had killed Ms du Plantier and would kill again.

Mr Fitzgerald, a retired detective garda, denied Ms Farrell was told she was the only person who could put Mr Bailey at Kealfada Bridge near Schull that night.

Gardaí waited to hear Ms Farrell say what she saw and she told them she saw a man at Kealfada Bridge and she now knew that man to be Ian Bailey, he said.

When he and Det Garda Jim Slattery went to meet Ms Farrell at Garda Kevin Kelleher’s house, they “needed to establish what she saw truthfully”. He got the impression Ms Farrell had explained everything to Garda Kelleher before he and Det Slattery got there.

When Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, asked was he seriously telling the jury gardaí had not discussed the possibility the man Ms Farrell said she saw three times between December 21 and 23, 1996, was Mr Bailey, he said gardaí had not.

When counsel suggested they must have known the information from Ms Farrell would send the investigation “into orbit”, he said it would “advance it”.

He agreed Ms Farrell had said she would make no statement, did not want notes taken of the meeting and was concerned about losing her anonymity for reasons including she was out with another man, who was not her husband, on the night.

He said he had later, on February 7, 1997, written up from memory a memo of what she said on January 28. He disagreed with a suggestion by Mr Creed the fact the memo was written in the first person singular was “handy” for the purposes of a statement.

Ms Farrell voluntarily made a statement on February 14, 1997, at Ballydehob Garda Station, he said.

Asked what kind of relationship he had with Ms Farrell, he said it was a professional relationship, the “normal” relationship between a garda and witness. He first met her on January 28, next met her on February 14 and after that had several contacts with, he said.

He said he had a number of conversations with her but disputed those were lengthy.

Asked what he meant when he had said to her during a recorded phone call of April 3, 1997, he would have expected her to say: “Ah, Jim, I will see you any time, anywhere”, he said he was referring to a meeting scheduled for April 5, 1997, where another man, who was being inquired into as Ms Farrell’s possible companion on the night of December 22/23, 1996, was travelling from Longford to meet gardaí.

He agreed entries from his garda notebooks discovered for Mr Bailey’s action related mostly to Ms Farrell and there were no notebook entries concerning his dealings with Martin Graham.

He said Ms Farrell had made complaints of intimidation and it was important to record those in his notebook as they could be grounds for objections to bail.

Mr Graham was an informer and gardaí would not note the names of informers, he said.

The cross-examination of Mr Fitzgerald continues today in the civil action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State who deny all his claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy, over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms du Plantier. her body was found near Toormore, Schull, on December 23, 1996.

Earlier, Mr Fitzgerald said his recollection was he had not asked anyone to “take it easy” concerning warrants issued for Ms Farrell concerning road traffic matters.

He recalled asking Garda Kevin Kelleher was Ms Farrell going to be lodged in Limerick Prision, as she had claimed to Mr Fitzgerald in an earlier phone call.

He said Garda Kelleher had said he was holding off and giving her time to make payments.

Mr Creed said Garda Kelleher had made a statement to a Garda inquiry that the warrants were not being executed due to Ms Farrells’ involvmenet in the investigation. Counsel said Garda Kelleher had also said, when he tried to execute the warrants, Mr Fitzgerald and others would ask not to put too much emphasis on them for the time being.

Mr Fitzgerald said he only recalled Garda Kelleher had said he would be giving Ms Farrell time anyway.

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