Detective denies ‘corrupt’ practices

A former detective garda in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation has said he does not believe the reason a superior officer wanted a Garda statement “chopped up” was because it might have been seen as favourable to Ian Bailey.

The statement was made by Detective Garda Liam Leahy after he interviewed Jules Thomas, Mr Bailey’s partner. Det Leahy said in his statement that he believed Ms Thomas was doing her best to recall the events of the weekend prior to the discovery of Ms du Plantier’s body on December 23, 1996.

During a recorded phone call on June 23, 1997, Sergeant Liam Hogan, then preparing the Garda file on the investigation for the DPP, told Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald he believed Det Leahy’s statement was “very damaging to have in there... it doesn’t do himself any good...”

Sgt Hogan, who is now deceased, added: “It’s a scheming bitch outside... and he’s being fucked and made look gullible, like completely.”

In the High Court yesterday, Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, put it to Det Fitzgerald that a belief that Ms Thomas was telling the truth “wouldn’t look good, would it?”

Mr Fitzgerald said he believed Sgt Hogan’s reference to “chopped up” was because the statement included opinion and hearsay evidence and Sgt Hogan, who had a lot of experience of murder investigations, did not want to be getting letters from the DPP about that.

Mr Creed said changing a Garda statement would be improper and Det Leahy “stuck to his guns” and did not change his statement.

The court heard that Det Fitzgerald also told Sgt Hogan during that call that the evidence was “flimsy” and Sgt Hogan said he had “threads” and was “trying to make a fucking jumper”. Asked about a remark by Det Fitzgerald that it was “a good job” Det Leahy was “gullible and naïve in a couple of fucking ways”, the witness said he did regard Det Leahy as gullible and naive.

A reference to using the Farrells “for our own ends” meant nothing more or less than that the Farrells were witnesses and whatever statements they made may be used as evidence, he said.

The cross-examination of Det Fitzgerald continues on Tuesday in the action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the 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 his claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

Yesterday, Det Fitzgerald denied that remarks by him during a recorded phone call with Garda Billy Byrne of Ballydehob Garda Station showed that he was “quite happy” to predate statements. He agreed predating statements is “a corrupt practice”, said he would not do it, and was not suggesting it during that phone call.

He was being asked about his reply of “exactly” when Garda Byrne said “...can always predate it” in April 1997 while both gardaí were discussing the possibility of a an assault complaint against Marie Farrell’s husband by an alleged prowler at their home. When Mr Creed suggested Det Fitzgerald was quite happy to predate statements because Ms Farrell had been “good” to the gardaí, Det Fitzgerald said there was a murder investigation and “you always have to look at the bigger picture”.

When counsel suggested the alleged prowler was discouraged by gardaí from making a complaint, Det Fitzgerald said the alleged prowler was “briefed and informed of the full facts” and both parties knew they were wrong.

Asked about his referring to the alleged prowler as an “auld bollocks”, he said that was “a figure of speech in a phone call that was illegally taped”. The language was “inappropriate” but he did not know calls were being taped and believed he could speak more freely.

Asked if he had a very personal relationship with Ms Farrell, given he criticised her husband during a phone call with her in April 1997, he said he had a lot of contact with her at that time. He agreed one would have to be quite familiar with someone before you would criticise their spouse. She had difficulties with her husband and had just been diagnosed with cancer, he said.

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.