A recorded phone conversation suggested a “very close” relationship between a detective garda and a key witness in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation, counsel for Ian Bailey told a High Court jury.
Tom Creed SC put the claim to Jim Fitzgerald, now retired, after the jury in Mr Bailey’s civil action heard a recording of his conversation with Marie Farrell on October 9, 1997.
Mr Fitzgerald said he was “familiar” with Ms Farrell and had discussed a range of matters with her. He denied the conversation showed he was “fixing things up” for Ms Farrell.
During the conversation, and immediately after a redacted exchange between them, Ms Farrell said to Mr Fitzgerald: “You are a pervert.”
He replied: “I fucking am not... if I am, I’m talking to another one.”
Mr Fitzgerald said he was in the Farrells’ house a number of times and had two beers with her husband on December 23, 1997, the first anniversary of the murder. He gave her information about the source of threatening phone calls from a public phone box.
Mr Fitzgerald remains under cross-examination in Mr Bailey’s continuing action against the Garda Commissioner and State. Ms Toscan du Plantier’s body was found near Toormore, Schull, on the morning of December 23, 1996. The defendants deny all claims.
Mr Fitzgerald denied he suggested to Ms Farrell she should instruct a solicitor to write to Mr Bailey’s solicitor complaining Mr Bailey was threatening her. He further denied telling Ms Farrell her description of a man she saw in the early hours, before the body was found. It did not fit Mr Bailey and needed to be “tidied up” for the Garda file for the DPP.
He agreed the DPP had said her evidence was unreliable, but he felt that related to her giving different heights for the man she saw.
The witness denied suggesting to Ms Farrell she should pick the name of a dead man when asked to identify her companion on the night of December 22/23, 1996. That would contradict his own efforts to identify and locate that companion, he said.
He repeated his denial of Ms Farrell’s claim that he, on an unidentified date, stripped naked and asked her for sex in a holiday home. That was a “complete false allegation”, he said. Mr Fitzgerald said the matter originated after she made a “threatening” phone call to him in 2010, accusing him of sending the Garda traffic corps after her son, which he had not done. He said she told him during the call, if he did not stop, she would think of an allegation. He gave a report of the call to superiors in May 2010.
He said the idea of taping an encounter between Ms Farrell and Mr Bailey in her shop was hers and that of Sgt Liam Hogan. He denied counsel’s suggestion it was “lies and nonsense” to say he got authorisation to tape that encounter. The taping situation arose after Mr Bailey’s partner Jules Thomas called to Ms Farrell and asked her would she go on tape, he said. A “taping awareness” was borne out by Mr Bailey asking, when he came to Ms Farrell’s shop in June 1997, if the place was “clean” and the taping was intended to protect Ms Farrell and “to counteract a plan hatched by Mr Bailey to intimidate her”.
Asked about another recorded phone call of April 20, 1998, with Ms Farrell, in which he expressed annoyance she had made a statement to Sgt Maurice Walsh, he said he was very annoyed after he had reported to the incident room her previous insistence she would not be making any statements or going to court.
Their friendship came to an end after that call, but there was contact in June 1998 after material came back from the DPP, he said.
He denied he told her to make claims of intimidation against Mr Bailey to build up a picture of Mr Bailey as dangerous.
Mr Fitzgerald also said he became suspicious of Martin Graham about April 11, 1997, when, after a visit to Mr Bailey’s home, Mr Graham gave gardaí a prescription sticker with Mr Bailey’s name on it and remarked gardaí would know what to do with it. Mr Fitzgerald said he was suspicious Mr Graham might be taping the encounter and Mr Bailey might be involved in a plan to get gardaí to plant evidence and then compromise them.
When counsel asked was he suggesting this “dope-smoking tree hugger” was sophisticated enough to tape gardaí, Mr Fitzgerald said he did not know what occurred when Mr Graham visited Mr Bailey’s house.
The case continues.