Ex-garda denies exposing himself

A former garda detective inspector yesterday denied, as an “outrageous lie”, a claim by Marie Farrell he exposed himself to her in the toilets of Schull golf club sometime in summer 1998 while asking wasn’t it a thrill to be “fitting up” Ian Bailey.

Maurice Walsh, now retired, said there was no truth whatsoever to the “revolting” claim which was “deeply upsetting” to himself and his family.

The only truth was, he and his wife were in the golf club in summer 1998 with another couple, he said. They were celebrating his promotion and the investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier was not to the forefront of his mind.

He denied several other claims by Ms Farrell, including he went to her bedroom in a Dublin hotel on a later date while she was in the city for court proceedings.

He had been based in Dublin at the time and Ms Farrell asked him to meet her for a drink. He said he made a “misjudgment” and met her in a pub before returning her to the Ashling Hotel, but had not gone to her bedroom as alleged.

Mr Walsh was giving evidence in the action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the murder investigation. Ms du Plantier’s body was found near Toormore, Schull, on December 23, 1996.

The defendants deny all of Mr Bailey’s claims.

Yesterday was the 52nd day of the case, and, following queries for the jury, Mr Justice John Hedigan said the State has 32 witnesses left and the indications were the evidence may conclude by early April.

In his evidence, Mr Walsh, a detective sergeant in 1997-1998, told Luán Ó Braonáin for the State he was unaware of any underhand arrangement, or of any arrangement between Ms Farrell and Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald, concerning the making of statements by Ms Farrell relating to the murder investigation.

Asked about Ms Farrell’s suggestion statements by her were part of a scheme between Mr Fitzgerald and himself to fit up Mr Bailey, he said he was unaware of any such scheme or of any conversations between Ms Farrell and Mr Fitzgerald concerning statements.

He took various statements from Ms Farrell during 1997 and 1998 just as she had dictated those, he said. There was no indication the statements were prepared, he added.

He described as a “complete fabrication”, a claim by Ms Farrell he told her she would not have a peaceful day in Schull if she withdrew statements.

Meanwhile, a former garda inspector said he pushed for a harassment case against Ian Bailey despite concerns it would be difficult to prosecute.

Vincent Duggan said he went to speak with Mr Bailey about the claims by Ms Farrell in 1997, but Mr Bailey said he had just called into the shop for a coffee. The retired inspector said Mr Bailey agreed Ms Farrell be left in peace.

Under cross-examination, he said he was not told at the time the encounter in the shop was recorded by gardaí, in what Mr Bailey’s legal team described as a staged event. Later on December 19, Ms Farrell contacted gardaí again complaining she had received an upsetting phone call that day from Mr Bailey. Mr Duggan said he was instructed to take a statement from her and prepare a file on the incidents.

On meeting Mr Bailey to put the allegations to him, he told the inspector of being in Bantry the day of the alleged phone call and never made any calls. A garda sergeant in Bantry confirmed seeing Mr Bailey in the town on the day and no telephone call could be traced.

Mr Duggan said in his file on the harassment allegations, he recommended “with a caveat” the DPP proceed with a case against Mr Bailey. The decision was taken based on the “totality” of the allegations and it was not unusual to express views, doubts and possible difficulties when recommending prosecution, he said. In the event, the public prosecutor decided not to go ahead with any proceedings.

Earlier, Det Inspector Kevin Gately said he was part of the Nally Garda review team in 2002 which reviewed the investigation. He said the review team did not regard Ms Farrell as a credible witness and he had met her five times. Ms Farrell walked out of a meeting when it was put to her she had made false reports concerning the identity of a man with her at Kealfada Bridge near Schull in the early hours of December 23, 1996.

The case continues.

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