Friday 24 March 2017

'Witness' made taped interview with Bailey

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A POTENTIAL witness who claimed a garda investigating the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier offered him money and cannabis to assist the probe agreed to provide a tape recording outlining his allegations.

The man agreed to a lengthy taped interview with Ian Bailey (54), who is fighting extradition to France.

Mr Bailey -- who has repeatedly protested his innocence -- is wanted by Paris-based magistrate Patrick Gachon for questioning and possible trial over the French mother of one's death on December 23, 1996.

The man agreed to make a tape recording in which he claimed that two gardai offered him cash and drugs in return for spending time with Mr Bailey, a former British freelance journalist.

The man claimed one garda was very interested in whether Mr Bailey had said anything incriminating. "They believed I could get on to a familiar wavelength with Ian and actually communicate with him. And hopefully Ian would confess the whole (thing) to me, which I found quite ridiculous," the man said on the recording.

The recorded interview has since come into the possession of both the gardai and one media organisation.

Details of its existence first came to light during a High Court libel appeal taken by Mr Bailey in 2007.

However, the recording has yet to be broadcast even in edited form.

Gardai have vehemently denied ever offering to provide drugs or money to the man in return for his co-operation with the investigation.

In the recording, the man refers to two officers by name.

The Irish Independent understands his allegations refer to events in February and March 1997, not long after Mr Bailey was arrested for the first time by gardai in west Cork.

The recording itself was made on May 23, 1997.

Investigation

However, the man's claims were referred to in a 2001 critique of the original garda murder investigation compiled by a legal officer for the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

The DPP official warned in the 45-page report of a concern that it hinted at "unsafe ... investigative practices".

Mr Bailey was twice arrested by gardai in connection with the du Plantier inquiry but was released without charge on both occasions in 1997 and 1998.

The DPP has since indicated that Mr Bailey has no case to answer here.

However, the French lodged a European Arrest Warrant seeking Mr Bailey's extradition in April 2010.

The High Court earlier this year ordered Mr Bailey's extradition but he has appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court will rule on January 13. If it refuses to send the case back to the High Court a full extradition appeal is expected to be heard before a five-judge panel on January 16.

The body of film producer Ms Toscan du Plantier was discovered on December 23, 1996, at the foot of the laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore outside Schull.

She had been battered to death.

No one has ever been charged with her killing.

Her parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, are due to fly to Ireland on January 10 to mark the 15th anniversary of her death.

The family stay each year in Sophie's old holiday home which is now owned by her son, Pierre-Louis.

Irish Independent

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