Saturday 3 December 2016

They have got the wrong man, insists Ian Bailey's partner

Ex-journalist remanded on bail of €15,000 and ordered to surrender his passport as French seek extradition

DANIEL McCONNELL and RALPH RIEGEL

Published 25/04/2010 | 05:00

"THAT'S a load of bollocks, this is an illegal arrest based on false information," is what Ian Bailey told Sgt Jim Kirwin as he arrested him in connection with the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier late on Friday night at his home in Schull, west Cork.

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Acting on a European arrest warrant issued by the French courts and activated by Judge Michael Peart in the High Court in Dublin on Friday, Sgt Kirwin of the Garda Extradition Unit travelled to Mr Bailey's house and arrested him at 11.55pm that night.

Yesterday, Judge Peart, during a special hearing of the High Court, remanded Mr Bailey, 53, on €15,000 bail, ordered him to surrender his passport and adjourned proceedings until 10.30am next Wednesday.

During the hearing, Sgt Kirwin told the court how once in possession of the warrant for the arrest of Mr Bailey in connection with Ms Toscan du Plantier's murder in 1996, he made his way to his house.

He told the court he arrived at Mr Bailey's house, The Pararie, Toormore Schull, Co Cork, on Friday night and knocked on his door. A man appeared and he asked was he Ian Bailey. Mr Bailey responded: "You know who I am."

Sgt Kirwin then executed the arrest. Despite acknowledging that Mr Bailey was not a major flight risk, Sgt Kirwin sought an independent amount of €30,000 to allow Mr Bailey out on bail.

Mr Bailey's barrister called into question the motive of the State acting on the arrest given how the Director of Prosecutions has already said Mr Bailey has no question to answer. He also questioned Sgt Kirwin's request for the independent bond of €30,000 given his client has not "gone anywhere in 14 years, despite being subjected to a media circus" during that time. Judge Peart ultimately refused the independent bond request for €30,000.

He set bail in Mr Bailey's own bond of €15,000, but said Mr Bailey did not have to hand over any of that. He ordered Mr Bailey to surrender his passport, to swear not to leave the State and to sign on once a week at Bantry garda station.

He then called on Mr Bailey to take the stand and formally swear to abide by the terms of his bail bond.

Dressed smartly in a blue jacket, necktie and beige casual trousers, Mr Bailey made his way from the back of the court to the stand. Once taking the oath, Mr Peart read the conditions of bail to Mr Bailey who responded: "I am perfectly happy to accept those terms."

The case was adjourned until next Wednesday morning at 10.30. A request to absent Mr Bailey from the hearing was granted on foot of his current legal studies at UCC and that he has examinations due to commence in the next two weeks.

French police want to question Mr Bailey in connection with the murder in west Cork on December 23, 1996, of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, 39, and their European Arrest Warrant application was endorsed by the High Court last Friday afternoon.

Mr Bailey was arrested by Dublin-based officers of the Garda Extradition Section with the assistance of west Cork officers. He was then taken to Bandon Divisional Garda Headquarters in an unmarked garda car, a black Ford Mondeo, arriving at 1.14am on Saturday.

Mr Bailey ignored the waiting media including photographers and TV crews from TV3 and RTE. He arrived at Bandon garda station in a convoy of two garda vehicles with five detectives which paused briefly while the electronic gates to the station were opened.

Mr Bailey then had a one-hour meeting with his solicitor, Frank Buttimer, in the garda station. The Sunday Independent understands that Mr Bailey was studying at home for his upcoming final year law exams at University College Cork (UCC) when detectives arrived to arrest him.

He was brought from Bandon shortly at 11.15am yesterday in a silver unmarked garda saloon to Dublin in advance of a formal High Court hearing on the European Arrest Warrant issued in his name. Mr Buttimer previously dismissed the French extradition attempt as "a nonsense" and described the matter as "extraordinary".

While the garda file on the matter remains officially open and active, the French launched their own probe in 2007 under Paris-based magistrate, Patrick Gachon, following representations from Sophie's family and friends.

In June 2009, two magistrates -- Patrick Gachon and Nathalie Dutarte -- flew to west Cork to examine the murder scene and met with key individuals associated with the Irish case.

In December 2003, Mr Bailey took high-profile libel actions in Cork Circuit Civil Court against eight Irish and British newspapers. He commenced legal studies in UCC four years ago and is scheduled to commence his final year exams in a fortnight.

Yesterday, Mr Bailey's long-time partner bluntly warned the Irish and French authorities last night that they were making "a big mistake" with their extradition bid. Welsh artist, Jules Thomas, stressed that once again the authorities were targeting the wrong person with their probe into the death of the French woman. in 1996.

Ms Thomas -- in an interview with TV3's southern correspondent, Paul Byrne -- said the couple were first alerted to Mr Bailey's imminent arrest on Friday afternoon by a French reporter.

Speaking just hours after her partner was detained at the home they have shared for almost 17 years outside Liscaha, Schull in West Cork, Ms Thomas said that they had little warning of the High Court's endorsement of the European Arrest Warrant.

"We received a phone call from a French reporter and that was the first we had heard about it," she said. "When they (detectives) called, we were half-expecting it -- but forewarned is forearmed," she said. "They are still making a big mistake," she declared.

Sunday Independent

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