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Bailey did not appear to be a 'very troubled individual' - local woman tells High Court

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Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey did not appear to be a “very troubled individual” when reciting a poem for a video of the Christmas Day swim in 1996, a local woman has told the High Court.

Florence Newman, from Schull in Cork, said she “got a fright” when she saw scratches ”like squiggles”  on Mr Bailey’s right hand after he responded to her extending her hand to him to wish him a Happy Christmas.

This happened after he recited a poem for her while she was filming the Christmas Day swim in Schull with a camcorder.

She believed the tape of the film was later given by her father to the gardai. Asked to watch an extract from a video, she said that was hers and she also noticed another person filming the event.

Ms Newman agreed with Jim Duggan BL, for Mr Bailey, he did not seem "very troubled" on the video. 

She agreed she made various statements to gardai but none of those referred to scratches on Mr Bailey until one made in 2009. 

She denied someone later “put scratches into your head” and said she spoken about them to friends in the days after seeing them.  She agreed Mr Bailey’s hands were visible in the video.

“I knew when I shook hands with him that I got a fright.” 

The scratches struck her as unusual. She wondered how they got there and, in view of the climate in Schull following the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and thought: “Wow, what’s that”.

Mr Duggan said Mr Bailey was a farmer and "every farmer has scratches".

Ms Newman agreed with counsel there was a “massive anti-Bailey climate” later but not on Christmas Day 1996.

Ms Newman was giving evidence in the continuing action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier whose body was found near Toomore. Schull, on December 23, 1996. The defendants deny all of Mr Bailey’s claims including wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

Earlier yesterday, Garda Michael Coughlan said, as technical officer in Bandon garda station, he was asked by Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald to accompany the detective and Martin Graham on May 22, 1997, when travelling in a garda patrol car and to record the conversation.

He would have been made aware Det Fitzgerald suspected Mr Graham was engaged with Mr Bailey in doing something to discredit the garda investigation. 

When Ronan Munro, for Mr Bailey, suggested Garda Coughlan got “sucked” into a process of “blackening” Mr Bailey as he asked Mr Graham had he seen Mr Bailey lose his temper, Garda Coughlan said he was just making conversation.

Caroline Leftwick, from Skibbereen, said Mr Bailey was due to collect seed garlic from her on December 23, 1996, but phoned sometime before 1pm to say he wasn’t coming, there had been a murder and he had the story.

Linda Morgan, owner with her husband of the Schull golf clubhouse in the late 1990s, said another witness, shopkeeper Marie Farrell, had worked for another woman at the clubhouse restaurant and had no responsibility for locking up the premises.

Ms Morgan said she knew nothing about an alleged incident where Ms Farrell said Sgt Maurice Walsh exposed himself to her in the ladies toilets. Sgt Walsh has denied any such incident occurred.

In a statement to the court, Bernie O'Shea said she employed Ms Farrell from 1997 at the clubhouse restaurant, it was not a regular occurrence for her to lock up the premises and she knew of no reason she would be cleaning the toilets

Ms Farrell never told her she was attacked in the ladies toilets.  Ms Farrell was "always blabbing" and, if that had happened, she believed Ms Farrell would have told her, Ms O'Shea said.

Nina Hickey said she and her husband were good friends with Sgt Maurice Walsh in the late 1990s and went for dinner with him  and his wife at Schull golf club one summer's evening to celebrate with Sgt Walsh.

There was no incident of any kind at all and Sgt Walsh was "most definitely the most upright citizen I could wish to meet".

Bernie Griffin Sheehan said she let properties in Schull from 1996 to Marie Farrell and her family but they failed to keep up rent payments and she had great difficulty getting them out of their house.

The case continues.

Online Editors