Wednesday 24 January 2018

Bailey garda explains 'chopped' statement

Former garda Jim Fitzgerald. Photo: Courts Collins
Former garda Jim Fitzgerald. Photo: Courts Collins

Tim Healy

A GARDA in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation does not believe a superior officer wanted a statement "chopped up" because it might be seen as favourable to Ian Bailey.

During continuing evidence of now retired Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald the High Court heard that Detective Garda Liam Leahy had interviewed Jules Thomas, Ian Bailey's partner.

Det Gda Leahy said in his statement he believed Ms Thomas was doing her best to recall the events of the weekend prior to the discovery of Ms du Plantier's body.

The Frenchwoman was found dead on the morning of Monday December 23, 1996, in Schull, Co Cork.

During a recorded phone call of June 23, 1997, Sergeant Liam Hogan - preparing the file on the investigation for the DPP - told Det Garda Fitzgerald he believed Det Leahy's statement was "very damaging to have in there... it doesn't do himself any good". Sgt Hogan (now deceased) added: "...it's a scheming bitch outside... and he's being f**ked and made look gullible like completely".

Truth

Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, put to Mr Fitzgerald a belief Ms Thomas was telling the truth "wouldn't look good".

Mr Fitzgerald said he believed Sgt Hogan's reference to "chopped" was because the statement included opinion and hearsay evidence. Sgt Hogan, who had a lot of experience of murder investigations, did not want to be getting letters from the DPP about that.

A reference by Sgt Hogan to getting "chopped on it in the box" meant the sergeant would "get chopped where I am now (the witness box)".

Mr Creed said changing a garda statement would be improper, and said Garda Leahy "stuck to his guns" and did not change his statement. The court heard Mr Fitzgerald also told Sgt Hogan, during that call, the evidence was "flimsy". Sgt Hogan said he had "threads" and was "trying to make a f***ing jumper".

Mr Fitzgerald was being cross-examined in the action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. The defendants deny all his claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

The case resumes on Tuesday.

Irish Independent

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