Sunday 15 December 2019

Bailey: I said I killed Sophie, but it was just 'a black joke'

Ian Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas outside the High Court yesterday
Ian Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas outside the High Court yesterday
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

Journalist Ian Bailey made a "regrettable black joke" to the effect that he killed Sophie Toscan du Plantier to resurrect his career as a journalist.

Under cross-examination for a third day in his High Court civil action against gardai and the State, Mr Bailey said he believes, to this day, that there was "a French connection" to the death of the French film-maker.

The 57-year-old, who described himself as a poet in a garda questionnaire following the killing, said he regarded as "quite shocking" and "very strange" that Ms Toscan du Plantier's husband Daniel had not come to west Cork to assist gardai in the immediate aftermath of her murder and identify her body because he was too busy with business commitments.

When Senior Counsel Luan O Braonain, for the State, asked Mr Bailey if he was suggesting Daniel Toscan du Plantier was in any way involved with the death, Mr Bailey said he was not using those words.

He told Mr O Braonain to "draw your own conclusions".

Mr Bailey has admitted that he was wrong when he claimed he had not been read his rights as a suspect during his first arrest for the murder after he was presented with a contemporary diary note written by him which stated that he had.

He also said he regretted making a "black joke" about the murder to a former 'Sunday Tribune' news editor.

Yesterday the High Court heard that journalist Helen Callanan will say, after she told Mr Bailey it was being said he had murdered Ms Toscan du Plantier, he said words to the effect: "Of course, yes I did, I killed her to resurrect my career as a journalist."

That was "a regrettable black joke", "very foolish of me" and "very unwise", Mr Bailey said.

The "black joke" was one of two alleged informal admissions of the December 1996 murder which are denied by Mr Bailey.

The second alleged admission was in 1997 to a then 14-year-old boy, who told gardai that Mr Bailey drunkenly admitted to him [the teenager] that Mr Bailey "went up there with a rock one night and bashed her f***ing brains in".

The State and gardai deny Mr Bailey's claims for damages for alleged wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and conspiracy during the investigation of the murder of Ms Du Plantier in west Cork in December 1996.

When Ms Callanan told him it was being said he was the murderer, he asked who was saying it, that it was very damaging, seriously defamatory and might be worth €20,000 to him as a result.

He believed he said words to the effect: "Yeah, it was me, I killed her to resurrect my career as a journalist", but was unsure if he made those comments over one or more conversations with Ms Callanan.

Mr O Braonain said Ms Callanan, news editor of the 'Sunday Tribune' in 1996 and 1997, reported Mr Bailey's comments to gardai prior to Mr Bailey's arrest on February 10, 1997.

Ms Callanan, the court heard, also made a statement in that regard. The State contends those words, and several other matters, gave rise to a reasonable suspicion by gardai concerning Mr Bailey, said Mr O Braonáin.

The other matters included scratches on his arms, violence to his partner Jules Thomas, inconsistent accounts of his movements between December 21 and 23, 1996, his exchanges with gardai and material provided by him to the media, counsel said.

Mr Bailey did not accept there were reasonable grounds for his arrest on February 10, 1997.

He said "very suspect" information came from France after the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier, but gardai never seriously inquired into that. He himself was very interested in "the French connection" and had invited gardai to his home to discuss that.

The case continues today.

Irish Independent

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