Sunday 17 December 2017

Bailey witness called garda 'a pervert' in taped telephone call

Ian Bailey arriving at the High Court. Photo: Courtpix
Ian Bailey arriving at the High Court. Photo: Courtpix
Ian Bailey

Tim Healy

A recorded phone conversation suggested a "very close" relationship between a garda and a key witness in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation, counsel for Ian Bailey has told a High Court jury.

Tom Creed SC put that suggestion to now retired Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald after the jury in Mr Bailey's civil action heard a recording of his conversation with witness Marie Farrell on October 9, 1997.

Mr Fitzgerald said he was "familiar" with Ms Farrell and had discussed a range of matters with her.

He denied the conversation showed he was "fixing things up" for Ms Farrell.

During the conversation, and immediately after an exchange between them, Ms Farrell said to Mr Fitzgerald: "You are a pervert."

He replied: "I f***ing am not... if I am, I'm talking to another one."

Mr Fitzgerald said he was in the Farrells' house a number of times and had had two beers with her husband on December 23, 1997, the first anniversary of the murder, when he gave her information about the source of threatening phone calls from a public phone box.

Ms Farrell had also told him on occasions of being assaulted by her husband, he said.

Mr Fitzgerald remains under cross-examination in Mr Bailey's continuing action against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier, whose body was found near Toormore, Schull, on the morning of December 23, 1996. The defendants deny all his claims.

Yesterday, Mr Fitzgerald denied he had introduced Ms Farrell to Fianna Fáil Senator Peter Callanan as "part and parcel" of Mr Fitzgerald's "looking after" Ms Farrell and her family.

In her evidence to the jury, Ms Farrell alleged Mr Fitzgerald introduced her to the senator for the purpose of assisting her with housing issues.

He also denied he suggested to Ms Farrell she should instruct a solicitor to write to Mr Bailey's solicitor complaining Mr Bailey was threatening her.

He denied he told Ms Farrell her description of a man she saw in the early hours of December 23, 1996, did not fit Ian Bailey and needed to be "tidied up" for the garda file for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

He agreed the DPP had said her evidence was unreliable but he considered that related to her giving different heights for the man she saw.

There were explanations for the different heights, including her vantage point, and she had given a height of 6ft as well as 5ft 10in, he said. Mr Creed said that was "a long way" from Mr Bailey's height of 6ft 4in.

He repeated his denial of Ms Farrell's claim that he, on an unidentified date, stripped naked and asked her for sex in a holiday home. That was a "complete false allegation", he said.

Mr Fitzgerald said this matter originated after she made a "threatening" phone call to him in 2010 accusing him of sending the garda traffic corps after her son, which he had not done.

He said she told him during the call, if he did not stop, she would think of an allegation and might be able to prove it. He gave his report of that call to superiors in May 2010.

He said the idea of taping an encounter between Ms Farrell and Mr Bailey in Ms Farrell's shop was both her idea and also the idea of Sgt Liam Hogan.

He denied counsel's suggestion it was "lies and nonsense" to say he got authorisation to tape that encounter.

The taping situation arose after Mr Bailey's partner Jules Thomas called to Ms Farrell and asked her would she go on tape, he said.

Their friendship came to an end after that call but there was contact in June 1998 after material came back from the DPP, he said.

Irish Independent

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