Sunday 25 February 2018

Garda denies he asked Bailey witness for sex

Tim Healy

A GARDA involved in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation "totally refutes" claims by shopkeeper Marie Farrell he stripped naked in a holiday home and asked her for sex.

Det Gda Jim Fitzgerald, now retired, also rejected suggestions put to him in the High Court he was a general "Jim'll fix it" for Ms Farrell who had "fixed up" a range of matters for her and her family.

Mr Fitzgerald was giving evidence in the continuing action by journalist Ian Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State who deny all his claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy, over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms Du Plantier whose body was found at Toormore, Schull, on the morning of December 23, 1996.

Mr Fitzgerald told the court he was never in the holiday home where Ms Farrell alleged he was naked. He did not know where the holiday home was, he said.

If Ms Farrell had given any details of precisely when this was supposed to have happened, he was sure he could produce detailed refutation, he said.

The first time he heard this allegation was in court and he had never been in such a situation as that described by Ms Farrell, he told Paul O'Hggins SC, for the State.

Asked about Ms Farrell's claims she noticed a growth on his abdomen, he said he had suffered from a lesion and told Ms Farrell's husband Chris about that when Mr Farrell asked him had he been stabbed after noticing blood on his shirt from the lesion.

In cross-examination, Tom Creed SC for Mr Bailey, asked Mr Fitzgerald did he consider himself the "most unfortunate" of all gardai involved in the investigation because there were more allegations against him than anyone else.

Mr Creed said the "numerous" allegations included claims Mr Fitzgerald made up statements, pressurised individuals, spread fear in the community, and gave witness Martin Graham money and hash.

Mr Fitzgerald said he believed he had been singled out for allegations after Mr Bailey wrote a "derogatory" poem in 1997 about him and another Garda, Liam Leahy.

Many of the allegations against him were made many years later, he added.

He was singled out because he dealt with a lot of people and Mr Bailey held him as "the target to be singled out".

When Ms Farrell "rowed back on her statements", he was the person she had had most contact with and she could not row back without including him, he said.

He disagreed he had "fixed" a complaint by a man of being beaten up by Ms Farrell's husband after allegedly prowling outside their home.

The alleged prowler was told he too could be in trouble and the complaint was not pursued but he would not use the word "fixed".

Earlier, Mr Fitzgerald said he first met Ms Farrell on January 28, 1997, and he rejected allegations later made by her against him concerning an identity parade held on January 17, 1997. He never transcribed statements for Ms Farrell.

Asked about the "tone" of a recorded phone call between himself and Ms Farrell on April 20, 1997, which featured a number of swear words, he said he supposed some of the language was "inappropriate".

That was "regrettable", he said.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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