Monday 18 December 2017

Garda quizzed on relationship with Ian Bailey witness

Jim Fitzgerald
Jim Fitzgerald

Tim Healy

A GARDA rejected suggestions officers must have believed the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder probe had gone "into orbit" following claims by witness Marie Farrell.

Gardaí had identified Ms Farrell as the anonymous caller who claimed she had seen a man in a long black coat running on the road near the victim's house.

In the High Court yesterday, Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald denied gardaí must have suspected, before Ms Farrell confirmed she was the anonymous caller, that journalist Ian Bailey was possibly the man she had seen on the road near Schull.

He also denied Ms Farrell was told on January 28, 1997, that gardaí knew Mr Bailey had killed Ms du Plantier and would kill again.

When he and Det Garda Jim Slattery went to meet Ms Farrell on January 28, 1997 at Garda Kevin Kelleher's house, they "needed to establish what she saw truthfully".

Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, asked whether he was seriously saying gardaí had not discussed the possibility that the man Ms Farrell said she saw three times between December 21 and 23, 1996, was Mr Bailey.

He said gardaí had not.

When counsel suggested they must have known the information from Ms Farrell would send the investigation "into orbit", he said it would "advance it".

Ms Farrell voluntarily made a statement on February 14, 1997, at Ballydehob Garda Station, he said.

Asked what kind of relationship he had with Ms Farrell, he said it was professional, the "normal" relationship between a garda and witness.

He was also asked what he meant when he had said to her during a recorded phone call of April 3, 1997, he would have expected her to say: "Ah, Jim, I will see you any time, anywhere..." He said he was referring to a meeting scheduled for two days later.

The cross-examination of Mr Fitzgerald continues today in the civil action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State.

They deny all his claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy, over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms du Plantier.

The French woman's body was found near Toormore, Schull, on December 23, 1996.

The case continues at the High Court.

Irish Independent

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