Wednesday 22 November 2017

Garda told colleague that witness was '100pc' sure she saw Bailey near crime scene hours before Sophie's body was discovered, court hears

Jim Fitzgerald pictured leaving the Four Courts
Jim Fitzgerald pictured leaving the Four Courts

A Detective Garda told another Garda that Marie Farrell was "100 per cent sure" a man she saw on the road near Schull in the early hours of December 23 1996, hours before the body of Sophie Toscan du Planter was found, was Ian Bailey, a High Court jury has heard.

Jim Fitzgerald, now retired, was recorded as twice telling Garda Billy Byrne during a recorded phone call of April 18 1997 Ms Farrell had said she saw Mr Bailey washing himself in the water.

Marie Farrell
Marie Farrell
Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Mr Fitzgerald said this was a conversation with another Garda and what Ms Farrell had actually said in a statement was that she saw Mr Bailey at Kealfada Bridge on the road near Schull about 3.05am.

He also said Ms Farrell was given a Garda mobile phone for about three weeks because she was fearful and anxious after Mr Bailey called to her shop on June 28 1997.The phone was taken back after Mr Bailey undertook to gardai not to call to the shop again, he said.

Ms Farrell was given his Garda mobile phone number because they were in contact about various matters, he said.

He said he had "extensive contact" with Ms Farrell and he received a lot of calls from her. These were about a range of matters including efforts to trace the identity of the person with her when she said she saw Mr Bailey at Kealfada Bridge and incidents involving Mr Bailey and Ms Thomas.

He denied he had suggested to Ms Farrell she should make complaints to gardai that Mr Bailey was harassing her. "That never happened," he said.

He said he was in Bandon on December 19 1997 when Ms Farrell made a call to gardai, traced to a phone box in Schull, concerning Mr Bailey and he himself had not taken that call.

He also said he was out with his wife on the night of June 15 1997 when Ms Farrell had alleged he met her in Roscarbery to go over statements.

He denied he had discussed another witness, Martin Graham, with Ms Farrell when they encountered each other in a pub, The Waterside Inn, on May 17 1997.

Ian Bailey
Ian Bailey

The DPP had about October 1997 returned the Garda file concerning the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier and had raised a number of queries related to Ms Farrell, he added. These issues included the identity of Ms Farrell's companion at the time she said she saw the man near Schull on December 23 1996.

Mr Fitzgerald is giving evidence in the continuing action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the Garda investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, whose body was found near Toormore, Scull, on the morning of December 23 1996.

The defendants deny all of Mr Bailey's claims, including of wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

In court today, Mr Fitzgerald told Paul O’Higgins SC, for the State, Marie Farrell gave him two address books containing addresses she had lived at in London. This was in the context where she had alleged Mr Bailey came into her shop on June 28 1997, referred to addresses she had lived at in London and suggested the Department of Social Services there may be interested in those.

He also said Chris Farrell, husband of Marie Farrell, phoned him on August 12 1997 to say she had received a phone call to her shop saying: “Watch your back, we’ll take you out.” That was regarded as a serious threat and he spoke to a Garda technical expert concerning recording phone calls, he said.

Asked about a recorded conversation of April 18 1997 between himself and Garda Billy Byrne, he said they had discussed an incident between Chris Farrell and a man alleged by the Farrell’s to have been prowling around their house.

A reference by him to “predate” meant a complaint, not a statement, he said.

He had described Ms Farrell as “a tough cookie, that one” and had said he would be a good witness. He said a reference to “she’s 100 per cent sure it’s him” meant Ms Farrell was sure the man she saw on December 22/23 1996 at Kealfada Bridge near Schull was Ian Bailey.

A reference by him in the recording to the “auld bollocks” was to the alleged prowler, he said. That man had been listed as a suspect on grounds including he had lived at various addresses around the country and had a lot of acrimonious breakups with partners.

Some minutes after his conversation with Garda Byrne, he said he also had a conversation on the phone with Ms Farrell which included reference to difficulties she was having with her husband, that he was drinking and other difficulties.

The case continues.

Online Editors

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