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'Gardai threatened me with the Provos,' says Bailey witness

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Witness Martin Graham leaving court yesterday (Wed) after he gave evidence in the Ian Bailey case. 
PIC: COURTPIX

Witness Martin Graham leaving court yesterday (Wed) after he gave evidence in the Ian Bailey case. PIC: COURTPIX

Ian Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas

Ian Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas

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Witness Martin Graham leaving court yesterday (Wed) after he gave evidence in the Ian Bailey case. PIC: COURTPIX

A witness in the Ian Bailey High Court action claimed two unidentified gardaí threatened him with the "Provos" after dragging him into a car, "digging" him, and demanding he hand over recordings.

Becoming upset, Martin Graham, who served with British forces in the North for two years, said: "I thought I was going to be murdered."

Mr Graham said he believed the recordings referred to related to his having previously arranged with the 'Irish Mirror' newspaper that he would secretly record a conversation with gardaí. He had told the paper he was given cannabis by gardaí in order to approach Ian Bailey and "soften him up".

The recording did not in fact activate but a media photographer took pictures of him with cannabis after returning from meeting two gardaí, Detective Garda Jim Fitzpatrick and Liam Leahy, he said.

He said he had met those two detectives on various occasions after he had gone to Skibbereen Garda Station soon after his first encounter with Mr Bailey in February 1997, at the home of Russell Barrett in Skibbereen.

Mr Bailey went there when freed after his first arrest on February 10, 1997 in connection with the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, whose body was found near Toormore, Schull, on December 23, 1996.

Mr Bailey is suing the State and Garda Commissioner over the conduct of the gardaí in the investigation into the murder. The claims are denied.

On the 26th day of the action, Mr Graham said Det Gardaí Fitzgerald and Leahy wanted him to befriend Mr Bailey and had given him cash, cannabis and clothes as "incentives" to do so. He said he ultimately told Mr Bailey he was "being stitched". He also contacted the newspapers because he felt threatened and in a dangerous position and wanted "insurance", he said.

The gardaí were always trying to "lead me" and had told him things Mr Bailey was supposed to have done, he said.

His relationship with gardaí by then was terrible, but he pretended otherwise, and was "just saying anything because I felt threatened", he said.

He had arranged to meet Dets Fitzgerald and Leahy in late May or early June 1997 when he saw their car coming towards him and another car coming toward him from another direction.

He was dragged and dumped into the back of that other car with two unknown men who did not say who they were, and was pushed down into the back of the seats. He didn't know who the men were and thought he was going to be murdered.

He was driven around for up to 45 minutes with one of the men digging him and pushing him in the back, neck and shoulders, asking for recordings and saying: "Where's the tapes?".

He was also threatened with the Provos. He was eventually driven to the garda station where all his bags had been brought up from his accommodation, and those were searched, while they kept asking for the tapes, he said.

He added that he was let go after about 45 minutes. He said the gardaí assumed he left the town but he stayed in a flat in Skibbereen for two weeks before "legging" it to Cork city after which he left the country.

He had only returned to give evidence and said he still does not feel safe.

Irish Independent