SOME members of An Garda Siochana had “zoned in” on journalist Ian Bailey as the killer of French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier within four days of her death and set about “manufacturing evidence to have him prosecuted”, a court heard.
Mr Bailey’s action for alleged wrongful arrest in connection with the December 1996 murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier in Schull, west Cork formally opened this morning before a jury of eight men and four women.
Mr Bailey’s legal team has begun outlining his case against An Garda Siochana, the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General.
In his opening to the jury, Mr Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, said gardai set about blaming Mr Bailey for a crime he did not commit.
Mr Creed said gardai conspired to manufacture evidence with the view to have him prosecuted.
He said that some members of gardai had decided by December 27 - four days after Ms Toscan du Plantier’s death - that Mr Bailey was “the man”.
Mr Creed said gardai “set about zoning in on him, and certain members were instrumental in seeking evidence to link him to this murder”.
The court heard that Mr Bailey has been treated like a criminal by gardai for the last 18 years, even though no charge has ever been brought against him.
The jury also heard that Mr Bailey’s life in the community in Schull, west Cork had been “poisoned” by the constant feeding to the press of false allegations against him.
Mr Creed said that when Mr Bailey was arrested on “bogus, concocted suspicions” a camera man was at the station to take his picture, and that when he was released 12 hours later there were further journalists waiting outside.
He also said the constant feeding of information to the media linking Mr Bailey to the murder, which could only come from An Garda Siochana, resulted in the community in Schull feeling under threat and in fear.
Mr Creed gave his opening speech to the jury this morning before 12pm.
Mr Bailey is present in the High Court along with his partner Jules Thomas.
Mr Bailey (57), a former freelance journalist originally from Manchester, was never charged over the killing of the French film maker but was arrested in connection with it. He has always denied any involvement with the murder.
The case before Mr Justice John Hedigan is expected to last into December and will hear from gardai as well as Mr Bailey himself.