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Ian Bailey appears in court charged with drug driving

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Ian Bailey. Picture: Collins

Ian Bailey. Picture: Collins

Ian Bailey. Picture: Collins

IAN Bailey (62), who is fighting extradition to France over the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39), has appeared in court charged with drug driving.

The poet and journalist appeared before Judge Carol Anne Coolican at Bantry District Court on a total of four charges arising from an alleged incident in west Cork last summer.

Mr Bailey will shortly fight an extradition hearing in the High Court where the French have issued a European Arrest Warrant seeking his extradition to Paris.

He was convicted in absentia last year of the murder of film executive and mother of one Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39) in west Cork in December 1996.

Mr Bailey, who described the Paris proceedings as "a farce" and "a show trial", has vehemently protested his innocence in relation to Ms du Plantier's death and claimed that attempts were made to frame him for the crime.

He appeared today before Bantry District Court on four charges.

The counts all arise from an alleged incident on August 25 last year outside Schull.

Mr Bailey was stopped by Gardaí while driving at Skull town land outside Schull and was later taken to Bantry Garda Station.

He was subsequently released without charge.

Mr Bailey issued a statement 24 hours after the incident in response to media reports.

"I can confirm that on Sunday evening last, I was stopped at a garda checkpoint outside Schull," he said.

"I failed a roadside breathalyser test."

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"At that point, I was taken to Bantry Garda Station where I subsequently passed the electronic (alcohol) test. The treatment by gardai towards me was courteous at all times," he said.

Mr Bailey declined to comment further.

The alleged incident occurred in Schull around 9pm on Sunday, August 25.

Mr Bailey appeared before Bantry District Court today on four summonses on the basis of samples which were taken by gardaí and sent for further analysis.

Mr Bailey faces one summons over allegedly driving while under the influence of cannabis, two summonses over the alleged possession of cannabis and one summons for allegedly allowing his vehicle to be used for the possession of drugs namely cannabis.

Solicitor Ray Hennessy applied for all Garda documents in relation to the matter to be supplied to the defence team.

He also applied for free legal aid for his client.

A statement of means will be submitted to the court.

Mr Hennessy applied for the matter to be adjourned and Judge Coolican listed it for April 23 when a hearing date will be set.

Mr Bailey left the court without comment.

The journalist, poet and law graduate has lived in west Cork with his partner, Welsh artist Jules Thomas, for almost 30 years.

He sued the State for wrongful arrest after claiming his life had been destroyed through the wrongful association with the du Plantier murder investigation.

Mr Bailey also insisted that "sinister attempts" were made to frame him for the crime.

He also lodged a complaint with the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) over his alleged treatment by some gardaí.

The French mother of one was found beaten to death by her holiday home outside Toormore on December 23 1996, just hours before she was due to fly back to France for Christmas.

Mr Bailey was arrested for questioning by Gardai in respect of their investigation in 1997 and 1998.

He was released without charge on both occasions.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) later ruled out any prosecution in Ireland over the killing.

However, following a lengthy investigation launched in France under Magistrate Patrick Gachon in 2007, Mr Bailey was tried in absentia before a Paris court last May.

He was convicted before the non-jury trial and sentenced to 25 years in prison for Ms du Plantier's killing.

The French have twice previously failed in attempts to have him extradited from Ireland under European Arrest Warrants.

A third extradition hearing is due before the High Court within weeks.
Mr Bailey was also ordered by the Paris court last May to pay over €225,000 in compensation to Ms du Plantier's family and the French State.

He has consistently denied the charges, and did not attend the week-long trial in Paris.

Mr Bailey warned that he was convicted before the trial even opened.
The journalist previously confirmed he has "absolutely no intention" of paying anything on foot of the French court order.

He has repeatedly insisted that his poetry helps him cope with the stresses of the situation he has found himself in over the past 24 years.

His latest book of poetry, 'A John Wayne State of Mind', was launched last week.

A documentary film on the 1996 tragedy is being finalised by Jim Sheridan and will have its world premiere later this year.


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