Wednesday 20 November 2019

Ian Bailey case: Detective sergeant unaware of attempt to get Marie Farrell to make statements that 'morphed' her descriptions of a man into Ian Bailey

Maurice Walsh pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after giving evidence in a High Court action taken by Ian Bailey. Photo: Courts Collins
Maurice Walsh pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after giving evidence in a High Court action taken by Ian Bailey. Photo: Courts Collins

By Mary Carolan

A Detective Sergeant involved in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation has told the High Court he was unaware of any attempt to get Marie Farrell to make statements that “morphed” her descriptions of a man into Ian Bailey.

Maurice Walsh, now retired, said Ms Farrell made various statements to him in 1997 on a free and voluntary basis and he took down what she had said.

He agreed, when taking a statement from Ms Farrell in October 1997, he would have told Ms Farrell the DPP had sought clarification of a description she had given in previous statements of a man whom she saw outside her shop on December 21st 1996, when Ms du Plantier was inside.

He agreed Ms Farrell had in the October 1997 made another reference to the man’s height. He believed he had probably asked her to compare with someone else what the man’s height would be.

Mr Walsh also reiterated his denial of Ms Farrell’s claim he had exposed himself to her in the ladies toilets of Schull golf club while saying words to the effect wasn’t “fitting up” Mr Bailey a turn on.

When it was put to him Ms Farrell could have put up any scenario if she wanted to “shaft” him, he said: “I have no understanding of how that woman’s mind works.”

He was only in the golf club once for an evening meal and that was in summer 1998, he said.

When Mr Creed said his evidence he was in the golf club in the evening only once was belied by his statement to the Garda McAndrew investigation in which he said he was there once or twice, he said he was there only once for an evening meal.

Ms Farrell’s claims were “total and utter lies”, he said. The casual way she had outlined that alleged incident was “horrible”, it was “just as if she was talking about a trip to the local shop”, he added.

When put to him Ms Farrell had said she could recall he was wearing chino trousers that night, he said that it was incredible to suggest he would do something as alleged.

Asked about Ms Farrell’s evidence Mr Walsh had later apologised to her in her bedroom in a Dublin hotel over the alleged incident in the golf club, he said that did not happen.

To suggest he would risk his family and career to do something like that was incredible, he said.

When he agreed to meet her some time later for a drink in Dublin, he said he met her for a drink against his own judgment and was not aware then that she was ever going to allege something happened in the golf club.

Mr Creed said the golf club allegations arose in the sense where Ms Farrell had said she was unaware until the alleged golf club incident if Mr Walsh was aware of an alleged scheme by Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald to fit up Mr Bailey. Ms Farrell had said the alleged golf club incident made her think Mr Walsh was aware.

Mr Walsh is being cross-examined in the continuing action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms du Plantier whose body was found near Toormore, Schull, on December 23rd 1996.

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

Today, Mr Walsh said he did not believe that a recorded discussion of May 23rd 1997 between gardai concerning witness Martin Graham involved Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald saying he had given drugs to Mr Graham.

He said he did not know what Mr Fitzgerald meant by saying that all Mr Graham wanted was “for me to give him a slab of you know what”.

When Mr Creed said gardai had described Mr Graham as a “double crossing double agent”, Mr Walsh said a decision was made by gardai there would no longer be contact with him.

Asked why Mr Graham was detained by gardai on June 7th 1997, he said there were reasonable grounds to suspect he had drugs on his person. He denied the detention was “staged” and said it was “pre-organised”.

He agreed no drugs were found on Mr Graham and only roaches were found. He agreed the presence of roaches would not warrant a prosecution.

He considered there were reasonable grounds to suspect Mr Graham would have drugs in his possession. He disagreed it was arranged that Mr Graham would be “taken out of the picture”.

The case continues.

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