Wednesday 25 April 2018

Ian Bailey case: Ten things you need to know

Ian Bailey
Ian Bailey
Ian Bailey
Retired Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald
Marie Farrell
Ian Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas
Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

Ian Bailey has today lost his civil action over the conduct of the Garda investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Here are ten things you need to know about the 64-day trial.

1. What was the trial about?

Ian Bailey’s civil action in the High Court was over the conduct of the garda investigation into the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996. Bailey claimed he was the victim of a continuing conspiracy going on more than 18 years, including conspiracy to manufacture evidence. Bailey (57) always denied any involvement with the crime.

2. Who is Ian Bailey?

Mr Bailey, now aged 57, is a former freelance journalist originally from Manchester. The son of a craft butcher and secretary, Mr Bailey detailed to the court earlier in the trial how he journeyed from Manchester to West Cork via a career in journalism in Gloucester and London. When asked in the High Court if he came to Ireland for a peaceful life, Mr Bailey said that he came to Ireland for "a different life".

3. Did Ian Bailey and Sophie Toscan du Plantier know each other?

Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Mr Bailey told the High Court he did some gardening work for a neighbour of French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier about a year before she was killed. Bailey said he did three days gardening work for Alf Lyons, a neighbour of the French woman, in 1995. He said he was not familiar with the ownership of Ms Toscan du Plantier's house, but he believes Mr Lyons mentioned the house was owned by a French person.

Read More on Sophie Toscan du Plantier: The moment Sophie was lost

4. What do we know happened in 1996?

French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s body was found at the bottom of a laneway leading to the isolated cottage she called her "dream home" near Toormore, Schull in west Cork. She had been beaten to death with a rock. The 39-year-old had been due to fly back to Paris later that day (December 23, 1996) to spend Christmas with husband, Daniel du Plantier, and family. Sophie had apparently tried to flee from an intruder but was caught and brutally killed when her clothing tragically snagged on barbed wire by the roadside. The spot where her body was found is now marked by a simple Celtic cross inscribed with the word 'Sophie'.

Read More on Sophie Toscan du Plantier: The loneliest road

Read More on Sophie Toscan du Plantier: Valley of the squinting windows

Read More on Sophie Toscan du Plantier: A savage beauty 

5. What has happened since?

A prime suspect of the gardai, Ian Bailey was twice arrested in connection with the Sophie Toscan du Plantier investigation but was released without charge on both occasions. In 2012, he successfully fought a French extradition attempt in the Supreme Court. He always denied any involvement with the crime.

6. When did the High Court action begin?

The High Court case opened in November 2014 and lasted for a total of 64 days in court.

7. How many people were involved?

The State called about 70 witnesses, some of whose statements were agreed and read to the jury.

Retired Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald
Retired Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald

The jury heard evidence from 21 witnesses for Mr Bailey.

8. What did this High Court jury have to decide?

The jury was told they had to answer two questions.

The first was whether three gardai – Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald, Det Garda Jim Slattery and Garda Kevin Kelleher, or any combination of them – conspired to implicate Mr Bailey in the murder of Ms du Plantier by obtaining statements from Marie Farrell by threats, inducements or intimidation which purportedly identified him as the man she saw at Kealfadda Bridge in the early hours of December 23rd 1996 when they knew they were false.

The second question was: “Did Det Garda Fitzgerald and Sergeant Maurice Walsh conspire by threats, inducements or intimidation to get statements from Marie Farrell that Ian Bailey had intimidated her, when they knew they were false?”.

9. What were the judge’s final words to the jury?

Judge John Hedigan told the jury of seven men and four woman that they should try to reach a unanimous verdict on the claims of conspiracy, but stressed the fact that they did not need to decide whether Bailey is in fact responsible for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

"What is left before you is the issue that has been here from the very beginning - that the Gardai framed Ian Bailey. It is the centrepiece," the judge said.

"You are not actually asked to decide if Ian Bailey committed this dreadful crime.

"You are also not asked whether (witness) Marie Farrell's statements are true or not."

He also advised the jury of Ian Bailey’s lawyer’s reference to it being a ‘David and Goliath’ case.

"David and Goliath comparisons can be a little misleading. Be careful of that," he told the jury. "It's important - Goliath has as much right to justice as little David has.

"There are after all, as you have seen, real people on either side of this particular case.

"Ian Bailey says the Gardai tried to frame him and he has put forward Marie Farrell to testify as to how they did that."

The jury was told that the Gardai have rejected that claim.

"Their case is that she is an untruthful witness whose evidence should not be relied on by you," the judge said.

10. What was at stake for Bailey?

If the jury gave a positive answer to either question, the next step was to assess whether Mr Bailey suffered damage and whether he should get exemplary damages as well as compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are intended to compensate while exemplary damages are awarded to mark disapproval and are intended to punish, the High Court judge told the jury during this charge. “Real money” was involved, he said and he also told them; “Don’t fear to be just”.

Ultimately, for Ian Bailey, it was to prove he had nothing to do with the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. In his closing address to the jury, his lawyer Tom Creed SC said it was to show “once and for all” Ian Bailey had nothing to do with the 1996 murder and is the victim of a continuing conspiracy going on more than 18 years.

He described the case as a "David and Goliath" battle with "the forces of law and order".

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