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Ian Bailey did gardening work for Sophie Toscan du Plantier's neighbour - court hears

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Ian Bailey arriving at court yesterday

Ian Bailey arriving at court yesterday

Ian Bailey arriving at court yesterday

Journalist Ian Bailey did some gardening work for a neighbour of French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier about a year before she was killed, a court heard.

Mr Bailey said he did three days gardening work for Alf Lyons, a neighbour of Ms Toscan du Plantier, 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.

Mr Bailey (57) is in the witness box for a second day giving evidence in his wrongful arrest action against the State.

Led by Martin Giblin SC, Mr Bailey is currently telling the jury about his work as a journalist and giving examples of the stories he wrote, one of which was on the death of comedian Eric Morcambe, as well as articles on the British Royal Family.

Mr Bailey claims he was wrongly arrested on suspicion of the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork in 1996.

He is suing the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General for damages as well as exemplary damages for alleged wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, conspiracy, assault and intentional infliction of emotional and psychological suffering.

The State denies all claims made by Mr Bailey and will say there was a lawful basis for his identification as a suspect, the High Court heard.

When he first took to the stand yesterday afternoon, Mr Bailey revealed it was a major scandal, America's Watergate affair, that led him into journalism after reading, as a schoolboy, the book 'All The President's Men'.

The son of a craft butcher and secretary, Mr Bailey detailed how he had journeyed from Manchester to West Cork via a career in journalism in Gloucester and London.

One of his first jobs in Ireland, he told the jury, was preventing crows landing on barley in a field.

Mr Bailey agreed this job cast him as "a walking scarecrow", but it was also one which led him to write a series of poems called 'An Preachan' (The Crow) which - he lamented - has not been returned to him by gardai.

When asked if he came to Ireland for a peaceful life, Mr Bailey said that he came to Ireland for "a different life".

In his opening to the jury yesterday, Mr Tom Creed SC said gardai set about blaming Mr Bailey for a crime he did not commit and some gardai conspired to manufacture evidence with the view to have him prosecuted.

However, there was "not one screed of evidence" linking Mr Bailey to the French woman's murder, said Mr Creed.

The jury heard 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 the line peddled to the media and the DPP by gardai was that the suspect, who everyone knew was Mr Bailey, would kill again.

The jury was also told key witness Marie Farrell will say she was pressurised by gardaí into making fictitious statements about Mr Bailey as a threatening and intimidating person.

Mr Creed said Ms Farrell will say she was told she would be prosecuted for wasting garda time if she withdrew her statements.

She will also say she gave false evidence to a libel trial under pressure from gardaí.

Mr Creed further said that Mr Bailey believes he can only get to the truth through this civil action.

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