The jury in Ian Bailey’s civil action for damages against the Garda Commissioner and State have asked to rehear two taped recordings of conversations involving gardai and witness Marie Farrell.
The jury began considering their verdict on the 64 day case at noon today and were brought back to court about 12.20pm when Mr Justice John Hedigan clarified some matters arising from his charge earlier.
The jury later indicated they wanted to rehear recordings of two phone conversations and those were played to them before going out again about 3pm to resume their deliberations.
The first recording was between Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald and Sergeant Liam Hogan (since deceased) in 1997 during which they discuss various matters, including taping a planned visit by Mr Bailey to Marie Farrell in her shop in Schull. That exchange happens after Det Fitzgerald referred to Mr Bailey approaching Ms Farrell in a bar in Schull and says Mr Bailey had asked was it ok to call to her shop tomorrow. “Tape him..f***ing tape him..”, Sgt Hogan responds.
In the same call, Sgt Hogan, whom the jury heard was involved in preparing the Garda file for the DPP, refers to a statement by Det Garda Liam Leahy having to get “chopped up”. Sgt Hogan also refers to “looking for straws”.
The second recording was of a 1997 phone conversation between Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald and Marie Farrell in which Det Fitzgerald repeatedly expresses his annoyance and disappointment she had made a statement to Sergeant Maurice Walsh after she had told him she was not making any statement.
During that call, Ms Farrell says she does not know “what all the hullabaloo is about”. She also says there was “nothing to it [the statement]” and later says: “Do you know something, it’s like having three fucking husbands.”
Det Fitzgerald also says: “That’s the end of the friendship as far as I’m concerned.” He also says: “..at least I deserve an answer after a fucking year and a half on this phone.”
Towards the end of the conversation, Ms Farrell says: “Sure I can’t do anything right.”
Earlier, in his charge to the jury, Mr Justice John Hedigan said the “centrepiece” of Mr Bailey’s case is that gardai set out to frame him for murder. The credibility of Marie Farrell and of a number of gardai is central to that claim and the onus of proof is on Mr Bailey to prove his case on the balance of probabilities, he said.
In his action, Mr Bailey is claiming damages, including exemplary damages, over the conduct of the Garda investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Her body was found close to her holiday home at Toormore, Schull, on the morning of December 23rd 1996.
The jury have been asked to answer two questions.
The first is 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 is: “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?”
If they give a positive answer to either question, they must assess whether Mr Bailey suffered damage. If they find he has, they must them decide how much damages to award him. They must also decide if he is entitled to more than compensatory damages and whether he should get exemplary damages.
Marie Farrell is the "lynchpin" of Ian Bailey's case against the Garda Commissioner and state but the evidence suggests she was "more than a conventional witness", the State has told a High Court jury in its closing address in the case.