Tuesday 12 November 2019

Not enough evidence against Bailey - ex-DPP

Ian Bailey arriving at the High Court. Photo: Courtpix
Ian Bailey arriving at the High Court. Photo: Courtpix

Tim Healy

A FORMER DPP has told the High Court he decided there was insufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution of Ian Bailey for the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

James Hamilton said he made that decision after reading the Garda investigation file and after taking advice from Robert Sheehan, the official in charge of that file, and two senior counsel to the effect there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution.

He gave evidence on the 35th day of the civil action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier near Toormore, Schull, on December 23, 1996.

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

Mr Hamilton said he took over as DPP in 1999 after his predecessor Eamonn Barnes retired. Mr Barnes had given some preliminary decisions on the du Plantier file, but had not signed off fully on it, he said.

It was not normal for a DPP to read all files - as about 2,000 come into the office annually - but he read the du Plantier file as the case was high profile and the subject of intense public interest and concern.

Having decided not to prosecute, he asked Mr Sheehan to inform the gardaí of that and the reasons for it. Gardaí had not questioned his decision, but came back on later occasions with additional evidence. No new evidence came to light of sufficient quality to change the position, he added.

David Fennell, principal officer in the Mutual Assistance and Extradition Division of the Department of Justice, said in 2008 the Department acted upon a French request for judicial assistance concerning the murder.

The request was received in 2006, but was "parked" because the internal garda investigation by Assistant Commissioner Ray McAndrew into aspects of the du Plantier probe was under way.

The French had sought the Garda investigation file but did not ask for the DPP's file and the District Court granted the French request, he said.

Mr Bailey's solicitor Frank Buttimer told the court the French authorities' interest in Ian Bailey has "never ceased" despite our Supreme Court finding he should not be extradited. The case continues.

Irish Independent

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