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Sophie's murder like 'a mini nuclear device going off' - court heard

The death of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier was like "a mini nuclear device going off" in the community of Schull in west Cork, with the news spreading quickly throughout the area, a court has heard.

Ian Bailey (57) said everyone seemed to be talking about the French woman's death and "everyone seemed to know the details" of how she died.

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Ian Bailey and his partner, Jules Thomas (Left) pictured leaving the Four Courts on Wednesday after Mr Bailey gave evidence in his High Court action for damages. Pic: Courts Collins

Ian Bailey and his partner, Jules Thomas (Left) pictured leaving the Four Courts on Wednesday after Mr Bailey gave evidence in his High Court action for damages. Pic: Courts Collins

Collins

Ian Bailey and his partner, Jules Thomas (Left) pictured leaving the Four Courts on Wednesday after Mr Bailey gave evidence in his High Court action for damages. Pic: Courts Collins

Mr Bailey said the story was that Ms Toscan du Plantier was "bashed to death with a block or a rock". He said he did not know how everyone knew this information.

A journalist by profession, Mr Bailey said he filed a story on Ms Toscan du Plantier's death to a number of publications, including the Irish Independent and Daily Star.

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

Eariler, Mr Bailey said gardai showed a "general disrespect" to his home when they were searching it and have still not returned some of his property to him.

Mr Bailey also said that it was only in 2007 that he learnt the DPP would not be prosecuting him for the murder of French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996.

He said this gave him "a sense of relief or release".

Mr Bailey said his home was searched by gardai a few times. During the first arrest in 2007, Mr Bailey said his home was "searched and disrupted". He said a lot of things were taken, some were returned, some were not.

He said both the studio and cottage were searched and there was "a general disrespect to our home".

Mr Bailey also told the court he 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.

Led by Martin Giblin SC, Mr Bailey also told 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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