Monday 18 December 2017

We believed partner lied about Bailey alibi - garda

Retired Garda Michael Kelleher pictured leaving the Four Courts after giving evidence in the High Court action for damages by Ian Bailey. Pic: Courts Collins
Retired Garda Michael Kelleher pictured leaving the Four Courts after giving evidence in the High Court action for damages by Ian Bailey. Pic: Courts Collins
Ian Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas

Tim Healy

A retired garda has denied Ian Bailey's partner Jules Thomas was arrested "in bad faith" to put pressure on the journalist after he was first arrested in connection with the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Former Detective Inspector Michael Kelleher told the High Court that Ms Thomas was arrested on February 10, 1997, for murder, the same day Mr Bailey was arrested.

His understanding was, when a person is arrested for murder, it does not mean they themselves have had to have committed murder, they could have aided and abetted it or been an accessory.

There was a reasonable suspicion Ms Thomas was "an accessory after the fact" and had told "lies" concerning Mr Bailey being at home on the morning of December 23, 1996, the day Ms Toscan du Plantier's body was found, he said.

Ms Thomas was aware Mr Bailey had left her house that morning, he said.

Asked why Mr Bailey leaving the house made a person an accessory after the fact, he said: "Why the lies?" and it "was all part of the building blocks".

He denied a suggestion by Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, the only reason she was arrested was to put pressure on Mr Bailey and that was bad faith on the part of gardaí.

He agreed Ms Thomas had denied any knowledge of the murder aside from what was in the newspapers.

Mr Kelleher concluded his evidence yesterday, the 39th day of the action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier.

The defendants deny all the claims, including of wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

Earlier, Mr Kelleher said he was "disgusted" Mr Bailey had said he recognised him as the garda who allegedly "shoved" his crotch towards Mr Bailey's face during an interview in Bandon Garda Station on February 10, 1997.

Mr Kelleher, who denies any such incident, said he attended Mr Bailey's libel actions in 2003 and saw Mr Bailey several times when both were studying law in University College Cork.

It was not correct the first time Mr Bailey set eyes on him since 1997 was in court this week. He had not introduced himself to Mr Bailey in UCC, he agreed.

Scratches

Mr Creed asked Mr Kelleher about evidence from Det Garda John Culligan of four grounds for the detention of Mr Bailey on February 10, 1997.

These were that he had a false alibi, had admitted to the murder to "a companion", had scratches, and was seen at Kealfada Bridge, near Schull, counsel outlined.

Mr Kelleher said all statements made during the inquiry, not just shopkeeper Marie Farrell's, were considered.

He did not initially have concerns about Ms Farrell's credibility in terms of what she had said about various sightings of a man between December 21 and 23, 1996 - but understood she had lied about some matters because she was "in a compromised position". He denied there was pressure, following Mr Bailey's arrest, to get a statement from Ms Farrell.

There was a "desire" for a statement but he was unaware of any pressure.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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