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Saturday 25 November 2017

Garda watchdog seizes Sophie files

Sophie Toscan Du Plantier.
Sophie Toscan Du Plantier.
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

THE Garda Ombudsman has seized documents from the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation file, the Sunday Independent has learned.

It is understood the documents include the original statement by a woman who says she was coerced by gardai into giving false witness evidence.

The Ombudsman has spent two years investigating a complaint by Marie Farrell, from Schull, Co Cork, as well as separate complaints from Ian Bailey, who was twice arrested over the murder, and his partner Jules Thomas over the conduct of certain gardai during their initial investigation.

Ms Farrell said she was persuaded to make a false statement saying she saw Mr Bailey on the December 1996 night when Ms Toscan du Plantier was bludgeoned to death at her holiday home outside Schull. She retracted the statement in 2005.

It is understood that gardai initially refused to volunteer the statements concerning Ms Farrell's evidence to Ombudsman investigators.

However, they handed over the relevant files two weeks ago after they were told the Director of Public Prosecutions supported the demand.

It is understood gardai feared that handing over statements could "corrupt" evidence and jeopardise any possible future trial in the case.

The seizure is the latest twist in the controversial aftermath of the original garda investigation. At the end of last year it emerged that the French police, who have been conducting their own investigation into the murder, were reportedly also at loggerheads with gardai over the release of files.

Mr Bailey is suing the State for wrongful arrest and his legal team is also seeking access to files in the case and fought off an attempt by the French authorities to extradite him to face trial in Paris.

Irish Independent

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