Monday 18 December 2017

Scathing DPP report key to Bailey's damages claim

Ralph Riegel and Tom Brady

A CONFIDENTIAL Director of Public Prosecutions report which demolished the garda case against Ian Bailey, 55, is set to prove central to his claim for damages over alleged wrongful arrest.

Mr Bailey was twice arrested by gardai in connection with the murder of French mother-of-one Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996, but was released without charge on both occasions.

He has consistently maintained his innocence and last March unanimously won his Supreme Court appeal against extradition to France.

Now, the Sunday Independent has learnt that a 44-page report from an official in the DPP's office is set to prove central to damages claims by both Mr Bailey and his partner, Welsh artist Jules Thomas.

The critique, compiled in 2001, was scathing of the garda investigation's focus on the Manchester-born freelance journalist. It flatly rejected any question of further action against Mr Bailey and also raised serious concerns about the reliability of key garda witnesses and the emphasis attached by officers to specific suspicions.

It also found there was a total lack of tangible forensic evidence against Mr Bailey.

The report slated the garda probe as both "flawed and prejudiced" and also pointed out that Ms Thomas was arrested despite a clear instruction she should not be detained.

Edited copies of the DPP report have now been published online.

A Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) probe is currently under way into aspects of the garda handling of the murder probe after Mr Bailey lodged a formal complaint about his treatment.

The High Court and GSOC proceedings are running in tandem with a fresh garda 'cold case' review of the du Plantier file as well as a four-year-old probe by Paris-based Magistrate Patrick Gachon.

The 'cold case' review by Det Supt Christy Mangan and his team was launched following a direct appeal from Sophie's parents, Georges, 87, and Marguerite, 85, Bouniol.

Mr Gachon will finalise his report in 2013 and recommend whether or not a prosecution should take place in France. The French probe has involved exhuming Sophie's body, re-interviewing all the key witnesses and conducting fresh forensic tests.

Alain Spilliaert, lawyer for Sophie's parents, has already confirmed that, even if the Gachon probe recommends a prosecution, no trial will be staged before 2014 at the earliest. Mr Bailey and his legal team have consistently predicted that the French will attempt to try him in absentia.

Sophie was found battered to death on a laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore outside Schull in west Cork.

Following both arrests in 1997 and 1998, Mr Bailey was questioned for 12 hours at Bandon garda station before being released without charge.

Mr Bailey's legal team claimed during the successful Supreme Court appeal there had been "breathtaking wrongdoing" by State officials.

Mr Bailey has also backed suggestions that a public inquiry may be required into the dramatic revelations during his Supreme Court action.

His solicitor, Frank Buttimer, said that issues raised during the extradition process clearly needed to be addressed.

"There have been inquiries into this case heretofore – those inquiries have been, in my humble opinion, non-productive," Mr Buttimer said.

"This is a matter for those in authority to take stock of what has happened and take a serious look at the various issues concerning this case," he added.

The DPP's critique of the garda murder probe and the reasons it cited why Mr Bailey should not face any further action are based on 15 key points ranging from the witness statements to the available evidence.

In January, Sophie's parents are due to travel to west Cork to mark the 16th anniversary of their daughter's killing.

During their visit, they will stay at Sophie's holiday home, which is now owned by her son, Pierre-Louis.

He named his first daughter, who was born earlier this year, Sophie in honour of his mother.

Sunday Independent

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