Garda denies he shoved crotch in Bailey's face

Retired Garda Michael Kelleher pictured leaving the Four Courts

By Tim Healy

A RETIRED detective garda inspector has denied he put his crotch up against Ian Bailey's face during an interview with Mr Bailey at the time of his first arrest in Bandon garda station.

Michael Kelleher, now retired, said there was "nothing untoward" in the conduct of an interview with Mr Bailey after his first arrest on February 10, 1997, in connection with the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

He denied Mr Bailey's claim that he put his leg on the table where Mr Bailey was sitting during an interview on that date and "shoved" his crotch towards the journalist's face.

He agreed there was no forensic evidence to link Mr Bailey to the murder scene.


There were more than 40 suspects during the investigation but, when he left the investigation some four months after he joined it, the only "genuine" suspect was Mr Bailey, he said.

He was giving evidence in the continuing action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms du Plantier, whose body was found near Toormore, Schull, on the morning of December 23, 1996.

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

The case resumed on its 38th day yesterday before an 11-member jury, as one of the jurors is no longer available.

The court was told Virginia Oliver, a daughter of Mr Bailey's partner Jules Thomas, had made a statement saying Mr Bailey was violent towards her mother.

Ms Thomas had gone to hospital after an incident in April 1996 where Ms Oliver said she saw her mother with her right eye swollen and bleeding, large clumps of hair missing from her head, a bite mark and bruising.

Ms Oliver had also said in her statement that Mr Bailey made a pass at her on Christmas Day 1995.

Ms Oliver also said in the statement she could verify Mr Bailey had killed turkeys and she had seen scratches on his hands after he cut down a Christmas tree.

Saffron Thomas, another daughter of Ms Thomas, had also made a statement relating to Mr Bailey killing turkeys and cutting down the tree, the court heard.

When Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, suggested Ms Oliver's statement concerning the scratches was "entirely believable", given the antipathy she clearly displayed towards Mr Bailey, retired Det Insp Kelleher agreed Ms Oliver did not appear to like Mr Bailey.

He said he would consider the statement but the "global picture" must also be considered, not one or two things.

His recollection was there were some inconsistencies between what the sisters said, he added.

He agreed gardai had asked people whether they saw scratches on Mr Bailey's hands and arms prior to the murder, but disagreed gardai were specifically directed to do that in light of statements from two men they saw scratches on Mr Bailey's hands on December 24, 1996. It was an important matter, he said.


He agreed some elements of a description by shopkeeper Marie Farrell of a man she saw on December 21, 1996 outside her shop in Schull, such as his being five foot ten, did not match Mr Bailey.

He considered other characteristics, such as the description the man was "weird looking", could match Mr Bailey.

Mr Bailey "is a fine handsome man at times and at other times, he's weird", he said.

He said every effort was made to gather evidence. No hasty decisions are made to arrest people for murder, he added.

He said he accepted Mr Bailey had told the truth about some matters and accepted he had cut down a Christmas tree.

If someone told him they got scratches from a Christmas tree and other people said they were briar marks, he would think that was significant, he said.

Ms Toscan du Plantier's body was found in a location where there was briars, he added.

The case continues.