I never told witness in Bailey case she could avoid court - ex-garda

By Tim Healy

IT was "ridiculous" to say assurances were given during the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation to shopkeeper Marie Farrell that she would not have to go to court, a former Detective Superintendent has told the High Court.

Ted Murphy, now retired, was attached to the special investigations unit at Garda HQ when seconded to the murder investigation in late December, 1996.

He decided in May 1997, five months later, it was time for key witness Ms Farrell to "put up or shut up".


Ms Farrell had said she was with a male companion when she allegedly saw a man at Kealfada Bridge near Schull on the night of December 22/23, 1996, hours before Ms du Plantier's body was found, and it was important to get corroboration of this from her companion, he said.

Having spoken to the man who Ms Farrell named as her companion, and his wife, gardai were satisfied, "beyond any reasonable doubt", he was not her companion, he said.

When gardai confronted Ms Farrell about this, she indicated she was compromised in saying who she was with, had a violent husband and was concerned she might lose custody of her children, he said.

No assurances were given she would not have to go to court and while gardai told her they appreciated the position she was in, she was told she must tell the truth, he said.

He said he and Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald met Ms Farrell on three occasions over 12 days from May 9, 1997, and she twice asked for time.

After the third meeting, he said he decided, due to absence of corroboration, it was no longer fruitful to pursue her alleged sighting of a man at Kealfada Bridge. There was still no corroboration of her evidence, he added.

Mr Murphy denied he had said to Ian Bailey there was a "nice little cell waiting for you in Mountjoy".

That never happened, he said.

He was giving evidence on the 41st 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 whose body was found at Toormore, Schull, on December 23, 1996.

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

Due to difficulties experienced by a juror, the case was adjourned early yesterday.

Earlier, Detective Garda Gerard Dillon, now retired, denied claims that gardai told Mr Bailey, after his release from detention on February 10, 1997, he could not go home, that his partner did not want to see him and there was a "lynch mob" waiting. None of that happened, Mr Dillon said.

Mr Dillon also said he was aware of the grounds of Mr Bailey's arrest, including alleged admissions by him and scratches on his hands and arms.


When counsel suggested no one asked Mr Bailey about the scratches and that indicated the ground of arrest concerning scratches was "nonsense", Mr Dillon said he had not asked Mr Bailey about scratches and was not aware if other gardai had.

He agreed that Mr Bailey was asked about his conversation with journalist Eddie Cassidy on December 23, 1996, the day the body of Ms du Plantier was found. He could not recall details concerning the time Mr Cassidy learned the victim was a French national.

He would not be in favour of inviting someone to come voluntarily to a Garda station and make a cautioned statement, that happened "very seldom".

The case resumes on Tuesday.