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Gardai gave me drugs to befriend Bailey, court told

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Jules Thomas and Ian Bailey leaving court yesterday

Jules Thomas and Ian Bailey leaving court yesterday

Jules Thomas and Ian Bailey leaving court yesterday

A MAN claims gardai gave him "a few quid, 20 bucks here, 40 bucks there", clothes, and significant quantities of cannabis, for him to befriend Ian Bailey and "loosen" his tongue.

Martin Graham told the High Court he was asked "to befriend Mr Bailey as best I can" which he thought was ridiculous because he did not know Mr Bailey.

He was giving evidence in the resumed action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State who deny claims of wrongful arrest and conspiracy arising from the investigation into the murder of French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier whose body was found in Schull, Co Cork, on December 23, 1996.

grateful

Mr Graham said gardai offered to buy him clothes and "sweeteners" and suggested "the family would be very grateful for a favourable statement, if I could find anything that suggested Mr Bailey was linked with it".

"I was constantly being pressed by the police to suggest there was a link between Ian Bailey and Sophie Toscan du Planter but I didn't know of any, just what they told me. I just thought it was crazy."

Mr Graham (53), who came to west Cork in 1996 from England, said he had accepted cash, clothes and cannabis from gardai, including "seven ounces high quality Lebanese flat press" which he and friends smoked during a music festival.

He said he first encountered a very stressed and upset Mr Bailey in a house belonging to an artist, Russell Barrett, in Skibbereen, sometime after Mr Bailey was first arrested in February 1997 in connection with the murder.

Gardai later came to the house, asking him and the other occupants about Mr Bailey's behaviour and mood.

Two gardai introduced themselves as Detectives Jim Fitzgerald and Liam Leahy and he only spoke with them briefly and was concerned not to be seen as "a rat" in the house, he said.

He said he went to the garda station in Skibbereen a few days later and it was arranged he would meet Detectives Fitzgerald and Leahy at a shrine outside Skibbereen.

He sat into the detectives' car, they talked and drove around and they later bought him dinner in a pub in Skibbereen, he said. He never went to a garda station to make a statement and the gardai did not seem to be writing down anything at all, he said. Mr Graham said, at the suggestion of Det Fitzgerald, the gardai picked him up and drove him to near Mr Bailey's house outside Schull. He had walked round to the house but Mr Bailey turned him away.

He went back to the gardai and told them Mr Bailey was "stressed" and needed to "chill out" and "a good smoke". He said Det Fitzgerald asked: "Can you get some, Martin?" and, when he said no, Det Fitzgerald said: "What if we could get you some, Martin?"

Mr Graham said he took from that he was "going to get me cannabis to loosen Mr Bailey's tongue".

Also yesterday, Chief Supt Thomas Hayes, who has been in charge of the murder investigation since 2010, said Mr Bailey was among 54 people initially categorised as suspects or persons of interest for the murder. He remains a person of interest.

There were reasonable grounds to suspect Mr Bailey and the suspicion was "amplified" as a result of him saying, during garda interviews, he was missing from his house for a number of hours on December 22/23, 1996, the night of the murder, he said. While Mr Bailey had given an explanation for that, the explanation was not corroborated, he added.

The case continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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