A DETECTIVE garda said he was sending a “down and out” to Ian Bailey’s home to get the journalist “drunk and high” and to “confess” on tape, a court has heard.
“It was like something out of Miami Vice,” witness Marie Farrell told the High Court.
She outlined how, from early 1997, she had several daily conversations over months with Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald during which they would discuss “everything”.
This included personal matters and the investigation into the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier, whose body was found near Toomore, Schull, on the morning of December 23, 1996.
Ms Farrell was giving evidence in Mr Bailey’s continuing civil action against the Garda Commissioner and State who deny his claims including wrongful arrest and conspiracy.
She said her relationship with Det Fitzgerald developed after she agreed in late January 1997 to make a statement saying a man whom she had seen near Schull about 2am on December 23 – hours before the body of Ms Toscan du Plantier was found – was Ian Bailey.
Mr Bailey was not the man she saw but she agreed to say he was after gardai told her they knew he had killed Ms Du Plantier and might kill again, the court heard.
Gardai told her Mr Bailey was dangerous and “weird”, would howl at a full moon and had sat in a rocking chair on Barleycove beach with “10 lesbians dancing around him, reciting poetry”.
She was told she would never have to give evidence in court and, once Mr Bailey was charged, he would admit it, she said. Det Fitzgerald would refer to Mr Bailey as “that English b*****d”, she said.
Ms Farrell said she went to Ballydehob garda station on February 14, 1997, where she met a number of gardai including Det Fitzgerald.
She told gardai she was in a hurry, and said she was told they would write down what she had told them. Before she left, she agreed to sign between four and eight blank pages.
“To be honest, I didn’t give it much thought really.”
When shown various statements with her signature on them, including statements the man she saw near Schull on December 23 was definitely Mr Bailey, she said she had not made those statements and believed they were made on the blank pages she had signed.
She made other statements later in 1997 and rehearsed what was to go into those beforehand with Det Fitzgerald, she said. Some of the material in those statements was accurate but other material was not.
It was “a mad time” and “like something surreal”.
In May 1997, Det Fitzgerald rang her crying, saying he was double crossed by the down and out, “a guy called Graham”, whom he had earlier told her he was sending to Mr Bailey’s house.
Det Fitzgerald told her there was a photo of drugs being handed over to Graham by gardai, the whole story was going to come out and his career was over, she said.
Det Fitzgerald later told her the Garda Press office had got the story “pulled”, she said. Det Fitzgerald said he and another garda had approached Graham when they were “wired”, “put the frighteners” on him, and suggested he might end up dead in a ditch.
She also said she approached Mr Bailey in a bar in Schull in June 1997 and told him the gardai were trying to set him up.
Earlier, Ms Farrell said that in December 1996 gardai had shown her a video tape of Mr Bailey reciting poetry at the Christmas Day swim at Schull pier, and she had told them that this was not the same man she had seen at 2am on December 23.
She had a personal difficulty about saying where she was that night as her husband did not know she was out with a married male friend, she said.
Ms Farrell also said Det Fitzgerald had introduced her to the late Senator Peter Callanan who told her a council house in Schull “would be sorted”. They later got the house, she said.
The case continues.