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Marie Farrell returns to court after walking out earlier during Ian Bailey High Court case


Marie Farrell

Marie Farrell

Marie Farrell

Marie Farrell has resumed her evidence in journalist Ian Bailey's action after dramatically walking out of the witness box and the court earlier today. She had left court earlier because she felt the case was "turning into a personal assault on my private life", Ms Farrell said.

She has also today, for the first time, named the man she was with on the night of December 22/23rd 1996 as John Reilly from Longford. Her  mother had told her he died some years ago, she said.

Ms Farrell left the witness box just before noon after being told by Mr Justice John Hedigan she must answer a question from the State to name the male friend whom she was with on the night of December 22/23rd 1996.

In her direct evidence last week, Ms Farrell said she was with that man from about 10pm on December 22nd, they had driven out from Schull towards Goleen and were driving back towards Schull sometime aroudn 2am on December 23rd when she saw another man wearig n a long black coat on the road near Schull.

She said the man on the road was not Ian Bailey but she was put under pressure by gardai to say it was Mr Bailey. She also said the man she was with was not her husband and she did not want to identity him.

Today, when Paul O'Higgins SC for the state, asked Ms Farrell to name the man she was with as he could shed light on the case, she said a number of times she would not. 

Mr Justice Hedigan told her she must, this was one of the most serious cases to be heard in many years and she was obliged to answer questions from counsel and tell the truth. "Now answer the question," the judge said.

Ms Farrell said she would not name the man. Standing up and picking up her coat and bag, she said: "I'm going, I'm having nothing more to do with it" before walking out of the witness box and out of the courtroom.

During subsequent exchanges between counsel and the judge, the judge said Frank Buttimer, solicitor for Mr Bailey, had permission to try and contact Ms Farrell. Because she is under cross-examination, such permission is required.

In the interim, the case continued with evidence from Saffron Thomas, an artist and daughter of Jules Thomas, partner of Mr Bailey,

At 3pm, Mr Creed said Ms Farrell was prepared to write down the man's name and hand it into the court but Mr O'Higgins objected.

The judge said he could not accept that proposal for two reasons. The first was that this was a public trial and the second was that Ms Farrell had named others in a manner extremely embarrassing to them and their families. She must give the name publicly.

Mr Creed said another consideration was that this is a live criminal investigation. Mr O'Higgins said the name had been looked for some 18 years and was sought in 1997 when the criminal investigation was live. This case was an action for damages, he said.

Mr O'Higgins also told Ms Farrell she complained she rang a Garda confidential line a number of times and that confidence was breached and she was recorded. He suggested she had never made any of the calls on a confidential line.

Ms Farrell said the gardai appealed for anyone to contact them in confidence. Counsel said the number was the ordinary lines to Bandon and Schull stations. Ms Farrell said the appeal was for anyone to contact the gardai in confidence and she did not know material might not be treated in confidence.

Counsel said the garda preference would have been to deal with her in a way that would not cause her any embarrassment. Ms Farrell said they never suggested she might have to name the man she was with.

She was sure gardai had tried to find out the man's name, she agreed. She had not given any indications of his name but had given some information about a car. She said Det Fitzgerald came up with someone himself.

Det Fitzgerald had checked out a person and established he was not the man, counsel said. Counsel put to her she gave another name in 2002 of a  person who could not have been there.

Det Fitzgerald came up with that suggestion, she said. She denied she was not given an assurance the man would not be named.

Asked who the man was, she said it was John Reilly, someone she knew from Longford who her mother had told her has since died. Her mother was also dead. Years ago, when she knew John Reilly, he worked in a factory. She did not know his exact address. He was. a bit older than her. He had a red sporty car when she met him in Cork. She could not remember when she first met him, it could have been at school.

She had not named him before this because she wanted a quiet life at home, she said. "It made life easier at home."

When counsel said "so you stormed out of court because you might name a man who was dead for 14 years", she said she had left court because she had come voluntarily to tell the truth about matters involving the gardai but  felt this was "turning into a personal assault on my private life".

Counsel suggested she was not telling the truth, she said she was in court voluntarily and was telling the truth. She was gaining "nothing from being here only more personal aggravation," she said.