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Gardai intimidated my children - Bailey witness

FORMER shopkeeper Marie Farrell decided to sell her home in west Cork after a garda began intimidating her children, she told the High Court.

"My children were being punished because I was no longer prepared to toe the garda line," she said. Ms Farrell became upset when saying Garda Anthony Finn had called one of her sons a "bastard".

After she made a complaint, Garda Finn called to her home with another garda and apologised and said it would not happen again, she said.

Another of her children talked of "jumping off the rocks into the sea" due to what was happening to her family, she said.

She had gone to Frank Buttimer, solicitor for journalist Ian Bailey, in March, 2005, saying she had made false claims about seeing Mr Bailey at 2am on December 23, 1996, near Schull, west Cork, hours before French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier's body was found.

This led to a letter being sent to the Minister for Justice and a lot of media attention and life became "undescribable", she said.

She apologised to Mr Bailey and also received a letter from Mr Buttimer thanking her and stating Mr Bailey had no interest in taking a case against her.


Ms Farrell also said Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald rang her saying he knew she was in contact with Mr Buttimer and had asked her to keep him, Det Fitzgerald, "out of it".

Det Fitzgerald had said if she did so, he would sort out a summons related to one of her children, she said.

She said "attitudes towards us changed, definitely the attitude of the gardai changed". Her children began to be intimidated and bullied by one garda, Anthony Finn.

Becoming upset, she said their children had had a great life in Schull, their friends were there but that all changed and her husband, who had spent a long time building their house in Schull, had said they had "no choice but to get out of here".

Ms Farrell said she and her husband decided to put their house on the market in January 2006. It sold in June, 2006, at a "huge financial loss".

Under cross-examination by Paul O'Higgins SC, Ms Farrell denied his suggestion gardai had not given her a VHS tape featuring Mr Bailey reciting poetry at the Christmas Day swim in Schull for her to watch to see if she recognised anyone on it as the man she saw at 2am near Schull on December 23.

She agreed she rang gardai on a confidential line under the name Fiona from phone boxes on two occasions to tell them about seeing the man at 2am.

She said she wanted to be anonymous because her husband did not known she was out that night with a male friend.