CRUCIAL evidence in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder case was lost within two years of her killing in 1996.
A number of items relating to the garda probe have been mislaid or destroyed since then, it has emerged.
* Photos taken at the scene of the French film producer's murder, hours after her body was found on December 23, 1996.
* A blood-spattered gate.
* Documents relating to Ian Bailey, who is suing after being detained by gardai.
* Original witness statements.
The revelation came as Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan moved to seek High Court permission to not release certain documents as part of British former freelance journalist Mr Bailey's civil action against the force and the State.
Mr Bailey, who has repeatedly protested his innocence, is suing for wrongful arrest following his detention by gardai both in 1997 and 1998.
He was released without charge on both occasions.
An internal DPP report from 2001 warned that there was no evidence against him.
A French investigation into the killing, launched five years ago by Paris-based magistrate Patrick Gachon, has been given full access to the garda file.
The result of that probe is expected to be published shortly, with Mr Bailey's legal team predicting the French will try him in his absence.
However, French judicial authorities now want access to material that came to light as part of Mr Bailey's High Court action, including telephone records from 1996/97.
The High Court has been told that transferring these old analogue records into computerised data will take up to six months.
Mr Bailey's legal team have sought access to all elements of the garda file as part of his civil action.
However, gardai want to have material, including 327 pages from the original file, exempted from that application on the grounds of legal privilege.
The most critical documents in the application include an internal probe conducted after allegations of duress by witness Marie Farrell.
In 2005, she recanted sworn testimony made to gardai and to Cork Circuit Civil Court about seeing Mr Bailey outside Schull on the night of the murder.
This directly contradicted Mr Bailey's statement that he did not leave home that night.
Mrs Farrell then claimed that she only made certain statements because she was under duress by gardai.