| -0.6°C Dublin

Bailey denies telling man in pub 'the murder in Schull... that was me'

Ian Bailey

JOURNALIST Ian Bailey has denied before the High Court that he asked another man whether he knew about "the murder in Schull" before telling him, with a smirk: "That was me."

Mr Bailey was being asked about statements to gardai made by James McKenna, from Northern Ireland, who said he and his wife had a conversation with Mr Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas in the Galley Inn pub in Schull on the night of April 8, 1997.

Mr McKenna told Mr Bailey he had heard about the murder on the news and Mr Bailey looked at him and, in a "deliberate voice", said: "That was me."

Mr McKenna said he was "numb with shock" and later contacted the gardai.

The statements were read during the continuing cross-examination of Mr Bailey in his action against the Garda Commissioner and the State.

They deny his claims of wrongful arrest and conspiracy arising from the conduct of the garda investigation into the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier, whose body was found in Schull, Co Cork, on December 23, 1996.

Yesterday, Luan O Braonain SC, for the State, put it to Mr Bailey that Mr McKenna's statements were among the reasons grounding Mr Bailey's second arrest by gardai on January 27, 1998.

Mr Bailey said he had always denied making the comments attributed to him.

When counsel put it to him that gardai were entitled to also take into consideration that he had told journalist Helen Callanan and a local boy, Malachy Reid, that he had killed Ms Toscan du Plantier, Mr Bailey said those were alleged informal admissions.


What he said to Ms Callanan was "a black joke", and what he had told Mr Reid was that other people were saying he had killed Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Mr Bailey said the statements had to be considered in the context of other matters he was not allowed to refer to.

Mr Justice John Hedigan told the jury Mr Bailey was referring to an assessment of evidence made by the DPP's office and to material grounding an application by French authorities for his extradition.

Mr Bailey also told the court he was aware Marie Farrell had given media interviews alleging he had intimidated and threatened her.

After she had alleged he had intimidated her, solicitor Frank Buttimer wrote to her in March 2004 asking her to retract her claims.

Counsel said solicitor Ernest Cantillon replied on behalf of Ms Farrell on April 19, 2004, saying she could not respond to allegations about unspecified articles and programmes alleging Mr Bailey had engaged in threatening and abusive behaviour towards her.

Mr Bailey believed, some time after his second arrest in January 1998, that Ms Farrell phoned his home and spoke with Ms Thomas and asked to speak to him, but he refused.

Ms Farrell later gave evidence adverse to him in his libel proceedings against various media, and he considered those proceedings were "hijacked" by the gardai, he said.

Asked about his evidence on Tuesday as to whether he had written the words "back in print again, hip, hip hurray" on a piece of paper dated June 30, 1997, he said several times he was not sure.

Mr Bailey agreed there were similarities between the letters in his writings and the "back in print" text and accepted it was "probably" his writing.

The hearing continues.