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Garda 'thought he had got the killer', trial told

IAN Bailey has told the High Court he was in no way involved in the killing of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork in late 1996.

Under cross-examination by Luan O Braonain SC, for the State, he said he has taken a civil action against the State and disagreed that the question of whether or not he was involved in the killing is not part of the case.

He had been "falsely framed" and had come to court "to prosecute garda corruption", he said.

Mr Bailey said he believed gardai regarded him as a suspect from either December 26 or 27, 1996, when he saw two officers "scrutinising" him in a shop in Schull, Co Cork. He agreed he had scratches on his hands on that occasion.

In retrospect, he believed one of those gardai, since deceased Det Gda Bartholomew O'Leary "who described himself as Cracker", thought he had "got the killer".

When hair and other samples were later taken from him, he experienced "a growing sense" that there was "something going on" and he was "chosen to be targeted".

He agreed that he did not know Marie Farrell, a shopkeeper in Schull, in late December 1996. The jury has been told Ms Farrell will claim she was put under pressure by gardai to make false complaints that Mr Bailey harassed her.

Mr O Braonain said the focus of Mr Bailey's claim that gardai manufactured evidence relates to matters involving Ms Farrell, and the jury would hear from her later.

When counsel suggested that the core of a garda investigation is acquisition of information, Mr Bailey said it should be "factual" information.

When counsel suggested the investigation process would also involve raising suspicions, Mr Bailey said that was fine except when suspicions are raised "on false grounds".

He agreed he had written newspaper articles related to the killing but could not recall if he mentioned in those that he was a suspect. He agreed people can be suspects irrespective of innocence or guilt, but said the category of suspect was "put on him".

assault

Yesterday was the fifth day of his action against the Garda Commissioner and the State who deny claims of wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and assault arising from the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier.

Earlier, he was cross-examined about his claims of a career in journalism since the 1970s.

Mr Bailey rejected counsel's suggestion that the samples of his work provided were inconsistent with his having a "serious track record" in journalism.

He agreed he had not substantiated his claim of earning StgĀ£30,000 in 1982. He said substantial sums from national papers and lesser sums from other media mounted up.

Asked if an article in which he described peace activists in England being "ambushed" by "the forces of law and order" represented his own view, he said his sympathies "are always with . . . underdogs".

He said he came to Ireland in 1991 "to get away from the rat race". He agreed he was on benefits and community employment schemes for periods between 1992 and 1996 but denied this was inconsistent with his claim of a continuous career in journalism.

He was helping his partner Jules Thomas with murals she was painting and writing about local things, and he would go to music sessions where he played the bodhran.

He agreed he was probably mistaken to have said he was 14 when he read a book about the Watergate scandal after counsel told him that the book, All The President's Men, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, was not published until 1974.

That meant Mr Bailey must have been 17 or 18 when he read it and not about 14 as he told the jury last week, counsel said.

Mr Bailey said he must have been mistaken about his age, but he read the book and it had "inspired me" to pursue a career in journalism.

The case continues before Mr Justice John Hedigan and a jury.

hnews@herald.ie


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