| 6.4°C Dublin

Gardai 'banging fists on the table' witness claims

THE High Court has heard that artist Jules Thomas says gardai told her Ian Bailey had confessed to the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier when he "never had".

"I didn't believe it," she told the High Court yesterday.

Ms Thomas, Mr Bailey's long-term partner, said this happened when she and Mr Bailey were being separately questioned at Bandon Garda Station on February 12, 1997, in connection with the December 1996 murder in west Cork.

She was giving evidence in the continuing action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and the State for wrongful arrest and conspiracy in relation to the murder investigation. The claims are denied.

Aggressive

She told the court she never accepted Mr Bailey was the murderer and never told gardai she did not want to see him but rather said, if he had committed the murder, she never wanted to see him again.

During her 12-hour arrest, gardai were "aggressive", "horrible", "banging fists on the table", "really intimidating" and kept saying Mr Bailey had done it, she said.

"I was very frightened. They got "very angry with me" and kept saying "tell the truth".

Material had been omitted from, and added to, the garda notes of what she said to them, she said. She signed statements but hadn't read them over and they were rather read to her.

Gardai also tried to get her to look at photos of the dead woman but she refused, she said. "I did not want that image in my head."

She was very sympathetic to the dead woman's family, it was "a very, very awful thing to happen to anyone".

Her second arrest, in 2000, was also traumatic and horrible with gardai insisting she tell the truth, she said.

When gardai came to arrest her, she was in bed and had to dress in front of a woman garda who went into the bathroom with her and "stood over me" while she went to the toilet.

Earlier, she gave evidence about being assaulted by Mr Bailey on three separate occasions - in 1993, 1996 and 2001. She suffered bruising as a result of the first assault where she was pushed "very hard" against a wall; a black eye and hair pulled out on the second and more bruising on the third.

Remorseful

His behaviour was "appalling", he was "very remorseful" afterwards but there was "no excuse for violence".

While she considered his behaviour "kind of unforgivable", she had forgiven him "because I do believe there is good in everyone", she said.

Under cross-examination by Paul O'Higgins SC, she was asked was it not reasonable for gardai to suspect a man with a history of violence towards women, she said there had been a handful of local incidents of "alcoholic violence towards wives" but that was "not considered on the same level as murder".

She said she "would never cover for a murderer".

The cross-examination of Ms Thomas continues today.

hnews@herald.ie


Privacy