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Saying I killed Sophie was just a 'black joke' - Bailey

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Ian Bailey and Jule Thomas

Ian Bailey and Jule Thomas

Ian Bailey and Jule Thomas

IAN Bailey says he made a "regrettable black joke" to the effect that he killed French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier to resurrect his career as a journalist.

The High Court heard journalist Helen Callanan will say, after she told Mr Bailey it was being said he had murdered Ms Toscan du Plantier, he said words to the effect: "Of course, yes I did, I killed her to resurrect my career as a journalist."

That was "a regrettable black joke", "very foolish of me" and "very unwise", Mr Bailey said.

He was under cross-examination for a third day by Luán O Braonáin SC for the State and gardai who deny his claims in his action for damages for alleged wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and conspiracy during the investigation of the murder of Ms Du Plantier in west Cork in December 1996.

When Ms Callanan told him it was being said he was the murderer, he asked who was saying it, that it was very damaging, seriously defamatory and might be worth €20,000 to him as a result.

He believed he said words to the effect: "Yeah, it was me, I killed her to resurrect my career as a journalist", but was unsure if he made those comments over one or more conversations with Ms Callanan.

Mr O Braonáin said Mr Callanan, news editor of the Sunday Tribune in 1996 and 1997, reported Mr Bailey's comments to gardai prior to Mr Bailey's arrest on February 10, 1997. She also made a statement in that regard.

suspicion

The State was contending those words, and several other matters, gave rise to a reasonable suspicion by gardai concerning Mr Bailey, he said.

The other matters included scratches on his arms, violence to his partner Jules Thomas, inconsistent accounts of his movements from December 21 to 23, 1996, his exchanges with gardai and material provided by him to the media, counsel said. Mr Bailey did not accept there were reasonable grounds for his arrest on February 10, 1997.

He said "very suspect" information came from France after the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier but gardai never seriously inquired into that. He himself was very interested in "the French connection" and had invited gardai to his home to discuss that.

He believed there was an "overfocus" on himself by gardaí and matters in France should have been looked into more seriously.

Mr Bailey regarded as "quite shocking" and "very strange" that Ms Toscan du Plantier's husband Daniel had not come to west Cork to assist gardai in the immediate aftermath of her murder and identify her body because he was too busy with business commitments.

When Mr O Braonáin asked was he suggesting Daniel Toscan du Plantier was in any way involved with the death, Mr Bailey said he was not using those words.

He told counsel he could "draw your own conclusions".

The case continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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