At a Glance: Garda comment ‘haunts me every day’, says Bailey

Garda said he would be found with bullet in his head, former journalist tells court

Witness

Ian Bailey spent the day giving evidence under examination by his barrister, Martin Giblin SC.

Snapshots

Mr Bailey told the court he first learned about Sophie Toscan du Plantier's death when a journalist with the Cork Examiner called him at about lunchtime on December 23rd, 1996. The reporter knew Mr Bailey as a freelance journalist in west Cork and told him about the suspicious death of a woman in the area. He asked Mr Bailey to go to the scene and make initial inquiries.

The previous day (December 22nd) had been taken up with preparations for Christmas. Mr Bailey told the court that he had cut the top off a spruce tree near his home for use as a Christmas tree, and as a result got some welt marks on his arms. That afternoon he killed three turkeys. During the process, which involved putting the birds’ feet through a noose in the shed and cutting their heads off, one of the legs came free and left him with a scratch on the forehead.

When Mr Bailey and his partner, Jules Thomas, went to Schull on Monday night, December 23rd, the killing was the only topic of conversation. "Apparently the victim had been bashed on the head with a rock. I didn't know whether it was true or not."

Mr Bailey wrote news articles about the murder for a number of publications, including the Sunday Tribune. He also worked with teams from two French magazines.

On New Year’s Eve, 1996, a garda visited Mr Bailey and Ms Thomas at their home to take hair samples and fingerprints. “To say the least, he was unprofessional,” Mr Bailey said. The officer seemed to smell of alcohol. The couple co-operated fully, and that about 60 others in Schull had gone through the same process.

On December 27th or 28th, 1996, Mr Bailey was shopping in Schull when he noticed that two gardaí were “scrutinising” him “rather unnaturally”. They kept watching him as he moved to around the village.

Towards the end of January 1997 Mr Bailey received a visit from Det Supt Dermot Dwyer, who smoked his pipe and accepted Mr Bailey's offer of coffee and mince pies. At one point, Mr Bailey told the court, Supt Dwyer said: "Do you play poker?" He replied that he didn't. "He said: 'You should.'" Later, Mr Bailey said, Supt Dwyer said to him: "I think you know more about this murder than you're letting on. I'm going to place you at Kealfadda bridge in the early hours of Monday morning." Mr Bailey said he was "a bit aghast" and said this was nonsense. "We'll see," Supt Dwyer replied.

Mr Bailey described hearing from journalists the "dreadful, rotten, stinking" lie that he was involved in the murder. The news editor at the Sunday Tribune and a reporter from the Star mentioned the rumour to him.

Mr Bailey was arrested on February 10th, 1997. The atmosphere in the patrol car was “very oppressive, very hostile and very accusatory”. He said the garda who was driving told him they would “pin this on” him and if they didn’t, he would be “found in a ditch with a bullet in your head”. Mr Bailey said he interpreted this as a death threat and that the memory “haunts me every day”.

During his 12-hour detention in February 1997, Mr Bailey said, he was told Ms Thomas did not want to see him, that a “lynch mob” was waiting outside, and that he couldn’t return to his home because it was a crime scene. On release, he felt “shell-shocked”.

Mr Bailey was arrested a second time on January 27th, 1998. He told the court that one garda, Ted Murphy, said to him: "We've got a nice little basement cell for you in Mountjoy." He continued to deny the allegations.

After his arrest, his work as a journalist dried up and he had trouble sleeping. He lost a lot of weight and he became overcome with “feelings of great despair”. He said he contemplated suicide.