At a glance: Partner spends day in witness box and tells of three assaults

Court told that life with Ian Bailey was ‘not a bed of roses’

Ian Bailey's partner Jules Thomas spent the day in the witness box. She was questioned first by Mr Bailey's barrister Jim Duggan before being cross-examined by Paul O'Higgins SC, for the State

Ms Thomas, an artist, told the court she bought her house at the Prairie, near Schull in Co Cork, in 1974. Her mother later bought a semi-derelict house across the road and Ms Thomas used this as a studio for her large murals. Mr Bailey later moved into the rooms above that studio.

Mr Bailey and Ms Thomas met at the fish factory where the Englishman worked. “We had a lot in common, an interest in arts and poetry, music.” When he moved in, Ms Thomas’s three daughters weren’t “mad about a man coming into the house because they had my 100 per cent attention”, but he helped them with their homework and did a lot of work around the house and garden.

Asked by Mr Duggan if life with Mr Bailey was pleasing, Ms Thomas said: “It was okay, yes, it was fine. And I was busy, with a lot of work.” She agreed that life with Mr Bailey was “not a bed of roses”, however.

Ms Thomas described three assaults on her by Mr Bailey. The first happened in 1993, when he pushed her “quite hard” against a wall when they were at a friend’s house in Cork. It was “very painful”. A lot of whiskey had been drunk and she did not think he knew what he was doing, but there was “no excuse for violence”.

She was “pretty disgusted” with his “appalling” behaviour and he had “enormous remorse” afterwards. Her friend asked Mr Bailey to leave the house that night. She was checked out in hospital but there were no broken bones. She did not speak to him for some weeks afterwards but they eventually made up. He told her it would not happen again, she said.

The second assault happened three years later, in May 1996, and was “also drink-fuelled”. They were driving home from a bar in Schull and he was swerving across the road and she got angry with him and was asking him to stop. They “grabbed” at each other and it was “very bad”. She suffered an injury to her face and hair loss and one of her daughters was distraught when she saw her back at home, Ms Thomas said. She was taken to hospital by her daughter’s friend.

The third time was in 2001 when Mr Bailey was on crutches with an Achilles tendon injury. She said he was on strong painkillers and maybe had also consumed some wine and was sleeping on a couch. When she asked him to move, he was “outraged” at being disturbed and swung his leg over and she was hit with a crutch. She did not know if it was intentional, but there was no excuse for his behaviour, she added.

A friend had phoned gardaí although not at her request. Mr Bailey later received a fine and a three-month suspended sentence for that assault. She suffered bruising and this time it took her about six months to forgive him. “He was so utterly remorseful . . . I do believe there is good in everyone.”

Ms Thomas said she did not know the French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Asked if, so far as she knew, did Mr Bailey know her, she replied No.

Describing her first arrest, in 1997, Ms Thomas said gardaí were “aggressive”, “horrible” and “really intimidating.” They “laid into” her straight away and one officer seemed to be “incensed” with her. “Something very wrong was going on. This was a stitch-up,” she said.

Material had been omitted from, and added to, the Garda notes of what she said, Ms Thomas told the court. She signed statements but hadn’t read them over and they were rather read to her, she said. There was a 16-page handwritten statement but, when that was later produced, it was “only 11 pages so something had been cut out”.

Gardaí also tried to get her to look at photos of Ms Toscan du Plantier but she refused. “I did not want that image in my head.” She was very sympathetic to her family, it was “a very, very awful thing to happen to anyone”.

Her second arrest, in 2000, was also traumatic and “horrible”. When gardaí came to her home 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. Visibly upset, Ms Thomas said the woman garda later told her “how useless my past relationships were” and “made me feel just as low as you could go”.

Ms Thomas said that about a week after their arrests, their home was phoned about midnight. She answered it and a man, whom she believed to be Garda Det Jim Fitzgerald, told her to "get the f**k out, get the f**k out", she said.

Under cross-examination, Ms Thomas said she made some errors when filling in a Garda questionnaire concerning her movements on December 22nd and 23rd, 1996, because she got her days mixed up but she had corrected the errors in a second questionnaire.

When asked was it not reasonable for gardaí 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”. “Finding a motive would be much more a line to go down”, she added.

Cross-examination continues.