At a glance: Marie Farrell at the Ian Bailey case

Schull resident said she had no recollection of what she told the McAndrew Inquiry

 

Witness: Marie Farrell, a resident of Schull, Co Cork in 1996-97.

Snapshots:

Marie Farrell said she had no recollection of what she told the McAndrew Inquiry in 2006 into the Garda investigation of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier when it was put to her that her version of events to the McAndrew inquiry differed from what she had told the trial.

“I don‘t have any recollection of what I told the McAndrew Inquiry – at that time, we were under huge stress – the children were being harassed by gardai, we were trying to sell the house, we were trying to get out of West Cork, it wasn’t a great time,” she said.

Ms Farrell was responding to Mr O’Higgins who said that on June 29th 2006 officers from the McAndrew Inquiry had shown her a typed copy of a statement attributed to her, stating it had been made in Ballydehob Garda Station and dated February 14th 1997.

Mr O’Higgins read from Ms Farrell’s statement to the McAndrew Inquiry team where she wished “to state that I never made a statement in Ballydehob Garda Station” before she went on to explain that she had been asked to sign blank pages in Schull Garda Station.

“I remember making this statement as it was the one they wanted but I did not make it in Ballydehob and not on February 14th 1997,” Ms Farrell told the McAndrew Inquiry team when they asked her about the statement in which she implicates Ian Bailey.

“One day in early February, Jim Fitzgerald rang me and asked me to come to Schull Garda station. We arranged a time and when I arrived at the station, Jim Fitzgerald was there with (Garda) Kevin Kelleher, ” Ms Farrell told the McAndrew Inquiry team.

“Jim Fitzgerald said I would have to give them ‘a few lines of statement because they were under pressure from their bosses’ and to go along with it and they said they would be able to keep my secret and also the fact that I had a daughter in Longford.

“And I signed three or four statements even though most of their contents were false and different dates were being put on them,” Ms Farrell told the McAndrew Inquiry team when they asked her about this statement dated February 14th 1996 implicating Mr Bailey.

Mr O’Higgins put it to Ms Farrell that she had told the jury in her direct evidence that she had said this statement implicating Mr Bailey was made in Ballydehob Garda Station when she was asked to sign four to eight blank sheets and she said gardai later filled them in.

“When I met the McAndrew team, I could not remember it was in Ballydehob but I now remember it being at Ballydehob ... sometimes, things just come back to you - I can remember now being in Ballydehob in the dark one evening and getting stuck in the grass.”

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Mr O’Higgins said that the first time that Ms Farrell mentioned signing blank statements- prior to this case – was on April 24th 2012 was in a statement to officers from the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission investigating the Garda handling of the case.

Mr O’Higgins asked why Ms Farrell “suddenly remembered” this important fact in 2012 having failed to mention it any other stage over the preceding 16 years. “I didn’t suddenly remember it- that’s what happened, I am telling the truth,” said Ms Farrell.

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Ms Farrell said that she had been misquoted in a story in The Irish Daily Mirror in March 2012 when reporter, Emma McMenemy spoke to her about the statements she had made implicating Mr Bailey as the person she saw at Kealfadda Bridge.

Mr O’Higgins put it to Ms Farrell that the story in The Irish Daily Mirror quoted her as saying that it was claimed that the statements implicating Mr Bailey had been blank but “they weren’t blank, they were already filled out and I just signed them.”

“I don’t remember saying that .... there are several things wrong in it (the story) – that (piece) about blank statements –that’s wrong – I’m not saying she (Ms McMenemy) made it up – I said one thing, maybe it was written down wrongly,” said Ms Farrell.

“I can’t remember every conversation with solicitors, reporters, gardai - - I do know I rang her (Ms McMenemy) the day after and I told her the article made me look stupid again and I told her I wasn’t happy with it and she told me she thought I came across well in it.”

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Ms Farrell said she could not explain why Det Garda Fitzgerald had gone to Longford to try and find out who he was with the night that she had seen a man at Kealfadda Bridge if he knew that the statement she had given a gardai about the sighting was false

Mr O’Higgins put it to Ms Farrell that it would make no sense for gardai to try and find out whom she was with a view to checking the truth and accuracy of her statement that it was Ian Bailey she saw at Kealfadda Bridge if gardai knew that her statement was false.

“If they knew your statement was made up, then the last thing they would want to do is try and find the person you were with on the night and didn’t Jim Fitzgerald travel to Longford to try and check out who you were with,” said Mr O’Higgins.

Ms Farrell agreed that Det Garda Fitzgerald had gone to Longford after she told him that the person she was with had a red sports car but she couldn’t explain why he did that. “Jim Fitzgerald knew that I didn’t see Ian Bailey at Kealfadda Bridge that night,” she said

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Ms Farrell rejected a suggestion by state counsel, Paul O’Higgins that it was she who made most of the phone contact with Det Garda Fitzgerald rather than he making most of the phone contact with her as she had stated in her direct evidence.

“Can I suggest that most of the contact with Jim Fitzgerald emanated from you and not from him – 90 per cent of the contact comes from you,” said Mr O’Higgins. “No, that’s not true – he repeatedly rang me – that’s why he gave me a state mobile phone,” replied Ms Farrell.

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Marie Farrell insisted that she had been given a video tape by Garda Kevin Kelleher at the end of December 1996, showing Ian Bailey reciting poetry and that she was later asked by Garda Kelleher to come to his house on January 28th 1997.

Ms Farrell denied a suggestion gardai would say she was not shown any tape in December but was shown a tape on January 28th of the Schull Christmas Day swim. “It was a tape of Mr Bailey reciting poetry and it was the same tape I had seen at the end of December.”

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Marie Farrell confirmed that she made three anonymous phonecalls to gardai using the pseudonym, Fiona on various dates in January when she rang to inform them that she had seen a man at Kealfadda Bridge on the night that Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered.

Ms Farrell confirmed that she made the first phonecall using the alias Fiona on January 11th 1997 from a public phone box on the Coal Quay in Cork and that this prompted an appeal from gardai on Crimeline on January 20th for the woman to contact them.

She again called gardai using the pseudonym, Fiona around midday on January 21st from a public phone box in Leap village near Skibbereen either on her way to or from Cork city, said Ms Farrell.

Ms Farrell also confirmed that she made a third call using the pseudonym Fiona on January 28th to say that she would not be calling into Bandon Garda Station to meeting investigating gardai. This call was traced to her home at Crewe Bay, Schull, the court heard previously

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Ms Farrell said she could not explain why Det Garda Fitzgerald had gone to Longford to try and find out who he was with the night that she had seen a man at Kealfadda Bridge if he knew that the statement she had given a gardai about the sighting was false

Mr O’Higgins put it to Ms Farrell that it would make no sense for gardai to try and find out whom she was with a view to checking the truth and accuracy of her statement that it was Ian Bailey she saw at Kealfadda Bridge if gardai knew that her statement was false.

“If they knew your statement was made up, then the last thing they would want to do is try and find the person you were with on the night and didn’t Jim Fitzgerald travel to Longford to try and check out who you were with,” said Mr O’Higgins.

Ms Farrell agreed that Det Garda Fitzgerald had gone to Longford after she told him that the person she was with had a red sports car but she couldn’t explain why he did that. “Jim Fitzgerald knew that I didn’t see Ian Bailey at Kealfadda Bridge that night,” she said