At a Glance: Martin Graham tells Ian Bailey case he ‘hid’ from Schull events for years

Judge rules it is appropriate for state to cross-examine witness on his medical history

* Former British soldier, Martin Graham (53) said the reason he can remember his dealings with gardaí investigating the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier so clearly when he has forgotten other events in his life is because he has spent the past 18 years hiding from what happened with gardaí in West Cork.

Mr Graham told counsel for the state, Paul O'Higgins SC, during an intensive cross-examination, he had suffered a mental breakdown when serving with the Royal Anglian Regiment in Northern Ireland between 1980 and 1982 when he was engaged in undercover surveillance operations.

"I have a blank space in my head between my breakdown (1982) and my discharge (1988)," said Mr Graham when he was unable to tell Mr O'Higgins where he had been stationed after he returned to England from Northern Ireland.

“”My mind is buggered in the sense of what the army did to me,” said Mr Graham when he was further unable to say when exactly he got married or where he lived at various times in the UK.” I don’t remember where I was living ten years ago, where I was living 20 years ago.”

Mr O’Higgins then put it to Mr Graham that if he could not remember such important events in his life, how could he tell the jury what was supposed to have happened in Schull in 1997. “Because I spent 18 years hiding from it,” replied Mr Graham.

*Mr Justice John Hedigan said the State was entitled to question Mr Graham about his career in the British Army and his medical history as it was central to the state's challenge to his credibility as a witness in what is a very important case.

Barrister for Ian Bailey, Ronan Munro BL submitted the State was delving into "collateral issues" which were not relevant to the case in questioning Mr Graham at length about his career in the British Army and his mental breakdown while serving in Northern Ireland.

“What my friend (Mr O’Higgins) is doing is on the verge of badgering the witness into obtaining evidence for the gardaí and assisting the State’s case,” said Mr Munro, adding he could not see the relevance of the issue, particularly given concerns about how long the case is taking.

But Mr Justice Hedigan disagreed: “I am not going to stop him (Mr O’Higgins) getting to the background of the case. I can’t fathom what your objection is .... they are not collateral issues, they are central to his credibility and the credibility of witnesses is central to this case.”

* Witness, Martin Graham said he believed two detectives must have been recording his first meeting with them as the statement that they produced for him to sign regarding what Ian Bailey said upon his release from Garda custody was accurate in all respects.

Mr Graham had initially questioned the accuracy of the statement, saying that he had no recollection of ever signing the document, that things seemed “out of proportion” and that it included phrases which he would never use such as describing a joint as ‘a split’.

But today when counsel for the state, Paul O'Higgins SC showed him the original handwritten statement taken by Det Garda Liam Leahy and Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald, Mr Graham agreed that the original document said 'splif' rather than 'split' which was a term he would use to describe a joint.

Mr Graham confirmed his signature on the statement dated February 25th 1997 but said it was presented to him by the detectives in the back of a car and he had signed it after seeing elements that were familiar but without reading it in full as the writing was blurry and the car was moving.

“I’m looking at the statement now and I’m not disputing anything, I told the gardaí what I knew, it’s the first time I have the chance to read the whole of it - for them to recall all that from my first meeting (February 18th), suggests that they were taping me even on the first meeting, “ he said.

Today saw contrasting moods in the High Court with some intense and sustained cross-examination of Martin Graham regarding his personal life including his medical history but the afternoon brought a few moments of levity.

State Counsel Paul O’Higgins SC asked at one point for copies of a handwritten statement taken from Mr Graham to be handed to “the gardaí” and then corrected himself to say they should be handed to the jury.

“Perhaps, I should go home at this stage,” said Mr O’Higgins whereupon Mr Graham quipped from the witness box, ‘I’ll second that’, prompting some laughter from those within earshot.

Later when Mr O’Higgins questioned Mr Graham about the value of the “seven ounce bar of high quality Lebanese flat press” which Mr Graham says he was given by gardaí but which gardaí deny ever giving him, Mr Graham said it was worth about “50 bucks an ounce”.

Mr O’Higgins commented that the state might dispute Mr Graham’s valuation of the drugs as being worth £350 pounds and believed it would have been worth more. “I don’t know where you are getting it from but you are being ripped off,” said Mr Graham, again to much laughter in court.

* Gardaí would ring where witness Martin Graham was staying and pretend to be a female friend from Newbury so that it would not around suspicions of those living with him, Mr Graham told the High Court.

Cross-examined by counsel, Paul O’Higgins, Mr Graham agreed that gardaí would get a female to ring Russell Barrett’s house where he was staying and say that Eleanor from Newbury was looking for him and he would then come to the phone.

Mr Graham said that he was reluctant to get involved in the murder investigation but he felt a civic duty at the same time to tell them what had happened at the home of artist, Russell Barrett when Ian Bailey stayed there following his release from Garda custody on the night of February 10th 1997.

“I wanted to tell the gardaí about Ian Bailey’s demeanour, that’s what they wanted to know but I wouldn’t tell them in front of anyone because I didn’t want to be accused or ratting on anyone , I didn’t want people to be aware that I had talked to the police

“I didn’t have anything to tell them, not that I wanted to tell them in front of others in the house , I didn’t say anything to the gardaí in front of other people,” he said, adding that none of the people that he was friendly with in Skibbereen trusted the police in the area.