Farrell says garda asked her to accuse Ian Bailey of harassment

Claims Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald asked fo letter to persuade DPP to bring charges

Marie Farrell arrives at the Four Courts early to give evidence at the High Court. Photograph: Courts Collins.

Marie Farrell arrives at the Four Courts early to give evidence at the High Court. Photograph: Courts Collins.

 

A Detective Garda asked a woman to instruct a solicitor to write to journalist Ian Bailey falsely complaining he was harassing the woman, the High Court was told today.

Marie Farrell said the letter was also to say Mr Bailey was putting pressure on her to withdraw a statement made in connection with the investigation into the late 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Ms Farrell said Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald had suggested she get a solicitor to write to Ian Bailey and she did so.

The letter sent by the solicitor to Ian Bailey in July 1997 alleged he was harassing Ms Farrell, had sent his partner Jules Thomas into Ms Farrell’s shop in Schull to get her to withdraw a statement made to gardai, had parked his car outside her shop a number of times and had made “cut-throat gestures to her”.

None of that was true, Ms Farrell said.

She said Det Garda Fitzgerald had also asked her to get a copy of the letter for placing on the murder investigation file so as to help persuade the DPP to bring charges against Mr Bailey.

She said she made a number of statements to gardaí in July and August 1997 making allegations Mr Bailey and Ms Thomas had threatened her, including an allegation Ms Thomas had told her: “Your day will come”.

Those allegations were not true, she said.

A statement that she had received a phone call on August 12th, 1997 from a man with an English accent telling her to: “Watch your back, we are going to take you out” was true, she said.  She did not know who that caller was.

Det Fitzgerald also told her they needed to “tidy up” a statement she previously made concerning seeing a man on the road near Schull about 2am on December 23rd, 1996, because the description she had given did not “fit” Mr Bailey. She said she had signed a document which gardaí had filled in with words not her own.

Another statement signed by her in December 1997, which said she had received a phone call from a man whose voice she recognised as Ian Bailey’s, that he had said she knew who this was and he would be calling to see her with a friend and that she was “terrified” of him was also untrue.

That statement was made at the behest of Det Fitzgerald for the purpose of preparing a file for the DPP, she said. Det Fitzgerald told her all the statements she was making were helping to make Mr Bailey look threatening, she added.

She said she “never felt happy” about making the statements, but felt obliged to do what Det Fitzgerald asked because he “was always doing favours for us”.

She was “relieved” when Ian Bailey was released without charge, “maybe that was for myself because I wasn’t going to be asked to go to court”.

Ms Farrell was continuing her evidence in the civil action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State arising from the conduct of the Garda investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier. Her body was found at her holiday home near Toormore, Schull, in the early hours of December 23rd, 1996.

The defendants deny all the claims, including of wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

The case continues before Mr Justice John Hedigan and a jury.