Garda denies putting the ‘frighteners’ on Bailey informant

Marie Farrell’s statements voluntary, former detective insists

A former garda has rejected suggestions he and another detective were asked to “put the frighteners” on Martin Graham after gardaí lost trust in him as an informant.

Michael J McCarthy, now retired, was involved in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation. He denied Mr Graham's claims he was threatened with the "Provos" during his detention by Garda McCarthy and Det Garda Bart O'Leary in June 1997.

Mr McCarthy said a colleague of his had been blown up by the “Provos” and it “pains me to even use the word”.

He agreed the word "Provos" would also resonate with Mr Graham as he previously served with the British army in Northern Ireland. Mr McCarthy said he and Garda O'Leary went to meet Detectives Jim Fitzgerald and Liam Leahy near Skibbereen on June 7th, 1997 after being asked by them to detain Mr Graham for a drug search.


He said Mr Graham later got out of the two detectives’s unmarked car about 3km outside Skibbereen and agreed to accompany him and Garda O’Leary in their unmarked car to Skibbereen Garda station.

They had to wait outside until 2pm when it opened and Garda O’Leary apologised to Mr Graham for the delay, he said.

Inside the station, they searched Mr Graham and his belongings and found nothing except a box with about 20 “reefers”, bits of cardboard, about which Mr Graham was cautioned before he left the station at 2.50pm, he said.

He said he had never heard of Mr Graham before this and did not know of his involvement in providing information to gardaí relating to the murder.

He was unaware of a claim Mr Graham taped conversations with gardaí which, the former soldier alleged, showed he had been given cannabis by gardaí.

Mr McCarthy said he had wondered why Det Fitzgerald and Det Leahy had not themseleves searched Mr Graham when he was in their car earlier.

Mr McCarthy also said he and another garda arrested Ian Bailey on August 2nd 1997 for suspected drink driving. He photocopied a piece of paper found amongst Mr Bailey's property which contained something "like a poem" in verse form, beginning something like "Liam says to Jim" with a reference to "Ian" at the end and gave the photocopy to Sgt Maurice Walsh.

Mr McCarthy was giving evidence in the continuing action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier whose body was found near Toormore, Schull, on December 23rd, 1996. The defendants deny all Mr Bailey’s claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

Earlier, Maurice Walsh, also retired, said Marie Farrell made various statements to him in 1997 on a free and voluntary basis and he took down what she had said.

He could not recall exactly what questions he would have put to her but believed, when taking a statement from her in October 1997, he would have told her the DPP had sought clarification of descriptions she had given of a man whom she saw outside her shop on December 21st, 1996, when Ms Toscan du Plantier was inside.

He believe he probably asked her to compare with someone else what the man’s height would be. Mr Walsh reiterated his denial of Ms Farrell’s claim he exposed himself to her in the ladies toilets of Schull golf club while saying words to the effect wasn’t “fitting up” Mr Bailey was a turn on.

When it was put to him Ms Farrell could have put up any scenario if she wanted to “shaft” him, he said: “I have no understanding of how that woman’s mind works.”

Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, said the golf club allegations arose in circumstances where Ms Farrell had said she was unaware until that alleged incident whether Mr Walsh was aware of an alleged scheme to fit up Mr Bailey. Ms Farrell had said the alleged golf club incident made her think Mr Walsh was aware, counsel said.

Mr Walsh said Ms Farrell’s claims were “total and utter lies” and the “casual way” she outlined the alleged incident was “horrible”, “as if she was talking about a trip to the local shop”.

It was “incredible” that he would risk his family and career to do something like that. When he agreed to meet her some time later for a drink in Dublin, where he was then based, he said he met her for a drink against his own judgment and was not aware then she was ever going to allege something happened in the golf club.

He also denied the detention of Mr Graham in June 1997 was “staged” to take Mr Graham “out of the picture”.

Former garda Norma Keane said she was involved in the arrest and interview of Mr Bailey’s partner Jules Thomas on February 10th 1997. She knew nothing about suggestions that arrest was orchestrated to put pressure on Mr Bailey.

She denied as “total lies” Ms Thomas’s evidence gardaí went “on and on” to her that Mr Bailey had “done it”.

She was also present with two senior gardaí when a French friend of Ms du Plantier’s was informally interviewed in a police stattion in Paris, she said. Garda Kevin Kelleher, now retired, said he took a statement from Marie Farrell at Ballydehob Garda station on February 14th, 1997 which was signed by her and witnessed by hiself and other gardaí.

He denied she was asked to sign blank pages on that occasion.

The case continues.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times