Garda ‘refutes’ claim he stripped naked and asked Marie Farrell for sex

Jim Fitzgerald rejects suggestion he was a general ‘Jim’ll fix it’ during Ian Bailey investigation

A Detective Garda involved in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation has told the High Court he "totally refutes" claims by Marie Farrell he stripped naked in a holiday home and asked her for sex.

Jim Fitzgerald, now retired, also rejected suggestions he was a general "Jim'll fix it" for Ms Farrell who "fixed up" a range of matters for her and her family.

In evidence during the civil action by journalist Ian Bailey over the investigation, Mr Fitzgerald said he was never in the holiday home where Ms Farrell alleged he was naked and did not know where it was.

If Ms Farrell had given any details of precisely when this was supposed to have happened, he was sure he could produce detailed refutation, he said. The first time he heard this allegation was in court and he had never been in such a situation as that described by Ms Farrell, he told Paul O’Higgins SC, for the State.

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Asked about Ms Farrell’s claims she noticed a growth on his abdomen, he said he had suffered from a lesion and told Ms Farrell’s husband Chris about that when Mr Farrell asked him had he been stabbed after noticing blood on his shirt from the lesion.

In cross-examination, Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, asked Mr Fitzgerald did he consider himself the “most unfortunate” of all gardaí involved in the investigation because there were more allegations against him than anyone else.

Mr Creed said the “numerous” allegations included claims Mr Fitzgerald made up statements, pressurised individuals, spread fear in the community and paid a witness, Martin Graham, money and hash.

Mr Fitzgerald said he believed he had been singled out for allegations after Mr Bailey wrote a “derogatory” poem in 1997 about Mr Fitzgerald and another garda, Liam Leahy. Mr Bailey “set a target and that was me and that has been the line ever since”.

Many of the allegations against him were made many years later, he added.

He was singled out because he dealt with a lot of people and Mr Bailey held him as “the target to be singled out”. This was obvious from the press “which has been very unkind to me”.

When Ms Farrell “rowed back on her statements”, he was the person she had had most contact with and she could not row back without including him, he said.

He had nothing to do with warrants concerning the Farrells, had not even met Ms Farrell at the time of her appeal concerning an alleged road traffic offence and it was unfair to suggest he fixed that appeal, he said. Ms Farrell phoned him once and said if warrants were executed she would arrange for a media photographer and it would not be good for her as a witness, he added.

He disagreed he had “fixed” a complaint by a man of being beaten up by Ms Farrell’s husband after allegedly prowling outside their home. The alleged prowler was told he too could be in trouble and the complaint was not pursued but he would not use the word “fixed”.

His cross-examination continues on Thursday in the action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State who deny all his claims, including of wrongful arrest and conspiracy, over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms Du Plantier whose body was found at Toormore, Schull, on the morning of December 23rd, 1996.

Mr Fitzgerald said he first met Ms Farrell on January 28th, 1997 and he rejected allegations later made by her against him concerning an identity parade held on January 17th, 1997 when he had not even met her.

He had no dealings whatsoever with the late Fianna Fáil Senator Peter Callanan concerning housing issues for the Farrells, he said.

Asked about the "tone" of a recorded phone call between himself and Ms Farrell of April 20th, 1997, which featured a number of swear words, he said he supposed some of the language was "inappropriate", that was "regrettable" and he was unaware his phone call was being taped. He was annoyed because Ms Farrell had made a statement to Sgt Maurice Walsh after he reported to the murder incident room she would not be making a statement because she had told him she would not.

Mr Fitzgerald also said he never went to the home of an actress, Claire Wilkinson, who had alleged she was put under pressure by gardaí to make a statement adverse to Mr Bailey. He was also not involved in alleged leering at daughters of Jules Thomas, Mr Bailey’s partner.

It was “totally untrue” that he had suggested Ms Farrell should give the name of a dead person as her companion on the night of December 22nd/23rd 1996, he said.

He agreed he told another garda that Ms Farrell was “100 per cent sure” a man she saw on the road near Schull in the early hours of December 23rd, 1996 was Ian Bailey. Asked about his twice telling Garda Billy Byrne during that recorded phone call of April 18th, 1997 that Ms Farrell had said she saw Mr Bailey washing himself in the water, he said what Ms Farrell actually said in a statement was she saw Mr Bailey at Kealfada Bridge on the road near Schull about 3.05am.

Ms Farrell was given a garda mobile phone for about three weeks because she was fearful and anxious after Mr Bailey called to her shop on June 28th, 1997 and the phone was taken back after Mr Bailey undertook to gardaí not to call to the shop again, he said.

He had “extensive contact” with Ms Farrell in 1997 about a range of matters, including efforts to trace the identity of the person with her when she said she saw Mr Bailey at Kealfada Bridge and incidents involving Mr Bailey and Ms Thomas.

He said he never suggested to Ms Farrell she should make complaints to gardaí that Mr Bailey was harassing her.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times