Ian Bailey case: Garda denies giving informant cannabis

Garda denies he told witness they knew Bailey was Sophie Toscan du Plantier killer

A detective garda has told the High Court he never gave cannabis to an informant in the hope of getting Ian Bailey to "loosen his tongue" in relation to the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Retired garda Jim Fitzgerald said another garda gave Martin Graham small amounts of cash and clothes on occasions after Mr Graham told gardaí he had was prepared to assist them. He had concerns about things Mr Bailey said in a friend's house on the night of February 10th 1997 when he was released after his first arrest.

Mr Fitzgerald said he himself also gave Mr Graham some small cash sums.

There was a special “secret service” fund available to chief superintendents for small monetary expenses of informants, he said. Mr Graham at one point said he would need €4,000 to get certain information but that was rejected “out of hand” by superiors.

Mr Graham also gave gardaí a prescription bottle sticker with Mr Bailey’s name on it and, when told that was no use, Mr Graham replied: “You know what use you can make of it”. He believed Mr Graham was inferring gardaí should put the paper somewhere, such as the murder scene.

Mr Graham did not give much information adverse to Mr Bailey but separately provided useful information that lead to drug seizures, he added.

Mr Fitzgerald said he was not in Skibbereen on May 13th 1997 when Mr Graham was photographed exiting a Garda car with a plastic bag containing a substance alleged to be cannabis and had not supplied Mr Graham with cannabis.

Mr Fitzgerald said he was in a Garda car with Mr Graham on other occasions when Mr Graham was dropped at that spot in the town and Mr Graham had left the Garda car for brief periods on some occasions before returning to it.

He learned about May 1997 that Mr Graham was recording conversations with gardaí and was suspicious Mr Graham was trying to set gardaí up. Having been advised by a superior to protect himself, he arranged in May 1997 for recordings to be made of conversations with Mr Graham in the Garda car.

He was suspicious Mr Graham was trying to compromise gardaí by having a substance in his possession and arranged in June 1997 to meet him and have two other detectives nearby who would search him.

He knew nothing of Mr Graham, a former British soldier, being threatened with the IRA and said there was no fear evident from the recordings of Mr Graham.

Mr Fitzgerald also denied he told Marie Farrell on January 28th 1997 gardaí knew Mr Bailey had killed Ms Toscan du Plantier and needed Ms Farrell to say Mr Bailey was the man she saw near Schull hours before the body was found.

He denied further claims by Ms Farrell she was asked at Ballydehob garda station on February 14th 1997 to sign blank pages of a statement to be filled in later by gardaí. Ms Farrell made a statement that evening in which she said she saw Mr Bailey on the night of December 22/23rd 1996 and had signed that in the presence of gardaí, he said.

The first reference he heard to an allegation a "blank" statement was given to Ms Farrell was from Mr Bailey himself on the Vincent Browne show on TV3 in 2012, he added. He was also unaware for some 18 years that some calls involving him were recorded in Bandon garda station in 1997.

Mr Fitzgerald has begun giving evidence in the continuing civil 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, Scull, on the morning of December 23rd 1996. The defendants deny all of the claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

On Tuesday Mr Fitzgerald said he was involved in the du Plantier murder investigation from December 23rd 1996.

He was asked to help trace the identity of an anonymous female caller "Fiona" to gardaí who had given certain information. After it was decided on January 28th 1997 Garda Kevin Kelleher would go and speak to Marie Farrell, Mr Fitzgerald and Det Garda Jim Slattery later went to Garda Kelleher's house where they met Ms Farrell. The TV was on but nothing was played on that in his presence, he said.

Ms Farrell told them she had made the anonymous phone calls and had seen a man at the bridge whom she now knew to be Ian Bailey, he said. She also said she was out with a friend that night and was not supposed to be out, he added.

Asked had he said gardaí knew it was Ian Bailey who did the murder, they needed her to say it was him at the bridge and she would not have to make any statement, Mr Fitzgerald said that was not correct, he had not gone to meet Ms Farrell with any “agenda”. Gardaí wanted to clear up she was Fiona and find out what she had seen, he said.

Ms Farrell said she did not want to make a statement due to personal difficulties, he said. He wrote a memo on February 7th 1997 based on the conversation with her and he and Det Slattery signed that.

Mr Fitzgerald said, after he and another garda spoke to a man in Longford, Ms Farrell acknowledged that man was not her companion on the night of December 22/23rd 1996 but refused to name her companion, saying her husband was violent and she would be compromised.

Earlier, retired Garda Superintendent JP Twomey said he was directed by Det Supt Dermot Dwyer in 1997 to defer the execution of warrants issued against Ms Farrell and members of her family. When he was raised the non-execution as he was retiring in 1999, he was told to hold off on execution, he said.

He disagreed there was a failure to execute and said there was a “deferral”. Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, said some warrants were not executed until “years afterwards”. Mr Twomey said it was very common to seek reissue of unexecuted warrants.

He repeatedly denied suggestions he told a journalist about 12.50pm on December 23rd 1996 the murder victim was a French national and said he had said she was a “non-national”.

The case continues.