Ian Bailey case: Saffron Thomas could not believe mother’s arrest

Court hears experience was like being ‘put in middle of a really bad joke’

 Saffron Thomas, who is the daughter of Jules Thomas, Ian Bailey’s partner. Photograph: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Saffron Thomas, who is the daughter of Jules Thomas, Ian Bailey’s partner. Photograph: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

 

Jules Thomas’s daughter, Saffron Thomas, told the court she could not believe it when she learned that her mother and Ian Bailey had been arrested in February 1997 for questioning about the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork.

She said her grandmother, Beryl Thomas, had called her on February 10th , 1997 at her digs in Bray to tell her, and then she saw her mother on the news with a bag over her head. “It was horrifying. It was like being put in the middle of a really bad joke. I couldn’t believe it.”

Ms Thomas told the High Court the family had led a happy existence in Schull prior to the arrests. “Life was fairly fun . . . everybody was fairly happy, yeah,” but that all changed with the two arrests, she said.

Ostracisation

“Ian Bailey used to be very outgoing and gregarious but he’s become very introverted because he has been judged by everyone . . . it’s been absolutely horrendous,” she told Mr Bailey’s barrister, Jim Duggan.

Ms Thomas said her first interaction with gardaí was when Det Liam Leahy and Det Jim Fitzgerald called to their home at the Prairie, in Schull, sometime in late December 1996 or early January 1997 and began chatting to herself and her sister, Virginia.

“They told us at that point they knew who did it [the murder] and they told us ‘it’s closer than you think’. We were intrigued so we said ‘Go on, tell us’ but they wouldn’t,” said Ms Thomas.

She said the interview took place in the kitchen while her mother was with other gardaí in the sitting room.

She said the two gardaí kept telling her sister how beautiful she was. “They gave us the creeps, fawning over us – they were two older gentlemen,” she said.

She told the court that they met the same two gardaí in a hotel off Grafton Street, Dublin, in July or August 1997, and the gardaí tried to scare them by telling them that they knew Mr Bailey had killed Ms Toscan du Plantier and they feared for their mother’s safety. She said the gardaí were again fawning all over them.

Cross-examined by state counsel, Luán Ó Braonáin, who said gardaí would say Det Leahy and Det Fitzgerald did not visit the Prairie until January 27th 1998, Ms Thomas accepted that was not “100 per cent sure” when she said they came to the house in late December 1996 or early January.

However, she insisted that she had met them before she and Virginia met them in the Dublin hotel in summer 1997. “When I went to see them in July, I recognised them, as I had seen them before and I didn’t like them because they were creeps,” she said.

The case continues.