Ian Bailey nominated as ‘good’ suspect four days after body found

Retired garda says suspect was ‘acting the part’ of reporter at murder scene

Retired Garda detective chief superintendent Ted Murphy: disputed evidence from a DPP official and said it was a matter for the DPP to evaluate evidence and gardaí would not interfere with that. Photograph: Courts/Collins

Retired Garda detective chief superintendent Ted Murphy: disputed evidence from a DPP official and said it was a matter for the DPP to evaluate evidence and gardaí would not interfere with that. Photograph: Courts/Collins

 

Ian Bailey was nominated as a “good” suspect for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier four days after her body was found, the High Court has heard.

Martin Malone, a garda based in Schull in 1996, said he got a fright when he saw Mr Bailey arriving at the murder scene about 2.20pm on December 23rd, 1996, saying he was working on the story for a newspaper. He had last seen Mr Bailey in June 1996 when he accompanied his partner Jules Thomas to Schull Garda station, when she withdrew a complaint of a serious assault.

Mr Malone, now retired, considered it “odd” that Mr Bailey had not asked him about the murder victim or other relevant questions. He was well dressed and it seemed he was “acting the part” of a reporter at the scene.

On December 27th, he nominated Mr Bailey as a suspect because he was amazed, furious and suspicious that Mr Bailey went earlier that day to the home of Alfie Lyons, Ms du Plantier’s neighbour, at Toormore, Schull.

Mr Bailey had been turned away from going beyond the Garda cordon on December 23rd and he wondered why he had gone to Mr Lyons’s house close to the murder scene and whether he was trying to compromise the scene.

Mr Bailey got through the Garda cordon after telling a garda he had messages for Mr Lyons and there was a reference to briquettes, he said. He agreed Mr Bailey might have been seeking information about the murder from Mr Lyons as a journalist.

Other reasons why he nominated Mr Bailey as a suspect were because he lived some 4km away and the June 1996 incident when Ms Thomas withdrew her complaint. He did not know why he mentioned Mr Bailey had long hair when nominating him.

Earlier, retired a Garda detective chief superintendent, Ted Murphy, disputed as “totally incorrect” evidence from Robert Sheehan, an official in the DPP’s office, that he asked Mr Sheehan, on the night of Mr Bailey’s first arrest on February 10th, 1997, to direct that Mr Bailey be charged with the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier.

Mr Murphy said he contacted Mr Sheehan to inform him of the evidence gardaí had to be considered by the DPP. It was a matter for the DPP to evaluate the evidence and gardaí would not interfere with that, he said. He agreed the DPP decided against charging Mr Bailey based on what was in the Garda file and Mr Sheehan regarded Marie Farrell as an unreliable witness.

He denied he refused to consider any evidence that might corroborate Mr Bailey’s account of how he got scratches. Mr Bailey said he got scratches from cutting down a Christmas tree and a garda was directed to climb a similar tree with short sleeves to see what kind of scratches resulted, he said.

Retired garda Pat Joy, a scenes of crime officer in 1996, said he had taken hair samples from Mr Bailey and Ms Thomas. He denied he did so with force, “totally” rejected Ms Thomas’s suggestion there was a smell of alcohol from him and denied he was among gardai who stared at Mr Bailey in a bar on January 20th, 1997.