Marie Farrell alleged she was harassed by Ian Bailey, court hears

Former inspector says he met pair on number of occasions over claims

Marie Farrell told a Garda Inspector and a solicitor she had been harassed a number of times by Ian Bailey, a High Court jury has heard.

Former inspector Vincent Duggan, now retired, said he met Ms Farrell and Mr Bailey separately on a number of occasions in connection with her claims that Mr Bailey was harassing her.

He was not aware gardaí had arranged that one encounter between Ms Farrell and Mr Bailey in June 1997 would be recorded but would not necessarily have disapproved of that.

He had taken statements from Ms Farrell which were included in a file sent by gardaí to the DPP which recommended, with a “caveat”, that Mr Bailey be prosecuted for harassment of Ms Farrell.

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The caveat related to Mr Bailey having said he was in Bantry with his partner and her daughter on a particular day when Ms Farrell had alleged she received a threatening phone call from him. A Garda Sergeant had seen Mr Bailey in Bantry on the particular occasion, he said. He agreed Bantry was about 20 minutes from Schull.

The DPP had decided against a prosecution, he agreed.

Ernest Cantillon, a Cork-based solicitor, said Ms Farrell had instructed him in 2004 after she had received a letter from Mr Bailey's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, alleging she had made false complaints that Mr Bailey was harassing her, which had been reported in the media, and asking her to desist.

He had written to Mr Buttimer on behalf of Ms Farrell saying there would be no retraction of her allegations and, if proceedings were taken against her, she would counter-claim. No response was received and no proceedings were taken by Mr Bailey against Ms Farrell, he said.

Mr Cantillon 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 Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Her body was found near Toormore, Schull, on December 23rd, 1996.

The defendants deny all of Mr Bailey’s claims, including of wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

On Tuesday, the 52nd day of the case, Mr Justice John Hedigan told the jury the State has 32 witnesses left and some of those would be very short. The State estimated the direct examination of those witnesses will take four to six days while Mr Bailey's side believed the cross-examination of many would not take much time.

The judge said it seemed the evidence might conclude in late March or early April. The case would continue through the Easter vacation, he added.

In evidence, Mr Cantillon said he acted for Ms Farrell after she contacted his office because she had received a letter from Frank Buttimer of March 25th, 2004 complaining about acts of Ms Farrell which were damaging to Mr Bailey.

Mr Cantillon said Mr Bailey had complained Ms Farrell was making false allegations he was threatening her. He took instructions from her and replied to that letter and Ms Farrell had waived legal privilege concerning what she had said to him.

He said he made an attendance note of what she said to him on April 15th, 2004. That note included details of her claims of Mr Bailey having harassed her including by making remarks as he drove past her near her home. This was after she gave evidence in libel actions taken by him.

Mr Cantillon said she alleged Mr Bailey had slowed down the car and said: “Next time I will defend myself and I will cross-examine you”.

He was not aware of evidence to the effect Mr Bailey was in Mr Buttimer’s office on an occasion he was alleged to be harassing Ms Farrell, Mr Cantillon said.

Det Garda Kevin Gately said he and other gardaí met Ms Farrell on a number of occasions in 2002 as part of the Garda review of the murder investigation. He was involved in five meetings with Ms Farrell during 2002.

At the first meeting in March 2002, Ms Farrell had said she was sorry she ever came forward and was only staying five minutes. She also said she lost confidence in the gardaí after Mr Bailey found out she was speaking to them.

He said they asked her to clarify aspects of her statements but she was reluctant to do so. She had referred to a lot of personal information and said she wanted to put the past behind her.

He said she was asked to say who was with her on December 23rd, 1996 when she had said she saw Mr Bailey on the road near Schull. She said some of the things she had said were false and she did not want to identify her male companion that night.

He said she had said she had intentionally lead gardaí to believe her companion was a named man from Longford and that the man she was with had no car of his own.

He said he had noted that Ms Farrell had later named her companion as a musician from Longford who had died.

He also noted she had said during one meeting she got home about 4am on December 23rd, 1996 but it was really about 6am and she had given the earlier time because she was concerned how her husband would react.

She also met gardaí on March 13th and ran out of the room after five minutes, he said. They met her again on March 22nd at Bantry Garda station in the Superintendent’s office when she said it was the last time she would meet with them. She said if they wanted to talk to her again, they would have to arrest her or get a court order. He said they told her they needed to clear up matters form her various statements and because she had given different versions of her movements on December 21st and 22nd.

He said she had accepted she mislead gardaí about the identity of her companion and had named a particular man from Longford as her companion to “get back” at him. He said they suggested she tell the true story to gardaí and her husband.

He also met her briefly on April 25th, 2002 at Dunmanway. He said she said she had seen Mr Bailey on the afternoon of December 21st, 1996 outside her shop in Schull, next saw him on the morning of December 22nd at Air Hill near Schull and again saw him on the morning of December 23rd at Kealfada Bridge near Schull. She had also said she would not name her companion that night.

He said gardaí again met her on May 10t, 2002 at Bandon Garda station. She was asked to go through her sightings of Mr Bailey again and repeated what she had said. She said she was home about 4am on December 23rd and not 6am. He said she said she had previously said 6am to give the impression her companion had no car.

The case continues.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times