Marie Farrell claims garda stripped and asked her for sex

‘Everything that happened down there was wholly incredible,’ she tells Ian Bailey case

Marie Farrell was being cross-examined in the Ian Bailey case. Photograph: Courts Collins

Marie Farrell was being cross-examined in the Ian Bailey case. Photograph: Courts Collins

 

Marie Farrell has told a High Court jury Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald stripped naked and asked her for sex while she was looking after a house in west Cork.

“I told him to get the f**k out,” she said during cross-examination in journalist Ian Bailey’s case against the Garda Commissioner and the State over the investigation into the late 1996 murder in west Cork of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

When Paul O’Higgins SC, for the State, suggested this was “wholly incredible”, Ms Farrell said: “Everything that happened down there was wholly incredible.”

Wen counsel put to her she was telling lies, she said: “I am not a liar.” Det Garda Fitzgerald had a growth low down on his stomach and she would not know that if she had not seen him naked, she said

Ms Farrell gave that evidence after being repeatedly pressed by Mr O’Higgins to tell what “dark secret” she had regarding Det Garda Fitzgerald which she had referred to, but not identified, during a phone call to Bandon Garda station.

Ms Farrell said the matter was personal and she did not want to say it, it would cause “huge embarrassment”. On being pressed by counsel, she looked to Mr Justice John Hedigan who told her she must tell the whole truth.

She said the incident happened when she was looking after a house in Schull which was rented to tourists and she had work cleaning it. She was not sure of the date of the incident, it might have been 1997 or 1998, but it would have been a Saturday, the changeover day, and in the summer.

She said Det Fitzgerald called to the house, she went upstairs to do something and when she came downstairs he had stripped naked in a downstairs bedroom and asked her for sex.

When Mr O’Higgins said no normal person could forget when such an incident happened, she said she remembered the incident well but could not say exactly when it occurred. The only people she had told about the incident to date were her husband and, recently, Frank Buttimer, solicitor for Ian Bailey. She knew Det Fitzgerald’s wife and liked her and this was not a matter you would speak about to people, she said.

The cross-examination of Ms Farrell continues today.

The defendants deny all Mr Bailey’s claims in his civil action, including of wrongful arrest and conspiracy, arising from the Garda investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier whose body was found at Toormore, Schull, on the morning of December 23rd 1996.

Mr O’Higgins told Ms Farrell that Det Sgt Maurice Walsh would deny her claim he exposed himself to her in the toilets of Schull golf club one night in summer 1998 and told her words to the effect fitting up Mr Bailey was a “turn on”. Sgt Walsh would say these claims were “the height of fantasy”, counsel said.

Two women, Linda Horgan and Bernie O’Shea , also disputed Ms Farrell’s evidence one of her tasks at the golf club was to check the toilets or that she had referred to the incident with Sgt Walsh, counsel said.

Ms Farrell said the incident did happen in the ladies toilets, she believed she had told Ms O’Shea about it and her tasks did include checking the toilets. She did not make a big deal about the matter, she said. Such incidents happened when people have drink on them and when she was younger, incidents like that happened “every other weekend”, she said.

When counsel asked was she saying every other weekend men approached her “with their penis out”, she said “Not like that, no. But do you think I wouldn’t have been propositioned by a man years ago when I was younger, thinner and better looking?”

Counsel also put detailed questions to Ms Farrell about her evidence of being pressurised by gardaí to make false statements and of signing blank pages. Counsel put to her there were inconsistencies between what she told the jury in this trial concerning the statements, her own statement to a 2006 Garda inquiry, the McAndrew inquiry, into complaints by Mr Bailey’s solicitor, her statement to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman and an interview she gave to the Irish Mirror.

Ms Farrell said there were “so many meetings and so many gardaí” she only later remembered she signed blank pages in Ballydehob Garda station. She agreed she told the McAndrew inquiry she never made a statement in Ballydehob but made statements in Schull. She said she could not remember what she told the McAndrew inquiry and was under huge stress at that time.

When counsel put to her she had not signed blank statements, she said she had done so. She also denied she signed a statement dated February 14th 1997 and denied that statement was true.

When counsel said Garda Kevin Kelleher will say a video he gave Ms Farrell did not feature Mr Bailey reciting poetry but featured a Christmas day swim in Schull, Ms Farrell said Mr Bailey was reciting poetry on the video.

Ms Farrell also denied it was she who initiated most contact with Det Fitzgerald. He had given her a State phone to contact him and sometime left messages asking her to ring him, she said.

She denied she courted publicity but agreed she contacted the Irish Mirror newspaper in March 2012. She was unhappy about aspects of a story in that paper but could not remember exactly what those were, she said. She also agreed she had been pursued in court over debts.

When counsel suggested she “didn’t come down with the last shower” and it was not credible she believed she was under serious threat if she withdrew a statement that she saw Mr Bailey on the morning of December 23rd 1996, she said gardaí had told her, if she withdrew the statement, she could be prosecuted for wasting Garda time and making false statements. She took that seriously, she said.