Marie Farrell told of ‘severe sanctions’ for perjury

Judge in Ian Bailey case tells Marie Farrell ‘any further walkouts will be your last’


Marie Farrell resumed her evidence in journalist Ian Bailey’s action this afternoon having walked out of the witness box and the court earlier.

She was told by Mr Justice John Hedigan at the end of the hearing “any further walkouts will be your last” and she was to “carefully consider” the manner in which she was giving her evidence. There are “very severe sanctions” for perjury, he said.

Ms Farrell walked out of court about noon after refusing, despite repeated questions from State counsel Paul O’Higgins, to name a male friend whom she was with, unknown to her husband, on the night of December 22nd/23rd, 1996, near Schull.

Ms Farrell has told the jury she was with her male friend in a car when they passed another man walking on the road near Schull at about 2am that night, hours before the body of murder victim Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found near Toormore, Schull.

Her departure from court came after Mr Justice John Hedigan said this was one of the most serious cases to be heard for years and she must answer the question and name the man.

At that point, Ms Farrell stood up, picked up her coat and bag, and said: “I’m going, I’m having nothing more to do with it.”

She returned to court before lunch but, because evidence was being heard from another witness, did not resume her evidence till about 3pm.

At that point, Tom Creed, for Mr Bailey, asked if she could hand in the man’s name but Mr Justice Hedigan said he could not permit that as this was a public trial and Ms Farrell had named others in a manner “extremely embarrassing to them and their families”.

She must give the name publicly, he directed.

Ms Farrell then named the man as John Reilly from Longford and said her mother had told her he died some years ago. She was not sure what age he was, he was older than her, or where she met him, she answered in reply to questions from Mr O’Higgins.

When counsel asked “so you stormed out of court because you might name a man who was dead for 14 years?”, she said she left because she had come voluntarily to tell the truth about matters involving the gardaí­ but felt this was “turning into a personal assault on my private life”.

When counsel suggested she was not telling the truth, she said she was and was “gaining nothing from being here only more personal aggravation”.

Later during her cross-examination, Mr O’Higgins put to her she told a “bare-faced lie” to the jury in denying Mr Bailey had, during a visit to her shop in June 1997, shown her a notebook with her old London address, told her he knew she was in trouble with the department of social services in England and threatened her with that information.

Counsel played a video recording of a May 2012 interview with Ms Farrell and members of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) during which Ms Farrell said Mr Bailey had shown her a notebook with her London address and had said he was an investigative journalist.

During the GSOC interview, she also said she, her husband and her family had to leave London because they owed €27,000 arising from her claiming benefits she was not entitled to.

Ms Farrell said she was confusing fact and fiction during the 2012 interview and her evidence in this case was the truth and Mr Bailey had not threatened her. She said her family left England because of a dispute with her brother in law over company account money. There was a complaint made to the DSS in England concerning her claiming benefits but that was found to be unfounded, she said.

When counsel suggested she was used to appearing in courts and is “hoping to sue yourself”, Ms Farrell said she had a case. She denied a suggestion she was “prepared to say anything if it suits your purposes”.

The cross-examination of Ms Farrell will resume tomorrow in the action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the Garda investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier. The defendants deny all of Mr Bailey’s claims, including of wrongful arrest and conspiracy to manufacture evidence.

Earlier, Saffron Thomas, an artist and daughter of Jules Thomas, Mr Bailey’s partner, said her recollection was Mr Bailey had killed turkeys at their home at The Prairie, Schull on Sunday December 22nd, 1996, when she was in the vicinity although not watching him.

The turkeys were killed on the same day she and Mr Bailey were involved in cutting down a Christmas tree and he must have had scratches from that, she said. There was no blood involved, she said.

She said she was aged 17 when her mother met Mr Bailey and life was good until late 1996. She was aware Mr Bailey had assaulted her mother. Her mother was a “very loving, forgiving person”. Her mother and Mr Bailey had a good relationship, they laughed a lot and talked about art, literature, poetry and gardening, she said.

Becoming upset, she said everything changed completely after late 1996. Her mother had not had a good night’s sleep since and they were “ostracised” in the community. She herself was no longer living in Cork and had moved to the west.

She said, during interviews with gardaí, two gardaí were “fawning” over her sister Virginia, were “slimy” and “creeped” her out. Luán Ó Braonáin SC, for the State, said gardaí would deny those claims.

The case continues.