Witness claims gardaí gave him money and drugs to befriend Ian Bailey
Martin Graham says detectives wanted him to get information about Cork murder
Martin Graham leaving the Four Courts after giving evidence in Ian Bailey’s High Court action for damages. Photograph: Courts Collins
Martin Graham said he was asked “to befriend Mr Bailey as best I can”, which he thought was ridiculous because he did not know him.
He said gardaí offered to buy him clothes and “sweeteners” and suggested “the family would be very grateful for a favourable statement, if I could find anything that suggested Mr Bailey was linked with it”.
“I was constantly being pressed by the police to suggest there was a link between Ian Bailey and Sophie Toscan du Plantier but I didn’t know of any, just what they told me. I just thought it was crazy.”
Mr Graham (53), who came to west Cork in 1996 from England, said he had accepted cash, clothes and cannabis from gardaí, including “7ozs high quality Lebanese flat press” hash, which he and friends smoked during a music festival.
He said he first encountered a very stressed and upset Mr Bailey in a house belonging to artist Russell Barrett in Skibbereen, sometime after Mr Bailey was first arrested in February 1997 in connection with the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier in late December 1996.
Gardaí later came to the house, asking him and the other occupants about Mr Bailey’s behaviour and mood. Two gardaí introduced themselves as Detectives Jim Fitzgerald and Liam Leahy and he only spoke with them briefly and was concerned not to be seen as “a rat” in the house, he said.
He said he went to the Garda station in Skibbereen a few days later and it was arranged he would meet Detectives Fitzgerald and Leahy at a shrine outside Skibbereen. “I thought it was quite relevant being under the eyes of God.”
He sat into the detectives’ car, they talked and drove around. They later bought him dinner in a pub in Skibbereen, he said.
He never went to a Garda station to make a statement and the gardaí did not seem to be writing down anything at all, he said.
He believed he met them two days later when they showed him the murder scene and pointed out Ms Toscan du Plantier’s property and told him what Mr Bailey was supposed to have said about it.
Mr Graham said, at the suggestion of Det Fitzgerald, the gardaí later picked him up and drove him to near Mr Bailey’s house outside Schull. He had walked round to the house but Mr Bailey turned him away.
He said he went back to the gardaí and told them Mr Bailey was “stressed” and needed to “chill out” and “a good smoke”.
He said Det Fitzgerald asked: “Can you get some, Martin?” and, when he said no, Det Fitzgerald said: “What if we could get you some, Martin?”
Mr Graham said he took from that he was “going to get me cannabis to loosen Mr Bailey’s tongue”.
He said the gardaí later picked him up to go to a weekend music festival at Kilcrohane where Mr Bailey was due to go. He said the gardaí gave him “7 ozs high quality Lebanese flat press”, which was a “significant amount of cannabis”, in a police evidence bag.
“It was ridiculous, I was asked to go to Kilcrohane and go into a pub and start talking about murder when everyone else was going diddly-dee,” he said. He said he made eye contact at the festival with Mr Bailey and maybe said hello, but that was his only contact with him over the weekend.
The gardaí were “disappointed but not disheartened” and were prepared “for another crack”, he said.
He and his friends had used the cannabis at Kilcrohane but the gardaí indicated they would get more, he said. At this point, he thought the police were “stupid”.
They bought him clothes, “cosseted” him with such things and sometimes gave him “a few quid, 20 bucks here or 40 bucks there”, he said. They had paid for his drink at Kilcrohane. He got more cannabis from them on another occasion before they drove him to Mr Bailey’s, he said.
Mr Graham will continue his evidence on Wednesday in the resumed action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State. They deny his claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy, arising from the conduct of the Garda investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier. Her body was found near Toormore, Schull, on the morning of December 23rd, 1996,
Earlier, Mr Graham said he joined the British military at 16 and left the forces with an honourable discharge aged in his 30s, but found it difficult to adapt to civilian life. He was later convicted for assaulting his wife and has no contact with her or their child.
He got work building timber chalets and joined the environmental group Friends of the Earth and got involved in protests in England to save trees being felled.
He came to Ireland in the mid 1990s, got off the ferry from England in Cork and cycled west. He camped at the Drumbeg stone circle near Skibbereen and found some work at a “ladies commune”.
Earlier, John Dukelow, a fisherman, said he and Mr Bailey were good neighbours when he lived at Liscaha, Schull and he remains friendly with him. When he gave Mr Bailey a lift sometime after the murder, Mr Bailey told him: “You won’t believe this, they think I’m after murdering that woman” and Mr Bailey was very shaken.
Mr Dukelow said Det Garda Liam Leahy later told him there was “no doubt about it, that bastard did that”. He understood that to mean the murder but he did not believe for a moment Mr Bailey was responsible and told the gardaí that.
Tom Brosnan, a supermarket owner from Schull, said he knew Mr Bailey and was surprised when he was arrested in connection with the murder as he was “the last person I thought would do something like this”. He believed, after the arrest, the majority of people around Schull would feel Mr Bailey was the man who did it, he added.
The case continues.